As an independent beltrunner mining asteroids in the frontier of space, Collier South is a dying breed. Scrounging and cutting corners to work cheap, Collier isn’t a stranger to lean times and make-do repairs; in fact his onboard computer hasn’t had outside maintenance in years and its beginning to show its personal quirks.
When Collier finds an asteroid that shows promise, he thinks he’s bought himself some time. But his claim is stolen out from under him by his vindictive ex-lover and her shiny new corporate ship. Powerless against the omnipotent mining corporations, Collier has always been too stubborn to give-up without a fight. Broke and desperate, Collier has one last chance to land a strike. If he doesn’t come back with ore, he’ll end up destitute and trading his own biologicals for his next meal.
What he discovers in the farthest reaches of the belt has the power to change his life and the fate of the entire system forever. That is, if Collier and his onboard computer can keep his discovery out of corporate hands.
Being short, you might think the story's structure would yield an answer to this question more readily than, say, the novel. But for as long as the short story has been around, arguments have raged as to what it should and shouldn't be made up of, what it should and shouldn't do. Here ,15 leading contemporary practitioners offer structural appreciations of past masters of the form as well as their own perspectives on what the short story does so well.
The best short stories don't have closure, argues one contributor, 'because life doesn't have closure'; 'plot must be written with the denouement constantly in view,' quotes another. Covering a century of writing that arguably saw all the major short forms emerge, from Hawthorne's 'Twice Told Tales' to Kafka's modernist nightmares, these essays offer new and unique inroads into classic texts, both for the literature student and aspiring writer.
This anthology draws out and distils science's love of narrative from a wide range of scientific disciplines, weaving theory into very human stories, and delving into the humanity of theorists and experimenters as they stood on the brink of momentous discoveries: from Joseph Swan's original light-bulb moment to the uncovering of mirror neurons lighting up empathy zones in the human brain; from Einstein's revelation on a Bern tram, to Pavlov's identification of personality types thanks to a freak flood in his St Petersburg lab.
Each story has been written in close consultation with scientists and historians and is accompanied by a specially written afterword, expanding on the science for the general reader. Together, they bring vividly to life the stories behind the 'eureka!' moments that changed the way we live, forever.
The driving motors behind many of these changes will be artificial life (A-Life) and unconventional computing. How exactly they will impact on our world is still an open question. But in the spirit of collective intelligence, this anthology brings together 38 scientists and authors, working in pairs, to imagine what life (and A-Life) will look like in the year 2070. Every kind of technology is imagined: from lie-detection glasses to military swarmbots, brain-interfacing implants to synthetically ‘grown’ skyscrapers, revolution-inciting computer games to synthetically engineered haute cuisine. All artificial life is here.
Featuring scientific contributions from: Martyn Amos, J. Mark Bishop, Seth Bullock, Stephen Dunne, James Dyke, Christian Jantzen, Francesco Mondada, James D. O'Shea, Andrew Philippides, Lenka Pitonakova, Steen Rasmussen, Thomas S. Ray, Micah Rosenkind, James Snowdon, Susan Stepney, Germán Terrazas, Andrew Vardy and Alan Winfield.
Supported by TRUCE (Training and Research in Unconventional Computation in Europe).
Which of these would you wager is pure science fiction, and which currently being developed in the lab? Such is the speed and excitement of today’s bio-medical research – sprinting from the starting gun that was the Human Genome Project – it’s sometimes hard to tell. In a unique collaboration, fourteen short story writers have been invited to explore the increasingly grey area between the fantastical and that which is already within our reach. Closely collaborating with scientists and ethicists working at the forefronts of their respective fields, each writer has been tasked with predicting some of the potential ‘ethical side-effects’ of this ground-breaking work. Not all progress, after all, is progressive. And dark forces are afoot that threaten to hi-jack what many declared would be ‘the century of biology’.
'Fascinating reading.' - Financial Times
'An exhilarating read.' - The Short Review
Toby Litt's Bio-Punk story 'Call it ''The Bug'' Because I Have No Time to Think of a Better Title' short-listed for the 2013 Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award.
The defeat of the Muscogees (Creeks), the only serious impediments to U.S. westward expansion, opened millions of acres of land to the white settlers and firmly established the Cotton Kingdom and slavery in the Deep South. For southeastern Native Americans, the war resulted in the destruction of their civilization and forced removal west of the Mississippi: The Trail of Tears. O'Brien presents both the American and Native American perspectives of this important chapter of U.S. history. He also examines the roles of the neighboring tribes and African Americans who lived in the Muscogee nation.
Take a walk between these shelves. Crack the spine and the blow the dust off lives unlived because, so far, they’re unread. Become, if you dare, as trapped as them…
“Sean O'Brien, like Graham Greene, creates his own instantly recognisable fictional landscape, where crime, mystery and disillusion lurk by the waters of the Tyne or Humber. His stories glint with black comedy and touches of the macabre and surreal. In O'Brien country you may hear the hoot of a train pulling out of the city, but you'll never be on it, because your place is here in the kingdom of backstreet pubs, tired, desirable girls and drowned men. Nothing is ever as it seems: it is much more frightening than that… First-class stories from one of our finest writers.”
