Naturally, each and every story in my new collection, Biohacked & Begging, has a background story behind it.
The final story (and the one illustrated above) is Placodermi Protection which came from the combination of two threads I was thinking about when I wrote it.
The story started to form after listening to Jaron Lanier, where one of the things he talked about was using virtual reality to experience things that are ‘other’ to the normal. Something different to the tired ‘swimming with dolphins’ type of VR.
Alongside this I’d become interested in zombie neurons, the neurons that are present in the fetus but die at birth because they relate to aspects that evolution has seen the back of, such as wings on sheep mites.
And so, the world of virtual reality for babies and biohacked fish was born.
If you’re in London on 9 April, you can hear the first public reading of this at the near-future fictions event, Boundless Bodies.
Biohacked & Begging is published on 12 April, but you can pre-order from Amazon now.
Press release available here and on request.
Art: Placodermi Protection by Kim Hutson @batfacedgirlart
Another Loving, Autonomous Agents, Boundless Bodies and Lasting Labour. What a wonderful mix of potential futures are wrapped up in the 2019 Virtual Futures’ Near-Future Fiction series and I’m very excited that, in the same way as the 2018 series, I’ll be co-curating the events with other authors.
We’re not searching for stories set on fanciful alien worlds, post-apocalyptic landscapes in which steam-punk bandits with laser guns are fighting mutated zombies, or that feature technology so hypothetical it is almost unimaginable. Our aim is to promote stories that think critically about the sorts of technological developments that are just over horizon, and provide a unique perspective on contemporary concerns related to the perceived trajectory of scientific innovation.
Those of you who have heard me answer the often asked question, “do you write dystopia or utopia,” will know I don’t believe in such a simple view of the world. You’ll have heard me respond with the shorthand statement that one person’s utopia is often another’s dystopia. As our call for stories says, “science fiction is often the victim of this binary between utopia and dystopia – fiction in which all of our problems are fixed or created by a specific technology or technologies. In reality, our relationship with our technology never follows these simple categories – it is frequently a messier affair. Stories that seek to criticize, predict, or complicate realistically will be more successful than those intended to shock with apocalyptic visions or please with plastic paradises.”
Whether you’re an established or emerging author we’re keen to receive your stories; the deadline for submissions is 2 December 2018 and you can download the full guidelines from the Virtual Futures’ website.
If you’re interested in attending the events to hear the inevitable variety of futures our chosen authors create, then you can read more about the themes and book your place via eventbrite; the last series sold out so get in early and book your place now.
I’m really looking forward to reading all the submissions, writing a story for each theme and reading them to a live Virtual Futures audience.
And don’t forget, the future is ours and it’s up for grabs…
photo credit: Frits Ahlefeldt – FritsAhlefeldt.com global-trends-population-growth-culture-illustration-no-txt-by-frits-ahlefeldt via photopin (license)
Following on from my post about the Unicorn, here’s another piece of micro-fiction written for a specific purpose, the 7 banned words theme at New Flash Fiction. I liked the concept of what they were doing – short pieces that contained words recently banned from US government press statements (note: I can’t find the original submission form, but that’s how I remember it).
This was my offering – I’ll let you guess which are the banned words.
‘A transgender fetus? That’s insane. Impossible. That’s ridiculous.’
‘It’s a science-based study sir. It shows we can determine in the womb if Mother Nature has got it wrong.’
‘So, we’re all vulnerable now, are we? Vulnerable to the crazies before we’re even born.’
It’s an entitlement sir and it could save a lot of money; correcting in the womb would be much cheaper.’
‘Nobody has an entitlement to be “corrected” so that’s a stupid argument.’
‘Imagine how all those so-called evidence-based studies would look though. It’d improve the diversity stats without all the legal fuss and bother we have to put up with now.’
‘I won’t allow it. No. Simple. Got it? No.’
‘But, you could have been a woman. Imagine having the sort of body you crave so much. As your own.’
‘Out. Get out.’
The president sat in his office alone, sad and wishing for a different life.