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New Research Project on the Language of Computers in Science Fiction, 1975-1995 is Underway September 20, 2018

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This semester, I am using course release time to focus on a research project that I am tentatively titling, “The Language of Computers in Science Fiction, 1975-1995.” Most of my readings come from SF magazines, but I’m finding some material in anthologies, too. More to follow…stay tuned.

Call for Papers: 200 Years of Interdisciplinarity Beginning with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: The Third Annual City Tech Symposium on Science Fiction August 29, 2018

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200 Years of Interdisciplinarity Beginning with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: The Third Annual City Tech Symposium on Science Fiction

Date and Time: Tuesday, November 27, 2018. 9:00am-5:00pm

Location: New York City College of Technology, 300 Jay St., Namm N119, Brooklyn, NY

“So much has been done, exclaimed the soul of Frankenstein—more, far more, will I achieve; treading in the steps already marked, I will pioneer a new way, explore unknown powers, and unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creation.”

–Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (1831 edition)

“Yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

–Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), Jurassic Park (1993)

Ian Malcolm’s admonition above is as much a rebuke to the lasting echo of Victor Frankenstein’s ambition to accomplish “more, far more” as it is to park owner John Hammond’s explaining, “Our scientists have done things no one could ever do before.” Films like Jurassic Park and the kind of literature that came to be known as Science Fiction (SF) owe a tremendous debt to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus (1818). In addition to being an (if not the) inaugural work of SF, Mary Shelley builds her cautionary tale around interdisciplinary approaches to science, and she takes this innovation further by applying the humanities to question the nature of being in the world, the effects of science on society, and the ethical responsibilities of scientists. These are only some of Frankenstein’s groundbreaking insights, which as Brian Aldiss and David Wingrove observe in Trillion Year Spree (1986), “is marvellously good and inexhaustible in its interest” (20). The many dimensions of interdisciplinarity in Frankenstein and the SF that followed are the focus of the Third Annual City Tech Science Fiction Symposium.

In this special anniversary year of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, join us for a one-day symposium discussing interdisciplinarity and SF. Continuing conversations began in the earlier symposia, we seek to investigate SF’s power as an extrapolating art form with interdisciplinarity at its core, including interdisciplinarity within STEM fields and the interdisciplinary synergy of STEM and the humanities.

We invite presentations of 15-20 minutes on SF and interdisciplinarity. Papers on or connected to Frankenstein are particularly encouraged. Possible presentation topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and interdisciplinarity (focusing on research questions or teaching approaches)
  • Explorations of interdisciplinary ideas, approaches, and themes in SF (or what disciplinary boundaries does SF bridge)
  • SF as an interdisciplinary teaching tool (or what SF have you used or want to use in your classes to achieve interdisciplinary outcomes)
  • SF’s interdisciplinary imaginative functions (or Gedankenexperiment, considering ethical issues, unintended consequences, or unexpected breakthroughs)
  • Studying SF through an interdisciplinary lens (or combining otherwise discipline-bound approaches to uncover new meanings)
  • Bridging STEM and the humanities via SF (or SF as an interdisciplinary cultural work that embraces STEAM—Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics)
  • SF and identity (or how interdisciplinarity in SF reveals, supports, or explores issues of identity, culture, sex, gender, and race)
  • SF and place (or how SF’s settings are interdisciplinary, or where it is written fosters its interdisciplinarity)
  • Interdisciplinarity and archival work in SF collections (or making the City Tech Science Fiction Collection work for faculty, students, and researchers across disciplines)

Please send your abstract (no more than 250 words), brief bio, and contact information to Jason Ellis (jellis at citytech.cuny.edu) by Oct. 31, 2018.

The program will be announced by Nov. 12, 2018 on the Science Fiction at City Tech website here: https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/sciencefictionatcitytech/.

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 located 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/.

City Tech Science Fiction Collection Inventory July 12, 2018

Posted by Jason W Ellis in City Tech, Science Fiction.
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L to R: Jason Ellis, Lavelle Porter, and Jessica Roman

Over the past three days, I worked with my City Tech colleagues–Laura Westengard, Lavelle Porter, and Lucas Kwong–and student–Jessica Roman–to inventory the City Tech Science Fiction Collection. Two years ago, I began the collection’s finding aid by cataloging the 4,000+ magazines. Last year, I inventoried the collection’s nearly 1,700 monographs and anthologies. This year, we are creating an inventory of the remaining parts of the collection: scholarly journals and novels. Read details of our progress on the Science Fiction at City Tech OpenLab site here.

Interzone 14, Winter 1985/1986 May 23, 2018

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I received another eBay find today: Interzone issue 14 (Winter 1985/1986). This is a special magazine issue for me, because it contains “The New Science Fiction” manifesto by Vincent Omniaveritas (pseudonym for the science fiction writer and activist Bruce Sterling; his alter ego also appears as publisher of the zine Cheap Truth–read scanned issues here or text of each issue here).

Originally published in the Puerto Rican fanzine Warhoon, this hard-hitting call-to-arms advocates that, “We must create the native literature of a post-industrial society” (40).

