#youareascifiwriterBook Arsenal


Curatorial project on fantastic literature

Curated by Alyona Savinova, Oleh Silin

The problem of the future arises almost in all branches of scientific knowledge. In humanities, this discourse is also present, and it can acquire horrible forms, create a crisis outlook and speculation in the human’s search for a meaning of life. Studies of the future in fiction are increasingly reduced to cognitive distortions dictated both by a simple human attachment to a certain ideology and strange social expectations.

The term “sci-fi writer” can be perceived not only as the definition of a writer who works in the realm of unrealistic, but as a synonym for an escapist, a dreamer who is away from reality, unable to adequately resist its challenges. At the same time, people who were not fixed only on reality moved the world forward. Albert Einstein advised to read a lot of tales to children for them to be smarter. Elon Mask was inspired by the works of Isaac Asimov and Douglas Adams whose book was sent to space during the launch of Falcon Heavy. The Chinese leaders officially approved the organization of science fiction and fantasy festival because they realized that the country almost ceased to think up new things, and they would thus encourage the new generation to dream.

But there is a certain trap. Science fiction is often understood only as a type of literature that tells about the future and predicts new technical inventions. The official doctrine of the Soviet era insisted on a similar ultra-narrow sense, covering itself with the good names of Jules Verne and Herbert Wells. However, science fiction can affect the vision of the future not only through its description, but also in several ways that are not always vivid. Right there occurs the temptation to define a sci-fi writer only as a futurologist who will make a certain prediction for a happy and successful future. And even better, if this prediction is to solve certain socio-cultural issues.

The importance of science fiction, its ability to create images of the future is usually beyond doubt. There is a lot of debates about the fine line between science fiction and futurology, but the real problems begin when artworks are referred to as a certain scientific foresight, appealing to the works of Lem and Clark, although these authors were not only writers, but also futurologists and scientists. But if futurology uses the exclusively scientific method while constructing models of the future, then science fiction writers most often create descriptions of the future, entertaining the readers, cautioning them or helping to soften the shock and fear of the future.

Many of the first works with a fantastic element described trips to unusual islands or the Moon, in which the focus was not so much on extraordinary adventure, but on the social system. It could have been a developed and fair community as represented by Thomas More and a number of authors, or it could have been a devastating satire on contemporaries, which is Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels series. What’s most important is what these writers and many other fantasy authors did — they showed us ourselves, from the unexpected side, from another mental and even moral position. It’s important to look at yourself in a science fiction mirror, in order not to reproduce the paths that are steadily established, which our brain is inclined to.

Fantasy literature lets you touch the future in a different way. The simplest  way is when a strange world emerges right from our present day. However, the finest examples of fantasy establish a deep link between the world of myths and beliefs, they appeal to the collective monomyth and allow folk characters, allegories and allusions to see our world, to find not only answers to the questions that concern us now, but also to determine the questions, which will appear to humanity in a few years or decades.

“I enjoy history and think that science fiction is a way of popularizing history: you take what you consider to be important, and you place this situation in the future, on other planets, no matter where. And that’s all, people can’t stop reading,” says James Cameron, and his words can be attributed to science fiction, to fantasy, and to alternative history, which can also shape our future. The works of this direction let us learn more about ourselves, to ask what was really happening at that time, and to understand what the future might be on the next round of the historic spiral. However, alternative history can be a terrible poison, when all together the authors begin to dream of revenging certain forces, and society picks up such visions as a virus, and begins to build dystopia, considering it to be a utopia.

Reflection on the present and dreams of the future are inherent not only to the creators of the novels. A series of short stories by Ray Bradbury was enough to make millions of people dream of a trip to Mars. Many science fiction writers are remembered as masters of short prose: Lovecraft, Dick, Sheckley, Zelazny, Stern, Savchenko… In times of great changes, a sci-fi story becomes more weighty, because science fiction writer can create a sketch of the future that will capture an imagination or point out possible difficulties of the new way of development. Bradbury said that science fiction is our reality brought to the point of absurdity and sometimes the science fiction writer should sharpen all the contradictions in order to find the right path.

The sci-fi writer is not a prophet and not a savior, but it is the person who makes people change. Neil Gaiman sees the extraordinary benefit to society: “Once you’ve visited other worlds, like those who ate fairy fruit, you can never be entirely content with the world that you grew up in. . Dissatisfaction is a good thing. Discontent is a good thing: discontented people can modify and improve their worlds, leave them better, leave them different.

Let’s be sci-fi writers who improve the world. There is no need to give ready-made solutions, what’s more important is that a person asks the correct questions after reading fiction, so let’s leave the models of the future and predictions to professional researchers.

