Let’s Play Final Fantasy II SNES (aka Final Fantasy IV)

Nanoonat posted a walkthrough of another great Squaresoft game that I played with Bert back in middle school. Originally released in Japan as Final Fantasy IV, Final Fantasy II was released in English translation on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). It combines fantasy and science fiction elements as do all of the other Final Fantasy games. The first playthrough video is embedded above, and you can find his other videos on his channel here.

The interesting thing about watching longplays and walkthroughs on Youtube is listening to the commentary by the players. Some recorders do not provide commentary, but nanoonat does. Apparently, he originally played the game when he was 4-5 years old, and he is playing it again for the first time now. Memories, recollections, and dramatic readings of on-screen narration ensue. Also, he is recording the video late at night when he’s tired. Much can be studied in this genre of Youtube video.

Four Days at Dragon*Con, PBS World Special, Fandom on Film

Last night, I caught the one hour documentary Four Days at Dragon*Con. It is a brief snapshot of the fandom and programming at the growing Atlanta science fiction, fantasy, horror, and gaming convention.

It was interesting to see how Dragon*Con has changed and developed since I was last there for the full convention (2000), because this documentary presented a time capsule view of the con from one particular point in time.

The emphasis of the program is on the fans and the idea that the convention is driven by fan interests. Essentially, the program argues that Dragon*Con is a convention that is more fandom generated than any of the other large conventions in the United States. As a result, the documentary focused on cosplay and robot wars, which are two of the strongest emergent fan-creative aspects of the con in recent years.

Perhaps in a longer or future documentary, it would be more interesting to see a historical approach to the Dragon*Con phenomenon. Four Days at Dragon*Con is a synchronic snapshot of the con at a particular point in time.

I want a diachronic documentary on Dragon*Con. I would like to see more about how the convention progressed from its inception to the present. There are obvious controversial topics such as Dragon*Con’s founder Ed Kramer’s arrest and extended wait for trial that deserves investigation. There are also mundane issues such as when certain tracks entered the con’s ever-expanding schedule.

If you study fandom or enjoy seeing what folks do at cons, I suspect that you would enjoy spending an hour with Four Days at Dragon*Con.

 

CFP: Current Research in Speculative Fiction Conference, June 2011, University of Liverpool

Glyn Morgan forwarded me the following cfp for the Current Research in Speculative Fiction Conference at the University of Liverpool on June 18, 2011. Adam Roberts and Andy Sawyer are the prestigious keynote lecturers. There are exciting things going on at the University of Liverpool regarding the study of science fiction and fantasy, and you should be a part of them. Liverpool is home to the huge science fiction special collection, the MA in Science Fiction Studies, and now a conference. Go here to read the cfp on Glyn’s blog, or read it below:

CRSF 2011 – Call For Papers

“A Vampire, a Troll, and a Martian Walk Into a Bar….”
– Call for Papers –
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.
Our aim is to showcase some of the latest developments in this dynamic and evolving field, by providing a platform for the presentation of current research by postgraduates. The conference will also encourage the discussion of this research and the construction of crucial networks with fellow researchers. The University of Liverpool is a leading centre for the study of speculative fiction, being home to the Science Fiction Foundation Collection, and is thus ideally suited to such a cause.
This year we would like to focus on encouraging postgraduates to network with others in their field, and related areas, whilst also demonstrating the depth and breadth of research currently being conducted into speculative fiction. As such we welcome 300 word abstracts on topics as diverse as, but not limited to:
•Alternate History •Apocalypse •Environmental Philosophy •Gaming •Genre Evolution •Genre Language and the Language of Genre •Gender and Sexuality •Graphic Novels •Representations of Psychology and Consciousness •Speculative Fiction across Media – Adaptation, Translation and Franchise •Speculative Spaces, Places and Races •The Supernatural and the Other •Technology and Magic •”Why Has No One Thought of This Before?” •Young Adult Fiction.
Abstracts of 300 words, for papers intended to run for twenty minutes,  should be submitted to CRSF2011@gmail.com by 01/04/11.
For further information, email the conference team at CRSF2011@gmail.com
Note: although we are looking for papers from postgraduates we welcome delegates from across the spectrum of academic and speculative fiction fields. This conference is the first of a planned annual series and cannot succeed without you support so please pass this along to everyone who might be interested.

 

R.D. Mullen Research Fellowship Deadline on April 1 (no joke)

If you want to get funding to research in the Eaton Collection of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, and Utopian Literature at UC-Riverside, then you have until April 1 to get in your application. See below for all of the details.

