As we approach the final contest and the end of 2017, we thought it fitting to save the best for last and close the Publishizer book proposal contest series with the genres of limitless possibilities and boundless creative freedom: Science Fiction, Fantasy and everything in between. Although unique in their own right, there is often a blurring and overlapping between the two genres, with the use of similar themes and devices to inspire, warn and entertain.
What one can experience in the nebulous cloud of “speculative fiction” spans the entire dimension of human imagination. As long as we feel disillusionment and the unease of existential angst, these improbable and impossible worlds will continue to delight mankind with their own histories, laws and cultures. In providing a framework to explore the challenges of life, our deepest fears of the unknown can be domesticated; our flights of fancy, indulged.
As a matter of fact, many revolutionary ideas from Science Fiction have proven to be highly influential, and even prophetic. In 1888, Edward Bellamy imagines a utopian society without paper money, introducing the concept of credit debit and credit cards. Hugo Gernsback conceived of “telephots” that allow people to maintain eye contact while speaking across long distances back in 1911. Books written in the 1800s by the seemingly prescient author, Jules Verne, inspired the invention of the first submarine and helicopter, and even predicted many aspects of the 1969 lunar landing of Apollo 11.
We are undeniably already living in a future that is even weirder and more astonishing than what has been imagined. Body scanners and biometric identification techniques are commonplace, with driverless vehicles, nanobots that swim through the human body and the 3D bioprinting of tissue and organs on the cusp on becoming commercially viable. Quantum physicists tell us that time travel is possible, and the ambitious plans for the colonisation of Mars and interplanetary transport systems are currently underway.
Real life is pretty fantastic, but let’s not forget a time when mysteries eluding human understanding took on numinous qualities. Although many fantastical beliefs have been discarded with the age of enlightenment, their pervasive influence persists even today. The worlds of Star Trek, Star Wars, Lord of The Rings and Harry Potter have become huge cultural phenomenons, resulting in unified communities, fictive languages, fabricated religions and even real life events and places in which one can experience those imaginary worlds.
As our world becomes more rational, we become more willing to suspend our disbelief to enter sublime worlds of magic and mythology, to dive into alternate quixotic or dystopian futures. In this ambiguous space, we can combine the familiar with the foreign to experiment with different ways of seeing the world and deeply examine what it is that makes us human. It is a prism through which complex and relevant political, social and technological implications can be safely explored and analyzed.
Indeed, Science Fiction and Fantasy often reflect the times in which they are spawned, coherently charting the collective hopes, fears and aspirations of civilization. The most resonant and influential stories are rarely just about escapism, presenting remarkably trenchant investigations into the human condition.
Today, neuroscience research shows that our sense of reality and imagination are intimately linked, suggesting that our brains do not discriminate between reading about an experience or encountering it in real life. Corresponding neurological regions in the brain react to narratives of smells, textures, movements and emotions as if they were real. In other words, reading can vividly simulate different lives, worlds and perspectives - just as a computer simulation can help calculate and present different predictions of varying outcomes.
So we can can create dreams and fiction with our imaginations, but we can also harness that amazing power to conceive of and actualize better futures. Perhaps we can transcend our limitations and change the fabric of reality itself, for it is possible that we, too, are infinite.
Accepting submissions: 1 Nov 2017, 00:00 EST
Closing date: 30 Nov 2017, 00:00 EST
Results: 16 Jan 2018