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Yuknavitch: We all understand that our work moves from literary traditions that have relied on that terminology, but increasingly I find the word itchy.

Vander Meer: I always trip over descriptors like “sci-fi." They feel like boundaries that mean less and less, attempts at containment or to say “this couldn’t possibly happen to anyone reading this now.” So much of my so-called science fiction is composed of first-hand facts or details from the world we inhabit now, just recombined in fictional ways.

And that is in the service of trying to live in the moment of the future time, so to speak. None of the three of us seems interested in pitching forward into a future where the status quo holds.

El Akkad's tackles out-of-control capitalism via a futuristic desert city terrorized by a giant flying psychotic bear), Vander Meer organized a three-way conversation to examine what he calls their "parallel evolution"—as well as dicuss how to take on a troubling present reality in an meaningful and productive way.

But when I write, that tends to be the least of my concerns.

Anyone can explain the future to us, but I want readers to feel it in their gut, at ground level. And I actually think literature is shifting in terms of representations of our current reality—which has me casting about for new forms and themes that are not limited by what has been called "sci-fi." In a sense I wonder if we are doing something more like infiltrating the present tense with the imagination in order to shake it loose from the status quo.

Lots of explanation often feels to me like a failure by the writer to internalize the present. El Akkad: I can’t put it any better than Lidia just did—I’m trying to infiltrate the present.

I’m not as interested in the question of whether the ideas at the root of my fiction could happen, so much as I am with the fact that, for many people in this world, they already have.