Unsung Stories anthology and Kickstarter

Unsung Stories is publishing a new anthology of science fiction, called 2084 with new stories from Priest, Hutchinson, Tidhar, Noon, Smythe, & Charnock

Unsung Stories have gathered eleven leading science fiction writers who have looked ahead to 2084, as Orwell did in 1948, for a new anthology – writers such as David Hutchinson, Christopher Priest, Lavie Tidhar, James Smythe, Jeff Noon and Anne Charnock, who are already famous for their visions of the near future.

As the events of 2017 reveal an ever more complex relationship between people and their governments, classic dystopian literature is proving its relevance once again. But as readers turn to classics, like Nineteen Eighty-Four, writers are also looking to our future, and what may lie there.

Speaking about the anthology, George Sandison, Managing Editor at Unsung Stories, said, “We knew when we first started work on the anthology that the idea was timely, but the start of 2017 has really hammered home how important writing like this is.


“Dystopian fiction gives us a space in which to explore today’s fears, and the nightmares of society. For many people the events of the last eighteen months have brought those dark futures much closer, so it’s inevitable that we turn to literature to help us understand why.

“The ideas at work in 2084 range from the familiar to the fantastic, but all are bound by a current and relevant sense of what we could lose, what’s at stake. As with Orwell’s work, decades from now, we will be looking back to our stories, to better understand today.” 2084 will be published by Unsung Stories in July 2017.

In 1948 Orwell saw a world in flux, at risk of losing liberty so recently won. In response he wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four, a prophetic book. Now, in 2017, the themes are still with us. This anthology of new short stories draws together leading science fiction writers – famous for their visions of our near future – and asks them to look
into our future, to the year 2084. Put humanity on trial as the oceans rise. Slip over borders in a Balkanised
Europe. Tread the bizarre streets of cities ruled by memes. See the world through the eyes of drones. Say goodbye to your body as humanity merges with technology.

Warnings or prophesies? The path to Paradise or destruction? Will we be proud of what we have achieved, in 2084?
Our future unfolds before us. The Kickstarter will be live at www.unsungstories.co.uk/2084 from March 29th.

2084 features original fiction from:

Christopher Priest (author of The Prestige, The Gradual and many more)
Lavie Tidhar (author of A Man Lies Dreaming, Osama and Central Station)
Dave Hutchinson (author of The Fractured Europe Sequence)
James Smythe (author of The Australia Trilogy and The Anomaly Quartet)
Anne Charnock (author of Sleeping Embers of an Ordinary Mind and A Calculated Life)
Jeff Noon (author of Vurt, Automated Alice, Pollen and many more)
Aliya Whiteley (author of The Beauty and The Arrival of Missives)
Oliver Langmead (author of Metronome and Dark Star)
Cassandra Khaw (author of Hammers on Bone)
Desirina Boskovich
Ian Hocking (author of Deja Vu)

Close Encounters of the Third Kind is the Most Terrifying Movie Ever Made by Thomas S. Flowers

Close Encounters of the Third Kind is the Most Terrifying Movie Ever Made

By: Thomas S. Flowers, author of the Subdue Series
Conceiving, Book Three, is Out Now!