This isn’t necessarily a manifesto for the movement known as cyberpunk, but many cyberpunk works fit. Instead, it is a larger artistic movement, which he describes thus at the end of the essay:

What, in short, is the New Science Fiction? How do you write it, how do you recognize it?

First, it is not the property of any editor, clique, publisher, or regional or national association. It is not a question of personal influence, creative writing classes, or apprenticeship to genre gurus. It is a question of approach, of technique. And these are its trademarks:

(1) Technological literacy, and a concern with genuine modern science as opposed to the hand-me-down pseudoscience guff of past decades.

(2) Imaginative concentration, in which extrapolations are thoroughly and originally worked out rather than patched together from previous notions.

(3) Visionary intensity, with a bold, no-holds-barred approach to sf’s mind-expanding potential.

(4) A global, 21st-century point of view, which is not bound by the assumptions of middle-aged, middle-class white American males.

(5) A fictional technique which takes the advances of the new Wave as already given, using the full range of literary craftsmanship, yet asserting the primacy of content over style and meaning over mannerism.

The New Science Fiction is a process, directed toward a goal. It is an artistic movement in the fullest sense of the word. It is the hard work of dedicated artists, who know their work is worthwhile, who treat it as such, and who push themselves to the limit in pursuit of excellent.

And it is for real. (Omniaveritas 40)

The entire manifesto is worth reading–for its historical significance, its ideas for the New Science Fiction, and its prize-fighter-like style of sending its message home blow-after-blow. You can find a copy on Archive.org’s Internet Wayback Machine here.

Works Cited

Omniaveritas, Vincent (Bruce Sterling). “The New Science Fiction.” Interzone. No. 14 (1985), pp. 39-40.

New Science Fiction Collection from Marleen S. Barr February 8, 2018

Posted by Jason W Ellis in Announcement, Science Fiction.
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I first met Marleen in 2006 at my first Science Fiction Research Association Conference in White Plains, New York. She and I were on the same panel. As you might imagine, I, having just graduated with a B.S. from Georgia Tech, was a bit nervous presenting in front of an audience of professional scholars. Marleen gave me words of advice and encouraged me. Since then, she and I have worked together on different projects, such as The Postnational Fantasy, which includes an essay by her, and her two consecutive presentations at the first and second City Tech Science Fiction Symposia. In addition to these personal anecdotes, Marleen is, of course, a scholar and writer whose work has been instrumental to the on-going development of science fiction studies and deservedly earned her recognition and awards, including the SFRA’s prestigious Pilgrim Award for Lifetime Achievement. Now, she has a new work of science fiction–a collection of parodic short stories–featuring the United States’ current president. Read below for details about this new collection and how to order it from the publisher B Cubed Press.

Award winning feminist science fiction scholar and writer Marleen S. Barr brings you The Feminist Science Fiction Justice League Quashes the Orange Outrage Pussy Grabber: Political Power Fantasy Fiction (forthcoming from B Cubed Press). This book, the world’s first single-authored satirical Trump-focused short story collection, is a guide to the Trump revenge fantasy galaxy. Barr turns to fiction to move beyond wishing for Trump’s impeachment. She subjects our President to close encounters with feminist extraterrestrials, alternative Hillary winning history, Godzilla-esque male metamorphosis, lock up in the Phantom Zone—and that’s on a good day. In the end, Barr transports Trump to a galaxy far far away from us. Those who recoil at pussy grabbing need to grab this laugh out loud funny groundbreaking feminist power fantasy. Liberals will rate it a ten. Will Trump call science fiction a fake book? Will he expect feminist extraterrestrials to characterize him as a very stable genius? Parody is powerful! Books can be ordered at https://bcubedpress.com/contact/.

Representative New Science Fiction Collection, The Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction January 6, 2010

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Rob Latham sent the following announcement and table of contents to the SFRA email list for The Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction. It looks like an amazing lineup of stories, and I can’t wait to see the final product when it is released late Summer 2010.

The editors of Science Fiction Studies are pleased and proud to announce the imminent publication of a project we have been working on for some years. The Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction is designed to provide a historical survey of the genre and includes 52 works ranging from Hawthorne’s “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” published in 1844, to Ted Chiang’s “Exhalation”(2008). The chronological table of contents follows; the anthology will also include a thematic table of contents that divides the stories into nine themes: Alien Encounters, Apocalypse and Post-Apocalypse, Artificial/Posthuman Lifeforms, Computers and Virtual Reality, Evolution and Environment, Gender and Sexuality, Time Travel and Alternate History, Utopias/Dystopias, and War and Conflict. An introduction offers historical and theoretical guidance to readers of sf, and individual headnotes for each text provide an overview of each author’s life and characteristic concerns as a writer, as well as historical/contextual information.

