Submitting to Science Fiction for Survival

Contributors who respond to this particular heading are invited to select a favourite science fictional text – a short story, novel, graphic novel, poem, film or TV episode. In making your selection, perhaps start by drawing on a particularly memorable fictional moment—for example, my own favourite scenes from sf include the passage in which Frankenstein’s creature revises his view of humanity after being struck ‘violently with a stick’; when Roy Batty in Blade Runner tells of the moments that will be ‘lost in time’; and when the Christmas lights go crazy in Joyce Byer’s living room in Stranger Things.  When you have settled on a particular work, we suggest that you then ‘clear the decks’, which is to say, turn the sound off on your phone, close your email, and shut out the world while you level your concentration on the following question:

What important idea does the text address that you would like those who are moving off-world to consider?

In 500-1000 words, work to explain how it is that a favourite sf writer, graphic novelist, or director helps you to see something that you already knew, perhaps, but that you did not perceive in quite this way. Alternatively, work to explain how the creator of this piece has helped you to see or understand something entirely new. We invite you to distil, for the people who come after you, the wisdom contained in your selected text. To bring your chosen text alive, analyse how it is that the writer helps you to arrive wherever you do.  Pay attention to one or more of the following: style, voice, setting, tone, character, structure, and plot.  How does the writer use language to evoke something strange, uncanny, or unforgettable; how does the director use visual images to tell you something truthful about the way some human beings interact—with those they love, with strangers, with other mammals, with the trees towering above them or the water rushing beneath the Earth’s mantle? When the story ends, what do you think you know?

At the end of your mini-essay, on a new and final line, please spell out what it is that will be useful for those who are preparing to move off-world in a clear, straightforward sentence.

It is advisable to draw on other sf texts and critical essays about your chosen text to help underline points within your mini-essay. Use your imagination, as well as your common-sense, to select good sources—how can the insights offered up by science, or philosophy, or literary theory, or history, or religious thinking add weight to your argument?

You may ask—‘wouldn’t it be better if the people of the future were simply to read, or view, the recommended text and to come to their own understanding of what science fiction offers as they build a new society?’ One answer to this is as follows: well yes of course—that would be the ideal scenario. HOWEVER, the people of the future are likely to be very busy—too busy—especially just before they settle off-world—to read, view, and discuss a range of science fictional texts and to compile a list of sage advisories.  Our sense is that the future needs YOU—the critical intermediary—to sum up the wise points highlighted by science fiction, in order to help save our species, as well as to protect all other species within our radius of influence!

Once you have completed your mini-essay, please send it to the Terra Two editorial team through the Online Submission Form on the About page.  The Terra Two editorial team will accept well-written essays in English which follow the recommendations laid out above.  We invite creative work from staff members and students at YSJ and from selected guest contributors outside our institution. Please include a 50 word biography and a photograph.   Let’s join our many voices together in order to create a mutually sustaining reality, next time around. Please follow an established referencing system for citations and bibliographic details.

The text selection is entirely up to you, but here are a few possibilities:

Arthur C. Clarke—‘Nightfall’ (1947), ‘If I Forget Thee, Oh Earth’(1951)
Ray Bradbury—‘Frost and Fire’ (1946), ‘The Veldt’ (1950), ‘There will Come Soft Rains’ (1950),
Ursula Le Guin—The Left Hand of Darkness (1969), The Dispossessed (1974), ‘Newton’s Sleep(1994)
Margaret Atwood—The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), Oryx and Crake (2003), The Year of the Flood (2009)
Octavia Butler—Xenogenesis (1987-) The Parable series (1993, 1998)
Cormac McCarthy—The Road (2006)
China Miéville—The City and the City (2009), Kraken (2010)
Jeff Vandermeer—The Southern Reach Trilogy (2014)
Abrams, Kurtzman and Orci—Fringe (2008-2013)
Charlie Brooker—Black Mirror (2011-)
The Duffer brothers—Stranger Things (2016-)
Planet of the Apes (1968)
Star Wars (1977)
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
Blade Runner (1982)
Twelve Monkeys (1995)
The Fifth Element (1997)
Gattaca (1997)
The Matrix (1999)
Children of Men (2006)
Ex Machina (2015)
Arrival (2016)


We look forward to reading your work with great anticipation.

yin yang