In the glamor of watching a Steven Spielberg film, it is easy to understand how caught up we can get in the chaotic wonder of colorful kaleidoscopic strobes blinking over and over and superb John Williams magnum opus scores. But I have to wonder, while we were in that childlike stupor, did we see what was really going on? The visuals dazzled us, no doubt there, but is there a subversive message behind all the pizazz? Okay. I’m not really sure how subversive we’re talking here. Certainly, there is something to be said. Something to meditate over. And maybe even some revelation, some hidden fear to cause us to cower. Since watching Close Encounters of the Third Kind, I’ve kept a somewhat precarious eye on the night’s sky, glaring into the dark depths of the cosmos and wondering who or what is out there. And not only who or what, but what capabilities do they have? What technological power do these “beings” possess? Mind control? Abduction? Electromagnetism? Blackouts? Radiation burns? Sickness? Madness? All these are terrifying symptoms, no? If you’ve paid attention you’ll find the terrifying powers listed above are all in that Spielberg film we’ve loved and adored since 1977. And this is why I think Close Encounters of the Third Kind is the most terrifying surreptitious movie ever made. While we were dazzled and awed, strange elongated aliens were abducting children in a blaze of orange fog. While we giggled and cooed over the keyboard synthesizers and light show, a husband and father of three aggressively and tragically lost his mind, eventually being taken away by these so-called visitors. If we sit back down and watch this movie again, carefully, point for point…well, I’m sure you’ll agree: Close Encounters of the Third Kind IS a cosmic horror movie. Why? Well, this goes back to that ole Lovecraftian fear, not knowing “what’s out there” or “why they’ve come,” and having zero control over “what they do.”

Since the movie’s release in 1977, Close Encounters of the Third Kind has grossed over $337 million worldwide.  Ray Bradbury declared it the greatest science fiction film ever made. The film was nominated for several Oscars; having only taken home one in cinematography. Had Star Wars not released the same year, I’m certain Close Encounters would have won all the eggs. No surprise there, if you’ve seen the movie then you know there is no denying the film’s powerful dream-like quality. There’s nothing uber complicated with the plot or story structure. It’s actually rather cut and dry, in which some may say is a tad slow for our rapid-fire attention spans. I too recall watching this when I was a kid on VHS and thinking it had its fair share of boring scenes; however, as an adult now, I think the movie has a fantastic pace in which every moment is important in some way. I think a part of why we never watched Close Encounters of the Third Kind with the idea that it is a horror movie is because of the simplicity of the story, we glaze over and…Again, cue the musical numbers and flashy bulbs. Look at the film, watch the movie, even those on screen, especially at the end, the characters are all moon pied as if they’ve surrendered to some kind of trance or hypnosis. AGAIN…isn’t that in itself a terrifying factor? Losing our will.

dwelling

And we have to ask, what exactly do these aliens really want? If they’ve been abducting people for generations, what do they want with the one man crazy enough to have made it to Devils Tower? If they’ve been taking people all willy-nilly since before WWII, or even longer, well…it goes to say they probably already have a clear understanding of human anatomy. And if they can insert images and thoughts into our minds, well… this begs the question, how much more of us do they really need to know? To me, it all seems like a subjective test. A greater intelligence than our own giving humanity the equivalent of a SAT exam. Consider this bit from an article published by Keith Phipps:

“When Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss), a humble lineman for an Indiana electric company, investigates a power outage, he witnesses an unidentified flying object, a run-in that leaves him with what appears to be a severe sunburn. Nearby, 3-year-old Barry Guiler (Cary Guffey), follows some lights outside as his mother Jillian (Melinda Dillon) chases after him. Both Roy and Jillian, who soon meet, are fascinated by their experiences, but this feeling soon takes a turn. Having strayed from his duties as a result of his sighting, Roy first loses his job then seems to lose his mind as he becomes fixated on alien encounters while his family looks on in horror. Jillian’s life turns even more dramatic than Roy’s when the UFOs return and draw Barry to them as Jillian fights their efforts to avail, in a scene Spielberg stages like an otherworldly home invasion, with Barry’s unwitting delight only amplifying the horror. Something from beyond Earth has arrived, but its intentions remain vague, as does its respect for human life.”

