The internet has fundamentally changed the way we interpret the world, communicate with each other, and view ourselves. Information — true or false — is never more than a click away.

Yet literary fiction largely avoids digital media: the majority of contemporary novels are set in the past; in remote or rural areas; in an alternative present where web 2.0 never happened, and nobody has a smartphone; or five minutes into the future, as if the internet is more palatable by displacement.

As a whole, contemporary fiction does not often reflect or explore this fundamental aspect of modern life. New media brings new challenges, and with Empty State we aim to embrace these.

A long but non-exhaustive list of things we’re interested in exploring with Empty State:

  1. How can fiction respond to the role digital media plays in our lives?
  2. How can literature explore the psychology of self in relation to the internet?
  3. How can fiction respond formally to new media without being gimmicky, and is the internet’s focus on the visual problematic for writers?
  4. Is there an aesthetic resistance to digital media in literary fiction?
  5. New media and new technology are advancing faster than anything we’ve seen before. Is the desire to write something timeless (for fear of writing fiction that will soon appear dated) preventing writers from addressing the present?
  6. Is the fear of being rendered obsolete by new media the very thing that’s preventing literature from embracing it?
  7. Is there a commercial resistance to novels exploring digital media?
  8. What can the novel learn from the way contemporary poetry explores and adapts to new media patterns?
  9. Why so much nostalgia in contemporary fiction? (Chicken or egg?)
  10. The novel has successfully responded to technological change in the past: how can it do the same now?
  11. Does digital media compromise the traditional devices that storytelling depends upon?
  12. What role can computers play in the creation of literature?

We publish fiction, essays, interviews, articles and any other form of text that explores these topics. Our aim is to start a discussion about these subjects and find new ways of approaching them in contemporary writing.

To contribute, please see our submission guidelines.