FutureScapes

The magazine, and this blog in particular, has reached a degree of visibility that is resulting in publishers and other companies starting to get in touch about all the latest stuff they’re up to. In the interests of transparency we will always tell you when a blog post is a result of this happening, and will only pass on things we think are genuinely interesting. I think this is good for all involved. So, with that in mind…

Someone working for Sony got in touch to tell us about the FutureScapes project. It’s part of a collaboration that they’ve been running for six months or so with the non-profit Forum for the Future, the idea being to bring together a bunch of people and imagine what the world might be like in 2025.

Some of the people involved are writers. They commissioned five authors — Michael Marshall Smith, Lesley Lokko, Kate Harrison, Marcus Sedgwick and Markus Albers — to write short stories set 13 years in the future, and it is the quality of these stores (which you can download for free here) which made me want to put up this post. They’re very good.

The highlight of the collection is probably Michael Marshall Smith’s ‘The Good Listener’, in which the narrator traces the last few days of his father’s life using the data archived on the dead man’s mobile phone. He finds a gap in the data feed, and decides to try to find out what happened during that time.

The hole is a period of fourteen hours. It stretches from early evening on the second-last day of his trip until 9.26 the following morning, when he bought (and rated, highly) a coffee at an indie store downtown. It’s not such a big or inexplicable hole. He was staying in the Dream Inn, of course – I wasn’t suspecting he’d suddenly gone to the moon and back. There was no record of an evening meal, however, which was unique in the entire trip and thus mildly intriguing. No record of anything being bought or done during that entire period, in fact, though there’d been an ATM withdrawal of a hundred dollars in the afternoon (which was why I’d done the same). There was no way of filling in the missing time. I’d even had the software re-triangulate again, in the hope it’d missed something before, but nothing came.

It was blank. Dead air. I needed to fill it somehow.

These five stories will be joined next week by a sixth, the result of a Guardian short story competition. I’d say it would be worth checking back for.

— Euan

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