Short story anthology by Ethos Books and Margaret River Press
Over the past few weeks we collected intimate imaginations of futures, and gained a peek into how the sepia of previous times seeps into our present day. What comes after the unimaginable? In trying to answer the utopic (dystopic) question of futurity, we received 94 submissions.
Out of 94 stories, there were at least 5 that are tinged with mandarin oranges. Perhaps it was the Lunar New Year season… yet, will there still be New Year celebrations when resources are scarce? A submission wrote of a time when ingredients for their favourite dishes are no longer readily available—fresh minced beef became canned corned beef, and finally canned tuna. For a nation obsessed with food, this is a different disaster altogether. There is also a recurring thread of technological imagination running through most stories. What does this say about technology’s place in our imaginative consciousness?
Throughout the open call, we ran through several accompanying prompts on our social media accounts. When we asked what changes you’d like to see, we received a spike in stories that explored days, decades, or even centuries later. We read about connecting telepathically with then-extinct animals, like the now-endangered Indochinese tigers, by travelling through time at will, an iconic landmark recast as an apocalyptic site doubling as a vertical cemetery… Which ties in to a recent TED talk by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, who was just nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, calling for immediate action before it’s too late for her generation to mediate the disasters of climate change.
Among the 10 stories selected, we sojourned through sentiments such as tenderly bathing a dying loved one as they asked aged questions—have you eaten, how old are you now—a craving for chilli crabs ignited by a dead crab along the beach, the simple joy of a queer couple being with each other freed of political weight, a wild watermelon as a splash of colour in a world that has since gotten accustomed to monochrome. More still, an enduring sense of yearning for feeling, where skeletons of demolished homes become the contours of a lost lover and language barriers allayed by technology resuscitates a desire for sounds of different tongues.
It was a joy to plough through all 94 submissions without knowing who wrote them. And yet another burst of joy came when the names of these writers were revealed to us.
Of 94, we received stories from writers familiar and new, and are excited to share with you these 10 authors comprising the Singapore segment of the anthology.
Arin Alycia Fong
Transcending state boundaries and coalescing different reimaginations into a single book, this anthology, consisting of 20 writers from Singapore and Australia, is co-edited by Jon Gresham and Elizabeth Tan and co-published by Ethos Books and Margaret River Press. Forthcoming August/September 2019.
(Written by Xiao Ting)