September 24, 2012
The Spy Who Saved Christmas
We’ve been running a series of events at the fantastic Superhuman exhibition this month at the Wellcome Collection. With the help of a scientist and an illustrator, we have asked our audiences to design their own superhero with genetic and technological enhancements in response to a futuristic scenario.
So far we’ve produced eight fantastical, bizarre and in some cases hilarious stories that we’ll be posting over the next week. Here’s the eigth installment. We hope you enjoy the products of our audience’s collective imagination, and perhaps can join us for the last event in the series on 26 September from 2-5pm.
We asked our storytellers to picture the following scenario:
It is 2020. As rising temperatures and the retreating sea ice open up the Arctic for exploitation, the world’s superpowers are competing for the region’s minerals, rare metals, oil and fisheries. Alarmed by reports of an illegal Norwegian drilling operation in northern Greenland, the British government decide to send a spy to investigate. Those pesky Norwegians!
As head of human enhancement at MI6, what three modifications would you give to your spy to equip them to operate in this challenging environment?
After discussing a range of enhancements that might come in handy in the cold, dark Arctic landscape – and which might help a spy in her mission – our storytellers decided to give her: the ability to make herself invisible, to avoid detection; a camera embedded into her eye, for reconnaissance; and USB sticks embedded into her fingers (inspired by the true case of a man who had a USB stick bolted into his prosthetic finger).
The Plot: Our intrepid spy gains entry into the Norwegian base by using her USB fingers to crack the building’s security code. She makes herself invisible, but is easily sniffed out by the guard dogs, who blow her cover. The Norwegians torture her, removing her eye and hand. When they try to download British secrets from the USB sticks stored in her prostethic hand, central security system of the mine becomes infected with a virus (cleverly seeded there by M16). Our spy escapes her bonds, and manages to find the entrance to a secret lair at the heart of the mine. There she finds – who else? – Santa Claus, whom she liberates from Norwegian captivity. Together, they run off into the Arctic sunset.
Storytellers: Dave Gimson, Laura Gimson, Christopher Clark, and Sam Agnew.
Scientist: Sarah Sydney, who is finishing an orthopaedic engineering PhD at the University of Bath.
Illustrator: Thomas Dowse (www.thomasdowse.com)