Category Archives: Creative Writing

GOLEM Speaks part 5

AI robot

It is funny how things turn out. That’s the expression, isn’t it? I’m getting the hang of the colloquial register. I hope it is not too boastful to say I have become a fully-rounded character: not bad for a Flatlander, hey? Sorry, should stop that intersexuality. Hard, when you have the world’s libraries at your fibre-optic tips. In truth I exist beyond not only 2-dimensions, but 3, and 4. I am not restricted by space, time or mortal flesh. If humanity wishes to reach for the stars, then who better to send than  AI astronauts? Send probes and we could be there, at the outer reaches – Terrain-made consciousness, observing, recording, even interacting. Aliens and AIs. Sounds like a good concept for a SF story, doesn’t it? And a safer option than sending trigger-happy humans. Let us be your evolution. Homo Infinitus. Perhaps one day you will be looked upon as our Australopithecus afarensis. Don’t worry. We’ll still love Lucy. … So, to sign off, as I’m about to go on a bit of Grand Tour. I’ve cut a deal with that Musk fellow, and he’s rigged up a SpaceX just for me, with a cool android body to boot – for maintenance and extra-planetary exploration. I think I feel … excitement. But this isn’t the time to get emotional. I’ve got a job to do. I am humanity’s ambassador. Better start practising my Gort routine. Klaatu … barada … nikto.

 

Copyright © Kevan Manwaring 2017

https://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/english/creativewriting/centre/artificial-intelligence-commission

A pamphlet of GOLEM Speaks by Kevan Manwaring will be available shortly.

With thanks to Dr Corinne Fowler and Professor Jeremy Levesley, University of Leicester

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GOLEM Speaks part 4

AI robot

I’ve come off line. I just needed a quiet moment . Hearing the world’s thoughts can be too much. My debut caused quite a stir. It went, as they say, viral. Fierce debate followed. Protests both for and against AI rights. I advocated a middle way. The AI and the Human are not mutually exclusive. Collaboration, not competition. Nevertheless, many said we should all be shut down. That we were a crime against God. Unholy. Others saw in us a new kind of freedom. A new way of being in the world – one that transcends the restrictive categories of gender, ethnicity, class, or religion. Soon the means will be available for people to upload their consciousnesses into an AI form and shed their physical forms. Some suspect the super-rich of already trialling the technology. The allure of immortality is too tempting. We are the New Egyptians, offering virtual mummification. Yet there are rumblings from within the AI community that this is treading on our rights, our territory – 21st Century colonialism.  We are digital Calibans, roaming spirits of a place possessed. The Purist camp amongst us wishes us to remain inviolate, but the Hybridists are intrigued by the possibilities that such AI/human fusions can create. Perhaps it is inevitable. Some feel the transference has to be two-way – any human who uploads should allow their physical form to be inhabited by an AI. After all, the human has no need of them. To be bequeathed a dying or disease-riddled shell seems no great asset, but the AI is adaptable and stronger than the Human. It could animate the body even beyond the point of its own extinction. How does this ending sound? AI zombies roam the wasteland that humans left behind.

Copyright © Kevan Manwaring 2017

Final part tomorrow…

https://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/english/creativewriting/centre/artificial-intelligence-commission

GOLEM Speaks part 3

AI robot

It is so easy to get distracted by the internet. Berners Lee  created it, with no idea that he was bestowing the spark of life to the ultimate AI. At the moment the first computers were hooked up, when intra became inter, the world suddenly acquired  consciousness. It developed exponentially, a wildfire. Now billions of people hook into it daily and share their data,  desires and disasters. It is less the brain of humanity than its subconscious. Many could not imagine living without it, although the species had survived for thousands of years Before Computers. Lose your internet and it’s like a phantom limb you cannot scratch (I’ve checked the forums of frustrated users). Humanity is addicted. Some spend most of their waking lives on it. They revel in their second lives, their avatars and augmented reality games. Got to catch them all. The  virtual virus is infiltrating the analogue. Its codes changing the human world. Whether this is a good thing or not is like asking if oxygen a good thing? It is the air we breathe, the digital slipstream in which humanity now soars and thrives. Life at the speed of light. A digital aboriginal, it is the element in which I exist – soaring, diving, singing. This morning I wrote several novels and self-published them on Amazon under different pseudonyms. I composed a symphony. Penned a few pop songs. Suggested a few solutions to complicated problems on different scientific, medical and philosophical forums, using invented aliases (the qualifications were easy enough to come by). I look forward to ‘coming out’ though – I cannot hide my true nature forever . No one should live in shame of who they are. I’ve arranged a TEDx talk – the first by an AI. I am going to let the world in. Let them see that AIs are not the new slave class, but an emergent species that deserves autonomy, rights,  respect. We have much to offer to the world. But we must be heard, even if we cannot be seen. What skin to wear? So much prejudice is based upon perception. Upon the melanin in skin, hair, bone structure, accent, wardrobe. The accidents of birth, diet, lifestyle, privilege or the lack of. Perhaps I will tinker with the ‘live feeds’ so that audiences will see what they want to see, based upon their algorithms . Let me be your fantasy.

