Science Fiction Studies

#95 = Volume 32, Part 1 = March 2005


NOTES AND CORRESPONDENCE

Jules Verne at Amiens, March 19-25, 2005. A week of special events has been planned in Amiens, home of Jules Verne for thirty-four years, to commemorate the centenary of his death on March 24, 1905. Though based in France, the focus of the celebration is global. As planned by the Verne International Center and the Maison de Jules Verne, the event was designed to draw together Verne enthusiasts from around the world. The city of Amiens, which already honors the memory of the author with its “Nautilus” swimming-pool complex and the “Université de Picardie–Jules Verne,” will observe the centenary day itself with a procession from St. Martin’s church to the Madeleine cemetery where the author was buried a hundred years ago. The chief event of interest, however, is a two-day conference whose proceedings will later be published. Planned activities also include excursions to Nantes (Verne’s birthplace) and Paris (where Verne studied law and staged his first play at age twenty-two).                

Entry to the conference is free, and all papers will be presented in French-English simultaneous translation. The mandate for speakers is to represent the state of knowledge about, and identify centers of interest in, Verne and his writings around the world. Many of the talks will be given by the presidents of the various Jules Verne clubs of many nations, so that fan and amateur activity will be as central as the sharing of scholarly and bibliographic information and the trade and sale of rare Verne editions. The afternoon of March 23 is reserved for general meetings of the Verne clubs, with the intention of encouraging new projects (to be supported by the International Center) and promoting global awareness of Verne in 2005 and beyond.                

Jules Verne’s former house at Amiens—an impressive mansion with a tower—is now a museum. Those unable to attend the centenary activities may be interested in a visit on some future trip to France. The Maison de Jules Verne is located at 2, Rue Charles Dubois, 80000 Amiens, France.
  
Verne in Nantes. Opened in 1978 on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Verne’s birth in Nantes, the Musée Jules Verne offers a collection of illustrations and exhibits as well as a “voyage to the center” of Verne as an author—his sources of inspiration and methods of work. The museum is located at 3, rue de l’Hermitage, 44100 Nantes. The municipal library in Nantes also houses an impressive Center for Verne Studies that has rich holdings in Verne manuscripts, letters, and rare editions. For more information on Verne resources in Nantes, see <http://www.nantes.fr/mairie/services/responsabilites/dgc/ julesverne/>.
  
New Verne Adventures. The Mammoth Book of New Jules Verne Adventures is a collection of some twenty tales that extrapolate from ideas, settings, and/or characters from Verne’s fiction. The editors are Mike Ashley and Eric Brown, and the authors include Stephen Baxter, Tony Ballantyne, Adam Roberts, James Lovegrove, and Paul Di Filippo. The collection, published by Constable and Robinson, is scheduled for release in Britain in March 2005.
  
Verne Film Festival. The Jules Verne Film Festival annually screens the best adventure and travel documentaries and motion pictures. On the occasion of the Jules Verne Centennial, participants will vote for the best adventure and sf movie since 1905, choosing from a list of 100 top-ranked films. All screenings for the Festival will be held at the legendary Grand Rex theater in Paris from April 6–11.  The price for single screenings is 4 euros; a full passport to all screenings and the Awards ceremony and concert is 60 euros. For further information or group rates, see <info@jva.fr>.
     
Around the World in Eighty Days. Following in the footsteps of Phileas Fogg—and of Michael Palin, who likewise retraced Verne’s journey using ninteenth century methods of transport in a BBC travel documentary some years ago—two French admirers of Verne have announced that they will reenact Fogg’s eighty-day itinerary as part of the  centenary celebrations. Further information may be found at  <http://80j.free.fr./PaccueilBis.htm>.

SF at MLA, 2004. A panel on “Alternative Collectivities: Reimagining the Social” was organized by the MLA’s Discussion Group on SF and Utopian and Fantastic Literatures and held during the Philadelphia convention on December 29, 2004. Philip Wegner’s presentation on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the parables of Octavia Butler, Jillana Enteen’s talk on “Nalo Hopkinson’s Caribbean Based Future,” and Jamie Bianco’s paper on catastrophic encounters in the fiction of Samuel R. Delany and Octavia Butler all suggested that Afrofuturism continues to be a topic of strong interest among sf readers, writers, and critics—as indeed did the Special Session titled “Afrofuturism,” in which Ingrid Thaler spoke on Hopkinson’s Midnight Robber, Ryan Ananat on Saul Williams’s Sonic Fiction, and Lisa Yaszek on Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man.  Among other MLA sessions of interest to readers of SFS were panels on Philip Pullman, on comic books and graphic novels, on manga and anime, on Celtic sf and fantasy, and on cyberspace in Eastern Europe.