The key event of this year’s program is the Human vs. Machine discussion. It is focused on comprehending the phenomenon of technologization of human being, and the subsequent challenges and prospects. In 2017, for the first time in human history, humanoid Sofia got a citizenship of Saudi Arabia. Politicians in Western countries speak more often in their election campaigns about the concept of guaranteed basic income as they predict most professions to be replaced by automated labor in the future. A private American company is sending its spacecrafts into the Space, while blockchain aims to replace the state in finance and justice.

Werner Heisenberg, the laureate of the 1932 Nobel Prize in physics, said that “Modern science does not explain the world but it does allow us to master it.” Is the progress of science and technology helping us solve the most fundamental questions that have been bothering humanity since its early days? What does it mean to be a human? And How should this (being a human) occur?

Other themes of this year’s program include philosophy and technology, philosophical culture, metaphysics of power, literature as philosophy, translation of classical philosophy and more. Every event in the program is autonomous, yet it looks at a certain aspect of modern philosophy and provokes people to reflect on their experience in a non-standard way.

The Club of creative philosophy is a cycle of panel discussions, public debates, presentations of new works by Ukrainian philosophers, and a construction of direct dialogue with the audience on the topics presented. Events in the program are intellectual performances that do not claim to present universal ideologemes while help raise new questions and look for unexpected answers. Top Ukrainian thinkers, academics, writers, professional translators and commentators of classical philosophy take part in the events.

In the Cartography of Kyiv Modernism project, the Pic pic group focuses on the sound of the objects of Kyiv Soviet architecture of the 70s and 80s. It seems that the buildings and constructions of Kyiv modernism such as Zhytniy Market, Vernadskyi National Library, the UFO building near the Lybidska metro station, and Salut Hotel have their own acoustic plan. It is interesting for the authors of the project to outline this plan and make a walk through each of the selected objects following it.

Kyiv modernism is a unique example of the project of the future that was dreamed of or imagined by previous generations. So, it seems important to save this project in sounding and walking.

Such kind of walks resembles cartography: by trying to understand what is the interdependence between the acoustics of the premises, the spatial location and activity of people in these premises. This is supported by archival sources, interviews with architects and the recording of a modern sound pattern of Kyiv modernism.

This project is an attempt to understand how volume, silence, and noise modes affect human activity, and an example of the ideas of Kyiv modernism can be extremely useful here.

Within the project a mobile app with an acoustic plan of the selected objects will be developed. This application can be used during the walks.

The creative group Pic pic carries out extraordinary walks through popular and not that popular places of Ukraine. Involving outstanding Ukrainian and foreign composers and sound designers the group creates a certain sound environment and the type of a story in which the walk focus is manifested.

Out of Sight is a drawn Virtual Reality (VR) that takes you to the world of nine-year old Lena and her father. While Lena is dissecting an owl pellet, her father is absorbed in his memories. They are having a conversation, but at the same time, they haven’t. Although unaware of one another’s thoughts, they are thinking about the same: the loss of her sister and his daughter Lisa.

As a viewer you find yourself either in the head of the father or the daughter and you experience the two different perspectives. Take a seat at the kitchen table, and let yourself be carried away in a dreamlike reality about forgetting and remembering. About life and death.

Out of Sight is a concept by director Sara Kolster in close collaboration with author Jaap Robben. The VR was created in cooperation with illustrator Gijs Kast and the developer collective Zesbaans. The plan for Out of Sight arose from the VR Drawing Room which won the prestigious IDFA Doclab Award for Digital Storytelling in 2015.

The organizers of the festival believe that, in addition to its innovation, this project can serve as a kind of therapy for the Ukrainian audience. After all, many of us lost our friends and relatives in the war in the east of the country. Out of Sight can help cope with this pain by allowing to look at what has happened from a different vantage point.

The universe must not be clear, but we are so eager to cognize it. Why and how did we get here? Are we alone in the universe? What will the development of artificial intelligence, the change of genetic code and space colonial missions result in? The curiosity of the human mind is the force that moves forward and defines the horizon of the future. But won’t we cross the line?

Within the Kunsht Popular Science Magazine Program, there are ongoing attempts to find out how scientists see the future and whether we will become a threat to ourselves. While drinking oxygen cocktails, the visitors will have an opportunity to talk to Ukrainian researchers and receive answers to their questions; learn to defend themselves from pseudoscientific manipulations; find out who makes science interesting in Ukraine and why, and observe how it is combined with art. In addition to presentations of the popular science non-fiction, you can taste the future as well: vegan-Martian food, ice-cream from liquid nitrogen and robots as waiters – all this in a unique culinary project Cafe of the Future.

