Release date 1 June 2021
A woman walks through a virtual reconstruction of the destroyed streets where she and her lover used to live. A young man trades away his youth, and something of himself, in the plasma extracted from his blood. A clone addresses her dead, doubled ‘self’ as she tries to understand her personal history. In these uncanny stories of virtual reality, biotech, data surveillance and communications technology, Black Mirror meets M.R. James: unsettling perspectives on contemporary and near-future scenarios are layered with hauntings; borders are blurred between living and non-living, real and not-real.
Accompanying the collection is the essay ‘Writing the Contemporary Uncanny’, an investigation of how the uncanny has shifted in the hundred years since Freud attempted to define it, and how uncanny short fiction can interrogate and illuminate our experiences of science and technology to help us understand what it means to be human in an ever-accelerating technological landscape.
The Flicker Against the Light and Writing the Contemporary Uncanny
‘... an indisputably magnificent piece of writing: sensible, practical, hopeful and devastating. Every re-reading allows us to revel in some initially-overlooked nuance or subtle observation.’
Aoife Lyall, author of Mother, Nature
‘When I think of the uncanny I will now always think of this astonishing collection. These stories have inspired, unsettled, and moved me; they haunt me still.’
Helen Sedgwick, author of The Comet Seekers and The Growing Season
'The stories tend to destabilise the reader. A latent sense of wrongness preys on your curiosity, demanding that you stick with each story and find out where the disquieting journeys lead. Promises of innovation go awry, and things intended to help instead intrude, upending concepts of privacy and autonomy. The Flicker Against the Light is the best kind of unsettling. Stories ooze with a mood that, while hard to pin down, stays with you long after the words run out.' Aurealis #150.