by Rob Harding
(Part 9 of a serialised prose fiction endeavour. Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8)
I stay hidden while Adil opens up again, rates the police on their app, and sends them packing. Once that’s done, Adil’s daughter nods to me. ‘You’re welcome.’ She says. ‘Now, if you don’t mind?’
I stammer my thanks and head out the front again. Adil nods to me and lets me duck under a shutter, and back out onto the street.
There’s no sign of the police, or the hijacked DeepGrey workers, or anything particular. A Community Security bot has rolled into place at the far end of the street, but if I don’t go near it it won’t ID me and do the digital equivalent of the staring-eyed pod person screech. I’ve long since resigned to having to work around the damn things, and these days I only vaguely keep track of the forum posters who fight a constant arms race with their glassy-eyed developers out in San Francisco or Vientiane, or wherever the fuck has the most reliably gullible investors this week.Continue Reading
by Zoe Harding
(Part 8 of a serialised prose fiction endeavour. Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7) | CW: violence
The woman on the street is making those noises as the shouting starts again, the raw-throat all-out hate that only hysterical men can shriek. I barely recognise what they’re saying.
The woman coughs and sobs again, and I hear a fleshy impact, like the sound of a shoe hitting a stomach.
And then there’s the wail of a siren, right around the corner, and the burglar-alarm scream of an LRAD blots out all other sound. A huge armoured police car with tires as tall as I am comes grinding down the street, a pair of armed officers walking alongside it. The turret on top is swinging to bring a grenade launcher to bear against the fight. Hopefully they won’t fire it. I like this jacket, and the stink of chemical riot dispersant is designed with a half-life of about fifty years.Continue Reading
by Zoe Harding
(Part 7 of a serialised prose fiction endeavour. Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6) | CW: violence, language
I push the shop door open, and nod to Adil. He smiles back, salt-and-pepper beard twitching, and goes back to watching an old taped football match on his TV. I like Adil, even though we rarely talk. He’s a paid-up inhabitant of the Real World, the proverbial Englishman whose home is his castle, running his shop and veg garden like the world around him isn’t going to hell. I imagine his sitting room’s a comfortable throwback to the last millennium, kettle boiling and football on the TV glaring off the brown wallpaper.
by Justin Reynolds
Visions of a great civilisation enjoying ‘peace under heaven’ have haunted the Chinese imagination from the time of the sages to today, when President Xi Jingping’s ‘China Dream’ of a prosperous ordered nation is propagated ceaselessly by the state-controlled media.
Here hypermodernity is filtered through ancient virtues. China’s gleaming new cities, high-speed rail links and technology parks are studded with billboards urging honesty, modesty and filial piety. Its vast wired economy is screened for decadent Western influences, blocking Facebook, Google and YouTube, and magazines infatuated with celebrity gossip or ‘crude language’. This year the ‘Great Firewall of China’ was reinforced when the state banned VPN services used by millions to break through to the global web.
Now China is finetuning the ultimate technological fix for designing a virtuous society: a ‘Social Credit System’ that will use the data produced by a population of some 1.4 billion citizens in the course of their daily interactions with digital services to rank them according to ‘trustworthiness’.Continue Reading
by Zoe Harding
(Part 6 of a serialised prose fiction endeavour. Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5)
Speaking of, I decide it’s time to go for a walk. Staying active is good for your mental health, which is why every single public park and footpath is perpetually rammed with DeepGrey drones trying to keep their brains stable enough to run the god-spreadsheet – in my case it also helps immensely with the dysphoria, which is useful because nothing else is going to any more.
I pull on a bomber jacket and a baseball cap, opting for relatively shallow heels in case I need to out-sidle a DeepGrey recruiter. For once I’ve got enough money for a solid grocery shop, and near me there’s still a place that takes cash, earned scandalously but (in my opinion, anyway) honestly. I feel a solid meal coming on tonight.Continue Reading
by Stu Lucy
In the first article concerning the less palatable aspects of food within a global context, the paradox of abundance and dearth in both Ghana and the West were contextualised within an apparent food dystopia. On that journey, a foodstuff was briefly mentioned that has become almost omnipresent in weird people’s lives, and will be the focus of the next in this series of pieces illuminating the realities and practices relating to food and the international community. So without further ado, let us delve straight into the sickly-sweet world of sugar.Continue Reading
By Stu Lucy
Food. We all need it and each every one of us has a unique and complex relationship with it. From production to acquisition to preparation and finally consumption, the constituent parts of this process vary widely across the planet. The unfortunate reality for most of the global community, however, is that this personal and multifaceted relationship is fraught with difficulty and dilemma. In fact, as we further examine the inner mechanisms and processes of the human-food relationship, we can find ourselves exposed to a somewhat dystopian state of affairs.Continue Reading
by Eli Lambe
Dave Eggers’ The Circle, both the book and the recent feature-length adaptation, is a dystopia formed around a Facebook/Apple/Google/Amazon-esque corporation, one which hosts and shares almost every aspect of its users lives. The novel does a remarkable job of capturing the subtle ways in which this model is marketed to us, how this format of data-as-product is often shrouded in apparently progressive buzzwords – community, accountability, transparency, participation – whilst the company which operates under this model does so under the same values as every other corporate entity.
There is a veneer of progressivity and respectability that companies adopt in order to retain and gain customers – like Facebook making it easier to harass trans people, or implementing guidelines that protect white men but not black children, and at the same time, for one month of the year, patchily providing a rainbow “pride” react to the users who liked lgbt@facebook. Perhaps not as extreme as Eggers writes in The Circle, but eerily close enough: “Anytime you wanted to see anything, use anything, comment on anything or buy anything, it was one button, one account, everything tied together and trackable and simple, all of it operable via mobile or laptop, tablet or retinal.”Continue Reading
by Tara Debra G
I attended a Trump rally in Baton Rouge on December 9th, the main purpose of which was to campaign for the Republican candidate for the Louisiana Senate, John Kennedy. Having lived here through election day and becoming involved in American politics on such a personal level, I went there to try and gain an understanding. An understanding that could help to explain the reasoning behind voting for the most despicable demagogue of my lifetime.Continue Reading
by Julian Canlas
drank from lakes
that turned out to be droughts
cut our lids
to see the future
mined coal with safety pins.
‘It’s time for celebration, not gawking
at deaths crushed by credit,’ you say.
sick dentures pushing teeth back
rusty hammers made from origami cranes, pinkwashed. never grow
tired of going to the bank, where each need is a static noise
& a gunshot,
where you tell me,
‘you &I are beings in boats.
wasting the column. no column. no pronoun to speak.
rather the gusts than a wall
rather understanding than secular missionaries
rather the freedoms of you & me than glass ceilings
rather the prickled rose we will hold firmly than the diamond-sculpted cross
rather the blood &organs than shed skin
rather the body of blood & sinews than war-torn factories
this is stinking of sweet sorrow,
where dystopias are youth’s memoirs, &
where adulthoods are delayed because there is no
money & water.
& until this day, we are sat on swings
that you say will break from our weight.
Featured image via GlobalSocialTheory