Tag Archives: book

‘Her’, ‘Android’ and ‘Correspondence’ – two movies and a book

herLast Saturday I went to see ‘Her’. It turned out to be the most moving experience I’ve had in a long time. The reviews had been good but I didn’t expect to feel such an intense wave of  recognition. In fact, I’ve not felt so emotionally connected to a science fiction movie character since Don Keith Opper’s performance in Aaron Lipstadt’s 1982 film  Android. Opper’s rendition of Max, the machine who wants to be human, was deeply empathic, and James Brown’s song ‘It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World’ takes on a whole new meaning when it’s played by an android as he struggles to understand human love and sexuality. (if the excerpt doesn’t start at that place, fast-forward to 34 minutes in)

32 years later, Joaquin Phoenix’s human is willing to fall in love with Scarlett Johansson’s piece of software, Samantha, but the consequences turn out to be pretty unexpected. See the film for yourself, I won’t spoil the ending by sharing it here.  Throughout, I couldn’t help thinking of Max, and how he would have been much better off with Samantha than with the human lover he dreamed of.

CorrespondenceBut I also thought of something else – my first novel ‘Correspondence’, published in 1992. Many of the themes are similar to ‘Her’. In the film, the main protagonist is a professional letter writer; in my novel, she is a ‘compositor’ who creates personalised interactive scenarios drawn from her own high levels of empathy. In ‘Her’. he falls in love with software; in ‘Correspondence’, she’s a human-turned-machine whose lover becomes a computer virus and infects her operating system so that they can be together forever.

‘Her’ is still churning round in my mind. And even more so in my heart. The film is so close to me, to who I am, to the world I understand, that I won’t forget it for a very long time.

Postscript: This Wired article by Kyle Vanhemert provides a sensitive and insightful analysis of the ways in which ‘Her’ portrays our possible near-future wired lives. Why Her Will Dominate UI Design Even More Than Minority Report.

Interview about Technobiophilia for the Bloomsbury blog

bloomsburyBloomsbury interviewed me for their blog in the run-up to the UK publication of Technobiophilia next week. Here’s the result. Hope it’s of interest.

Tomorrow and Friday there will be two longer posts about the making of the chapter plates in the book by my sister, Carolyn Black.

How nature calms your wired life: #technobiophilia at Cafe Scientifique Bournemouth, Tue 1st Oct 2013

Cafe Scientifique at the Cafe Boscanova

I’m very pleased to be invited to speak at the first anniversary of the Bournemouth Cafe Scientifique. The event will also be part of the Arts-by-the-Sea Festival. It will be the third time I’ve talked at a Cafe Scientifique – I’ve also spoken in Nottingham and Leicester years ago – and I love the concept. If you’ve never been, check out their website – there may be one near you.

How nature calms your wired life
Tuesday 1st October 2013
7.30pm-9.pm, doors are open from 6.30pm.
Cafe Boscanova, 650 Christchurch Road, Boscombe, Bournemouth, BH1 4BP

Why do we adorn our screens with pictures of forests, waterfalls, animals and beaches? Why are there so many nature metaphors in the language of the internet? The answer lies in biophilia, the innate human attraction to life and life-like processes. Sue Thomas believes that nature can soothe our connected minds and offer unexpected benefits – an improved attention span, a rested mind, and enhanced creativity. So there’s no need to choose between technology and well-being – we can have both! This talk is about the best way to make our digital lives integrated, healthy, and mindful.