JUST A REMINDER: The R.D. Mullen Reseach Fellowship Committee has extended the deadline for receipt of applications for awards in 2010-11 until April 1. Please spread the word to any eligible students in MA and Ph.D. programs and urge them to apply. There is one month to go and we’d like to have a reasonable pool of candidates from which to select winners.

Call for Applications: R.D. Mullen Fellowship Science Fiction Studies announces the second annual R.D. Mullen Fellowship supporting research in the J. Lloyd Eaton Collection of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, and Utopian Literature at the University of California at Riverside. Awards of up to $1500 are available to fund research in the archive during the 2010-11 academic year. Students in good standing in graduate degree-granting programs are eligible to apply. We welcome applications from international students. The Mullen Fellowship, named in honor of SFS’s founding editor, promotes archival work in the Eaton’s extensive holdings, which include over 100,000 hardcover and paperback books, over 250,000 fanzines, full runs of all major pulp and digest magazines, and the manuscripts of prominent sf writers such as Gregory Benford, David Brin, and Anne McCaffrey. Other noteworthy parts of the Collection are: 500 shooting scripts of science fiction films; 3500 volumes of proto-sf “boy’s books” of the Tom Swift variety; works of sf in numerous foreign languages, including Chinese, Czech, French, German, Hebrew, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, and Spanish; a large collection of taped fan conventions and taped interviews with American, British, and French writers; reference materials on topics such as applied science, magic, witchcraft, UFOs, and Star Trek; an extensive collection of anime and manga; and the largest holdings of critical materials on science fiction and fantasy in the United States. Further information about the Eaton Collection can be found online at: <http://eaton-collection.ucr.edu/>. Applications should include a cover letter explaining the candidate’s academic experience and preparation, a CV, a 2-3 page proposal outlining a specific and well-developed agenda for research in the Eaton archive, a prospective budget detailing expenses, and two letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with the candidate’s academic work. Applications should be mailed to: Professor Rob Latham, Department of English, UC-Riverside, Riverside, CA 92521-0323. Electronic submission (as RTF or PDF files) to <rob.latham [at] ucr.edu> would also be welcome.
The deadline for submission is April 1, 2010. Applications will be reviewed by a committee of sf scholars, and successful applicants will be notified by May 1, 2010. Any questions should be addressed to Rob Latham at: <rob.latham [at] ucr.edu>.

Fandom, Otaku, and Home Guys in Taiwan

Last week in Taipei, Taiwan, 朱學恒 (Xuei-Hen Ju) recently hosted a big get-together for fans and readers of his blog, 朱學恒的阿宅萬事通事務所 (Xuei-Hen Ju’s Home Guy’s Guide to Everything–I’m not sure about this translation–it could also mean “everything is good”) called 725阿宅反抗軍千人誓師大會 (July 25 Home Guy’s Resistance Army–1000s Show Your Commitment).

You may be wondering why I’m writing about this event. You may also be wondering what the heck is a ‘home guy.’

Xuei-Hen Ju is a Taiwanese blogger and translator of English language SF and fantasy novels including Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings, but he originally majored in electrical engineering. He is considered a ‘home guy’, originally because of his education, and later because of his passion for what we in the States would consider geekdom.

Home guy (阿宅) is a term that was originally reserved for folks who majored in computer science in school, but now the term has an expanded meaning that encompasses someone who is shy, plays video games, and reads comic books (girls are a marginalized minority in this group but there are definitely some out there). Home guys are aligned with geekdom, fandom, otaku, and other marginal groups who are passionate about some aspect of pop culture, SF, fantasy, etc. Due to these cross cultural connections, I wanted to mention the Xuei-Hen Ju’s work and the home guy phenomenon to an English language audience.

Xuei-Hen Ju uses his blog to promote his own kind of ‘homeness.’ In many ways, he encourages other home guys to break out of the reductionist and stereotypical boxes that have in the past confined and stifled social acceptance of home guys. Through his blog, books, and the 725 event, he promotes a socially aware and proactive sense of what it means to be a home guy.

Like an otaku Tony Robbins, Xuei-Hen Ju inspires other home guys to follow their passion and tap into their enthusiasms, not as a cross to bear but as a marker for their sense of self. Also, he tells others that anyone, despite their educational background or personal condition, can achieve personal happiness–that it is up to each home guy to achieve what it is that he wants. He connects masculinity to his vision of the home guy by rallying others to maintain social justice (e.g., if you see someone abusing a dog, it is the home guy’s duty to call that person out) and do something with passion. The subtitle of his site is 熱情從來不是被找到的,而是奮戰努力才能獲得的!(Passion is never to be found, but gained by fighting!).

