Curating a Conference Backchannel with Storify: 2013 SFRA/Eaton Conference in Riverside, CA

SFRA-logoWhile I was unable to attend this year’s Science Fiction Research Association Conference, held in conjunction with the biannual Eaton Conference this year, in Riverside, California, I was able to follow along with the goings-on thanks to Facebook and Twitter. As you might know, I am a big fan of Storify as a digital curation tool, so I thought it would make it easier for me to catch up and create an archive of the tweets made during the conference with the hashtags #sfra or #SFRAton (thanks to Glyn Morgan for that one). Unfortunately, I found it too time consuming to try to incorporate #eaton posts, because it is a widely used hashtag by different communities. A word of advice to all future conference organizers: plan ahead by researching available hashtags by seeing what’s unique and unused in the Twitterverse (at least as long as Twitter is a viable backchannel tool–otherwise, go with what works best!).

If you have never used Storify before, you should check it out. Simply go to and either create a new account or login using your Facebook or Twitter account. Choose to “Create a new story,” and then search among the different social media and web options in the right column. In this case, I searched for #sfra and #sfraton under Twitter. I then loaded all of the publicly available tweets and choose to add them all to my Storify Story (in the left column). Finally, I reordered the tweets chronologically and added a title and description before choosing to publish the Storify Story. What I did is very basic. Storify’s power comes from the ability to intermix/remix tweets with links, photos, and your comments added within Storify. It would be great if other SFRA members who attended the conference to create their Storify Story that includes more comments or photos from the various events.

Follow the link below for my Storify curation of the conference and many thanks to all of the SFRA members who diligently reported on the awesomeness of this year’s conference!

[View the story “2013 Joint SFRA/Eaton Conference in Riverside, CA” on Storify]

2013 SFRA/Eaton Conference Schedule is Available Online

The 2013 SFRA/Eaton Conference at the University of California at Riverside will take place from April 11 to April 13, 2013. The conference schedule is now online here.

If you are not committed to going for a presentation or panel, you should check out the awesome lineup of papers, panels, and author readings. If all of the special guests can attend, the awards banquet on Saturday night should be a blast, too. The SFRA/Eaton Conference is well worth your time and money, because it brings together the best SF scholars and fosters the best conversation, collaboration, and collegiality.

I really wanted to attend this year to revisit Riverside (a wonderful city with a great university and library collection) and see my many SFRA friends and colleagues. Unfortunately, I had to withdraw my paper prior to the deadline for personal reasons. Sadly, this will be the first meeting that I have missed since my first SFRA conference in White Plains, New York in 2006.

For everyone going to the SFRA/Eaton Conference, I wish you all a fantastic and energizing meeting, and I hope to see you all down the trail!

2013 SFRA/Eaton Conference Deadline for Abstracts is Sept 14!

I just sent Melissa Conway my paper abstract for the 2013 joint SFRA-Eaton Conference [the CFP is here].

Have you sent your abstract in yet? If you haven’t, you only have until September 14 to send your abstract. The earlier-than-normal SFRA deadline is due to the fact that the joint conference will be held in April instead of late-June, early-July. So, don’t hesitate. Take some time this Labor Day Weekend to send your abstract to the conference organizers.

I’m looking forward to returning to Riverside and to discussing Science Fiction Media with you there!

2nd Annual Science Fiction Studies Symposium at UC-Riverside

If you’re in California on May 27, or have some travel funding available, you should go to the 2nd annual Science Fiction Studies Symposium at UC-Riverside. Rob Latham sent out the following details:

The second annual Science Fiction Studies Symposium will be held on May 27, Thursday, at the University of California, Riverside on the topic of “Animal Studies and Science Fiction.” The Symposium will take place from 2:30-5:00 PM in the Reading Room of the Special Collections and Archives Department of Rivera Library, which houses the J. Lloyd Eaton Collection of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, and Utopian Literature. Here is a list of speakers and the titles of their talks:

