We have always allowed our imaginations to create other worlds as expressions of our wildest dreams, hopes and fears. The story and present state of our speculations are explored by Erik Davis, China Miéville, Adam Roberts and Tricia Sullivan. Chair, Sam Leith.
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China Miéville speaks with LQ editor Aidan Flax-Clark about craft, genre fiction, and the power of the supernatural over his books.
Will our future be happy? Will we control our technology or will it control us? Writers Nick Harkaway and Simon Ings warn that we should not accept everything on offer. Ben Marcus’s new dystopian novel imagines what might happen if it all goes wrong.
We’re in an age when technological fact is stranger than fiction – so why are so many novelists devoting themselves to exploring the frontiers of thought? Nick Harkaway explains why it’s the novelist’s job to imagine the future, and how "an act of taking the brakes off the imagination" could even help the world to make the right choices as we hurtle into the future. Simon Ings, editor of Arc, a new magazine devoted to imagining the future, explains the importance of speculative thinking and the sadness of the modern world.
And Ben Marcus talks about the worst case scenario of his new novel, The Flame Alphabet, which imagines a dystopian future where adults are poisoned by the speech of their children, and in which words and writing, and even making signs, also become fatal.
For the Ariekei, who live on a distant planet in China Miéville’s latest novel Embassytown, speech is thought: “Without language for things that didn’t exist, they could hardly think them.”
In Miéville’s Ariekei language, there is no room for metaphor, no space between the thing – or the idea – and the word. As a result, the Ariekei have no concept of lying. Language is truth, rather than merely standing in for it. Quite the opposite of any human language.