“The word that can be spoken is not the true word.” – Lao Tzu
In my version of the People’s Story we were all born into a guessing game in which reality is continuously poking us with the question – “What should you do?” Through both our actions and our inactions, we are continuously responding, and those responses have consequences. We can choose to believe anything we wish, but we cannot escape the consequences of our choices.
Story is how we model the stimulus/response/consequences experience of our existence. Our story controls our understanding of the stimulus, which controls our response, which affects the consequences of our response. No one is born with good judgment. Our judgment evolves as our story evolves.
When I was six years old my brother told me that there was no Santa Claus. In one moment, I moved from inside of a story where Santa Claus was absolutely true, out into a story where it was all a vast conspiracy of lies designed to control my behavior. In the flash of epiphany, I caught the pattern. My story controlled my perceptions, which controlled my actions, which controlled my consequences. In that same flash of epiphany, I caught the geometry of motion, from inside of smaller false story, out into a larger truer story. It was the “Santa Claus Shift” that launched me on my life journey outward through story space to investigate the story of how story evolves. I just completed a “solution memoir” about this journey, The Game of Guessing Right, that describes my … Continue reading →
Congratulations to VFA member Matt D Kambic, whose guest post appeared here in April 2017. He has won an award in the ‘Mountain & Adventure Fiction’ category at the New Zealand Mountain Book Festival 2017, for his visionary novel, Everest Rising. He has also received an honorary mention for his novel at the Northern California Publishers and Authors Book Awards competition, 2016.
About the author
Matt Kambic is a writer and artist who hails originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He currently resides in Hamilton, New Zealand.
It’s a long way from Pennsylvania to Mount Everest. I’m still on the road (a bit closer – now living in New Zealand) but don’t know if I’ll ever get there. It’s not unlike the journey from being born to understanding, or at least making peace with, the meaning of life.
I’m an American man married to a Kiwi woman, retired from Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA) in 2013. My first novel was published a few months ago. It’s called Everest Rising, and the plot is relatively straightforward – the Earth is pregnant.
The idea came from a few different places. I am always searching for the new storyline– a tale that hasn’t been told and an engaging core around which to build a compelling narrative. I want my characters to grapple with both the commonness of existence and the wonder sneaking in around the edges. This wonder serves as a catalyst for transforming the human experience; a transformation revealed through the senses, understood by the mind, and confirmed by the heart.
The ‘pregnant Earth’ construct allowed space for various themes to intermingle and for passionate conflicts to play out. There’s conflict concerning the Earth: a living, possibly sentient entity about to safeguard its existence against humankind’s wayward stewardship. There’s conflict among the characters, many of them scientists who must decide how to deal with an unprecedented, physics-defying chain of events. At its center, the story is about acceptance. Accepting how little we know, and in that unknowing choosing how to use our energies and where to direct our focus. Where can one find answers – or some version of a contented frame … Continue reading →
Science fiction has long been the genre of choice for social commentary. By breaking away from the everyday real world and presenting alternative realities, it offers a safe haven for making statements on controversial or otherwise sensitive topics. Unsurprisingly, as a speculative fiction type, sci-fi is also a favourite genre choice for the visionary fiction writer, myself included. But just as not all visionary fiction is sci-fi, not all sci-fi is VF. Even so, with both being used for social commentary, the line that distinguishes the two can occasionally seem blurred. This is exactly what happened recently when the VFA came across a writer who was promoting a kind of fiction for which she had chosen the term “visionary fiction”.
Writer and activist Walidah Imarisha has mainly written poetry and non-fiction, but she has co-edited the anthology Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories From Social Justice Movements named after sci-fi writer Octavia E. Butler. The book is described at its website as “visionary science fiction and speculative fiction written by organizers and activists,” and elsewhere co-editor Adrienne Maree Brown describes the book as offering “a way to uncover the truths buried in the fantastical – and to inject a healthy dose of the fantastical into our search for truth”. Imarisha has also said about what she means by visionary: “If its weird and it helps us build new just worlds, that’s us.”
When in January 2015, VFA editor Margaret Duarte first sent the VFA editorial board a link to an interview of Imarisha I was especially interested, since I spotted some key words that corresponded to my own VF, in particular justice, and systemic. (My novel Systems is about a quest to create an … Continue reading →
It came to mind that a backdoor approach to the key question—What is Visionary Fiction?—might yield valuable insight into this genre’s elusive definition. So let’s take a look, for a lark, at what is not visionary fiction. Continue reading →
Now available for free at Amazon from March 6th – March 7th!
What would you do if you could relive your life over again?
Damon 1300-333-1M will get to answer that question eight times in Eleni Papanou’s debut visionary fiction novel, Unison.
Illness has been eradicated in Unity thanks to a healing implant, and criminals are cured with virtual reality therapy. In this seemingly idyllic community, Damon is condemned to relive his life until he uncovers a suppressed memory. Attempting to help him remember his clouded past is a woman who communicates with him in visions and dreams, but a frightening premonition keeps diverting Damon to a cabin where a dangerous encounter leads to his friend’s death. The tragedy will play out for lifetimes to come and open Damon’s eyes to the truth about Unity and himself. To break the endless cycle of his life, Damon must confront his darkest fears and unveil a memory that’s too painful to remember. Only then can he discover an even more profound truth that expands beyond his mind and the Universe.
What critics are saying:
Unison is written for the science fiction reader. Eleni Papanou presents the story in a believable way with characters that are strong and well defined. The last chapter of the book does a great job of answering all of the readers’ questions and it also includes a great ending that I didn’t see coming. If you are a science fiction fan then I recommend you pick up a copy of “Unison” – Reader’s Favorite
Time is relevant to sound. An infinite voice sings life into this universe, and I’m but one note resonating within this expanse of boundless potential. While that’s an easy abstraction to grasp, my own potential remains elusive. After eight parallel lifetimes I’ve been adrift somewhere between struggle and mastery, both of which I now see as an illusion.
I first realized there was something unusual about me in my ninth year, shortly after winning the lottery to go on a camping expedition. My friend Wade and I had taken climbing classes to prepare for our hike up Emerald Mountain. Because of our age, we were restricted to the beginner wall which soon ceased to challenge us. When Headmaster refused to move us to the next level, we waited until the athletic center had closed for the night, then snuck inside to climb the advanced wall. The ropes and harnesses were locked away, and we ascended without them. Finding it difficult to handle grips positioned for longer limbs, I fell during my descent. After Wade yelled out my name, the outside world disappeared.
My awareness returned in the hospital, but my body remained unresponsive. I screamed and cried out in silence when I heard a doctor tell an Overmaiden I was in a coma and wouldn’t last beyond the week. Seven days later my condition remained unchanged. To alleviate my increasing restlessness, I imagined myself exploring the deathlands. They had fascinated me ever since I learned about them at school, but the poison left over from the Great Cataclysm meant I could never visit them. The Earth I created had no limitations. There were no fumes to contaminate my lungs and no scourge to keep me from venturing too … Continue reading →
Perched at the top of the scaffolding with his legs crossed, he focused his thoughts on emptiness. This was the only way he could distance himself from the droning energy of the people.
His eyes were closed, and his body perfectly at rest. His pale blue T-shirt and black jeans dripped constantly as the rain pelted down. Yet he was oblivious to the cold and the wet. His mind simply sought the peace.
Most would find it difficult to believe that a man of such quiet composure could at the next moment be possessed with wild, irrepressible energy. However it was as natural to him as the weather. The red ribbon that he wore permanently round his head symbolised that he was different. His self-appointed title, the Peace Man, was a testament to his mission. No one knew it but him.
Doctor Hargreaves believed that his patient’s sociophobia was just a part of his illness, but the Peace Man knew better. He felt utter contempt for the state of the human race. He’d been free for just three days, but in the world of the so-called sane he’d found only what he’d known all along. Hell was earth. The people had vacuous minds, empty souls. They weren’t even alive. They merely existed from the cradle to the coffin. They were not human beings, but androids tagged with serial numbers, whose sole purpose was to work and make never-ending payments for the things they would never own. And in all their mindless running around, they had no time to stop and think; certainly not before their bodies wore out and forced them into the death before death. The have-nots of the modern world were not the unemployed; they were the unenlightened. They knew nothing of their … Continue reading →
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