Science fiction is expected both to show the future and certain patterns of social development. Historically, it has long met these expectations. Science fiction texts ranged from optimism to skepticism, from dreams of a happy future for humanity that seems to do anything – conquer distant stars, overcome disease and enmity – to the scenes of the decline and destruction of society, the domination of sinister corporations and totalitarian cults.
These fluctuations almost always correspond to the prevailing attitude towards the world. The events of the last few years have put science fiction writers in a dilemma: to reflect the optimism prevailing in the field of high technology and scientific progress, or to focus on the pessimistic sentiments caused by the pandemic and the accompanying social limitations. What will our future world be like? Will we see colonies on Mars, built by dreamers such as Mask, or terrible totalitarianism with restrictions on freedoms and economic decline?
Echoes of the contradictions between technological progress and social development have previously been seen in many works of science fiction authors. The collapse of most of the world’s empires in the 20th century and the realization of the price paid by humanity for ‘spreading progress’ led to a final rethinking of the close connection between the two concepts. Today, after the events of 2020, it has become almost impossible to calculate one’s place among optimists and skeptics, and science fiction is finally getting rid of their clear division.
The participants of the Program will try to comprehend how science fiction authors see human development now, whether there is room for such a thing as progress, and what our new world will be like. Is there room for dreams of a bright future, or are only utopias and increasingly gloomy literature ahead?
Ukrainian writers, scientists and public figures will meet in a dialogue on complex issues raised in the works of science fiction authors. We will focus on a few topics that particularly illustrate the gap between the optimism of scientists and the skepticism of the general public after the events of 2020: the pros and cons of online communication, the scientific scenarios for overcoming epidemics, which have not materialized, the social constraints and voluntary ‘iron curtains’ as harbingers of restrictions on freedom, as well as the lost ability to dream and make plans in conditions of uncertainty. The guests of the Festival will decide for themselves which of the participants an optimist is and which a skeptic is.
Science fiction can offer a wide range of topics where optimism and skepticism go hand in hand. There are essays with warnings, in which the main idea is a hope that this will never happen; works that call for the destruction of existing social systems, especially totalitarian ones; and works where human genius is glorified, who will find a solution to any problem, even if it was created by another genius. Science fiction authors are often the greatest optimists and the greatest skeptics, and it is up to us whether our world will be full of dreams.
Star Fortress Literature Association promotes the emergence of new names and ideas in the Ukrainian science fiction, strengthens the links between science fiction authors and readers, and supports the desire of young authors to intensify and develop their literary skills.