- Helen Dunmore
“Sean O'Brien does for libraries what Ursula Andress did for bikinis. Read and rejoice!”
- Val McDermid
The ten short stories gathered here all feature characters in search of something, a new reality, a space, perhaps, in which to rediscover themselves: from the call-centre worker imagining herself far away from the claustrophobic realities of her day job, to the woman coming to terms with an ex-lover who’s moved on all too quickly, to the man trying to outrun his mother’s death on Town Moor. The Book of Newcastle brings together some of the city’s most renowned literary talents, along with exciting new voices, proving that while Newcastle continues to feel the effects of its lost industrial past, it is also a city striving for a future that brims with promise.
A librarian cataloguing the manuscripts of a recently deceased horror writer notices one particular box, relating to his most mystical work, has disappeared...
A young academic takes up residency in the former home of an obscure, Dutch poet in order to better understand the strange rumours surrounding his demise...
Sean O’Brien’s stories are all lit with the unmistakable hue of the Victorian gothic: from the rantings of a deranged psychiatric patient, to the apparition of demons swarming into a remote, rural railway station; solemn oaths are broken and need atoning for; minor transgressions are met with outlandish curses. Often we join O’Brien’s protagonists attempting to take time out from their troubles, but removing themselves from their normal lives only lets the supernatural in, and before they know it personal demons find very literal ones to conspire with.
An out-of-season seaside town, a library stocked with memories, a man slowly going mad...
Starting in the hotels and suburbs of a down-at-heel coastal town, Jean Sprackland's stories follow a cast of rootless characters, young men and women clinging to tokens of the past, whose lives are so lacking in ballast they become as unstable as the dunes themselves.
Tim Cooke invites us into a very different space: the derelict rooms and vandalised stairwells of an inner city tower-block. From there, each story draws a claustrophobic spiral round the next, following various characters (or is it the same person?) desperate to flee their demons.
Sean O'Brien's stories also spiral outwards - not from a state of mind but a setting: an ornate, vaulted lending library, an edifice from another age, where unlikely users and chance items found in stock lead to quite different lamentations for the past.
Donn Cardenio, damaged veteran of Earth's disastrous first interstellar war, and two hundred fellow Caretakers are charged with caring for a quarter million embryos en route to colonize the extrasolar planet Tau Ceti III.
Cardenio considers this assignment a chance to redeem himself from the ravages of the past great war.
But, when one of his Caretaker colleagues snaps, Cardenio is forced to begin an investigation that leads to more questions than answers—questions about his relationship with his lover, his own past, and the nature of the mission he's on.
Unfortunately for Cardenio, nothing is as it appears. His fellow Caretakers do not share his reverence for the lives in their charge; friends and lovers hide vital truths; and his enemies and rivals become allies.
By the end of the mission, Donn Cardenio will confront the terrible reality of what he's done to determine how the future will unfold.
Come for a walk down the river road,
For though you're all a long time dead
The waters part to let us pass
The way we'd go on summer nights
In the times we were children
And thought we were lovers.
The Drowned Book is a work of memory, commemoration and loss, dominated by elegies for those the author has loved and admired. Sean O'Brien's exquisite collection is powerfully affecting, sad and often deeply funny; but it is also a dramatically compelling book - disquieting, even - and full of warnings. As the book unfolds, O'Brien's verse occupies an increasingly dark, subterranean territory - where the waters are rising, threatening to overwhelm and ruin the world above.
Winner of both the T. S. Eliot and Forward prizes, The Drowned Book is an extraordinary collection, a classic from one of the leading poets of our time.
All this forms a lovely acoustic anteroom to the long poem HAMMERSMITH – a psychogeographic journey through the haunted landscapes of London, very shadowy and cinematic; it’s a gripping – and at times semi-novelistic– navigation of the labyrinth of memory, with the contemporary political/climate apocalypses looming over it to make it even creepier. All in all, it has the feel and grandeur of a contemporary version of a Blake prophetic poem.
Europa is a magisterial, grave and lyric work from one of the finest poets of the age: it shows not just a Europe haunted by disaster and the threat of apocalypse, but an England where the shadows lengthen and multiply even in its most familiar and domestic corners. Europa, the poet reminds us, shapes the fate of everyone in these islands – even those of us who insist that they live elsewhere.
The vision behind the DARPA project was to mine the social sciences literature for alternative theories of human behavior, and then formalize, instantiate, and integrate them within the context of an agent-based modeling system. The research team developed an experimental platform to evaluate the conditions under which alternative theories and groups of theories applied. The end result was a proof of concept developed from the ground up of social knowledge that could be used as an informative guide for policy analysis. This book describes in detail the process of designing and implementing a pilot system that helped DARPA assess the feasibility of a computational social science project on a large scale.