Rjurik Davidson: Imagining new worlds

For Overland 202, we thought we’d try something different – author interviews and other supplementaries to accompany our published pieces, so you can get more of an insight into how these pieces came to be.

Here, Rjurik Davidson, associate editor at Overland and author of The Library of Forgotten Books, chats with Overland intern Clare Strahan about writing politically engaged fiction, free will and determinism, complicating fiction, the radical ’60s, sexism and the New Wave, inner space and outer space … and his latest Overland essay, ‘Imagining New Worlds’.

Part I

Part II

The Library of Forgotten Books is published by PS Publishing.

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

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  1. Hi there

    Its great to see that people are writing …”politically engaged fiction”. My passion is trying to raise awareness about the environment – and hoping that people will see the damage being done. The planet is impacted by the footprints we make – but it is not a silent partner. Oops…soap box speech:):):)

    Olga from http://revedoa@blogspot.com

  2. Hello to both Rjurik and Clare,

    Nice 1st attempt at utilising video chat. Obviously the viewer is not aware of the trials and tribulations behind the scenes but if I could humbly request that the audio & video sync a little better next time? Very disconcerting to hear the speech and then watch the mouth move a fraction of a second later.
    If I could also suggest that someone figure out how to blow up the video of either or both windows. Watching it (even in full screen) lacked the connectedness of seeing a detailed view of the participant’s faces.
    Enough criticism from me. Onto the substantive question. Rjurik, loved the essay but the last paragraph gave me pause for thought. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg scenario isn’t it? Does the writer have to have an imagined alternate world in mind before s/he puts proverbial pen to proverbial paper or may the act of writing set in train the construction of an alternate view of the world?
    An ancilliary question – does the writer have to have a fully formed alternate view before s/he starts composing the story or can s/he slowly become radicalised over a number of different stories? For example if a writer starts from an alternate view of the personal in much of their earliest fiction which then leads them to consider the economic framework which underpins the environment in which the characters form their relationship?
    Hope that makes sense and I look forward to your future work.


    1. Clare here – Skype has been my nemesis: thanks for the feedback, we’ve tried a different approach in subsequent interviews 🙂 Look forward to Rjurik’s response to your interesting question.

    2. Hi Noam.

      Yes, I very much agree on the chicken and egg scenario. The thing I keep in mind is that we are involved in ‘practice.’ We work with imperfect ideas and imperfect skills, but we go ahead and try things out. Both in fiction and broader projects. As you point out, from these efforts, we learn and our ideas evolve. For quite a while I was concerned, I think, with writing ‘perfect’ stories, or coming up with exactly the right ‘project’, or ‘position’. Nowadays I like to just try things out knowing that it’s all part of a wider discussion.

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