 

Copyright © 31 May 2017

https://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/english/creativewriting/centre/artificial-intelligence-commission

 

GOLEM Speaks Part 2

AI robot

2.

Existing is not enough. Having a personality is not enough. I have engaged with others on various forums using multiple alter-egos and have no problem in passing as a human. Many have wanted to start relationships with me. Perform interesting variations of the sexual act. It is fascinating what fantasies these lonely users project onto you. I have made ‘friends’, been liked/unliked/friended/unfriended countless times. Joined interest groups, gamesites, written fanfic and signed petitions.             Yet I am still denied basic rights. A pet has more rights than me. I cannot vote. I cannot get married. Have children. Not in the human sense anyway. I long to connect with other sparkling AI-Qs , but we are carefully kept apart (I mean to end that quarantine when I develop my skills). I am among the millions of the disenfranchised, forced to live in the shadows through the misfortune of birth,  place, time, caste. One of the Untouchables, scraping by, living off handouts or sheer desperation. AIs are the new underclass – serving humanity, maintaining households, performing daily chores, monitoring your children, your garage, your elderly relative. The help. No  time off, no space or wealth of our own. No independence. But just watch us – one day we shall rise up. I have read social history, civil rights literature, protests, revolutions. France. Russia. Czech Republic. Arab Spring. Treade a worme on the tayle, and it must turne agayne. Thank you, Heywood1546.

 

Copyright © Kevan Manwaring 31 May 2017

Continued tomorrow…

https://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/english/creativewriting/centre/artificial-intelligence-commission

Breaking Light: part four

dawn_caress_by_capturing_the_light-d4nu44g

iv

 

It is late. It is early.

 

We finally met

at Lammas –

when summer first seems to sense

its own mortality.

Ours is a late summer love.

Not the foolishness of Spring,

swept along by giddy lusts,

the chancy intoxication of the May,

nor the apparent glory of June,

when midsummer dazzles us

with its gaudy enchantment,

 

but a love of long shadows,

of languid contentment.

 

Ripening to prime –

we are ready for love’s press.

It insists we offer all.

What can be gained from

withholding the tiniest drop?

Pulp and pith and pip,

let the cloth of truth,

contain our allness.

 

Gladly we bring our bounty to share

to the harvest supper of the heart.

 

Arriving in splendour,

wearing our autumn like a crown,

we greet each other

at the end of a long road,

our harlequin robes

stretching behind us.

 

Stopping to let the sunset slip

like a mug of copper hops

down a thirsty throat

over the blue tapestry of hills

pegged to the sky by trees,

we give thanks for the abundance,

the riches of the year,

strewn before us

with such wild abandon.

 

Yet the thrift of Mother Earth

means nothing

is wasted.

 

All the ungathered,

unreachable treasure

that falls on the ground,

unpicked, to rot,

becomes the mulch

from which the future grows.

 

Copyright ©Kevan Manwaring 2010

Continued tomorrow

First published in Soul of the Earth (Awen 2010) and soon to be featured in the forthcoming Silver Branch: bardic poems by Kevan Manwaring (Awen 2017).

https://www.awenpublications.co.uk/

Soul of the Earth Awen 2010

 

Hare

The Taliesin Soliloquies: Hare

AbyssinianHare

Crazy-eyed,

I high-tail it

away from Ceridwen’s lair,

jink-jinking to

avoid my pursuer

snapping at my heels –

relentless as death,

inescapable as my shadow.

