Mirror MazeКнижковий Арсенал

Mirror Maze

Science Fiction Program curated by Alyona Savinova and Oleh Silin

People often see each other through the lens of prejudices and beliefs. Sometimes this lens gradually closes the horizon, and a person finds him- or herself in a ‘mirror maze’. One can find the maze very comfortable, for it is able to distort the reality as one desires. However, this may prevent one from truly understanding the Other, the one who is outside the maze, or even the one who is roaming nearby through the same maze.

The maze can portray the Other as an enemy, but the image of this enemy tells more about the one who is looking into the mirror. Many science fiction writers have depicted the conflict with the enemy, and over time, the image of the other side has evolved from the external conquerors – Orcs, Martians, and visitors from the stars – to the internal ones – corporations, bureaucracy, and people who think differently. But the question always remains open: why do we tend to see the Other as an enemy?

Another open question, another distortion is the image of a non-human creature living nearby and having some differences. In science fiction, the interaction with non-people, folk creatures, persons with exceptional abilities, or stellar races explicates cultural differences and the ways of empathy, tolerating, finding the common, and going beyond the maze.

Getting lost in distorting mirrors, the mirror maze wanderer can get into the dark corridors fraught with fear and despair. These states are studied by horror fiction, which, comparing the disgusting and the beautiful, the real and the illusory, can recall the main human values and the hard work of being a human.

The translation is also a kind of lens: through the native language, we adopt the culture images and codes of our neighbors and learn to perceive those who speak and think differently. In recent years, many science fiction books have been translated; we have become gradually acquainted both with classic fantasy or sci-fi fiction and with contemporary works, a daring future of cyberpunk and post-cyberpunk. However, it itself sometimes yields to reality and its distortions.

Novels and essays are like mirrors: they reflect everything we have, both the good and the bad. They are an instrument that performs the function defined by the artist. It depends only on us, whether the mirrors of prose will be assembled into the walls of the maze or, on the contrary, will become a reflector for the lighthouse that will help us to find ways for agreement with those who are nearby. When one understands the Other, an imaginary alien from distant stars or a real person from another country, city, and building, the walls of the maze fall and common infinite space is formed.