In Serge Brussolo’s novel The Deep Sea Diver’s Syndrome, abstract objects known as “ectoplasms” have displaced all traditional forms of art. Faintly glowing, radiating well-being, and somehow evocative of transcendent yet sensuous flesh, these ectoplasms are retrieved by dreamers known as “mediums” from their own unconscious realms. Museums have emptied their halls of painting and sculpture, the better to house the massive administrative and medical bureaucracy that oversees the dreamers, policing their health and selling their work. Exploring, with his usual warped despair, the role of the artist in society, Brussolo gives us a world that is only a metaphor (and a metamorphosis or two) away from our own.
In conjunction with Melville House’s publication of Serge Brussolo’s stateside debut, here are five works of speculative fiction that ponder the fates of art and artists in the futures that await.