His idea about what it means to be a home guy may be skewed toward men more so than women. During his posts, he does occasionally insert pictures of attractive girls during an otherwise non-girl related post just to pause or breakup the flow of what he may be talking about.

However, he is conscious of respect for women when he threw the 725 event, because he warned the other home guys to not hit on girls in attendance (but they could do what they wanted to outside the event). If you click through to the 725 event post with pictures of the event, you will see a number of girls in the audience, and some of the Star Wars cosplayers were women, so there are home girls/gals, too.

More about the 725 event: I definitely recommend you clicking here to read (if you know Chinese) and see the pictures of the extremely successful event. There was music, Star Wars cosplay and demonstrations, presentations, and video game play on the 400″ screen. There are men, women, and children in the audience. And, the audience beat out an earlier torrential rain storm that killed power to the adjacent movie theater and shopping mall. Folks from all over Taiwan converged on Taipei to go to the free event, and they were determined to go come hell or high water (literally).

I liked the idea of the event being free, and I don’t exactly know how it was pulled off. Perhaps there was corporate sponsorship, or Xuei-Hen Ju used his own money to pay for the space and the setup. Directly, he didn’t get any money by hosting the home guy get-together, but he did sells some copies of his popular book, which he would personalize for attendees (and those not there–but by saying “loser, why didn’t you come out?!”). Also, there are the Home Guy Army t-shirts that are in some of the pictures. Oh, and the event itself wasn’t advertised anywhere else, except on Xuei-Hen Ju’s blog. Essentially, he told his blog following, home guy friends to “Come here on this particular day and let’s show everyone what we can do.”

You should definitely check out Xuei-Hen Ju’s blog, and if you know Chinese, you should find out more about home guys and Taiwan fandom. From talking with Yufang (who was sweet to tell me about the 725 event, and who I asked to help me with the translating and descriptions), Taiwanese popular culture is an amalgamation of cultures from surrounding countries. It seems that much of the culture consumed in Taiwan comes from other places, but I suspect that there must be a local flavor to the way that other cultures are interpreted, consumed, and enjoyed by home guys and every other Taiwanese person. I think that more work should be done on SF fandom in Taiwan, because that country and its people are more unique than many due to their position as a cultural crossroads.

David Eddings, 1931-2009

On Tuesday, the fantasy author David Eddings passed away.  His works are definitely important and well-regarded in the field.  Unfortunately, I have not yet had a chance to find my way into his imagined worlds, which my friend A.P. Canavan is writing about in his dissertation at the University of Liverpool.  

Some of Eddings’ obituaries can be found here, here, and here.

ICFA 2009, Final Session–East Meets West: Colonialisms, Cultures, and Identities

During the Saturday, 4:00pm-5:30pm session, the last presentations of the conference, I went to hear Janice M. Bogstad’s paper on Jules Verne and China, and introduce myself and The Postnational Fantasy:  Nationalism, Cosmopolitics, and Science Fiction project to the other two presenters:  Mayurika Chakravorty and Suparno Banerjee.  The attendence was light, but pretty good for the last session on the last day.  And, I can say that I’m glad that I made it to the panel to hear all the presenters’ interesting ideas.

Mayurika Chakravorty from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London read her essay, “The ‘Other’ Science:  A Study of Amitav Ghosh’s Calcutta Chromosome.”  In her paper, she talked about the theme of estrangement from others by technology, the subversion of colonial science, and the way in which the novel challenges the genre definition of SF. 

Janice M. Bogstad from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire presented her paper, “Colonialist/Postcolonial Perspectives in Jules Verne’s Tribulations D’un Chinois en Chine (and other works).”  This is her sixth paper in a series on the writing of China by SF authors.  She thinks of Verne’s work as “humanist vision in a racist and sexist time,” and a case of “colonialist and postcolonialist double vision.”  However, she admits that there is still much work and re-reading of Verne’s work to what extent and magnitude Verne apparently supports colonized peoples. 

Suparno Banerjee from Louisiana State University closed out the session with his reading of “Alternative Dystopias:  Science, Power, and Fundamentalism in Rimi Chatterjee’s Signal Red.”  Banerjee’s dissertation is on Indian Science Fiction (which I suspect will be something very publishable when he’s completed it), and his work on Chatterjee’s novel is very interesting in the ways SF is employed to critique the extrapolative growth of religious fundamentalism in India’s future.  Instead of oppression coming from without, oppression arrives from within by Hindu fundamentalists appropriating colonial/Western sciences for their own scientific narratives.