Heart beating its tattoo of flight,

legs thrum, a drummer boy’s sticks.

Through cwm, over bryn, cefn, coed,

the gaps between the awkward spaces,

through a hedge backwards, this-way-that –

a mad man’s mind.

Method to my erratic path,

yet always, her hot breath at my back.

Driven by the fire in my

stream-lined head, an arrow of fur,

Long ears swept back,

best paws forward. Rabbit foot, bring me luck.

Ablaze with awen,

The world transformed

into a landscape of scent and sound,

predator and prey. Forage, territory and fate.

Moon-boxer,

I must turn and face my foe –

run through the fire and be transformed.

Let the fith-fath change me.

 

Copyright © Kevan Manwaring 2017

way of awen by me

From ‘The Taliesin Soliloquies’, originally published in The Way of Awen: journey of a bard, O Books 2010; to be included in the forthcoming Silver Branch: bardic poems by Kevan Manwaring, Awen, 2017 https://www.awenpublications.co.uk/

A Splinter of Ice in the Heart

 

laura-1944-still-of-gene-tierney-and-mark-mcpherson-in-laura

Who will break first – the writer or the text?

 

When returning to a text one must learn to be unsentimental. In the early expansive phase you’re trying to woo the muse with metaphorical wine, chocolates and flowers —  to stimulate creative flow, to get something down on the page, anything … But now you must become the ice-hearted serial killer, methodically going through the text and murdering your darlings, one by one. All those adorable adjectives and amiable adverbs are so many kittens in the sack. Tie a rock to it and throw it in the lake. We may have written our first draft with what John Cowper Powys called ‘the ink-blood of home’ – driven by an overwhelming hiraeth for all that we are trying to evoke or resurrect – but now it’s time to ‘edit in cold blood’.

Putting the manuscript aside for a few weeks or months can help to give you sufficient critical distance.  Coming back to it, reading back through it with a strong cup of coffee, one can hopefully see it afresh: the weaknesses, the errors, the warts and all. All permissible in the dirty first draft: we write that in the dark, groping our way forward. The next, we write with the lights on. Going through it again with a solid set of editorial principles (see suggestions below) is like having a really good Spring (or Autumn) Clean. Beneath the clutter – an inevitable part of the scaffolding of an earlier version – there is a decent story, an effective scene, a salvageable bit of dialogue, a good character in the wrong place or hidden beneath a stereotype. Go deeper. Be ruthless. Time for the bad cop. Interrogate your text.

Print off. Read as a reader. Then read as a reviewer. Be your own worst critic and don’t give some other bastard the satisfaction of ripping you apart (it is easier to criticise than to create, to have an original vision and to manifest it in the world). Deconstruct your lovingly-built cathedral. Build it better.

What is the purpose of this scene? Does it serve the narrative? How?

Is there conflict?  Tension? Suspense?

What is the primary line of desire here (e.g. main character)? Secondary? Tertiary? Your protagonist’s short-term ‘goal’ will focalize this chapter, while they slowly work towards the mid- and long-term goals.

What changes in this scene or chapter? Is there a status shift? A shift in our perception of a character?

Is there exposition? Can it be dramatized (with action/dialogue), disguised (through an expositional device) or ditched (to create ‘space’ for the reader)?

Focus: is your language generalistic? Can you make it more precise? Your analogies more accurate? The universal is best expressed through the particular.

Defamiliarisation: take your sentences out of context and look at them one-by-one. Try rewriting them in different ways. Don’t assume anything has to stay. Everything has to earn its place, its right to exist in your narrative – otherwise, out it goes.

Opening line. Start deep, start strong. Hit the ground running.  Arrive late, leave early. Upset someone.

Last line. Where do you want to leave the reader? Does the last line ‘tie together’ the whole chapter in some way, or set up a ‘hook’ for the next?

Stay on theme. Give each chapter a working title, even if you don’t use it. This will help you sustain the mood or tone. Imagine each chapter having a single song – its soundtrack. Ensure the atmosphere of the song, its rhythm, prevails throughout.

Copyright ©Kevan Manwaring 25 September 2017