Many of us may never live to see the year 2525. Yet, this has not stopped two RVians from envisioning what the future may bring in their own short stories.
In fact, the two RVians performed admirably, as they took part in Science Chronicles, a science fiction writing competition organised by Science Centre Singapore, with Yu Jialu (20J05) winning third place and Zhang Kailun (19J10) attaining the Merit award.
Working with the theme “The Year 2525”, the two RVians made use of both their current affairs and pop culture knowledge to construct dystopian futures in their respective stories.
Jialu found inspiration in works of fiction like Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and the sci-fi film Gattaca as she explores inequality in society, and the fallabilities of unfettered technological development in her short story.
To do this, she incorporated interesting settings such as solitary confinement as a form of governmental control and punishment. Her story slowly unfolds into something more sinister.
“For my research, I looked up Neuralink, the American neurotechnology company developing implantable brain–machine interfaces to understand the design of their neural implant,” said Jialu.
She also read up on optogenetics and how it can make use of light-sensitive proteins to manipulate neuron electrical activity.
“For my brief understanding on in-vitro fertilisation, I looked back on my biology notes,” she said.
Yu Jialu (20J05) takes us through the works that inspired her short story
Meanwhile, Kailun looked into the area of cutting edge computer science and came across the concept of the Matrioshka Brain, which posits the possibility of attaining unimaginable computational power by utilising the entire energy output of a star.
“I think that this area of science is fitting to explore as it mirrors our obsession today on digital technology,” he said.
While set in the future, Kailun’s story nonetheless serves as a cautionary tale for the world that we live in today.
“The rising power of mega corporations concentrates wealth in the hands of a few, and this leads to a further stratified society,” said Kailun.
Through integrating news headlines into his story, Kailun also highlights the role that the media plays in reinforcing social hierarchies.
“While it sensationally exposes the failures of the fictional government, nothing actually gets done to solve the problems,” he said.
Zhang Kailun (19J10) recounts the real-life scenarios he incorporated into his short story
Giving it a Shot
Throughout the process, the RVians found that writing a short story was no mean feat.
“As this was my first time writing a story, I was unsure as to how to make characters seem as realistic as possible,” said Kailun.
Jialu also found herself procrastinating as she was afraid that her story would not be what she had envisioned. Nearing the submission date, she also experienced a major writer’s block.
“Eventually the urge to materialise all the ideas in my head was too strong and I finally picked up my pen,” she said.
“Through this competition, I’ve rekindled my love for writing and I’m looking forward to transferring this same passion to my General Paper, and perhaps even participate in this competition again,” Jialu said.