"Our technology has outpaced us to the degree that human understanding is no longer at the centre of it." Olivia Sudjic
Extracts
Not selling anything

Not selling anything

“Hello, my name is Belle. I am calling on behalf of—” They hang up. “Hello, my name is Ariel. I am calling behalf of Krippler Incorporated, a market research institute. Today we are conducting—” “On behalf of wha’?” replies a woman with a heavy southern accent. “On behalf of Krippler Incorporated, a market research institute.”...
Doctor's orders

Doctor’s orders

A few days ago, I was fished out of the Seine just in the nick of time. Two feet from the bank, to be precise, but that’s more than far enough to sink into the mud and float to the surface a couple of weeks later, limp and soggy as the hunks of bread people...
Under the hammer

Under the hammer

It was late spring, and for several weeks I had been trying to make modest inroads into the living room. Bit by bit, over several years, my wife had succeeded in exiling my fabulous collections to one room of our apartment and now the ‘study’ was where all my treasures were stored. But I had...
Smitten

Smitten

The fishpond businessman of course owned his own fishpond, a place he often went to be alone. Whatever his reasons for going there, the pond – with its small bungalows and the gardens all around – struck Ajo Kawir as the perfect spot for an ambush. So he went there, but what he didn’t know...
A new day

A new day

The young woman runs burning along the side of the marketplace, down the High Street, away from the fountain. Away from the fountain and the cool, litter-strewn water. She is tall, long-legged. Her hair is ablaze and flames spit from an unravelling scarf towards the motley crowd of people who give chase. Someone is screaming,...
A song for the king

A song for the king

It was exactly as he’d always envisioned palaces to be. Supported by columns, paintings and statues in every room, animal skins draped over sofas, gold doorknockers, a ceiling too high to touch. And more than that, it was people. So many people, striding down corridors. This way and that, attending to affairs or looking to...
Reality check

Reality check

She registered his shadow, a passing cloud bringing inclement weather. “Clare?” She was not even sure she heard her name, but she watched his mouth form the shape. The stereo was turned up loud, his voice lost in drums and double bass. He ducked his face to hers, kissed her on the forehead, then crossed...
Filthy treasures at Flower Island

Filthy treasures at Flower Island

Bugeye heard indistinct chatter around him in his sleep, but decided to stay curled up and ignore it. “Wake up, honey,” his mother said, pulling the blanket off him. “It’s time to go to work.” She shook Bugeye, who managed to sit up but still had his eyes closed, and then stood him up by...
The house by the woods

The house by the woods

It is a few minutes past one in the morning when the front door slams shut. Anyone remaining in the house – but there is no one – would be able to hear, through the closed door, the footsteps of three people hurrying across the porch and down the stairs. There are voices, too –...
Forever girl

Forever girl

6:54 at night, Tuesday, September 7th The plastic electronic baby won’t stop crying. My Forever Parents said it’s supposed to be like a real baby but it isn’t. I can’t make it happy. Even when I rock it. Even when I change its diaper and give it a bottle. When I say ush, ush, ush...