Following my early morning panel, I walked down the hall to the Maple room for the Fantastists’ Use of Time: Erikson and Gaiman panel, chaired by Stefan Ekman of Lund University.
Aidan-Paul (A.P.) Canavan of the University of Liverpool delivered an awesome presentation titled, “Time for a (Lack of) Change: The Passage of Time in Fantasyland. He combined keen observation with comedic wit in his essay about the static historical, social, and technological development of fantasy worlds that he described as “trapped in never changing amber.” Generally speaking about the fantasy genre as a whole, his idea of static non-development in fantasy is compelling–i.e., why after eons of time and hundreds of generations combined with the interaction with other cultures and intelligent species such as elves have humans not emerged from the long Dark Age of the fantastic soul?
A.P. was followed by the standing delivery of Scott D. Vander Ploeg of Madisonville Community College who read his essay, “Time for Gaiman: The Overlap of Temporalities in The Graveyard Book and Other Fictions.” Imagine a late 70s television detective with a tough mustache talking about Gaiman’s whimsical re-imagining of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book (1894), and you’ll almost be there. I enjoyed hearing about the additional intertextuality between Gaiman’s work and The Odyssey, but the really interesting part about his presentation was the marginal space inhabited by the main character. Gaiman’s characters in many, if not all, of his works come to find him or herself in-between two worlds, parallel but asymptotically separated by a gap traversable by characters emblematically of the two worlds. I need to run out and find a copy of The Graveyard Book, now!