SIBF 2021: Writing can 'foresee the future', says writer at panel

Emirati author points out that stories of children in space 'came true' with UAE's astronauts

By Afkar Abdullah

Published: Sun 7 Nov 2021, 8:17 AM

A world where all nations are friends, or one where one emulates another's successful model of peaceful existence was author Michael Anderle's vision for the future, voiced at panel titled 'Futuristic writing', at the 40th edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF).

"Our future can be unlimited if we chart the path of peace," the bestselling author of the Kurtherian Gambit series opined at the discussion, which centred on how writing can foresee the future.

He was joined by Maryam Rashed Al Zaabi, Emirati novelist and writer of popular children's books like The Little Astronaut. Together, they discussed whether writers could predict the future accurately. The panel was moderated by Emirati writer Eman Al Yousuf, who has published seven books including the novel Sun Guard.

Al Yousuf pointed out how inventions we take for granted now ­– such as smartphones and sliding doors – had once been a figment of a writer's imagination. She was of the opinion that authors could in fact foresee the future and even predict even pandemics like COVID-19. She referred to Mark Twain's predictions in the late 1800s about the Internet.

Al Zaabi noted how books and cartoons of the 1980s had depicted situations that are a reality now. Remote learning for schoolchildren, prompted by the pandemic, is one such development.

"The books I read as a child spoke about astronauts and exploring space. Now, my country is doing that," she said. "Even flying cars and self-manned cars may soon become a reality."

Al Zaabi noted that she has an optimistic vision of the future, adding that her stories about children in space had come true when the UAE sent its astronaut into outer space. The author also disclosed that her current project is a fantasy novel merging the past and the present and is led by a female archaeologist.

Pointing out the younger generation's fascination with gaming, Anderle said gamers communicated with people around the world, which demonstrated the power of technology to create relationships globally. He also wondered why nobody was attempting to create a 'fun' gaming world that would solve real problems.

"We live in times in which much of what was science fiction in the past has become a reality. Countries like the UAE are creating amazing facilities to desalinate water, while solving the problem of water scarcity, for instance. Thus, imagination leads to progress," added Anderle.

Answering a teen visitor's query on how to write, he told her the art of writing was very simple: "Just do it right. Take only one or two subjects, put them in the future and write about the humans in it."

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