Imagining the Future
For another year - this will be the third - the Fabra i Coats Fàbrica de Creació will host Festival 42, one of the city's newest literary events. The growth and consolidation from one edition to the next of this tribute to all fantasy genres is cause for celebration. In fact, with nearly two hundred authors invited, around seventy activities programmed and an attendance figure of around eight thousand people at each event, Festival 42 has already established itself as a point of reference throughout the country.
We are therefore delighted to announce a new edition which, in keeping with tradition, will be held at the beginning of November. For five days, hundreds of renowned authors of today's genre scene will come to Barcelona to debate the past, present and future of non-mimetic genres. On this occasion, the festival will challenge us with more direct questions than ever before: How are past, present and future linked, both in fiction and in reality? Can the narratives we construct in the present become portents of the future? Can we prevent the dystopian futures foretold by works of science fiction? Are we capable of opting for utopias? Can we make them a reality?
Precisely this dichotomy between dystopia and utopia will be one of the central themes of this year's edition of Festival42. In a literary and audiovisual landscape saturated with apocalyptic futures, is there room for hope? Can we dream of a better future? Is it something we need to do urgently? Are dystopias a cry against a black future or a form of social stagnation? What role will artificial intelligence play in this equation? The festival's guests will not provide definitive answers to these questions, but they will open up new fields of debate. Ultimately, this is the main goal of genre fiction: to make us reflect on ourselves and our future as a community. This is why the festival is not only more closely tied to current affairs —literary and social— than ever before: it also opens a window on the world and invites everyone to watch and participate in it.
We are very happy that 42 connects with readers who are interested in the different genres of non-realist literature. However, we are even happier that, in its efforts to promote reading and the dissemination of literature of this genre, each year, it reaches new audiences who have never before encountered the fantasy genre. We must not forget that non-mimetic literature is science fiction, but also fantasy, horror, magical realism, parody... and an infinite number of genres and sub-genres that respond to our society's concerns and longings. In fact, this is its great virtue: the ability to connect with readers of all kinds.
So my hope is that, for another year, you will let yourselves be carried away by this celebration of fiction and narrative in all its forms and that, as you do so, you will be able to imagine a future that is, more than ever, filled with fantasy.
Xavier Marcé, councillor for Culture and Creative Industries
The futures we imagine
Everything is ready for the third edition of Festival 42: from 8 to 12 November at Fabra i Coats, as usual, in Barcelona.
Three editions, then, for a Fantasy-Genre Festival focusing this year on the three classic dimensions of time: past, present and future. A key theme these days both inside and outside fantasy genres. Because, it has to be said, we are living in an era where we endlessly analyse the next day, playing dystopia, recreating black or apocalyptic futures, thinking of a destroyed planet, AIs controlling the world, an economy on the brink of collapse, with everyone alienated by technology, one step from the abyss.
Nevertheless, there are those who believe that, however much we insist, sometimes we are bordering on the ridiculous, or worse. So, the abuse of dystopias has provoked a reaction inside and outside the genre too. More and more works and voices are calling for utopias, even if they are critical, future, hopeful utopias that do not renounce the conflict inherent in every narrative. They are calling for hope not to be a form of naivety, for fear not always to come out on top, for us put a name to capitalism and reinvent alternatives. In today’s science-fiction these paths are represented by hopepunk, solarpunk, and sometimes climapunk.
But the debate goes further, permeating every genre. And in this debate, 42 will once again be paying tribute to its name by at least posing, if not coming up with answers, better questions: are there alternative futures to disaster? How do we get there? What vision of the present has brought us here? How were these types of pessimistic waves read and reverted in the past? What do literary truths contribute to the era of fake news? What trends, discourses, voices are talking about this, inside and outside fiction? Are there new ways of imagining that do not spur on control, individualism or inequality? How does all that affect horror, fantasy or children’s literature? Are we paying enough attention to what’s brewing there?
Besides its central theme and well-known guests linked to this issue, Festival 42 will also have others, ranging from regular themes such as children’s narratives and fostering reading, with top national and international authors, to popularising the classics, and from home-grown and universal heritage, with tributes and special celebrations ranging from Michael Ende to Vicenç Pagès-Jordà, and from Jaume Fuster in Gilgamesh, to Star Trek, The Thousand and One Nights and the videogame Zelda. Podcasts and new Gothic narratives, the role of the sea and language in fantasy genres, the new weird, romantasy and so on. The festival programme is again inviting over a hundred guests, making it a benchmark event once more for any reader, anyone curious about, keen on or interested in literary imagination. This can be seen from the 400 guest authors so far, the 8,000 people who attended the 2022 edition, the huge expectation raised in the press, the media and social networks, and the dozens of associations, events and institutions that took part in it, notably, the city’s libraries and bookshops.
There are other worlds, both real and fantasy. And they'll all be there, at Festival 42. Shall we dream about them again?
Ricard Ruiz Garzón, festival 42 curator