This week, Futures is pleased to welcome Matt Thompson with his story Ded-Mek. Based in London, Matt is also a musician — you can find out more about his work on his website or by following him on Twitter. Here, he reveals what inspired his latest tale — as ever, it pays to read the story first.
The idea for Ded-Mek came from a feeling that futurologists and tech marketers often ignore the psychological impact of emergent technologies in their quest for ever-shinier visions. There’s an implicit assumption that humans will adjust to a changing world in a benign, rational manner.
The reality, of course, is vastly different, and always has been. The historical shift away from a religious worldview has, in many ways, led to a kind of techno-paganism, an overlay of spiritual concerns onto the increasingly science-fictional landscape we live in. Most people (myself included) have little idea of how the machines that rule their lives actually work.
Cloning and other forms of genetic manipulation take us ever further into an uncertain future of data-driven facsimiles, mirror-image promises of ultimate perfection. For those whose psychic barriers are less armoured than some the consequences can be profound. Pathological obsessions and compulsions, a broken recital of grief and anxiety, bubble beneath the surface of many lives. If the temptation to remodel the human form in our own image is there, then how might a person already walking the thin line of sanity respond?
The titular character of the story becomes trapped in an ever-expanding loop of delayed emotional closure. The search for the ideal becomes an end in itself. Were she ever to succeed in her quest to remake her lost son she would have no choice but to face up to her own sickness, a confrontation that she could only win by destroying her creation and starting again. After all, where is there left to go when you have, finally, become God?