Saifol Bahri – UNITY Blog 01

Since I was a student, I have read many books. Most of these books are works of fiction. It is a pity that as my age progressed, the available time for reading book became less. However, there are films to satisfy my craving for stories. The ability of authors to do good storytelling intrigues me until today.

And throughout all those past decades, there was a yearning in me to be a storyteller myself. But in the early years, I did not how to start nor how to create a story that will be enjoyed by readers. And thus, my aspirations to be a storyteller was a non-starter. Until a couple of years ago.

In all the better books and films that I consumed, the plots basically revolved around a few basic ones. These to me, are either about defeating an enemy, a journey, a mission, transformation of self, comedy or tragedy. But there are boundaries to the fabric of reality that constraint the settings of these stories, be it historical, location or culture.

Little Red Riding Hood: Defeating an enemy (illustration by JW Smith)

But these boundaries are removed when it comes to science fiction and fantasy. In these genres, the authors had more freedom in crafting their stories. And that is why I told myself, if I were to write a story, it would be sci-fi or fantasy. Most probably sci-fi.

And then, in sci-fi, I discovered another dimension that excited me as much as time travel: alternate history or alternate reality. Like time travel, one does not have to create an entirely different universe, but it gave the author a license to change the historical (or future) boundaries of our reality. This freedom for writers to define a different setting for our world opens wider possibilities of storytelling.

My first few encounters with alternate history / reality were “The Man in the High Castle” (Philip K. Dick), the Star Trek episode “Mirror, Mirror” (Jerome Bixby), and “Guns of the South” (Harry Turtledove) that my good friend Azlan Tahir recommended to me.

1997 edition cover of “Guns of the South” © Ballantine Books.

And so, after many years of being out of touch with Azlan and another friend Adely Ariffin, whom I had also worked with in the corporate sector, I looked them up couple of years ago to see what was keeping them busy.

And here was what I found: they had been pursuing something that they always wanted to do, which is writing and producing sci-fi graphic novels. Based on Malaysian characters in the 24th century. And on top of that, it is set in an alternate history! My goodness, I thought. It looked like I have finally arrived! At a place where I can finally contribute to storytelling in the way that I have always wanted to.

A few of Unity Macroverse’s Malaysian sci-fi graphic novels series, that began with “Marooned”, all based on an alternate history setting of the future.