Call for Papers: An Astounding 90 Years of Analog Science Fiction and Fact, The Fourth Annual City Tech Science Fiction Symposium

An Astounding 90 Years of Analog Science Fiction and Fact: The Fourth Annual City Tech Science Fiction Symposium

Date and Time:            December 12, 2019, 9:00AM-6:00PM

Location:                     New York City College of Technology, 285 Jay St., A105, Brooklyn, NY

Almost 90 years ago, Analog Science Fiction and Fact began its storied history as one of the most important and influential SF magazines with the publication of its first issue under the title Astounding Stories of Super-Science. During that time, its fabled editors, award-winning writers, recognized artists, and invested readers played roles in the development of one of the longest running and renowned SF magazines, which in turn, influenced the field and adapted to change itself.

The Fourth Annual City Tech Science Fiction Symposium will celebrate “An Astounding 90 Years of Analog Science Fiction and Fact.” It will feature talks, readings, and discussion panels with Analog Science Fiction and Fact’s current and past editors and writers, and paper presentations and discussion panels about its extensive history, its relationship to the SF genre, its connection to fandom, and its role within the larger SF publishing industry.

We invite proposals for 15-20 minute paper presentations that explore or strongly relate to Analog Science Fiction and Fact. Please send a 250-word abstract with title, brief professional bio, and contact information to Jason Ellis (jellis@citytech.cuny.edu) by September 30, 2019. Topics with a connection to Analog Science Fiction and Fact might include but are certainly not limited to:

  • Histories of the magazine’s editors, writers, and relationship to other SF magazines.
  • Relationship of the magazine to the ongoing development of the SF genre.
  • Tropes, themes, and concepts in the magazine.
  • Issues of identity (culture, ethnicity, race, sex, and gender) in the magazine.
  • Writers of color in the magazine.
  • Women writers in the magazine.
  • Fandom and the magazine.
  • Visual studies of cover and interior artwork.
  • Hard SF and the magazine.
  • Interdisciplinary approaches to studying the magazine.
  • STEM and the Humanities bridged in the magazine.
  • Pedagogical approaches to teaching SF and/or STEM with the magazine.

This event is free and open to the public as space permits: an RSVP will be included with the program when announced on the Science Fiction at City Tech website (https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/sciencefictionatcitytech/).

This symposium is held in partnership with Analog Science Fiction and Fact and its publisher Penny Publications. It is hosted by the School of Arts and Sciences at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY.

The Annual City Tech Symposium on Science Fiction is held in celebration of the City Tech Science Fiction Collection, an archival holding of over 600-linear feet of magazines, anthologies, novels, and scholarship. It is in the Archives and Special Collections of the Ursula C. Schwerin Library (Library Building, L543C, New York City College of Technology, 300 Jay Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201). More information about the collection and how to access it is available here: https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/sciencefictionatcitytech/librarycollection/.

Photos from Europa Report Screening Panel at the Atlanta Science Festival

Europa Report panel: from left to right: Marcus, Gil, Sidney, and me.
Europa Report panel: from left to right: Marcus, Gil, Sidney, and me.

After the screening of Europa Report on March 28, 2014 at Kennesaw State University as part of the Atlanta Science Festival, Gil Weinberg moderated a great discussion between the panel (Sidney Perkowitz, Marcus Davis, and me) and the audience of ~25 people. The audience had great questions, comments, and observations. My fellow panel members brought an exciting range of knowledge to the discussion that taught me a lot in a very short time.

Much of the conversation focused on the authenticity of the film, its relationship to the authenticity of other SF films, and what a film like this teaches (right or wrong) its audience. I was very happy to have had some things to say about SF’s didacticism going all the way back to Hugo Gernsback and his “scientifiction.”

My cousin Ryan Cox accompanied me to the screening and took these pictures of the event.

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick Event at Los Angeles Central Library TONIGHT

Pawel Frelik shared this on Facebook earlier about a special event related to the recently published Exegesis by Philip K. Dick:

Monday, November 14, 2011 7:00 PM
[ALOUD] at Central Library
The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick

Panel Discussion with co-editors Jonathan Lethem and Pamela Jackson, Isa Dick Hackett, and Laura Leslie. Moderated by David L. Ulin, book critic, Los Angeles Times

If you are in the LA area, find out all of the details here.

