Arc’s new competition asks, Is the future friendly?

15 Nov

Arc and The Tomorrow Project share a common belief: that we can shape the future through fiction. And at our launch, early this year, we teamed up to run a series of unique short story competitions.

We’ve run three so far, highlighting terrific new writing talent in Arc itself and on our Tomorrow Project website.

Terry Edge’s story Big Dave’s In Love was a profound and very funny homage to Carlo Collodi’s wooden child Pinocchio, set in a hyper-animated, hyper-aware world. Nan Craig’s Scrapmetal wove old lies around new technologies to describe a future in which people’s bodies are sculpted to fit the jobs they get – a future that looks suspiciously like our industrial past.

Look out for our December issue to read our latest winner, Romie Stott, whose story “A Robot Walks Into a Bar and Says…” is a tale of pleasure, love, and the sometimes frightening shallowness of desire. It’s an understated, compelling description of cyber-desire: a love without a real centre, and a passion driven by an interchange of looks.

This idea – that technology can alienate us from each other, even as it draws us together – has loomed large in the work we have received this year. Indeed, the stories in Arc 1.4: Home alone drone, out in early December, are all about how human values are expressed, and sometimes lost, in our remote-control future.

And so, as we near the end of our first year of publication, we want to celebrate with our biggest and best competition yet. Are you up to the challenge? This quarter, we are looking for short stories – between 3000 and 5000 words long – about the future of privacy, loneliness, self-reliance and surveillance. Is the future social? Is it friendly? Will technology bring us closer together, or seal us each in their own living tomb? Will we act more informally towards each other in the future, or will the Global Village set new, strict standards of behaviour? Will we savour human contact, or grow to fear it?

Technology, in whatever guise, should feature prominently in your story, but bear in mind that technology is not about pure mechanics: it’s about how people and the things they make work together. We’re looking for fiction, not opinion, and the human element will have to be compelling.

Come to think of it, there’s one golden rule to follow when submitting anything to anyone – know who it is you’re submitting to! Never mind our important thoughts about what we’re doing; visit now to buy the first three issues of Arc and see for yourself the kind of work we’re after.

Anyone, anywhere in the world can enter by following this link. Submissions must be received before Monday, 14 January 2012. Arc’s editors will select one story for publication in Arc 2.1, out towards the end of February 2013. We will pay £500 for that story and £200 for each of five runners-up. We will use all of these stories to stimulate conversations about the future on our Tomorrow Project website.

More details, including full terms and conditions, are at

The Arc/Tomorrow Project collaboration has been made possible by the sponsorship of Intel.

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