Nature Future Conditional

The story behind the story: DNA exchange

This week, Futures enters the world of romance courtesy of DNA exchange by D. A. Xiaolin Spires. Somehow, we suspect that, as a result, keepsakes are never going to be the same… You can find out more about D. A. Xiaolin Spires at her website or by following her on Twitter. Here, she reveals the secrets of her latest tale — as ever, it pays to read the story first.

Writing DNA exchange

Lockets with photos. Locks of hairs. Promise rings. There are many ways to show your undying love to your next infatuation (or lifelong partner[s]), but what better way to forge a bond than to share a sensorial experience in addition to a piece of your own flesh and skin?

With advances in technology where human ears can be grown on arms, harvested and replanted on the head, I thought, why stop at the cosmetic? Why stop at keeping these ‘very intimate pieces of yourself’ at yourself? If human life is very much about social experience and sharing, then I could envision nothing short of taking this intimate chunk of your own flesh and gifting it to another, letting the object of your desire dangle a literal object, er, organ, from their own necks.

Not only are we humans so good at forging ties through the acts of giving, receiving and exchange of material things, but more and more we’ve shared somatic and sensorial experiences, living in the same realms through virtual worlds and augmented realities. We hear the phantom echoes of each other’s worlds through video chat and we bridge distances by keeping our separation-minimizing portals (our cell phones) near to our skin. I can imagine a future where people kick it up a notch and keep literal skin and organs as separation-minimizing portals, hearing and seeing the worlds we encompass, always having a way back to each other through fragments of our carnal selves.

In my writing, I explore the idiosyncratic, the strange and the bizarre — in the near and far future — and take our everyday behaviour and customs, including courtship practices, and stretch them out to see where they might (and probably will?) go. Maybe in the future — beyond courtship and into the realm of all sorts of relationships — writers and storytellers can distribute their literal lips, as disposable and ubiquitous as (soon-to-be-outdated) USB drives, and have these DNA encoded self-fragments talk directly to their readers, literal mouthpieces of the future!

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