Dyson Sphere: A New Trend in Global Science Fiction! Exclusive Interview with SciFidea’s Chief Editor
Following the unprecedented success of the Chinese science fiction film ‘The Wandering Earth 2’, a wave of science fiction has swept across China and even the world. Hard science fiction literature and films have garnered the attention of the Asian market, presenting new opportunities for the industry.
SciFidea, a science fiction brand founded by Tang Feng and Chief Editor Lynn Sun, has been launched in Singapore to encourage the development of science fiction literature and help authors monetize their works.
SciFidea is committed to expanding the medium of science fiction works and developing new types of science fiction media that showcase humanity’s technological potential. This year, the brand is hosting a global contest called the ‘Dyson Sphere Science Fiction Writing Contest.’
The concept was first proposed by physicist Freeman Dyson in 1960. In an interview with Lynn Sun, she shared her thoughts on the Dyson Sphere trend in the science fiction world, and she is excited to see how authors will approach this theme in their writing.
The Dyson Sphere Science Fiction Writing Contest is an opportunity for authors to showcase their creativity and explore this exciting theme. The contest is open to writers from around the world, and winners will have their works published by SciFidea.
Reporter: Can you share with us how SciFidea was developed and launched back in 2021?
Lynn Sun: Sure. SciFidea started as a popular column named “奇想”(QiXiang) in the well-known Chinese SF magazine Science Fiction World. “Qixiang” means fantastic ideas literally, and it refers to the ideas or inspirations for science fiction. We then created a new word – SciFidea – for its English version. It was a new venture. When I joined Tang’s team, there were only Tang and me, a tiny startup with a big science fiction dream. We did all the work, editing, publishing, advertising… you name it! It was not until the second year that we started to have other workmates.
Most of our authors got deeply influenced by Western SF from a young age, and they have the eagerness to communicate with the global SF community directly. It just occurred to us that there is a need for them to talk globally. Our authors have a global perspective, and they can write for all. To provide our writers with a bigger stage, to better connect with the world, and to reach out to a bigger SF community, we decided to dream bigger and go abroad. It was no doubt a huge challenge, as we had many uncertainties about foreign languages and international rules. But we had to get things done without waiting for it to be ready.
Reporter: Can you share with us the reasons behind choosing the theme of “Dyson Sphere” for this year’s contest?
Lynn Sun: As a hard science fiction brand, our aim is to keep up with the trends in science and technology, such as Nobel-Prize-winning science, that can truly help improve our world. We want to bring all the best aspects of science fiction to our time by telling stories that combine solid science and wild imagination, which captivates readers most. Our six topics, including smart prostheses, biochemical healthcare, Dyson Spheres, self-emerging intelligence, blockchains, and new materials, were chosen because they are essential and provide a sense of wonder and reasoning.
The Dyson Sphere is a fascinating concept that has been explored in science-fiction literature for decades, involving various scientific disciplines such as astronomy, physics, chemistry, ecology, and geology. However, authors can choose any aspect to write about, whether it’s an adventure story, ecological exploration, or a science-fiction battle for power. If the author possesses multidisciplinary knowledge and is skilled at plot setting, they can create a captivating story in this world. While it may pose a challenge for some contestants, it also provides ample opportunities for creativity and imagination. We wanted to challenge our writers to explore this topic in their own unique way.
Reporter: Why should one pay attention to the concept of a “Dyson Sphere”?
Lynn Sun: There are several reasons why the Dyson Sphere concept is worth paying attention to. Firstly, it’s a fascinating and fun concept that allows you to create an artificial planet with customizable gravity, length of day and night, life forms, terrains, and climates. It’s like having an enormous playground to explore and play with.
Secondly, it’s a challenge to your intelligence. The Dyson Sphere is a precision engineering marvel that presents an unprecedented and novel world. When you finally adapt and understand it, you will find yourself more knowledgeable and sagacious.
Thirdly, it represents the future of humanity. As we explore space and the stars, the Dyson Sphere is an inevitable step in this process. By paying attention to the Dyson Sphere concept, you can experience this future in advance through your imagination. Even if you may not live to see this time, it’s still worth exploring and understanding the potential of this concept.
Reporter: How can authors strike a good balance between practicality and imagination in science fiction writing?
Lynn Sun: We require that the science in the story is based on a scientific theory that is widely recognized today or a hypothesis that may be factual to a large extent. However, we also understand that being too rigorous may hinder an author’s ability to write science fiction.
Many sci-fi fans are keen on science and technology, and we care about these people. We will pay for a good story, a plot-dominated narrative, and sincere feelings. Editors are human, so we will choose stories that we like and that touch us, instead of measuring works with a dogmatic standard or criteria. Ultimately, it’s about striking a balance between scientific accuracy and imaginative storytelling to create a compelling and thought-provoking story.
Reporter: Are there any highlights for the judging panel this year?
Lynn Sun: We are thrilled to have an exceptional judging panel this year, with a total of 17 Hugo Awards between them. We have Phoenix Alexander, Jay Kay, and Doris Klein, who serves as a librarian for science fiction and fantasy at some of the world’s largest collections. Neil Clarke from Clarkesworld Magazine just won the 2022 Hugo Award for Best Editor Short Form. Patrick Nielsen Hayden from Tor Books published the Three-Body Problem in the US. Derek Künsken is an accomplished author of novels and short fiction. Robert J. Sawyer, the “Dean of Canadian Science Fiction,” has done a lot for us, and his help was vital. Michael Swanwick is a five-time Hugo Award winner who is approachable and warm-hearted. Finally, we have Liza Groen Trombi, the Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Locus Magazine, who brings her professional insight and the voice of females to the panel. We are excited to have such an esteemed group of judges this year.
Reporter: Apart from the cash benefits provided after winning the contest, are there any other benefits that the winning contestants can look forward to?
Lynn Sun: Winning the contest means that your work will be recognized by our prominent judges, who will provide recommendations for your work. Additionally, we are excited to start a community that allows science fiction writers to earn money. For a long time, science fiction writers have not been paid enough, despite being some of the most educated and knowledgeable people in the world. We believe they deserve more and better compensation.
To address this, we are building a Dyson Sphere Cinematic Universe where all the winning works can work together. This approach will increase their chances of success in the market. The film and television industry has been longing for a new intellectual property at this scale, and we believe our approach will provide that. We value the English market because there are many successful science fiction projects running overseas.