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Manchester: the perfect setting for Science Fiction

Baby

Baby at Manchester University

So why did I chose Manchester and the North West of England as the main setting for A Calculated Life? It’s not simply because I know this city and region (I could have chosen London, which I know well enough).

The fact is that Manchester shouted out as being totally appropriate. I couldn’t resist. You see, A Calculated Life is set later in the 21st Century. It’s Science Fiction or, as others might classify the novel, Speculative Fiction. It presents a dystopian view of the future – one in which humans have adopted many advances in neural implant technology and genetic engineering. As Ray Kurzweil argues in The Age of Spiritual Machines, once we discovered computation we reset our future evolutionary path.

So where better to locate this futuristic novel, than the city where the first commercial computer was developed. Read more

Why did I even begin to write this novel?

Kurzweil_warwick

It all began . . . at the turn of the millennium when, after I’d recovered from the celebrations, I read a long review in The Guardian‘s New Year edition of Ray Kurzweil’s book The Age of Spiritual Machines. His predictions were a wake-up call. He imagined a future when humans start to merge with technology, that is, when wealthier humans boost their brainpower by way of neural implants (welI, I can see the upside, who wouldn’t? Imagine being fluent in seven languages…).

Kurzweil argues that it’s absolutely inevitable that the next step in our evolution will involve cognitive implants. By the year 2099, he says humans with neural implants will be unable to hold a meaningful conversation with humans who do not have them; the divide will be too great.

This was seriously scary stuff, or I thought so at least. I was already looking at the dividing line between humans and machines in my art practice, but Kurzweil’s predictions really unnerved me. Read more