It should be a terrific discussion by the panelists. As I told Pawel, I am unfortunately geographically challenged at the moment, so I will be unable to make it.

SFRA 2010, Saturday, Avatar and Empire

Saturday, June 26, was Yufang’s and my big day at SFRA 2010. We missed the first part of the conference, because we were called to the Cleveland branch of USCIS for Yufang’s green card interview. Luckily, we arrived in time for the last full day of the conference and Craig was nice to arrange the panels so that we were able to participate.

Our day began with the 11:00am paper session: Avatar and Empire. Mack Hassler expertly moderated the panel, which included presentations by me (“James Cameron’s Avatar and the Machine in the Garden: Reading Movie Narratives and Practices of Production”), Yufang (“A Certain Tendency of the Hollywood Cinema Concerning White Males, the Military, and the Alien Other: A Reading of Avatar Against Apocalypse Now”), and Jari Kakela (“Robots, Rationalism, and Endless Growth: The Role of Frontier Expansionism in Asimov’s Work”).

In terms of the theme of the conference, Jari’s presentation was right on the money. I enjoyed hearing his reading of Asimov with Turnerian manifest destiny. Before I made the switch to more contemporary science fictions, I cut my teeth with Asimov at Georgia Tech and in my first SFRA paper. Jari demonstrated that Asimov’s robot and Foundation stories still have much to offer us in thinking about the continuing American project of frontier expansion.

Yufang and I each had terrific responses to our essays. Janice Bogstad, Andrew Hageman, Richard Erlich, and this year’s Pilgrim Award winner Eric Rabkin, among others, provided some insightful comments and tough questions. In particular, Eric’s observations on the positive aspects of Avatar are important to keep in mind–even for us who made critical analyses of the film, but Janice was quick to point out the difference between our works, particularly Yufang’s, as analysis and readings versus attacks. We had a fantastic discussion during the panel, which carried over into the hallway afterwards.

I should also say that this was Yufang’s first SFRA, and it was the first time that we presented together at the same conference (though we have presented together before at the AGES Symposium before at Kent State).

After the panel, we went to lunch with Mack and Sue Hassler, Adam Frisch, William Sun, and Jari. Then, it was off to the 2:00pm roundtable on Immigration, Alienation, and Arizona SB 1070.

Panel Event, A County Darkly: Philip K. Dick in the OC

I don’t dig the event’s name, but I really wish that I could be there for it. A County Darkly: Philip K. Dick in the OC will bring together authors Gregory Benford, Tim Powers, and James Blaylock, and critics Rob Latham and Jeff Hicks to discuss the influence of Dick’s life in Orange County, California on his work. Too far away for me, but I would welcome a comment from anyone who can make it there on May 21. The details are below:

TITLE: A County Darkly:  Philip K Dick in the OC

TIME:  Friday, May 21, 12-2 PM

PLACE: Humanities Gateway 1030, University of California, Irvine campus

PARTICIPANTS:

Science Fiction Authors:
*Gregory Beford
*Tim Powers
*James Blaylock

Science Fiction Critics
*Rob Latham
*Jeff Hicks

Moderator: Jonathan Alexander

ABOUT: This panel presentation will consider the inter-relationship of
Philip K. Dick’s work and his life in Orange County.  Spending the last
ten years of his life in the OC, Dick composed some of his most important
SF works here.  In many ways, the OC is a peculiarly Dickian space, with
managed communities and a veneer of the unreal.  Conversely, Dick’s late
novels (A Scanner Darkly, VALIS, and The Transmigration of Timothy Archer)
seem at least partly inspired by Dick’s life in Orange County.  Our
panelists will explore such connections, bringing the work of the
century’s most noted SF author to bear on our cultural imagination of
Orange County, while also bringing our imagination of the OC to bear on
possible interpretations of Dick’s work.

