The other day I went along to London’s Design Museum to catch the opening of United Micro Kingdoms (UMK): A Design Fiction. The exhibition, conceived and curated by design studio Dunne & Raby, uses elements of industrial design, architecture, politics and science to explore the future of design. Anthony Dunne talked to me about his four fictional kingdoms, his love of science fiction, and the value of dystopic thinking.
United Micro Kingdoms runs until 26 August 2013 at the Design Museum, Shad Thames, London SE1 2YD.
Last Saturday the ReConstitutional Convention – a global experiment in political system design – brought together diverse groups of social inventors all over the world to imagine and prototype original and alternative architectures for governing.
By pure coincidence, this was also the week I started researching for the 70th anniversary of the discovery of LSD.
Here’s my bit. (There are lots of others)
Around 6’20″ I start channeling Timothy Leary; watch Lydia Nicholas‘s face as it begins to dawn on her that this to-camera is going up on YouTube FOR EVER…
I’d like to thank Tobias Revell and Justin Pickard for inviting me along to this creative, playful, exasperating and very rewarding day.
The revolution begins here. (Maybe.)
That’s what it says here. I’m never going to live this one down.
From 19 – 24 August 2013 I’ll be at Totleigh Barton, “a thatched, pre-Domesday manor house, nestled in the rolling hills of one of the most peaceful and beautiful parts of Devon,” teaching for the Arvon Foundation alongside Tania Hershman, one of the country’s more energetic champions of the short story. We’ll be guiding new, uncertain, confused and increasingly anxious writers through the interzone between fiction and science writing in a course imaginatively titled Science and Writing.
It says here that “we will be giving you different ways to sprinkle science into your writing, encouraging you to play!”
Ha. Expect intense intellectual rigour, cut with grotesque displays of temper, as we attempt to fuse the two cultures in the magnetic bottle of us getting paid for once.
Heidi Williamson, who was was poet-in-residence at the Science Museum’s Dana Centre, is our guest reader.
The course costs between £620 and £680 and grants are available for those on low income – click here for more information.
So I was on this panel about sexuality at EightSquaredCon, paraphrasing a pick-up scene by professional Yorkshireman John Braine and hazing people with the idea that maybe we didn’t invent same-sex attraction last week, and that anyone writing novels or reading them may for the longest time have had a fairly sophisticated take on the subject; one we just can’t see these days, obsessed as we are by labeling everything. And then I read The Productions of Time by John Brunner, an indispensable book if only for its jaw-dropping overuse of the expression “fullblown Les”. As in:
“And me as a fullblown Les,” Heather said. “It’s so frightening, Murray! They said ‘the urge was on her tapes’ and if you hadn’t worried me so much… I’d have been seduced by Ida and then…”
“But it might not have worked, young woman!”
“It would have,” she said obstinately. “There’s a bit of it in all of us — you should know that, as a doctor. I used to get crushes on older girls when I was at school, so it’s probably still in me, just below the surface, waiting for—“
Hysteria on the way, Murray diagnosed, and wondered if he was going to have to slap her face to quiet her.
So that’s my oh-so-sophisticated take on the historiography of sex blown out of the shallows. Though of course Brunner, while capable of writing like a dog and thinking like a dog, was not incapable of irony, and this was published (in 1967) by New American Library, so maybe there’s a sneery transatlantic joke being played here on the cowpokes.
All that remains is to write a cracking outline to go with “Fullblown Les” – a title too po-mo to waste.
(Swiped from an @io9 tweet. Obviously.)
I’m off to north Wales on St David’s Day to take part in this year’s Scifiweekender. It’s being held at the Hafan y Mor Holiday Park near Pwllheli and will probably look something like this
though given the weather it could end up looking like this
and will add a chilly authenticity to Simon’s exploration of Soviet cinema, space exploration, and all things Klushantsev.
Saturday’s RAILWAY TO THE STARS is, a celebration of Russia’s spirit of exploration through Russian film. I’ll also bring along some off-prints of Arc to give people a flavour of what we’re up to.
The 2013 Scifiweekender runs from 1 to 3 March. Call the ticket hotline on 08700 110034.
On the afternoon of Sunday 24 February, Arc visits the Netherlands to explore the dark universe as guests of Sonic Acts, a long-running Dutch festival exploring the interzone between art, music and science.
The invitation a very happy coincidence for us as Arc‘s first edition of 2013, out soon, focuses on the fact that most of our universe is missing.
Come see us if you can: Alastair Reynolds will be riffing mischievously off Fermi’s paradox, science writer Frank Swain will map where the wild things are, I’ll explain why a theory of vision that ignored light completely served us well for over 800 years, and Tim Maughan will offer us a first glimpse of his experimental AR entertainment Watching Paint Die.
(I’m especially looking forward to that as I’ve just received Tim’s latest story for Arc – a cracking sequel to Paintwork called Ghost Hardware.)
Sonic Acts 2013 runs from Thursday 21 to Sunday 24 February. (Here’s the programme.) Arc’s bit of it runs from 1.30 to 3.30 on Sunday afternoon, in a former gaol called De Balie. They say it’s a chic theatre cafe-restaurant now, but I’m beginning to wonder if there isn’t a pattern developing here.
Last time I did something with Sonic Acts they put me up in a student house next door to Joseph Fritzl.
Conference & Festival Passepartout 80 euro
24 Feb day and evening 25 euro
24 Feb day: Conference 20 euro
Follow the event on Twitter:
@arcfinity @sonicacts @aquilarift @sciencepunk @simonings @timmaughan