Technology increasingly dominates our lives, from digital communication and wirelessly connected gadgetry to robot workers and cutting-edge innovations in fields like energy, agriculture and health. But do these developments benefit us in terms of broadened social circles and the saving of both time and lives, or do they corrode our relationships and the very fabric of society?
Such questions drove many of the writers submitting work to Issue #4 of Shooter. A majority chose to focus on social media’s impact on love and relationships, exploring side-effects like alienation and envy. Alexandra Coulton, our first writer with both poetry and prose in a single issue, chose to examine such consequences in “Status” and “The Girl in the Machine”, her essay about Facebook stalking.
Similarly, in “Look Up, It’s Me”, Katherine Harrison hones in on phone-obsession with a blackly satirical eye, while Chris Donald depicts the emotional and physical disconnection of digital dating in “At a Distance”. John Cleland (a pseudonym taken from, aptly enough, the author of Fanny Hill, the first erotic novel in English) questions whether sexual intimacy is helped or hindered by the latest in erotic technology, from sexting to teledildonics, in his non-fiction piece “Adventures in Techno-Sexual Land”.
David Green (“Messages”) and Adam Connors (“Identity”) explore ways in which technology enables people to don the mantle of others, testing the edges of their characters’ sanity in the process. In keeping with Connors’ dystopian vision, Jon Wesick, too, imagines the downside of digital retirement in the ironically titled “A Better World”.
Many contributors to the issue lace their skepticism with humour. Gregory Jackson and Don Hogle meld modern technology with historical figures in their amusingly anachronistic poems. Gretchen Ryan takes wordplay to its limit in “Cyber Attacks!”, while Nick Roth rounds out the issue with a comic letter heralding maternal resurrection in “Crynodyne Congratulates You”.
In the single, significant departure from the theme, Issue #4 features the winner of Shooter’s inaugural Short Story Competition. Ka Bradley (who, unsurprisingly, turned out to be an editor at Granta and Portobello Books) produced by far the most compelling submission: original, challenging, edgy and dark in both humour and subtext. No doubt Bradley, in addition to bringing noteworthy writers to light at some of the UK’s best independent presses, will soon be publishing fiction of her own more widely. For now, enjoy her winning story, “Examination for Empathy, Sympathy, Emotion (ESE) 004”, both online and in the pages of Shooter.
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