emerging

And at the end, we get the impression of open communication with the whole sign-language gag. But I wonder…how open is that communication really? Roy Neary was still taken. He was obviously still insane, giving no thought or hesitation of leaving behind his wife, two sons, and daughter. My impression is that these intelligent aliens are still rather indifferent about humanity. And indifference can be dangerous. I question the “friendliness” of the final encounter, the film to me reeks of its post-Watergate-pessimistic era of misguided trust. Sure, they are taking Roy Neary to some place that might be benevolent and beautiful, but how do we know, and to make matter worse, we’re never guaranteed his return. Will they bring him back as they did the countless others? (Did you see the billboard with all those names and pictures of people they believe had been abducted? Freaking insane number, right?) The final act is the answer to the entire mundane meets the spectacular and secretive undertone of the movie, we don’t know, we don’t know if Roy Neary will return, we don’t know what they’ll do with him, and we have absolutely no power to stop them from taking him. For all we know those seemingly kind disco-friendly aliens dissected him, leaving his amputated parts floating in murky glass jars as they cruse the solar systems jamming to KC and the Sunshine Band. And this begs the most horrifying question of all, as the credits roll and the spaceships float away, would we ourselves want to take a ride with these cosmic visitors? Could we stop them even if we didn’t?

Dare To Discuss, I Robot?

 

Welcome

Welcome to Dare to Discuss, a bi-monthly event for readers, reviewers, and bloggers to have in-depth discussions about books. Anyone and everyone is welcome to participate and join the discussion. But first, here’s a few rules.

Rules

  1. Be polite. All opinions are welcome in this discussion and contrasting viewpoints are encouraged, but be respectful and polite. This discussion is about the book. Check your personal vendettas at the door. Thank you.

  2. Feel free to link to your own review of the book in the comments, but please keep the discussion here. That way everyone can join in!


The Book

The three laws of Robotics:i-robot
1) A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm
2) A robot must obey orders give in to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

With these three, simple directives, Isaac Asimov changed our perception of robots forever when he formulated the laws governing their behavior. In I, Robot, Asimov chronicles the development of the robot through a series of interlinked stories: from its primitive origins in the present to its ultimate perfection in the not-so-distant future–a future in which humanity itself may be rendered obsolete.

Here are stories of robots gone mad, of mind-read robots, and robots with a sense of humor. Of robot politicians, and robots who secretly run the world–all told with the dramatic blend of science fact and science fiction that has become Asmiov’s trademark.


The Reviews

David @ The Scary Reviews says:

What happens when robots become so advanced that we can’t distinguish them from a human being? I Robot was so far ahead of its time it’s scary. We haven’t arrived in this possible future yet but when we do I hope we don’t forget the three rules that Issac Asimov invented. I’m sure if we make robots this advanced we are in for a world of hurt. [Full Review Here]

Melanie @ MNBernard Books says:

Frankly, I’m not sure how I feel about this book because it was interesting, but maddeningly confusing. Each of the experiences with robots was unique and offered a new look on robotic technology and how they would be important and how they would evolve in future society. At the same time, there was so much technological terminology that I just felt like I was fumbling around in the dark most of the time. [Full Review Here]

Lilyn @ Scifi & Scary says:

Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot deserves it’s place in the Hallowed Halls of Classic Science Fiction. This collection of short stories, which showcases the development of artificial intelligence, is exquisitely well-crafted. I can only imagine how groundbreaking these piece must have been when they were written. Even though AI hasn’t taken the exact steps that Asimov lays out, it’s still a near prophetic look at it’s development. From the robot nanny most of us had not heard about, to the deceptive robot everyone knows from the Will Smith I, Robot, it’s a believable evolution of robotics. [Full Review Here]


The Discussion

Please note that spoilers are acceptable and likely to happen! You’re encouraged to ask your own questions about the book for other discussioners, but in case you don’t have any, I’ve listed a few below to get the ball rolling.

  • How far away do you think we are from the creation of AI that can pass for ‘real’?

  • What do you think influenced Asimov to come up with his 3 laws of robotics to begin with?

  • Where is the line crossed from artificial intelligence to the creation of a new life form? Will we be able to tell when we cross it?

  • What defines artificial versus natural intelligence? In 100 years, will we be able to tell?