Mini-interview with Dan Grace, author of “Immaterial” in the Noir Fire anthology.
TFF: What does “Immaterial” mean to you?
Dan Grace: A question that was troubling me when I wrote this story was the idea of immaterial labour and its place in my own, materialist understanding of the world. I'm a library worker by day so the question of immaterial production, knowledge production and so on is something I think about a lot. For me this story is part of a wider critique of certain strains of utopianism (left and right) that see us as able to leave the material world behind somehow, to ascend to some fully automated paradise, when what often happens is that in our rush to embrace ‘automated’ processes we obfuscate the existence of a global working class upon whose labour any ‘immaterial’ world must be built.
TFF: Is there a happy medium between living in a decadent, virtual world while the body sits in its own filth, and disconnecting completely to live with nature?
DG: There has to be! There is no going back to anything, to any state of nature etc., short of some hideous catastrophe that forces it upon us. Yet to allow ourselves to believe that we all can live in some decadent virtual world is disconnected from the material reality of the majority of the worlds population, and is therefore not, in my opinion, an option either. It is the hope of a new world beyond this binary that really drives me forward—that this seeming contradiction, the material and the immaterial, can and will be resolved. How, when and by who are, of course, the big questions, and ones that I think can be usefully and creatively explored through speculative fiction.
TFF: What are you working on next?
DG: I’ve had a few years out from writing so I’m trying to fire my engines up again. I have a longer piece in the very, very early stages that’s attempting to tackle some of the stuff outlined above.
You can find purchase links and more information about the Noir Fire anthology at http://press.futurefire.net/p/noir-fire.html