Please introduce yourself and your book.
I am Stephen Oram and I write science fiction. I prefer the near-future social sci-fi rather than the off-planet aliens type. My new collection of science fiction shorts, Biohacked & Begging and Other Stories, is volume 2 of Nudge the Future and includes pieces of flash fiction on implants, genetic modifications and blockchain micro-transactions.
What is the story behind your book?
The collection comes from a mixture of working on projects with scientists exploring how science fiction can influence science, and vice versa of course, and from writing specific pieces for live themed events. It’s taken a couple of years to collate and follows on from Eating Robots and Other Stories.
What inspires your creativity?
For these pieces, I loved taking a look at the potential of new technology and science and thinking about how this might manifest itself in real life with real humans. The performance artist Stelarc sums it up well in his quote on the cover of the collection. “These thoroughly enjoyable and contestable futures explore the personal and political implications of fleshy and messy encounters with contentious technology and the epidemic of algorithms.”
How do you deal with creative block?
The great thing about writing flash fiction is that you’re brimming with ideas for a multitude of stories, so if I get a creative block on one I can move on to another. Of course, there’s always a long walk along the desolate canals of London if I really need time to let my brain roam free.
Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers?
I hope the two are close enough to one another to be indistinguishable. My overarching aim is to entertain, but I also want to prompt people to think about the future. The series name – Nudge the Future – and the tagline The future is ours and it’s up for grabs… both give a hint at what I’m hoping to achieve. In an ideal world my personal satisfaction will also serve the readers who like my stuff.
What role do emotions play in creativity?
I think emotions play a huge role. Certainly at the early stages when I’m looking for the bite that I want from a story. As the text develops and takes shape then the pragmatic becomes important, after all it has to read well. And then I think they come in again at the end when I make sure the final piece carries the emotions I originally hoped for.
Tell us some quirky facts about yourself
I don’t think these are quirky facts, but they do give a sense of who I am (I think). I’ve been a hippie-punk, religious-squatter and a bureaucrat-anarchist; I thrive on contradictions. I’m lead curator for near-future fiction at Virtual Futures and write stories for scifi-prototyping. You can find out a bit more about me at www.stephenoram.net.