10 April 2007
Advances in information technology are changing the way we live our lives: silver surfers can see newborn grandchildren from the other side of the world via real-time webcams while students are having their examination essays marked online. And now the British Computer Society (BCS) is asking anybody with an enthusiasm for computer technology to put pen to paper - or fingers to keyboard - as part of a short story competition to mark its half-centenary and celebrate the impact of computers on society.
The prize for the BCS 50th anniversary Write IT competition - £500 worth of computer vouchers - will be presented by cult Sci-fi writer Jasper Fforde, author of the popular Swindon-based Thursday Next novels. The winning story, chosen by a panel including Mr Fforde and Chris Green, editor of magazine IT Pro, will be printed in the Autumn edition of IT Now, a BCS publication for the 60,000 members of the leading organisation for IT professionals. The winner will also get a copy of e-type, the BCS's touch-typing product. A separate £250 computer voucher is also available for the best story written by somebody aged 16 and under.
The stories do not need to predict what's going to happen in the future, but they must have a plot involving information technology, either in the past, present or in years to come, says David Clarke, BCS chief executive.
He says: "We wanted to come up with a fitting way of marking the 50th anniversary of the BCS this year, and a short-story competition engages with people who do not necessarily have an in-depth understanding of technology, but whose lives will all be transformed by IT the next 50 years, as indeed they already are today."
Mr Fforde will present the winner with the prize in September in Swindon, home to the headquarters of the BCS and nicknamed the 'Silicon Valley of England' due to the high proliferation of technology firms based there. His literary detective heroine in the novels - which have a cult following here and in the US - lives in a world where time and reality are merged. The author is busy putting the finishing touches to his latest novel First Among Sequels, which is due to be published in the UK in July.
He says: "Technology is a part of everyday life more now than it has ever been, and I am delighted to promote a competition that encourages writers to explore these themes in their work."
The closing date for the competition is 29 June. For details on how to submit your entry, see www.bcs.org/shortstory. The word limit is 2000. Please include your name and age category.