The popular science magazine Kunsht is all about modern design and texts on how the world is changing. The authors of the publication tell what scientists know about the universe and where their searches are headed to. With each subsequent release, the magazine not only extends the boundaries of the known, but also proves that science, no matter how complex it is, is still not deprived of beauty and creativity.

Manager is the one who deals primarily with the future. His or her profession is to design tomorrow’s projects. Each of their decisions affects the future of the system which they are responsible for, the country, the world. No matter it’s 20 years or 20 minutes, in any case, it’s about the time to come, and the radius of its influence depends on the scale of thinking. Our future will depend on the capabilities and quality of these decisions, too.

Book Arsenal Business Site is an intellectual platform where managers meet to share business wisdom, discuss the models of our future and understand how to learn to create good management solutions to reach it.

Each discussion is based on the newly emerged fresh business books that we have chosen to cover as much as possible the range of issues that are relevant to the focus. We will talk about organizational development of enterprises or the tomorrow of innovative IT companies in Ukraine, as well as personal development of the manager and new thinking paradigms.

The program is curated by Kyiv-Mohyla Business School [kmbs] and co-organized by the Old Lion Publishing House, Nash Format Publishing House, Family Leisure Club Publishing House, Yakaboo.

Business Site partners: Kyivstar, KnigaBiz.Ua

The Ukrainian Visual Book is a project initiated by Pavlo Gudimov and Diana Klochko. The platform of UVB aims to distribute, implement and popularize publications in which images play no less important role than text, and sometimes they can even serve as the main narrative tools. This category includes: books on art, illustrated fiction, non-fiction, comic books, art albums, and artbooks. The defining and unifying feature for all the books of the UVB project is their aesthetic component, which consists in visual material that not only accompanies the text, but also provides the books with a new semantic content.

In almost two years of its existence, the UVB platform has showed that the book is not only text in the first place, and has proven that the illustrative narrative is far from playing a secondary role. However, because of the distinct lack of such kind of books in our country and the biased attitude to it as to a progressive element in the creative economy, visual books need further lobbying and demonstration of high potential in the cultural field.

The thematic platform at the Book Arsenal Festival 2018 will combine visual books of small publishing houses and provide a forum for discussion around the issue of contemporary editions. The program includes public talks with authors, meetings, presentations and discussions on the urgent aspects of art. One of the key events will be the Last Judgment, where leading designers will reveal the mistakes made by publishers while creating books, giving the available examples.

Supported by Lucky Books and Old Lion Publishing

Together with social changes and the development of digital technologies, a great shift appeared in modern reading practices. Today authors can tell their stories not only through the pages of paper books, but also with other media.

The project Meeting Tukoni is a combination of virtual reality with 360° video, animation and classical book illustration. Putting on Google Cardboard VR glasses, visitors find themselves inside the book itself and hence in the magic world of Tukoni created by the illustrator Oksana Bula. This approach to the story lets expand the common ways of perception, find yourself into the real forest and meet the real characters. However, there is more to come — the project invites the reader to become an active participant of the story. But how exactly? The only thing you need to do is to put on the glasses…

Tukoni are the forest inhabitants. Each of them is different, but at the same time they are united by friendship and love for nature and the world they live in. Tukoni take care of plants and animals, and this is their favorite thing to do.

At this year’s Book Arsenal, the EUNIC Ukraine cluster that covers cultural centers of European countries, presents with the support of the EU’s Culture Bridges a professional platform to enhance the competencies of the book market, its integration into the international context, the development of professional contacts and networks.

Booking the Future — the word play in the title of the program suggested by curator Olha Zhuk resonates with the futuristic theme of this year’s Book Arsenal, aiming to outline global and local trends, innovations and forecasts. How are readership practices and expectations transforming? How are approaches to the promotion of literature changing in the age of digital culture, gift and sharing economy? How is the traditional paper market responding to this? How fit are the traditional shield, the professional armor against the risks, and the established publishing and market strategies to keep driving business development when responsiveness to change becomes a key competence?  How are publishers and organizers of book events in different countries “booking” a place for their cause in the future? What trends are they pointing out, how they are adapting and how are they shaping the playing rules?

These questions are to be answered in one way or another at the festival’s Business Stage by 10 top experts in the book and media industry from the UK, France, Austria, Germany, Poland, Greece, Italy, Czech Republic and Hungary. They will present the newest experience of their countries and unique professional insights, innovations in promotion and distribution, and reflections on global processes in book publishing.

EUNIC Ukraine and Culture Bridges invite you to meet the professional book Europe and talk to the publishers, publishing students, specialists in book marketing, initiators of book startups, organizers of literature events and representatives of book institutions selected for you by the experts.