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Wow, we really trashed the place. We tore it up, we burned it down, we ate it all and we drank it dry. Oil, fish, minerals, water, air: you name it, we’re out of it. It was one hell of a party while it lasted – for a generation or ten – but now it’s time to sober up. Time to clean up our acts.

Unless anyone knows somewhere to go on to?

There must be an afterparty.

There’s always an afterparty…

And here it is: in Afterparty Overdrive, Neal Stephenson breaks us out of our digital despond, while Justin Pickard derails the engine of human progress with a little help from General Ludd. Sumit Paul-Choudhury smuggles us into the singularity disco, and Simon Ings salutes the civilisations that, far from fading away, partied themselves to death.

Lavie Tidhar headlines Afterparty Overdrive’s crop of brilliant up-and-coming writers: in “Choosing Faces”, absolutely nobody is a beautiful and unique snowflake. Tim Maughan’s “Limited Edition” smashes together entrepreneurism, social media and urban alienation and comes up with a pair of trainers. David Gullen’s heroine finds herself trapped in a galaxy-spanning game of tag, while Nan Craig’s heroine finds cyborg killing machines enjoy limited employment opportunities in Port Talbot.

Also in Afterparty overdrive: Samuel Arbesman wonders how clever our machines have to be before we take pride in them? Christina Agapakis hangs out with the misfits and dreamers of DIY-bio. And producer David Binder plots theatrical experiences that will swallow whole cities.


EDITORIAL The party’s over
Sumit Paul-Choudhury

FORWARD From insight to naches
Samuel Arbesman

How clever must our machines get, before we take pride in them?

SHORT STORY Choosing faces
Lavie Tidhar

You are no longer a beautiful or unique snowflake

INNER SPACE Dancing on the ruins
Simon Ings

Strumming a lyre over the future’s burning remains

SHORT STORY Limited edition
Tim Maughan

Theft, threatening behaviour, criminal damage? There’s an app for that

PRESENT TENSE The singularity can be stopped
Justin Pickard

Machines are poised to make us all redundant - but only if we let them

SHORT STORY All Your futures are belong to us
Dave Gullen

They left a dying earth in search of a new home - but their children got there first

PREDICTIVE TEXT An end to sitting
Simon Ings & Paul Graham Raven

An action hero for the digital age: Neal Stephenson talks to Arc

SHORT STORY Scrapmetal
Nan Craig

They told Nia her patches were future-proof. New technologies - same old lies

PRIOR ART Midnight at the singularity disco
Sumit Paul-Choudhury

Music expresses what is best in us – until it leaves us behind

MATERIALS Fun and games in the garden
Christina Agapakis

Biology is smelly, squishy and gross. Let’s build with it.

PERFORMANCE The city through spectacles
David Binder

All the world’s a stage, if a new theatrical generation has its way