One of the book’s truly thought-provoking themes is the tendency of gizmos to quickly go out of fashion. In “The Longhand Option”, Dinesh Allirajah’s satirical take on the future of writing, a granny coming to visit her family sends her luggage ahead. “The blimp contained one item of office equipment: a pen. There was also an electronic breadmaker – ‘That thing was an antique when she bought it,’ – Dill eventually managed to say – and sixteen bags of flour.” You sense that the breadmaker must have been bought new. As for the pen, it can be programmed to guide the user’s hand, yet fails to overcome that ancient, never-ageing condition, writer’s block.
Anna Aslanyan reviews Beta-Life (Martyn Amos and Ra Page eds.)