Hi Everyone, As you may all know I'm having a fantasy month on the blog, so as well as reading fantasy books, I'm also featuring some of my favourites as well as discovering some new authors too. So my penultimate guest author on my blog is Sif Sigmarsdóttir, author of I Am Traitor.
I have a copy of I Am Traitor from before it's release and again it's one of those that is on my TBR but near to the top, I promise you. I Am Fugitive, the sequel will be publishing in June. So before I hand over to Sif talking about why science fiction and fantasy can save the world. It's an amazing guest post, one I found so interesting. Here is a little bit more about her book.
At the end of the world, who can you trust? The story of one teenager's fight against an extra-terrestrial invasion. For fans of Michael Grant, Suzanne Collins and Robert Muchamore
London has been targeted by extra-terrestrial life; large pipes fall from the sky, sucking teenagers up into a world that is entirely unimaginable.
Amy Sullivan surrenders in a quest to save the teenage population. But nobody can prepare her for what's on the other side of the pipes; a grim and gruelling dystopian world run a specialised government. In order to save the human race, she must literally fight the other species.
Then Amy meets Caesar, a boy who doesn't seem entirely normal.
Amy must decide what's more important - saving planet Earth, or following her heart - wherever it might lead.
This is the modern day War of the Worlds with romance
Why science fiction and fantasy can save the world
Noon was approaching. I was at home, letting everyone think I was a serious writer writing my latest political radio column for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service, when in fact I was still in my pyjamas watching This Morning and seeing how many pieces of Rolo I could fit into my mouth at once – I was going for a personal record of thirteen.
The phone rang. It was my boss at the radio station.
“There’s a problem.”
I tried to swallow. There was indeed a problem – a big, sticky, five tubes a week, 60p each, three quid a week, twelve pounds a month, one hundred and forty-four pounds a year, I-don’t-love-anyone-enough-to-give-them-my-last-Rolo problem.
“There has been a complaint about your last column.”
Oh, that kind of problem.
“The prime minister’s office did not like it.”
I tried to get the caramel off my teeth with my tongue. “Well, they weren’t meant to.”
Pause. “I understand you’re doing another column on the PM.”
“We’d appreciate if you wouldn’t.” He hung up the phone.
I stared at the TV. Was that a threat? Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby were interviewing a guy who was about to drink his own wee on live television – he said it made him think clearer and his eyes sparkle.
I didn’t need to drink wee to see very clearly that I had only two options: 1) I could stay safe in my job and write a column about what Kim Kardashian’s behind had been up to that week. Or: 2) I could risk it and take a stand.
To make a long story short: I took the second option – and, later, the consequences. But that was not the end of the matter. Thanks to my other job, that of a writer of science fiction and fantasy, I am about to have the last laugh.
A moral force
Last month the world lost one of its greatest novelists, Ursula Le Guin. Le Guin was a varied writer. She wrote 20 novels, dozen books of poetry, more than 100 short stories, 13 children’s books, five volumes of translations and a guide for writers. But she was always best known for being a writer of fantasy and science fiction.
Le Guin was a champion of the genre. In an interview with The Guardian in 2005 she spoke about the genre’s ability to serve as a moral force. Much of fantasy writing she said, was “about power – just look at Tolkien. It’s a means to examine what it does to the person who has it, and to others.” She said that “the great instrument of moral good is the imagination… If you cannot or will not imagine the results of your actions, there’s no way you can act morally or responsibly.”
I don’t think I sound like a prophet of doom when I say that there’s a lot wrong with the world we live in; wars, corruption, climate change, modern day slavery… so many moral transgressions that humanity has to “imagine the results of” in order to tackle.
I have a confession to make: Even though my job as a journalist requires me to keep up with the news, sometimes, when I wake up in the morning, I can’t bring myself to open the papers – the news is just too horrible, too depressing. So, sometimes I just don’t (I hope my editor in chief at the newspaper I work isn’t reading this).
I don’t think I’m alone in avoiding this mirror to the horrors of our time. But how are we supposed to make the world we live in a better place if we refuse to examine what’s wrong with it?
The answer is fiction. In particular science fiction and fantasy. It’s within science fiction and fantasy that we tackle the big issues, dissect them, get to the core of them and are reminded of “our moral responsibility”.
Facts and fiction
No one would have liked to read a book called When the Prime Minister of Iceland Tried to Have Me Fired from my Job I Cried and Ate Two Whole Tubes of Rolo. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a story worth telling.
Animal Farm by George Orwell tells us so much more about the path towards a dictatorship than a 1000-page biography of Joseph Stalin ever could. 1984 warns us about the dangers of censorship and government surveillance more potently than a report of some political think-tank. Post-apocalyptic novels such as The Road by Cormac McCarthy and The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood are much starker warnings against climate change than, say, a ten-hour Ted Talk by Al Gore with graphs reaching so high you’d need one of Elon Musk’s rockets to find its peak.
Stories reach into your soul. Facts just reach into your brain and activate your prefrontal boretex which serves to makes you fall asleep from boredom (that’s not a scientific fact – please don’t quote that… that was just a sad attempt at a joke).
The fundamental truth
I just handed in the manuscript of my latest novel to my publisher. It could have been called When the Prime Minister of Iceland Tried to Have Me Fired from my Job I Cried and Ate Two Whole Tubes of Rolo, but it’s not. It’s called I Am Fugitive and it will be out in the summer. If you read it and come across a neurotic, power-hungry statesman with censorship tendencies you know who I’m writing about. Because science fiction and fantasy don’t give us the facts; they give us something much more important. They give us the fundamental truth.
Hi. My name is Sif Sigmarsdóttir. I’m a writer and a journalist. I live in London with my two children, Inspiration-Drain-One and Inspiration-Drain-Two, my husband who goes by the name He-Who-Takes-Out-The-Trash and a family of moths that are unfortunately not the only reason I can’t buy myself a proper cashmere sweater.I’ve been writing children’s books in Icelandic for over ten years. I Am Traitor is my debut novel in the English language. If you want to support my dream of owning a cashmere sweater — and a house without moths where one can actually hang a cashmere sweater without it being eaten up — you can buy my book from your local bookstore.I have a BA in history from the University of Iceland, and an MA in children’s literature from the University of Reading. I write a column for the Icelandic newspaper Fréttablaðið. My most recent book in Icelandic, Freya’s Saga, was nominated for the Icelandic Literary Prize.
Thank you to Sif and Team Bkmrk for being part of #FantasticalFeb.