“A Vampire, a Troll, and a Martian Walk Into a Bar….”
18th June 2011, University of Liverpool
Keynote Lectures from: Professor Adam Roberts (Royal Holloway, University of London),
Mr Andy Sawyer (Science Fiction Foundation Collection Librarian; Director of MA in Science Fiction Studies, University of Liverpool)
CRSF is a postgraduate conference designed to promote the research of speculative fictions including, but not limited to, science fiction, fantasy and horror. For full details, go to Glyn Morgan’s blog, The Gutterbound Stargazer, here.
Also, from Jason Ellis at Dynamic Subspace, news of a forthcoming publication, The Postnational Fantasy: Postcolonialism, Cosmopolitics, and Science Fiction, which he has co-edited with Masood Ashraf Raja and Swaralipi Nandi.
Science Fiction in its infinite variety:
Sam Jordison continues blogging Hugo Winners of the past on the Guardian website, in his Back To The Hugos series. This time it’s Isaac Asimov’s The Gods Themselves. I suspect I may have read this either as an adolescent or in my early twenties, as I know I worked my way through a fair amount of Asimov at one point, but it made no impression on me, and to be honest, Jordison hasn’t convinced me I want to revisit it any time soon.
Back at the beginning of December, 2010, on Torque Control, Niall Harrison launched a week of posts focusing on women in sf, the result of comments made by Tricia Sullivan about the proportion of Clarke Awards going to women in recent years. There is a round-up of various posts here. I didn’t participate much as I was busy emerging from the chrysalis of an MA dissertation to become a Ph.D student at the time but I aim to redress the balance somewhat this year, not least by flagging up interesting posts, such as this one by Abigail Nussbaum, on Joanna Russ, and by drawing attention to the Dreams and Speculations 2011 book club, which will be focusing on work by women writers. Also, Gwyneth Jones’ new collection of short fiction, The Universe of Things is now available from Aqueduct Press.
Given that Ursula Le Guin is one of the first female sf writers I consciously remember reading, I should also note that Paul Kincaid has a review at Strange Horizons of 80! Memories and Reflections on Ursula K. Le Guin, edited by Karen Joy Fowler and Debbie Notkin.
And just to complete the circle, Niall has recently become editor-in-chief at Strange Horizons, and has started to breathe new life into their blog.
Still thinking about awards and genre and suchlike, Adam Roberts has been Crunching the Booker Numbers, demonstrating that it is, rather as I think we all knew but the judges and organisers never quite bring themselves to admit, a genre award, the genre being ‘twentieth-century/contemporary literary fiction’.
The first conversation Paul Kincaid and I ever had was about Russell Hoban, in particular about Turtle Diary, which I had just read, after seeing the film, and The Mouse and His Child, an old favourite.( I’d seen Hoban interviewed by Paul at the first Mexicon, in 1984, where, during the course of the interview, Hoban had suddenly produced the clockwork toy, to the delight of the audience). Still a fan of his work, Paul writes about Russell Hoban's recent novels over at the group blog, Big Other.
Meanwhile, Lavie Tidhar has been having way too much fun with The Science Fiction Dictionary of New Criticism. We agree that one or two of the terms, like ‘time-anchoring’, or ‘fantasoap’, might actually be useful.
As you may have gathered by now, I like old photographs, and I particularly like old photos of US cities and landscapes. I usually get my old-photo fix at Shorpy Photo Archive but I was interested to come across this illustrated article on the New York Times photo blog, about a hitherto unknown street photographer called Vivian Maier who photographed mainly New York and Chicago from the 1950s onwards. Oddly, she never saw a lot of her own photographs as she left many reels of film undeveloped. I am especially charmed by slide 4.
I also like modern photos of industrial landscapes, and was interested in these photos by Nathan Harger, on the Paris Review website. I like the way the photos seem to be reducing objects to bleached-out skeletons. I also like his piece, Holding Patterns.
I hadn’t anticipated this being a regular section but Jonathan Safran Foer, in collaboration with experts in die cutting, has been messing around with Bruno Schulz’s The Street of Crocodiles to produce a new ‘found’ story, Tree of Codes (though I must admit I got as much pleasure from the way in which, having clicked through to the initial piece, I found myself tunnelling into the Guardian website to read Michel Faber’s review of the book, and then Safran Foer’s origina article on the book).
Things that don’t fit anywhere else:
A nifty film about Jorge Luis Borges
The First Mystery Novelist? His identity revealed here. And the ever-present Paul Kincaid happens to have been blogging on crimenovels and John Banville today.
Boredom is not a thing I suffer from, but then, I’m not sure this conference was really about boredom either.