The Cards

As I acknowledge in The Speculation Studio Book, starting to write speculative fiction can be… a little initimdating. The Book offers help with that and The Speculation Studio Workshop is specfically designed to get you focused on speculating and thinking and dismissing the devil on your shoulder that might, like an English teacher of old, be telling you that you can’t write.

But to help even more, The Speculation Studio has produced a set of playing cards designed to get you speculating. These provide some starting points, prompts and frameworks that you can use to just get on and speculate. A little like Brian Eno’s famous Oblique Strategies cards that he used to unblock such creative greats as David Bowie, these cards prompt, provoke and switch off the devil and the equally powerful voice that says “play it safe”, just for a while.

The cards are a simple set of standard playing cards (if you don’t want to speculate, you can always gamble). The four suits are three different sets of characters you’ll use in your story plus 13 Reflection Cards which you’ll use to creatively think through what you have found out through your speculation

Hearts: The Signs. These Cards provide either details of a specific technology or trend: a sign of the changing world. One Sign Card might give you details on a new technological development another might ask you to think about the latest Gen Z craze. The Signs are the first component of, or character in, your story.

Spades and Clubs: The Objects. These cards provide the second thing to work with in your story. These cards provide your story’s protagonist (hero or anti-hero). The Spades are the digital objects. These can be software or hardware things: maybe a social media recommendation algorithm or a wearable device. The Clubs are the living actors in your story: the human and cultural characters. Maybe a single mum or online gaming culture. Together these Cards give you a panoply of human and unhuman objects (what in The Speculation Studio Book and int The Speculation Studio Workshop we call actors-objects). There are a couple of blank cards too. Here you can add your own business or product or service or brand value or purpose or anything else that you want to story-tell with.

Diamonds: The Reflections. As you’ll see in The Speculation Studio Book and at The Speculation Studio Workshop the power of speculation comes in thinking with the objects in your storytelling, the practice of imagining. These cards give your frameworks and prompts for thinking about what you have done, where you have been and what you have found.

The more we can imagine the near future, the better our chance of steering it in a positive direction.

If you want to use the cards you take one Signs card, one (or more) Object cards and one Reflection card. Then you speculate. You tell the story in exactly 100 words and as you see where the story takes you, you discover. And just so you don’t let the devils back onto your shoulders, there’s a timer. A full run down of the process appears in The Speculation Studio Book.

The Cards, like The Book are free to all participants in a Speculation Studio Workshop but you’ll be able to buy a set of Cards without attending a workshop, soon.

You can see the cards here (refresh the page for a new random selection) or try out speculating with them write here, write now.

the Signs

the Digital Objects

the Human Objects

the Reflections