I have launched my new web site and blog www.psi-fi.net. That’s where I promote my psi-fi books (should I ever have any), and meanwhile comment on their development.
Awkwardly, at this time, I have zero commercially-published books of psi-fi. For now the site is a platform for the idea of psi-fi.
Psi-fi is an offshoot of sci-fi (and pronounced the same), but the “psi” (Ψ) stands for psychology and the “fi” (Φ) stands for fiction. Unlike sci-fi, where the emphasis is on pushing the boundaries of science and technology, psi-fi pushes the boundaries of human psychology.
The tradition of psi-fi goes back centuries though obviously it wasn’t called that, since I just made up the term. One could argue that Homer’s Odyssey is an example of psi-fi. It used fantastical elements (such as the Cyclops, Circe’s island, Athena’s magic bow, etc.) not to speak of the whole Olympian pantheon, to highlight the human condition as experienced by Odysseus.
Psi-fi differs from traditional literary psychological fiction, such as “Crime and Punishment,” or “Madame Bovary” in its use of imagined technological or other counter-factual elements in the telling of the story. Use of those “magical” elements allows a writer to throw light into some of the more inaccessible corners of psychology.
A more recognizably modern psi-fi tale is Cosmographia, published in 1544 by Sebastian Munster. It described imaginary travels to far-away lands where the inhabitants (“aliens”) were monsters, with the heads of dogs or eyeballs on their bellies. Clearly “they” are “other” and “we” are the good ones.
Jonathan Swift’s later Gulliver’s Travels could also be counted as psi-fi in a more subtle way.
A lot of modern sci-fi still follows that pattern and that message, but modern psi-fi should be explicit and realist about the psychological themes. It’s not enough to say merely, “we are the good guys.”
A more familiar early modern example of psi-fi is Herland, published in 1915 by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. In a remote part of the world, a society is populated and controlled entirely by women and birth is by parthenogenesis. Three male explorers land their balloon there. Clearly they will need to be re-educated. Drama ensues.
I have at least five psi-fi manuscripts drafted, two of them in “ready-to-go” condition, three in various stages of readiness. If, after trying, I decide none can be sold commercially, I’ll publish them myself, so eventually, they will all be available to my hungry, clamoring public.