22 Ideas About the Future

Reviewed by James Woudhuysen

22 Ideas about the future, edited by Benjamin Greenaway and Stephen Oram (Cybersalon Press: 2022)

On Sky Arts, over some months, they’ve been playing Alfred Hitchcock Presents. This was a schlocky but nevertheless highly entertaining series of spooky psychodramas, each just 25 minutes long, interrupted by its sponsors, Bristol Myers. Running from 1955 till at least 1957, the films featured stars such as Ralph Meeker, Charles Bronson, Thelma Ritter and the unimpeachable Claude Rains. Hitchcock would appear comically – from inside a space helmet, or at the centre of an enormous spider’s web – in a short spoof before the plot; also, in a splenetic, dour diatribe at the back end.

Perhaps numbered after the 22 in the year 2022, this collection of very short sci-fi stories has the same scary, translucent tone to it as those old Hitchcock shorts. While Hitch directed other directors to capture the southern, sinister and sardonic brightness he later gave us with Psycho, editors Benjamin Greenaway and Stephen Oram have wrung something similar from their contributors here. These are forecasts of the future in fictional form. Not all are successful, but some are fun. 

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Call for Submissions: Prediction, Innovation, & Futures

Vector and Focus invite proposals from academics of all disciplines, and from industry, policy, and practice backgrounds, on the theme of speculative fiction in relation to prediction, innovation, and futures. Please see here for the full call.

The principal output will be a special issue of Vector, guest edited by Stephen Oram, and relevant proposals will also be considered for publication in Focus (ed. Dev Agarwal), and/or for online publication. Prospective contributors are encouraged to move conversations forward; to challenge received wisdom; to historicise the use of speculative fiction within science communication, policy, foresight, innovation, education, and research contexts; and/or to reflect in detail on your own personal experiences of using speculative fiction. Contributions may take the form of:

  • articles of any length;
  • snapshots / key findings / lightning summaries of your research or activities;
  • methods and tools, and/or reports on their use;
  • interviews, roundtables;
  • other formats — be as innovative and imaginative as you like!

We especially welcome proposals from BIPOC contributors, and/or proposals which connect applied speculative fiction to themes of diversity, decoloniality, and social, environmental, and economic justice. Priority fields of interest include futures studies, innovation studies, Science and Technology Studies, applied ethics, and the history and philosophy of science. Topics might include prediction, modelling, decision analysis and decision support, hacking and makerspaces, speculative design, critical design including Critical Race Design, anthropological futures, design fiction, diegetic prototyping, strategic foresight, wargaming, anticipatory governance, predictive data analytics, algorithmic governmentality, speculative fiction as technology, speculative fiction and aspects of methodology such as reproducibility and validation, user stories as a form of speculative fiction,  science communication, protoscience, exploratory engineering, design futurescaping, experiential futures, serious gaming or participatory scenario workshopping, financial modelling and financial activism, creative disruptions, future fabbing, the use of speculative fiction to engage communities and stakeholders, the ethical obligations of the speculative fiction writer, the use of speculative fiction to facilitate interdisciplinary encounters, the use of speculative fiction to model risk and uncertainty, issues around speculative fiction and Intellectual Property, the sci-fi-industrial complex, Indigenous futurisms, energy futures, education futures, all kinds of futures, and the history and future of the future. 

Submission details

Please submit proposals by 5 September 2021 to vector.submissions@gmail.com. Very early proposals very welcome. A proposal should typically contain:

  • a 150-500 word proposal;
  • an estimated word count; and
  • some information about you, e.g. a 50-100 word bio or a CV.

We seek contributions that are carefully grounded in research, while also being clear, engaging, and suitable for a broad audience (including non-academics). Articles will be due by 1 February 2022.