Virtual Futures near-future fictions anthology, Vital Signals is now out from NewCon Press.
Described as ‘a volume of short sharp stories that present alternative or unconsidered visions of the future; stories that draw attention to the potential impact of cutting-edge science and technology on society and humanity.’
I am honoured to find my story nestled among such esteemed company and I had great fun exploring the theme of ‘Post Brain’. Not to mention the opportunity to read it aloud at a live event, which was a truly immersive experience.
‘This is science fiction with intent, providing quick bursts of conjecture and insight, guaranteed to both entertain and stimulate.’
Now don’t get me wrong, I love a spooky story. I’ve written about ghosts, monsters, dimensions of time and space, aliens, mythical creatures and all manner of weird stuff. You could say that I peddle my wares on the weirder side of life. So why would I want to give you a rational explanation for the mystery behind the inexplicable? Sorry… did I say rational? Rational maybe, if you happen to be a quantum physicist.
In this engaging Ted talk, Jim Al-Khalili explains the strange world of quantum biology and uses quantum physics to answer some of life’s bigger questions like, ‘how does a robin know to fly south?’.
Quantum entanglement was famously described by Einstein as ‘Spooky action at a distance’. Entangled particles behave in such a way that when something happens to one, the other is affected, even when separated by distance. Entanglement happens when two particles meet and have some form of physical interaction. Quantum entanglement could even explain connections between mind and matter, connections between the minds of many people, the relationship between the conscious and the sub-conscious mind and the exercise of free will. It gives a scientific explanation to phenomena traditionally cast as supernatural; telepathy, remote sensing, psychokinesis and weirdness that skirts around the fringes of Sci-Fi; teleportation or faster than light travel, quantum computing.
Ever had an inexplicable sense of connection to another person and wanted to understand more about love and romance and the validity of unseen mystical connections? This article from Space.com describes quantum entanglement as ‘love on a subatomic scale’.
In the New Scientist this week, Stuart Clark considers ‘Universal (un)Truths’ and What if… quantum weirdness were weirder? Well, here’s the thing… it is. “There is nothing stopping the quantum world having different levels of underlying correlation – only a universe with exactly the right level of weirdness produces life.” So there you have it. Weird things happen because nature is ‘quantum mechanical’. And that really is the best answer the scientists can give us.
According to this article in Forbes, “quantum physics tells us that our fate is not written in the stars”. Well – I don’t believe in fate, but I do believe in physics. So now you have the scientific explanation behind weirdness – thinking back to that time when your phone rang and weirdly… you knew who it was before you even looked at the screen – was it coincidence, or quantum entanglement? I’ll let you figure that one out.
I have always been fascinated with the world that lies beneath London. I guess that travelling through the underground system every day sets off my imagination and so, many of my stories link to underground stations and stops. Getting ahead takes us a little further, literally into the bowels of London.
Although we take it for granted, London Underground uses tunnels originally built by the Victorians and an interceptory sewage system that delivered London’s reprieve from the ‘Great Stink’ of 1858. When it comes to feats of engineering, the Victorians were never short of imagination. You only have to look at the legacy of their work in London to realise that it was an era of industrial revolution and innovation.
My initial approach to research is usually with the people. I love the stories behind people and I’m fascinated by human motivation and behaviour, so I try to link the human stories to a place, then link the stories to each other. I like to get out and write in different places; parks, cafés, libraries, museums, underground stations, benches or anywhere in London where I can soak up the atmosphere and let it spill over into my fiction.
Place is important to me, but my stories are driven by character. I have to say at this point, that I didn’t take my research to the logical conclusion and into the London sewage system, that would be… well, eww. I found this wonderful book called London under London: A subterranean guide, by Richard Trench and Ellis Hillman, which explores the labyrinth of the city beneath our feet. So I let my own imagination run loose and exploited the use of ‘what if…?’
If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs… (Rudyard Kipling)
Saw this article today that caught my attention, but probably for all the wrong reasons:
It is in fact, a healthy recipe book for Thai food.
What I love about this story is that ‘Poo’ is really the author’s nickname and in Thai means ‘crab’. You can imagine how this might play out if you started referring to crab sticks as poo sticks and poo sticks as a river game with crabs, invented by a bear with the same name. Hmmnn…
Curiously enough, when I got home from work today and opened my copy of New Scientist, I found another article about poo. This time it referred to scientists who have been studying fossil poo in order to compare prehistoric microbiome – the bacteria that lines our intestines – with those of modern humans in a bid to find a cure for obesity. Apparently, antibiotics could be responsible for promoting obesity and damaging our immune systems.
Perhaps then, we should all really be cooking with Poo.