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The future: do-it-yourself

The future is here. We have perfect machines, quick transport, effective healthcare, space rockets and home computers. Of course, our modern time has its downsides, but it is much better than the past in many ways.

The question is, who made all these wonderful things for us? How did all these futuristic inventions that have made our lives easier come to life? What kind of ideas inspire their authors to be creative? We made them ourselves: our progress is the result of our own inventions.

Traditionally creativity stands for some mysterious process inside the human’s mind. However, creativity may have a deeper purpose. Every man-made product or technical system that is designed to deliver a certain functional value tends to evolve according to certain laws of development. Man-made technical systems evolve in a systematic way, step by step. If one knows a first step, a second step and a third step of a technical system, then one may guess the next four steps.

Everyone around them will then exclaim: “Oh! Such an interesting invention!”. This logical process is considerably more efficient than trying to develop genetically determined abilities.

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The most approachable sphere in which anybody can try to create something new and original is literature. There are currently two streams in literature: the traditional one, which narrates inventions made in the past, and the Sci-Fi literature, which contains inventions created in a fictional future. Some ideas from Sci-Fi literature are actually solutions for problems and challenges formulated years ahead. Modern Sci-Fi literature has in fact predicted many current inventions. According to rumors, there are even special services devoted to extracting ideas and solutions from Sci-Fi texts.
This type of development is a stochastic process: authors spontaneously produce some ideas and encase them into an attractive context (for instance, adventures). Introducing social contexts in Sci-Fi literature actually allows to test the idea in different ways, portraying it in different settings. But the practical effectiveness is reduced: only some of these stories are linked to realistic issues and helpful for our society.
The number of goals and challenges for humankind now is ever-growing. From local issues to global conflicts, researchers are seeking for quick and effective solutions to help us grow. It seems therefore that the potential of Sci-Fi literature and its authors is more relevant now than ever before. For this reason, we have started a project called “The future: do-it-yourself, or Non-obvious literature”.

The aims of the project are:

1. To find and show some actual future problems and challenges that require a solution
2. To unveil possible solutions through fantasy and science fiction narratives
3. To create a social context for those solutions where the ideas can be tested and approved

We would like to invite our readers and writers to send the PLASMA team your own Sci-Fi and fantasy stories describing a concrete solution to a future problem. We will then collect your stories and create a compilation of avant-garde solutions for the problems of the future.

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This project was born from the training course “Non-obvious literature”. The following pages are a collection of short stories for this project.

Science-fiction texts writing as a method of creative thinking development

Sergei Modestov, PhD
Russia, Saint-Petersburg

pictures taken in the exhibition INTO THE UNKNOWN,
Barbican Centre, London

 

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