He stands up and walks around his desk, placing a sweaty hand on my lower back as he opens the office door to indicate it is time to go. “The Oracle represents the most sophisticated healthcare algorithm ever created. Trust Her.”
We’re stood in the gallery of the 19th century Old Operating Theatre, as medical students would have done to watch their tutors at work. This is the oldest surgical theatre in Europe, in use before the birth of modern medicine. No germ theory of disease, no anaesthesia and an epistemology based around the four humours meant this was a room more used to torture than cure. Bloodletting, lancing boils and amputation the surgeon’s art.
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.