Science Fiction Research Association Executive Committee Moves into the Futuristic Present with Skype

Today, SFRA President Ritch Calvin convened our second executive committee meeting over Skype thanks to Treasurer Patrick B. Sharp obtaining a video conference day pass so that we could all share voice and video with one another. Also in attendance were Secretary Susan George and Vice President Jason W. Ellis (me).

I am very happy with how successful our second executive committee meeting was today. Our first meeting was convened by a conference call, which was as equally productive, but not nearly as interactive and congenial as a four-way video chat.

I am glad to be a part of a the current executive committee of the SFRA, and I am also gratified to say that each of the SFRA’s elected officials are giving the organization their best effort to continue the SFRA’s upward trajectory as a preeminent professional organization for studying, discussing, and teaching speculative genre fiction across media.

SFRA 2010, Sunday, Business Meeting

The last meeting of SFRA 2010 in Carefree, Arizona was the Sunday morning business meeting. Above, the Executive Committee from left to right: Mack Hassler, Treasurer, Lisa Yaszek, President, Ritch Calvin, Vice President, Patrick Sharp, Secretary, and Adam Frisch, Immediate Past President.

At the meeting, the main points of discussion involved conferences, membership, and joining the Consortium of Professional and Academic Associations.

For conferences, Craig Jacobsen reported that the Carefree conference was on target financially, and we had 88 regular attendees and a handful of additional banquet tickets. The only complaint came from Ed Carmien: “The resort is too nice, and I don’t want to leave!”

Pawel Frelik reported on the 2011 conference in Lublin, Poland. Since the key to low rates for flights is early purchases, he said that there would be rolling acceptances for proposals. Also, the official conference website should be up by the end of July. Adam Frisch added that he is working on a post conference tour of Poland and possibly some of Europe for interested members.

Steve Berman said that the 2012 in Detroit conference is proceeding well. They have a location staked out, and they are figuring out the space requirements at the hotel.

Patrick Sharp reported that the Los Angeles in 2013 conference is going to be tentatively held in downtown LA, and it is being coordinated by Patrick, Kate Sullivan, and Sharon Sharp.

And, Alfredo Suppia proposed Brazil for 2014–World Cup tickets anyone?

The membership discussion concerned work for the organization and the SFRA Review. It was decided by vote that to have a paper accepted for a conference you must be a member of SFRA (this puts us in line with the majority of other professional academic organizations), and if you work for the SFRA you must be a member.

And finally, Craig proposed that we join the Consortium of Professional and Academic Associations. With the SFRA EC’s approval, Craig added the SFRA as a signatory to their statement against Arizona’s SB 1070 and HB 2281. This next step would make a part of the consortium, and we would be able to opt in to future statements. It was agreed that Craig would create an anonymous poll announced in the next SFRA Review.

Most SFRAers had already left or left after the meeting. That evening, Yufang and I met up with Lisa Yaszek, Doug Davis, their son Case, Ritch Calvin, and Mariposa Guillermo for dinner at the Red Horse Saloon:

Afterwards, Yufang and I walked around in the evening looking for jack rabbits among the cacti:

Then, we had to say sayonara to Carefree for our 4:40am shuttle pickup to take us back to the Phoenix airport. It was too short for us, but I hope that everyone had as good a time as we did (sans migraines) in Carefree. Craig did a terrific job with organizing and executing this year’s conference!

See y’all in Lublin, Poland for SFRA 2011!

SFRA 2008 – Sunday

With killer headache in hand, I made my way down to the SFRA business meeting on Sunday morning, the last day of the conference.

President Adam Frisch began by saying that SFRA is in “excellent shape.”  Vice-President Lisa Yaszek has worked hard on recruitment measures and we now stand at 344 members strong.  Treasurer Mack Hassler told us how the organization’s finances are in order, and we’re expanding the support a scholar program so that they are now “grants” that must be applied for.  This is good, because there’s more to go around and it will add a valuable line to one’s vita.  The four areas of funding will be travel, membership, research, and organizational grants.

Other important business concerned the transition of the sfra.org website from Virgina Tech’s servers to a private hosting company.  We’re thankful for Virginia Tech’s hosting, but there are limitations to what we can do organizationally and operationally on their servers.  Karen Hellekson, acting as interim Web Director, is facilitating the move and the expansion of SFRA services online.

Another organization matter concerned the addition of a position for Director of Public Relations.  This person will help promote the organization under the direction of the Vice President.  More on this later…

There were some convention updates on current and future SFRA meetings.

Ritch Calvin said that the 2008 SFRA meeting in Lawrence seems to be within budget.

Lisa Yaszek told us about the 2009 meeting in Atlanta, GA and sponsored by Georgia Tech and hosted by Lisa and Doug Davis.  It’s going to be on June 11-14, 2009 at the Wyndham Midtown with the dual themes (one just wasn’t enough!):  “Engineering the Future” and “Southern Fried Science Fiction and Fantasy.”  The Guest of Honor is Michael Bishop, and Guest Authors include F. Brett Cox, Paul di Filippo, Andy Duncan, Kathleen Ann Goonan, and Jack McDevitt.  I will post a full announcement soon separately.

Craig Jacobsen said that 2010 in Phoenix is on track with the theme, “Points of Contact,” and there’s a venue lined up near the airport for that meeting.

Pawel Frelik said that Poland 2011 (SFRA tries to hold its meeting in Europe every third year, this year was an exception because of the decline of the dollar) is proceeding well.  He has secured institutional support, and Lublin will be a great host city with easy access from the airport to the city center, hotels, and campus.

A final project worth mentioning is that SFRA Review has worked out a deal with the University of South Florida to host back issues of the Review electronically.  If you have old issues, you should drop a line to Karen Hellekson, because they need to patch some holes in their checklist for scanning (it is a destructive process, but the issues will be available to everyone online after being scanned).

In other news, dues will remain the same.

Whew.  Some good-byes later and review books exchanged hands, I checked out, spoke briefly with Veronica Hollinger, and hit the road.  On the way out of Kansas, I lost my toll ticket, but the toll lady was kind enough to believe that I got on the interstate at exit 202.  I hit 75 mph on the way back so I wouldn’t be on the road so long and to see how much it affected my fuel economy (not much–1.5 mpg less to 39 mpg).  On the way home, I saw a large billboard that looked like a green background, white text road sign that simply said “JESUS.”  There’s something science fictional about the religious iconography and messages between Ohio and Kansas.  Also, the worst roads that span an entire state are in Indiana.

When I pulled into Kent late Sunday evening, my odometer showed that I had driven 1,685 miles during the whole trip, and it was a great trip!  Thanks to everyone that was a part of 2008 SFRA in Lawrence, Kansas.  Thanks to Ritch Calvin, Karen Hellekson, and Craig Jacobsen for organizing and pulling it off without a hitch.  Thanks to Kansas University, Center for the Study of Science Fiction, the Campbell Conference, Jim Gunn, and Chris McKitterick for inviting SFRA to Lawrence this summer.  I had a great time, and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone again at SFRA 2009 in Atlanta, GA!