➢    “Animal Studies in the Era of Biopower”
➢    Sherryl Vint (Brock University)
Sherryl Vint is Associate Professor of English at Brock University in Ontario. She is the author of Bodies of Tomorrow: Technology, Subjectivity, Science Fiction (2007) and Animal Alterity: Science Fiction and the Question of the Animal (2010) and an editor of the collections The Routledge Companion to Science Fiction (2009), Fifty Key Figures in Science Fiction (2009), and Beyond Cyberpunk: New Critical Perspectives (2010). She co-edits the journals Extrapolation, Science Fiction Film and Television, and Humanimalia.
➢    “Talking (for, with) Dogs: Science Fiction Breaks the Species Barrier”
➢    Joan Gordon (Nassau Community College)
Joan Gordon is Professor of English at Nassau Community College in New York. She is a former president of the Science Fiction Research Association, an editor for Science Fiction Studies  and Humanimalia,  and a co-editor of several collections of scholarly essays including Blood Read: The Vampire as Metaphor in Contemporary Culture (1997),  Edging Into the Future: Science Fiction and Contemporary Cultural Transformation (2002), and Queer Universes: Sexualities in Science Fiction (2008). She  recently spent a year as a Fulbright Distinguished Chair at Marie Curie-Sklodowska University in Lublin, Poland, and is at present working on the connections among science fiction, sociobiology, and animal studies, having published related articles for Science Fiction Studies and for the Routledge Companion to Science Fiction.
➢    “The Animal Down-Deep: Cordwainer Smith’s Late Tales of the Underpeople
➢    Carol McGuirk (Florida Atlantic University)
Carol McGuirk is Professor of English at Florida Atlantic University and an editor of Science Fiction Studies. Her column on science fiction in the New York Daily News during the 1980s afforded a close-up view of that decade’s remarkable transformation of the genre. She has written many articles and three books on Robert Burns, including an annotated selection of his poems for Penguin. Her science fiction scholarship has focused on equally mythic yet misunderstood authors, among them Cordwainer Smith. This talk is part of her ongoing project Dominion, which considers literary representations of animals during the three centuries between Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667) and Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968).

A reception will follow. The event is free and open to the public. Please feel free to attend, spread the word, post or distribute the flyer, etc.

The Symposium is co-sponsored by the journal, by the Eaton Collection, and by the English Department Lecture Committee. My thanks to them all.

The proceedings from the first annual event, on the topic “The Histories of Science Fiction,” were recently published in the journal Science Fiction Studies in March 2010.

CFP: Eaton 2009, Extraordinary Voyages: Jules Verne and Beyond

Rob Latham recently sent out a CFP for next year’s Eaton Conference on “Extraordinary Voyages:  Jules Verne and Beyond.”  I haven’t had an opportunity to go to the Eaton Conference, but I hope to soon.  Definitely check out the CFP below, and read more about the conference on their official site here!

The 2009 Eaton Science Fiction Conference

Extraordinary Voyages: Jules Verne and Beyond

April 30-May 3, 2009          

University of California Riverside

Extraordinary voyages have shaped world literature since the Biblical Flood and The Odyssey, but no single writer has done more than Jules Verne to forge this device into a narrative template for addressing modern issues.The UCR Libraries’ Eaton Science Fiction Collection, in coordination with the North American Jules Verne Society, proposes a three and one-half-day conference that will examine the traditions Verne exploited, Verne’s own extraordinary work, and his far-ranging influence in modern fiction and culture. In 1863, Jules Verne published the first of the sixty-four novels and short story collections that would become known as the “Extraordinary Voyages.” Verne’s influence on the hardware and the locales of modern science fiction: the center of the earth, the bottom of the seas, outer space, is widely recognized. More significant is his influence on the shape of modern SF: the extraordinary voyage has become a foundational motif by which scientific knowledge is linked to the exploration of richly-imagined worlds. This conference will explore the implications of the extraordinary voyage as a narrative and ideological mode that resonates in world SF down to the present day.

The conference welcomes scholars, collectors, and enthusiasts of the extraordinary voyage and will address, but not necessarily be limited to, the following sets of questions. What is the place of the extraordinary voyage within the complex of genres that makes up early or proto-science fiction: the utopia, the scientific romance, the hollow-earth tale, the Robinsonade, etc.? How has the extraordinary voyage been linked to discourses of travel and tourism, to scientific and technological revolutions, to the history of European colonialism and the rise of industrial militarism? In what ways does a detailed focus on the mechanisms of locomotion (balloon, rocket, steamship, submarine, train, aircraft) transform the imaginary voyage into an extraordinary voyage, and how has this technique influenced other SF traditions? Does the theme of travel, of transit across physical borders and toward extreme destinations, serve as an allegory for contact and communication across other sorts of boundaries (linguistic, ethnic, gender, socioeconomic, national)? How do 20th-century writers (such as the so-called “steampunks”) rework legacies of Verne and other 19th-century SF, whether earnestly or satirically, as paradigm or as pastiche? What accounts for the remarkable afterlife of Verne’s characters, and those of 19th-century SF more generally, who appear in numerous revisions and elaborations by 20th- and 21st-century SF writers? What are the influences of the Vernian paratext: the thousands of maps, illustrations, photographs, and ornately colored and ornamented bindings of the first editions’ on contemporary works of imaginative fiction? How has the extraordinary voyage been translated into other cultures and other media, from comic books, graphic novels and film to theme parks and digital texts, and with what consequences?

Abstracts of 300-500 words (for papers of 20-minutes in length) should be submitted by December 15, 2008 to Melissa Conway, Head, Special Collections & Archives, UCR Libraries at Melissa.Conway [at]

Contact us: eatonconference [at]