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 2010, Saturday, Roundtable on Immigration, Alienation, and Arizona SB 1070

The second session for Yufang and I was the roundtable on Immigration, Alienation, and Arizona SB 1070. We volunteered to be a part of the roundtable, because we had strong opinions about Arizona’s recent immigration and anti-ethnic studies legislations. Also as the SFRA Publicity Director, I had drafted the organization’s statement, in consultation and approval by the Executive Committee, in response to SB 1070 and our holding the conference in Arizona. You can read that statement on the official website here.

The Immigration Roundtable was initiated by SFRA President Lisa Yaszek and her husband Doug Davis as a way to discuss the effects of SB 1070, think about it as a science fictional text, and to talk about other works in SF that deal with immigration. The roundtable was moderated by Doug and included in order of initial statements: Patrick Sharp, Rob Latham, me, Yufang, and Mack Hassler.

Patrick expanded on his earlier work on the ‘Yellow Peril’ and Science Fiction and the irrational fear of immigration as a form of warfare. Rob talked about the root influences of alien and alienation from immigration law into science fiction, and the problems with 1) the ambiguity of immigration law (seen also in Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep) and 2) bad faith is essential to the enforcement of the law (thinking of the V-K test in Do Androids). I talked about how the law was like the drug that Alys Buckman takes in Dick’s Flow My Tears the Policeman Said that also alters Jason Taverner’s reality–the drug someone else takes alters his reality. Yufang spoke about her own experiences as an immigrant to the United States and the unwelcoming aspects of what she calls the ‘shadow of racism’. Mack took a different stance in thinking about irony and tone in Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and Starship Troopers, borders and citizenship, and how self-conscious comic tone can be useful and sinister/protects against the horror while reinforcing it. Doug tied the roundtable together by talking about immigration films and the tension between immigration and invasion (a reinscription of the earlier narratives that Patrick talked about), and in particular, he focused on Alien Nation, District 9, and Brother from Another Planet.

Some other films/television shows that got discussed in this context included Coneheads, 3rd Rock from the Sun, Sleep Dealer, Independence Day (Will Smith’s welcoming punch in the face for the crash landed alien), Solaris, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and Men in Black (essentially an immigration service for extraterrestrials on Earth). Other issues discussed included the relationship between economic contraction and expansion and immigration, the racial and economic dimensions of immigration, illegal immigrant informants in the war on drugs, and Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild.

I believe that the roundtable did generate a lot of positive discussion, but there was not enough time to turn the conversation to the issue of holding the conference in Arizona. It could be that the audience and panel members accepted the pragmatics of the situation, and they may also have been glad that we did not turn away from meeting in such a beautiful place with many good people. The engagement of the issues of immigration and alienation through science fiction was wonderfully informative and engaging for many members of the audience.

After the roundtable, I prepared for moderating the next panel in the same room on SF and Colonialism with Jason Embry and Joshua Ramsey.