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When science fiction turns into reality later
Published on: Saturday, November 12, 2022
By: Sherell Jeffrey
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Left: American dystopian novelist Marie Lu, well known for her ‘Warcross’ and ‘Young Elites’ novels. Right: Syrian writer and novelist Islam Abu Shakir, who lives in the United Arab Emirates.
Left: American dystopian novelist Marie Lu, well known for her ‘Warcross’ and ‘Young Elites’ novels. Right: Syrian writer and novelist Islam Abu Shakir, who lives in the United Arab Emirates.
SHARJAH: Science fiction stories in the past has become part of our reality today, according to a panel of science fiction writers that included American dystopian novelist Marie Lu, and Syrian writer and novelist Islam Abu Shakir, who lives in the United Arab Emirates. 

“The genre dealt with universal themes and stories deemed science fiction in the past have become part of our reality today,” they said in a session titled “Science Fiction and Our New Reality at the 41st Sharjah International Book Fair, the largest book fair in the world. 

Marie, well known for her “Warcross” and “Young Elites” novels, said that “We can utilise science fiction as a way of evaluating and reinterpreting what is happening in our reality.”

“I find it comforting even, as we can find solutions to what’s happening in our world, allowing fictional characters to solve these huge problems we face today,” said fantasy novelist Marie, who takes inspiration from real-life video games.

Shakir concurred that in today’s environment of quick change, science fiction is becoming more and more relevant. 

“The instant communication technologies we use today were once only imagined in science fiction. Similar to the concept of interplanetary travel, it is now becoming a reality,” he said.

Science fiction writers Marie Lu and Islam Abu Shakir in a session titled ‘Science Fiction and Our New Reality at the 41st Sharjah International Book Fair’, the largest book fair in the world.

According to him, science fiction writers have the opportunity to write about the future while drawing on current knowledge to create original future ideas.

Marie echoed the sentiment, saying, “It’s unsettling to realise that a lot of features of science fiction in the past are now part of our reality.” 

She provided an example of this blending of science fiction and reality from the time she was writing her “Warcross” series.

The Young Adults writer described how while writing about Augmented Reality lenses that could connect to the mind and project human thoughts, the news came out that business magnate Elon Musk was working on his Neuralink brain-machine interface.

“They say fantasies are stories that cannot happen, but science fiction is stories that just haven’t happened yet,” she said. 

Shakir agreed that as a writer whose work is sometimes criticised for not being sufficiently “realistic” he believes that in the current, fast-paced modern world, the line between the fantastic and the real is blurring and cannot be clearly drawn.

The writers noted that tackling contemporary concerns may need more effort on the part of science fiction writers.

“Often, when writers go into their stories, they are not actively trying to problem-solve, they are also afraid to talk about it. There is a middle ground,” they said. 

“Science fiction can be a tool for helping us solve challenges in real life. We can also do it in a way that gives people hope that they can change the world,” Marie added. 

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