© Rebecca Buchanan

An interview with Rebecca Buchanan

Rebecca Buchanan is the editor of the Pagan literary zine, Eternal Haunted Summer. Her writing focuses most often on the intersection of spirituality, mythology, and the natural world.

Her novellas, short stories, and poems have been published in a wide variety of venues, including Abyss & Apex, Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores, Enchanted Conversation, Eye to the Telescope, and Silver Blade, among many others.

Her poem “Heliobacterium Daphnephilum” was awarded the Rhysling Award (long form) from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association in 2020.

For more info, visit Rebecca Buchanan's website.

© Whiteley

An Interview with Aliya Whiteley

Aliya Whiteley's novels and novellas have been shortlisted for multiple awards including the Arthur C Clarke award and a Shirley Jackson award. Her short fiction has appeared in Interzone, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Black Static, Strange Horizons, The Dark, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency and The Guardian, as well as in anthologies such as Unsung Stories’ 2084 and Lonely Planet’s Better than Fiction. We talked to her about her short story "Peace, Pipe" (2018).

More information can be found at her website.
Click here to download a PDF of the transcript.


Sue Burke Headshot
© Sue Burke

An interview with Sue Burke

One of our exhibition’s authors is Sue Burke. Parts of her novel "Semiosis" (2018) are written from the view of the bamboo Stevland who forms an alliance with colonists on the planet Pax. In the Interview, she describes the process and motivation of writing her book and the thoughts and concepts of this human-plant relationship!

Sue Burke is an American writer and translator and began writing professionally as a team manager, for her local newspaper. She also is a great science fiction fan and worked for newspapers and magazines as a reporter editor. Burke came to publish in fiction in 1995.


Want to learn more about the author? You can find her website here.
Click here to download a PDF of the transcript.

Behind the Scenes - Team Scenography

This time in the interview: Jule Hayen from team scenography.

What is your team's job? What are you working on at the moment?

The main task of the scenography team is the dramaturgical design of the space. We think about how the content developed by the research team can be staged, how text can be translated into formal language and, of course, what perspectives this opens up for visitors. In doing so, we always try to take into account the spatial conditions of the orangery as well as the focal points of the content. It is therefore helpful that some members of the scenography are also involved in the research work and are familiar with the texts accordingly.
After we had decided on a specific room layout in a first step, our attention turned to the search for a suitable 'macrostructure', which at the same time should function as a support for our exhibits, but also bring with it a specific formal language.
At the moment, we are devoting ourselves to the individual texts and media selected and the question of how we want to present them in the overall structure, what connections and content should be conveyed to visitors and in what way. The next step will be the architectural concretization.

What do you enjoy most?

As for the majority of our team, the scenography of a literature exhibition is absolutely new territory for me as well. In the course of the project, therefore, new challenges arise with each new step, which we have to face together. This brainstorming in the team, when a multitude of ideas and perspectives are exchanged, collected and brought together in a very short time, are probably the moments that I find most exciting. For example, when an idea doesn't feel fully developed in my mind, but then suddenly fits into the overall concept when reflecting with the others.
Another aspect I've really come to love about my work in scenography is associative thinking. An idea, an approach, something that often already resonates when dealing with text, gains new meanings in my eyes when translated into another form - an experience I would love to explore more deeply in the future.

What have you learned so far?

Although I've been involved with literature for a long time, working on this project has shown me so many new facets of how text can be grasped and thought about, and what freedoms it can open up. I very much hope, with the realization of our exhibition, to make these free spaces accessible to as many people as possible, so that we can then think together in possibilities to tell new stories - of plants and people, of an 'us'.

Behind the Scenes - Team Research

This time in the interview: Max Klas from team research.

I support Team Research, so I sift through the literature and material that we will use in the exhibit. The knowledge and scientific research will then be used to contextualize and underpin the exhibits.

