It seems to me the Writing the Future science fiction prize, and the beautiful, eerie stories, mess with our minds because they say ambiguous things about the gap between the present and the future.
Is this gap vast, with futures yet untold unfolding in unpredictable directions? Or is this gap porous, and shrinking? Are the seeds of these unsettling futures already contained in our present? I want to think about this gap, about this distance for a bit, at the same time far removed and uncomfortably close.
“You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” Steve Jobs
In September I was invited to present at NHS Expo on what health and care may look like over the next 70 years, and the leadership challenges we face as a result. At the same I was privileged enough to be reading Kaleidoscope’s Writing the Future sci-fi short stories about health and healthcare in 2100. I was struck by the possibilities for the future we could face.
Having been part of the panel judging the splendid recent Writing the Future competition, I've been asked to pen a few words about the writer's job; specifically how the world 'out there' gets filtered through the writer's imagination so that it arrives 'down there' on the page.
Life is messy and inchoate. We writers are mining it for truth. Disobligingly it refuses to manifest itself in convenient five act structures for us simply to copy down.
Writing the Future is a vanity exercise. A piece of ephemera only of interest to the eccentric, whimsical, or those with far too much time on their hands.
I don’t agree; and having come up with the idea originally, I’m not sure you’d expect me to. But amid mounting pressures today, why on earth have we tied £10,000 to a literature prize about an era when almost all of you reading this will be dead? Why should you care? Here are three reasons.
When Richard Taunt invited me to do this, I should have given him a warning. That my least favourite forms of fiction are science fiction and fantasy.
That when it comes to the future, I am right there with the American baseball star Yogi Berra – to whom is often attributed the famous quote: "Never make predictions – especially about the future." Fortunately, Richard made clear that all I needed to talk about is the past – before finding out who has won Writing the Future, the future of health and care in 2100.
August has seen Writing the Future, Kaleidoscope’s first foray into competitions, close for entries. As the world’s largest health science fiction prize, asking participants to write 3000 words on UK health and healthcare in the year 2100, we are really pleased to learn that we are not totally doomed!
Our aim for the competition is none-less than to shatter the groupthink of how we think about the future of health and care. Too often five years, or maybe ten at a push, becomes the limit to our thinking about what comes next. Instead we’re trying to think about 83 years hence – and the practical relevance today of thinking about the real long-term.
The month of June was an eventful one for the UK; where our sense of security came under question from terrorism and tragedies, to who we want to be as a nation through the choices we made at the ballot box. All the while, celebrations of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan and World Pride have only shown the onus we all have to be true to ourselves and celebrate our identities. It is then no surprise that security, identity and choice are major themes in health and healthcare.