While we believe that the Wesleyan Anthology of SF will supply an abundance of reading pleasure for anyone interested in the genre, the work is geared for classroom use as well. Concurrent with the book’s publication, we will be launching a website to provide supplementary materials, including study questions for each story, possible topics for essays and exams, sample syllabi based on the anthology’s contents, and links to other online resources. Wesleyan has announced the book for August 2010, so we believe that it will be available for use in classes beginning in the Fall. If you are scheduled to teach a course in sf during the coming year, we hope that you will consider adopting the book; the paperback edition will be priced at $39.95.

Table of Contents

Nathaniel Hawthorne, “Rappaccini’s Daughter” (1844)

Jules Verne, excerpt from Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864)

H. G. Wells, “The Star” (1897)

E. M. Forster, “The Machine Stops” (1909)

Edmond Hamilton, “The Man Who Evolved” (1931)

Leslie F. Stone, “The Conquest of Gola” (1931)

C. L. Moore, “Shambleau” (1933)

Stanley Weinbaum, “A Martian Odyssey” (1934)

Isaac Asimov, “Reason” (1941)

Clifford Simak, “Desertion” (1944)

Theodore Sturgeon, “Thunder and Roses” (1947)

Judith Merril, “That Only a Mother” (1948)

Fritz Leiber, “Coming Attraction” (1950)

Ray Bradbury, “There Will Come Soft Rains” (1950)

Arthur C. Clarke, “The Sentinel” (1951)

Robert Sheckley, “Specialist” (1953)

William Tenn, “The Liberation of Earth” (1953)

Alfred Bester, “Fondly Fahrenheit” (1954)

Avram Davidson, “The Golem” (1955)

Cordwainer Smith, “The Game of Rat and Dragon” (1955)

Robert Heinlein, “All You Zombies—” (1959)

J.G. Ballard, “The Cage of Sand” (1962)

R. A. Lafferty, “Slow Tuesday Night” (1965)

Harlan Ellison, “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman” (1965)

Frederik Pohl, “Day Million” (1966)

Philip K. Dick, “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” (1966)

Samuel R. Delany, “Aye, and Gomorrah…” (1967)

Pamela Zoline, “The Heat Death of the Universe” (1967)

Robert Silverberg, “Passengers” (1968)

Brian Aldiss, “Supertoys Last All Summer Long” (1969)

Ursula K. Le Guin, “Nine Lives” (1969)

Frank Herbert, “Seed Stock” (1970)

Stanislaw Lem, “The Seventh Voyage” from The Star Diaries (1971)

Joanna Russ, “When It Changed” (1972)

James Tiptree, Jr., “And I Awoke and Found Me Here On the Cold Hill’s Side” (1973)

John Varley, “Air Raid” (1977)

Carol Emshwiller, “Abominable” (1980)

William Gibson, “Burning Chrome” (1981)

Octavia Butler, “Speech Sounds” (1983)

Nancy Kress, “Out of All Them Bright Stars” (1985)

Pat Cadigan, “Pretty Boy Crossover” (1986)

Kate Wilhelm, “Forever Yours, Anna” (1987)

Bruce Sterling, “We See Things Differently” (1989)

Misha Nogha, “Chippoke Na Gomi” (1989)

Eileen Gunn, “Computer Friendly” (1989)

John Kessel, “Invaders” (1990)

Gene Wolfe, “Useful Phrases” (1992)

Greg Egan, “Closer” (1992)

James Patrick Kelly, “Think Like a Dinosaur” (1995)

Geoff Ryman, “Everywhere” (1999)

Charles Stross, “Rogue Farm” (2003)

Ted Chiang, “Exhalation” (2008)

Sci Fi Lab Radio Program #3 November 23, 2007

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The Georgia Tech Sci Fi Lab Radio Program #3 is on Sunday night at 7:00pm on WREK FM91.1 in Atlanta, Georgia. The program’s theme is music and SF. I’ll be reading a review of Brasyl from SFRA Review #282, and a bit about music and textual SF works (I’ll post my segement on Dynamic Subspace over the weekend).

Here’s the full announcement from Lisa Yaszek:

I’m pleased to announce that WREK will broadcast the third episode of The Sci Fi on Sunday, November 25 from 7-9 pm. Please pass along the good word, and be sure to tune in for “the best of everything sci fi”!

The Sci Fi Lab is a joint production of WREK and Georgia Tech’s School of Literature, Communication, and Culture. Sunday’s episode focuses on science fiction music and will include interviews with Michael Liebmann of the Greater Atlanta Filkers and Prof. Jason Freeman of Georgia Tech’s music technology program, a feature on _Forbidden Planet_, and lots of moog and theremin music.

Those of you living in the Atlanta metro area can tune in live on 91.1 FM. Our long distance friends can stream the show from http://www.wrek.org. It will also be available for your listening pleasure in the WREK archives for one week after the live broadcast (check us out under “Sunday Special”). After that, you’ll be able to download mp3s of the show from the School of Literature, Communication, and Culture <http://www.lcc.gatech.edu/stac/creativeprojects.php> and Nophi Recordings <http://www.nophi.net/>.

Like the announcement says, if you aren’t in the Atlanta area, please check out the program online at wrek.org.