A light lunch will be served.
Please RSVP to Ms. Iveta Cruse at icruse@uci.edu by May Monday, May 17, 2010

ICFA 2009, When Time is Out of Joint: Alternative Times in Fantasy Panel

The first panel that I attended on Saturday morning was titled, “When Time is Out of Joint: Alternative Times in Fantasy,” and moderated by Elizabeth Whittingham.  I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation between the panelists during this session.  The discussion went vibrantly back and forth between panelists Brian Attebery, Aidan-Paul (A.P.) Canavan, John Clute, Guy Gavriel Kay, Maria Nikolajeva, and W.A. Senior.  Below is a summary of my notes on the panel exchanges.

Brian Attebery talked about, “the power of magical narrative to map different kinds of time on others.”  He outlined a number of these other kinds of time, of which “each is a universe of time, a chronotope.”  

Guy Gavriel Kay approached the topic from what he termed a utilitarian perspective of the author who uses time as one of many tools in the authorial toolbox for providing narrative solutions.  This raises the question–is the novelist avoiding the problem of explaining where did a character go from their normal or mundane place and time?

Maria Nikolajeva brought Fred Hoyle’s October the First is Too Late (1966) into the conversation, because the central musician and scientist characters, both friends, are presented with the same temporal choice, but each chooses to do something completely different with that temporal choice.

John Clute problematized the conversation by reminding us that humans have difficulty imagining what time really is, and as a result, we haphazardly play with representations of time.  He went on to talk about the centrality of anxiety to our human understanding of time.  He said that SF is “time as anxiety toward the future,” horror is “anxiety toward something that may come true,” and fantasy is “time of the narrative would be rediscovered.”  

W. A. Senior brought the conversation back to what Guy Gavriel Kay said about the toolbox, or what Senior thinks of as the common library.  He mapped time into three elements:  1) time as plot and plot device, 2) time as restorative (time out before the next stage of a character’s journey), and 3) fantasy is the restoration and the discovery of truth, or the place “outside of time,” allows for restoration of the world (e.g., the first Narnia book).  

A.P., following after everyone else, interestingly used select quotes to frame the narrative uses of time that Brian initially alluded to.  He began by reading from a fortune cookie, “The best prophet of the future is the past.”  Others included, “his face was ravaged by time” (time as process, body as record), “how long will this panel last,” and “how long is this guy’s paper going to run on?”  He then segued into the core idea from his previous presentation that there is a conflict between irrational fantasyland time and rational time of the here-and-now.  

John Clute followed A.P.’s statement by commenting that it is an ethnocentric version of time that A.P. terms rational time.  Additionally, the lack of change in fantasy stories in David Edding’s The Belgariad has some historical grounding in paleolithic cave paintings that reveal little change terms of a magnitude of thousands of years.  Also, there are those who deliberately refuse the history of the 20th century (e.g., Holocaust deniers).

Guy Gavriel Kay then engaged Clute’s formulation of time with anxiety by saying that we try to alleviate anxiety by exerting control.  So, fantasy writing is the exertion of control over time/anxiety.  Fantasy writing tries to ameliorate or assuage that anxiety in fantasy writing.  Also, the mythic world may intrude on the rational world (e.g., Grendel in Beowulf), which reverses the assumed function of fantasy to push back against time anxiety.  Another example of this is the loss of the mythic (e.g., the elves leave humanity in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings), which may generate anxiety.

Brian then added that the reader has control over what he or she reads.  He went on to say that the act of reading causes a confrontation between the time we are living and the time we encounter in texts.

John Clute brought things back around by offering that the fantastic has the potential to create solace or some kind of truth.

Guy Gavriel Kay shifted to the idea of temporality of the book artifact by commenting on what he called “the hunger for the classic.”  Book covers (and other artifacts) are often labeled as “an instant classic.”  However, something must have been around awhile to be truly considered classic, and as he said, “fame doesn’t work that fast except on Twitter.”

John Clute commented on the intensification of narratives that have moved away from the either/or moral or truth formulation into a spectrum.  He finds this shift to have led to crisis in the fantastic.

W.A. Senior, returning to the idea of other media, said that time is a very significant reason why book to film translations have problems.  The flow and representation of time in books versus movies is not directly correlated.