What is the team's task?
First of all, we thought about which works and content should be used in the exhibition in the first place - that is, above all, which aspects of plant life we would like to address. This depends somewhat on the general presence in science fiction and on the imagined way of exhibiting it. Questions came up like: Which books do we know? Which ones do we need to look at? Which movies are there? Which facets of plants have already been imagined? And then we divided it up a little bit and each* person looked at certain books.
So far, we have compiled the individual books, films and poems and condensed them to what we want to contribute to the story of the exhibition. In doing so, the exhibition will be divided into different stations that will highlight aspects of plants. My focus here is plant intelligence: how is this discussed in science? How can plant intelligence be defined? How are plants portrayed and discussed as living beings in books? The other members have done similar things on other topics or focuses.

What do you enjoy the most?
First and foremost, it's a welcome change from my dissertation! I found it very exciting in the work to be held directly before eyes, what one simply takes for granted! One often catches oneself in the process. Why does one think so apathetically about one's environment? To be given reasons for this and to look at other ways of thinking and to read science fiction literature that shows you how things could be different and how they could be destroyed at the same time if you continue to think in such a human-centered and apathetic way - I liked that very much!
Nowadays we start from a self-conception that places people as the center of thinking - and, along with that: is one's own role then inevitably thought of in it? For me, this is this self-conception that pulls people up in the hierarchy of the world without being aware of the consequences of this thinking. This makes plants and nature itself a human playing field, which, conversely, can also be destroyed at will.

What have you or what have you learned in Team Research above all?
I have mainly started to recognize and transform the blind spots and realize more intensely what 'my environment' actually means. To show the possibilities of plants in general is an incredibly wide field, where I first had to feel my way in as a layman. At the same time, however, it has brought with it an incredible growth in awareness of this world, and that was a great aspect that we were also able to take away for ourselves in the team.
For the exhibition, the main question was then how we manage to present plants not as purely useful objects, but to embed them in a context of insanely large biotopes and symbioses. And that is both the challenge and the exciting thing about it - so the interesting work lies primarily in the interface between research and scenography.

Behind the scenes - team public relations

This time in the interview: Linda Göttner und Aline Klieber from team public relations

To get a literary exhibition off the ground, different teams work on specific issues, including the scientific research team, scenography team, and public relations team. We would like to show how an exhibition is created and engage with the public throughout its development. To show how each team works, members will answer three questions in the "Behind the Scenes" series. This time it's the turn of Linda Göttner and Aline Klieber of the team public relations.

What is your team's job? What are you currently working on?

Linda: The Public Relations team takes care of the press and public relations around the exhibition project as well as the representation in the university context and beyond. We operate in the field of scientific communication, which encompasses various tasks. We plan and create content around the topic "Plants between Science and Fiction", such as video interviews with authors and teachers. We process this for our website and the social networks Instagram and Twitter. At the same time, we want to make the work of the individual teams visible and show the processes involved in implementing a literature exhibition. Accordingly, we are closely networked with the other teams and regularly incorporate the developments and findings that take place there into our work. At the same time, we communicate with the authors of the works that are shown in the exhibition. Last but not least, we are the contact for internal university communication and the press.

What do you enjoy the most?

Aline: My personal highlight is creating new content for social media - be it the field of photography, film or conducting interviews, for example with the authors of the literature used. This sometimes presents us with unexpected challenges: the first photo shoot in the Botanical Garden, for example, took place in the pouring rain. But so far, creative possibilities have always developed from this. Acting spontaneously in the creative process, especially when many different ideas come together and have to be channeled, is particularly exciting for me!

Linda: I agree with that. I really enjoy thinking communicatively about the content of the exhibition and reprocessing the literature we work with for appropriate channels. Here you can contribute your creativity and interact with other participants. In addition, I have learned a lot about Plant Studies through the workshops and the exchange within the whole team - an area that was previously unexplored by me. 

What have you learned so far?

Aline: In the context of science communication, we learn how to represent a scientific research field to the public. A very nice experience was the willingness of the authors to participate in the project not only with their literature, but also personally. We were able to organize interviews with three authors whose poems and novels are used in the exhibition.

Linda: Today, science communication also includes communicating via social media channels. On the one hand, this poses a challenge because scientific work sometimes follows different rules than those of social networks. But on the other hand, it also makes it possible to reach an audience beyond the university and younger target groups. Developing ever new forms of contribution is currently a learning process for our team.