Sci-fic for a realist: ‘we need it now more than ever’. Annice White reflects on the Terra Two Anthology Launch #YorkLiteratureFestival

Terra Two Anthology Launch with special guest Temi Oh

“The note that I took from this morning’s launch was that exploration into exploration of space is often an exploration into the self.” Annice White reflects on the Terra Two Anthology launch earlier this year on 16th March 2019.

As a fan of realist fiction, currently researching fictional representations of the Yorkshire Ripper, I would not call myself a science fiction fan. However, when York Literature Festival advertised their spec-fiction day I thought I’d step out of comfort zone and see what sci-fi is all about.

Before today I had this notion that Sci-fi is about things that don’t or wouldn’t happen. However, as I learnt today, it isn’t that the things in sci-fi aren’t real, it’s that we don’t want them to be.

I began my morning at the launch of the Terra Two anthology, with contributors reading their work and offering their advice for new settlement. My personal favourite was Rob O’Conner’s (to paraphrase): If you go into a cave and find alien eggs, leave and don’t prod them.

I was given a window into how vast responses to Terra Two can be. Bears deciding whether humans can return to earth, aliens questioning environmentally friendly products that might be anything but.

The event also involved a reading by Temi Oh from her novel Do You Dream of Terra-Two? This was followed by a Q&A. Her novel, inspired by her own coming of age, looks at relationships, growing up and the paths we choose; all while exploring how humans need to search for a new ‘home’. The note that I took from this morning’s launch was that exploration into exploration of space is often an exploration into the self.

Flood Fiction

Dr Caroline Edwards talks about flood in fiction. She discussed the idea islands, and how islands (sometime ironical) become a place to escape to. Professor Abi Curtis and Dr Caroline Edwards discussed this idea of sci-fi as an escape, especially when looking at climate change. The weather presented is anything but fictional. Speculative fiction is really exploring the now, just in a different way. Abi used the example of a squid which is alien but also part of our natural world: we know more about outer space than we know about the deep sea.

The point that hit me most after this event, discussing with Dr Liesl King, was when I said ‘I thought Spec-fic isn’t really my thing, because I like realism. But the worrying thing is that this is real’.


Tade Thompson

This interview was extremely interesting and thought provoking. (Rob is great interviewer, I could listen to these two talk for hours). Tade and Rob discussed his novel Rosewater, his ‘what if’ question being ‘What if an alien bio-dome appeared in Nigeria?’. Tade offered lots of useful tips for writers. He said that to build a world you just answer your ‘what if’ question.

Rob and Tade had a very interesting and relevant conversation about the African Sci-fi and his article ‘Please stop talking about the rise of African science fiction.’ Tade and Rob discussed the relationship between colonisation and sci-fi fiction writing, stating that: ‘Countries that have been colonised are good at first connect narratives’. Tade’s talk was full of humour but also a discussion of important issues. My favourite quotation: ‘You don’t think about colonialism – it’s always there. It’s like a pizza base’


Sophie Mackintosh

Sophie was interviewed by Abi Curtis about her novel The Water Cure and her writing process. Sophie talked about how she writes and described herself as control freak, attributing this to her love of Sims. Sophie and Abi discussed the notion of feminism in dystopian fiction, her novel is set in a world in which men are physically toxic and women must visit the island to be cured. To continue a theme that ran throughout the day is the relation of sci-fi to climate change. Sophie stated she ‘can’t imagine a book [set in] the future where climate change hasn’t happened’. This made a great end to my day, a chilled conversation that seemed to draw all the elements of the day together.

When I left with my signed copy of The Water Cure, I realised that I had found a whole new genre to explore and worlds to explore.