Looking at the Present Through the Future: Science-Fiction Urbanism and Contingent and Relational Creativity

  • Rob Kitchin
Part of the Knowledge and Space book series (KNAS, volume 2)

Writing fiction is a creative act. It involves the production of a narrative that tells a fictional story. Much fiction is derivative of stories that have preceded it, and although much of it is clichéd, shallow, and uninspired, there is a steady stream of new works that continue to push boundaries with respect to style, substance, and foci. They are stories that are creative in ways that extend beyond the act of simply making something. Rather than being citational, imitative, and stereotypi cal (where the plot lines and characters are similar to much of the fiction that had preceded), they are genuine attempts to challenge conventional tropes and styles and to say something meaningful about the world (rather than simply entertain). They are works that are insightful, surprising, educational, interesting, exciting, and enlightening; they interpolate (fill in holes) and extrapolate (make fragments into a whole); and they might be intertextual, but in knowing, clever, witty, and meaning ful ways. They make their readers look at the world afresh with new perspectives.

Such creative acts, I argue, do not arise out of nowhere, from some innate prod uct of a novelist's biological make-up (and thus are measureable in some reduc tionist way through psychological testing). Instead, their creativity is a product of the writer's skills and talents coupled with their embeddedness in networks of people, things, and places. These networks profoundly shape the fiction of creative acts. Writers learn the various facets of how to write—literacy, grammar, punctua tion, composition, observation, translation (the process of taking knowledge of the world and converting it into a narrative), imagination, and speculation—of how to engage critically with philosophy, ideology, aspects of the human condition, and so on. Whereas some individuals might possess great talent and skill, these supposed “gifts” are nurtured, shaped, and encouraged by diverse factors such as schooling, tutoring in literary theory and praxis, exposure to other writers' work, and encour agement and critical feedback from peers. And although some writers might claim to have had no formal training in creative writing, their abilities to craft a story has nonetheless been nurtured in informal ways. Nobody sits down to write as a fully formed writer. And a story derives its inspiration, focus, and politics from its writer's life experiences and engagements with people and places.


Virtual Reality Science Fiction Urban Planner Creative Writing Literary Genre 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rob Kitchin
    • 1
  1. 1.National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis, Hume Building, NULMaynoothIreland

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