In Arc 1.3: Nan Craig’s prizewinning story weaves some old lies around new technologies

2 Oct

Nan Craig grew up in south Wales, and currently lives in south London. She studied politics at the University of Warwick and the London School of Economics, and was a student of the first Curtis Brown Creative writing course. She is working on her first novel, Deja, about a woman whose memories predict the future.

Scrapmetal, her first published story, is the winner of the second Arc/Tomorrow Project short story competition.  Interviewed by Intel’s resident futurologist Brian David Johnson about her story, in which people’s bodies are sculpted to fit the jobs they get, she says: “It’s not a post-apocalyptic wilderness. It’s a world with grass and trees and love, as well as jobs — for some people.”

Here’s an extract of the story; you can read it in full in Arc 1.3, out now.

I want to help, he said.

Come off it. I’ll eat you out of house and home, I said.

And God, the eating was almost as bad as the sex-hunger. I literally ate like a horse – in volume if not in actual substance. I mean, I couldn’t survive on hay or anything. That would have been easier, and I could have spent all my days up on the hillside, where I wanted to be. Instead I craved meat, fat and salt, and because I couldn’t afford to buy takeaways every three hours I had to keep popping home to devour bowl after bowl of chilli from a vat I kept simmering on the stove. At least I knew how to cook. There’d been men and women in my platoon who could barely peel the lid off a tin, let alone construct an edible meal from bare starches and proteins.

There’s got to be something you can do.

Well, have you got any drone armies I can command? I’ll go freelance.

He laughed and took another drag off his rollie.

Can’t you, though, he said? Security, for the plant?

Tried it, I said. They freaked out at the sight of me. They want people with a few extra muscles, and not too many brains. I’m overkill, literally. No. I’ve got three options left: move to Wakefield and get patched for free, or some other town with a newly opened factory that’s willing to shell out for patches to tailor its new workforce. Or, I could re-enlist, but I don’t want. Or, I don’t know. Killing spree down the job centre? I suppose that would get a bit of frustration out, and I’d probably end up in Cardiff prison. You’d come visit me, wouldn’t you?

He laughs. There’s another, he said, but I kind of don’t want to say it because I hope you wouldn’t consider it.

What? Scrapping? Or DIY?

Yeah. Not good though.

No. Although I heard there are some guys in Cardiff, Russians. Ex-army too, which as you know fills me with comfort and faith.

No, Nia. Seriously. I’ll think of something. We’ll think of something.

I look into his lovely brown eyes, and then dodge his gaze and look back out over the sea.

Yeah, mate. I’m not mental. I think the killing spree might be a more sensible option. I don’t want to end up sloshing around the bottom of a plastic sack in a wheelie bin, bound for the tip in Rumney. Do I?

Yeah, he said, shaking his head. I knew you wouldn’t even think about it. Don’t know why I said it.

Read more in Arc 1.3, a digital quarterly about the future, made for e-readers, tablets, phones and computer screens; also available in a collectible print edition. Visit for details.

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