Conversation With Eva Papasoulioti
Eva explores the fine print, the meaning of words and political writing, large language models, and professional procrastination as part of the writing process.
Eva Papasoulioti is a writer of speculative fiction and poetry. She lives in Athens, Greece, with her spouse and their two cats. She’s a Rhysling finalist and her work has appeared in Uncanny Magazine, Solarpunk Magazine, Utopia Science Fiction, and elsewhere. You can find her on Twitter @epapasoulioti and her blog plothopes.com
Eva is also the author of the short story “Money Thirst” from Radon Issue 4.
Have contract-gone-wrong stories such as your own "Money Thirst" spurred you to read the fine print more often?
What caused you to write “Money Thirst”?
The way advertisements have taken over the world. How far they’ve come or the way they’re going to evolve. How we can’t do anything anywhere without an ad attached to it. How an ad will pop up on your phone about something you were just talking about. So, I took it to the extreme. What if you became the ad? It’s not like we’re not the products already.
Is the science fiction writing scene in Greece supportive?
I’ve been extremely lucky to get to know some Greek speculative writers who are amazing, incredibly talented and very supportive, like fellow Radon author Avra Margariti. Go read their work!
Do you sometimes write with the intention of being political? Or does social commentary find its way into your work organically?
I think all writing is political. Words have meaning and so does their absence.
I’m a part of a society suffering under a system that creates many injustices, human rights issues and all kinds of discriminations and biases; a world that affects me and the people I care about. It’s inevitable that my beliefs, my anger, my hopes for a change will affect my writing.
How do anarchist and progressive themes emerge in your writing process?
Αs mentioned above, I’m inspired and affected by the current world situation, thus themes like capitalism, gender, sexuality, are some issues I try to draw attention to with my writing. I only hope that my words resonate with the people who read them.
Does keeping up a personal blog/writer’s site help keep you tuned in and stretching your writing muscles even on days you don’t feel inspired?
As a matter of fact, yes. I was terrified when I started putting myself out there. Through having my blog, I tried to expose myself a little. As someone who writes in English without it being a first language, I thought a blog would help, both with practice as well as with convincing myself that it wasn’t such a scary thing to do.
What are your thoughts about the relationship between rapidly advancing technology/artificial intelligence and the online writing community?
Oh, I have thoughts on that! But let’s start with the fact that these aren’t AIs like Cortana, J.A.R.V.I.S, or GLaDos (AGIs). They are large language models. They choose which word to use next that, statistically, would make sense in a particular context.
Writers are angry and scared, and rightfully so. It’s their copyrighted material these LLMs are trained on and now they’re being replaced. The irony is that as long as these models are being trained on what they scrape from the Internet, eventually they will be trained on texts written by themselves and that’s going to go downhill from there.
Writing is art and no program can replace the heart of an artist. I have written about AIs with personalities and feelings but, then again, I’ve also written about unicorns.
What is your relationship between writing utopian and dystopian fiction?
I think as sub-genres, they’re both important parts of science fiction. Utopian fiction gives us a chance to imagine a better world in our future, while dystopian fiction shows us the worst outcomes of our choices. And I’m interested in exploring both, eventually.
In 2021 you had two poems included in a poetry anthology honoring Ursula K. Le Guin. What has been your relationship to the fabled author over the years?
I love the “Climbing Lightly Through Forests” anthology! I’m so happy to be a part of it. R.B. Lemberg and Lisa M. Bradley did an amazing job.
I discovered Le Guin as an adult. I admire the way she could look at society with a critical eye, create inclusive worlds, and at the same time write characters that were deeply human, with flaws, love, hate, understanding, and weaknesses. I also love her poetry. She could make a poem out of the simplest, everyday object, which is a great example of how poetry can be weaved out of anything.
Ι haven’t read all of her works and I’m very happy for this. It means that there will be a new Le Guin book out there for me to pick up for a long time still.
You began your plothopes.com blog in 2016 by lamenting you’re an expert procrastinator. In the seven years since, have you found methods that work in overcoming procrastination?
Seven years! How time flies!
But to answer your question, no. Procrastination is procrastination. Creative process is hard. It needs breaks, it needs refueling, reading, movies, conversations, it needs getting out to photosynthesize. Writing takes time and I found that sometimes it’s alright to, just, take a break and not write. Not writing is part of the process.