A.P. got into the fray returning to the idea of book covers by talking about the datedness of covers while the text within the story may not be so dating.

Guy Gavriel Kay mentioned that at a recent Harvard conference there was a session on “How to Grab Your Reader at ‘Hello.’”  He takes issue with this, because he feels that you need to engage in world building initially in order to fully develop the narrative to come (e.g., Tolkien’s first 125 pages in The Lord of the Rings).  He identifies a tension in culture between the instant now and “fantasy’s benign congress.”

Brian rejoined the commentary by asking can realistic literature really allow a reader to feel the sacred-private time (which Maria mentioned earlier).  Brian gave the anecdote of his Friday routine–office-bound and computer-based work until he leaves for the Music Building where he teaches cello lessons and enters his own sacred-private time.  He doesn’t believe that the affect of that time is translatable into text beyond mere observation–removing the context strips the affective experience.  Also, he said that he thinks of books as musical scores–each time you read something it is new.

A.P. asked the panel about their thoughts on whether different cultures perceive the passage of time differently or the same way?  Do older cultures that live in their own history (he mentioned globs of history strewn all about in Ireland and England) perceive it differently than say Americans?  I would add to this how does time figure into the postcolonial experience?

Maria Nikolajeva stated emphatically that time is cultural.

From the audience, Elizabeth Hoiem asked the panel about the relationship of time and memory.  What can we make of the phrase, “the United States of Amnesia?”  She went on to describe David Hume’s grappling with the understanding of time and presence through the act of writing a letter and receiving a response.  How do we know that the letter received really came from who we believe it came from?  How do we make sense of the deferment of time in letter conversations?

John Clute, taking up the term ‘amnesia,’ said that memory enables our stories, but that we inhabit an irony of sorts, because those things are divested of malice.  Furthermore, he refered to earlier work of his in which he uses the cenotaph as an emblem for describing the way in which the world is a series of monuments.

Closing quote:  John Clute stated that, “we have to cheat to understand anything.”

ICFA 2009, Early Thursday Morning Panel Success!

I woke up bright and early today for my 8:30am panel at the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts on “Narrative Aesthetics and Fractured Selves” chaired by Robert von der Osten.  My fellow panelists were Albert Wendland of Seton Hill University who read his paper titled, “Description in Andre Norton, or a Touch of the Sublime,” and Darja Malcolm-Clarke of Indiana University who read her essay titled, “The Postmodern Freak and L’Ecriture Feminine in Shelley Jackson’s Half Life.”  Albert has an impeccable radio drama-like delivery that is a rare gift among academic presenters.  His paper on the relationship between the self and the Romanticized sublime in the SF of Andre Norton convinced me that I have to read more of her work.  Darja’s engagement of Hélène Cixous’s theory of writing female bodies and subjectivity in connection with the postmodern females in Jackson’s novel was simultaneously enlightening and fascinating. 

My paper, originally titled “Time Enough for Twitter:  Postmodern Science Fiction and Online Personas,” but changed to “Literary Characters, Online Persona, and Science Fiction Scholars:  A Polemic,” was the last essay to be read during our panel, and it generated the most discussion among the daring early morning audience at our panel.  My essay critiqued the behavior of SF list participants, myself included, as either unwilling or incapable of engaging the alien Othered instigator of a flame war on the list by a sock puppet operator (read more about what inspired my research on this subject here).  Luckily, the frank comments and questions by Dewitt, David, and Anna were the right chord for my presentation.  I was called out on my leaving out the content of the email sock puppet instigator, but my purpose was to call attention to the end effects of parody rather than the substantive content of that parody–I was most interested in the instigator’s desire to shake things up and try something new.  The idea of reflectively reconsidering our real-life manners and norms that have been shoehorned into Internet and New Media communicative technologies is an important project for everyone, including SF scholars who regularly use email discussion lists as a means for discussion.  I found the questions and comments on my paper particularly useful for the next iteration of my paper, which I do want to send out for publication.  I believe that it is a compelling subject for more than its theoretical or literary connections–it has so much to offer our conceptions of how we work together as academic professionals, and it is bound to generate more conversation, which is the point of our discursively-oriented work within a community of scholars.