Despite the present challenges to the film industry, the business of story-telling goes on. Sometimes the page is mightier than the screen. And brevity more eloquent than length.
We live in an age of impatience and demand. People have no time, or think they have none. These short stories explore this state of mind, on the one hand accommodating, on the other hand challenging it. Five hundred words. A two-minute read. But rather longer to digest.
If they have a common theme, it lies in the damage being done to our fragile lives by the multiple changes thrown up over recent months and the radical shifts one might foresee in the coming years.
They represent a personal response to a rapidly evolving world fraught with misinformation, political opportunism, false pleasures and crumbling traditions, slices of an uncomfortable near future which is not so far from the logic of our own.
For instance, in The Algorithm:
One striking facet of our times is the absence of foresight. Intuition appears to have been lost as a human asset. Instead, decisions are made by trial and error. ‘We’ll try this. If it doesn’t work, we’ll do something else.’ While this might appear to be pure incompetence, it disguises deeper trends.
We have lost confidence in our own mental processes. The recourse to abstract authority, such as ‘science’, replaces personal responsibility. Gradually this abnegation instills fear and becomes a means of control. Chaotic, but no less repressive. First unleash your chaos; then step in to suppress it. The route to power of every demagogue.
The Algorithm moves beyond the distress caused by the moderated exam results of Summer 2020 to examine the assumptions underlying the very process and where, by extension, it might lead us. Exams were never perfect let alone popular, but they were personal. With the implementation of statistical modelling, the rights of the individual to a hearing and a verdict were brushed aside. Information was abused as an implement of social repression. The eventual reversal of this ‘moderation’ cannot disguise its intrusion into other areas of our society. Beware of euphemism, for it camouflages its opposite. The algorithm may have been discredited in this instance but it has not gone away.
We are not numbers. We are not figments of some online projection. We are not facets of our social classification. We are not duplicates of the generations that went before or cannon fodder for a ruined economy. The struggle for human rights has been long and hard. Corrupt systems must not go unchallenged.
A comparable sifting of ideas and implications underlies each of these very different stories. By a process of deduction and projection they examine where we may be heading.
Click on the titles below to read the individual stories: