(Note: This is a slightly edited version of a blog post originally written for the VF web-ring under the title, The Place of Visionary Fiction in Today’s World and published March 2012)
According to one online dictionary, the meanings of the word ‘visionary’ include something characterised by foresight; fantasy and imagination; prophecy or revelation; and idealism.
True to its name, visionary fiction contains all of these elements as well. Although the genre of visionary fiction is relatively new, it actually has its roots in ancient mythology, and in the parables and legends we find in religious scripture across the world. It openly harks back to the original function of ‘story’ itself, to ask questions about human potential: What we are, where we are going, and what we would like to become. So in a way, visionary fiction isn’t new at all. But we might ask why this ‘new’ type of novel has appeared just as we have crossed into the new millennium.
It’s a mad world
The future is undoubtedly both exciting and uncertain. It’s exciting because of the pace of technology; faster communications such as the internet and mobile devices and TV; the leaps in our understanding of the physical universe; our advances in medicine, genetics and much more. Yet it’s also uncertain, because it seems to lack direction. Many of us fear that our combined knowledge is not being put to the best possible use; we remain painfully irresponsible when it comes to the environment; the vast majority of scientific research is funded by, and carried out for, the military; and we still can’t seem to … Continue reading