Tag Archives: utopia

Utopia Now – today

Today, I’ll be at the launch of the zine that came from a project that I was involved in with King’s College London. It was a fascinating and very rewarding project, and made me want to do more of the same or similar. Here’s the blog post I wrote for the project:

Who decides which future we get?

There’s a lot of answers to that question and one of them has to be, “those that will have to live there.” That’s why, with no hesitation, I agreed to take part in the Utopia Now project for the young people of Lambeth and Southwark run by King’s College London.

A day in 2070 might seem like a difficult thing to imagine, especially if that’s over three times as many years away as you’ve been alive. Which is why we encouraged the young people to talk to anyone they knew who was alive in 1970 about what has changed and what hasn’t. I’m told there were some surprises, especially around communication and travel. A sense of wonder tinged with disbelief about having to write to relatives abroad or use telephones in boxes on street corners and about the rareness of owning a car or travelling abroad. This prompt is one of many set out in the 7 day challenge developed and hosted by King’s College London – a wonderful resource for anyone, whatever age, starting out in writing science fiction. As if the challenge of imagining a day in fifty years time wasn’t enough, the stories had to be under a 1,000 words. Now, I write a fair bit of flash fiction and I can testify that it’s no simple task to convey character, story, and a futuristic world in a story that takes less than 10 minutes to read.

I had a pleasant surprise when I received the competition entries for judging. They were fantastic. Such insight into possible futures and of human behaviour was heartening. There was some really good story telling too. Not only did they make me smile, chuckle, gasp and raise my eyebrows they made me think about things I’d not previously considered. I’ll let you discover what those things are for yourself.

The winners then took part in a day long workshop, virtual of course, where they developed their stories through discussion, sessions with KCL artificial intelligence experts and by asking and answering lots of questions. The one thing that stood out for me during the day was just how deeply these young people had thought about their story, not only the futuristic technology but also the motivations of government, society and individuals within the world they had imagined. These were not tiny tales run off with little thought. I was also very impressed with how they listened to the feedback and used the workshop to develop their stories into the ones you can read now.

By the end of the day I was left with a strong sense that these young people understand quite a lot about their possible futures, they have a good balance of scepticism and hope for their futures and they know how to tell a good story to get others to consider their futures.

I highly recommend this collection of flash fictions to you and hope you’ll give them the time they deserve to capture your imagination. This project reminds me of the proposition by Yancey Strickler in his book This Could Be Our Future where he suggests that as well as the ‘now me’ and the ‘now us’, we should consider the ‘future me’ and the ‘future us’ when making decisions. After all, “the future is ours and it’s up for grabs…”


More details on time and place on my events page.

Stop the Dystopia, I Want to Get On.

The article I wrote for the Spring 2020 edition of the British Science Fiction Association magazine Focus is now available on Medium.

It starts with the question: “Is it true that dystopias predict doom-laden futures and utopias inspire better futures?”

It ends with a quote from Laurie Penny: “Right now, the future seems dark and frightening and it is precisely now that we must continue to imagine other worlds and then plot ways to get there.”

What comes in between can be found here.


photo credit: MU Hybrid Art House http://www.flickr.com/photos/36256936@N04/49803647563

The Right to ‘Opt Out’

I’ve just come across this talk that I gave at a festival back in 2015 just after Fluence had been published. I reckon it still has some pertinent post-pandemic points, especially in the Q&A.

The premise of the talk is that society has accepted capitalism and consumerism and we’re not able to opt out even if we want to.

The question posed is: “If the state created the opportunity for you to opt out, would you take it? And what if everyone did? ”

In the talk I touch on UBI, an idea that is better known now than it was back then. I also talk about guaranteed sabbaticals and a more extreme version of devolution.

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.


photo credit: Richard Ricciardi The Joy of Dancing via photopin (license)