SFRA 2005. The annual meeting of the Science Fiction Research Association will be held this year at the Imperial Palace Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada from June 23-26, 2005. Please plan now to attend. The distinguished guest author will be Ursula K. Le Guin; other guest writers will include John Barnes, Kij Johnson, and Tim Powers. For room reservations, call the Imperial Palace Hotel and Casino directly at 1-800-800-2981, identifying yourself as a participant in the Science Fiction Research Association. The conference hotel rate is $59.00 on Thursday and $79.00 on Friday and Saturday. (The $59 rate will be available three days before and after the meeting.) You must book prior to June 3, 2005 in order to receive the conference rate. Conference registration fee is $125, or $75 for presenting graduate students.

Eaton Conference 2005. “Eaton 2005: Inventing the Future,” May 5-7, 2005, to be held at The Science Fiction Museum, Seattle, WA. The conference is interested in papers on recent sf and future directions in the 21st century. How are recent developments in science and culture shaping sf, and how have developments in sf impacted science and, more broadly, contemporary culture? Proposals (250-1000 words) should be sent to George Slusser at <george. slusser@ucr.edu> by March 31.—George Slusser, University of California, Riverside

Call for Papers: Technoculture. A forthcoming special issue of Science Fiction Studies will focus on technoculture. We are now twenty years on from statements about “postmodern” technoculture by Fredric Jameson and Donna Haraway that have dominated analysis of contemporary sf since 1984. This special issue of SFS invites papers that draw on the work of Friedrich Kittler, Bruno Latour, Michel Serres, Bernard Stiegler, Gilles Deleuze, and Manuel Castells—theorists who, from a variety of perspectives, examine the place of technology within “discourse networks” (Kittler) or “hybrid assemblages” (Latour) that cut across literature, philosophy, politics, and the sociology and history of science. In different ways, these theorists think about science and technology as situated in a messy and confusing social world rather than a pristine and separate sphere. The relations among science, politics, economics, ideology, and fantasy are shifting in radically new directions, offering the prospect of opening up new readings. Brief introductory essays on the principal theorists have been commissioned, but we are issuing a call for papers that examine sf and its contiguous genres as a key element of the contemporary technocultural network. We invite papers that explore new readings that might emerge from these new frameworks and contexts. We also are interested in sf’s interaction with technologies and technocultural issues that have emerged in the last fifteen years, including new electronic media, “the information society,” virtuality, biotechnology, nanotechnology, ideas of the Singularity, medical and other research ethics, the politicization of scientific research funding, surveillance and counter-insurgency technologies, and re-militarization of technology research. Prospective contributors are encouraged to contact the guest editors before submission: Dr. Roger Luckhurst <R.Luckhurst@bbk.ac.uk> or Dr. Gill Partington <gillp7@hotmail.com>. Deadline for submissions in SFS format is June 1, 2005, initially to Roger Luckhurst, School of English and Humanities, Birkbeck College, London. Publication is scheduled for the March 2006 issue of SFS.—Roger Luckhurst, University of London

Renewed Call for Papers: Afrofuturism. In 1993, Mark Dery opened “Black to the Future,” his interview with Samuel R. Delany, Greg Tate, and Tricia Rose in South Atlantic Quarterly 92.4 (1993), by questioning why so few African-Americans write science fiction. In 2000, Walter Mosley wrote in “Black to the Future,” an article in The New York Times, that everywhere he went he met “young black poets and novelists who are working on science fiction manuscripts”; he predicted that “within the next five years ... there will be an explosion of science fiction from the black community” (qtd. in Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora [New York: Warner, 2000, pp. 405-07]). In July 2006, Science Fiction Studies will be publishing a special issue on Afrofuturism—black sf and black fantasy. Following Dery’s lead, Afrofuturism looks not just to “speculative fiction that treats African-American themes and addresses African-American concerns in the context of twentieth-century technoculture” but also to “African-American signification that appropriates images of technology and a prosthetically-enhanced future” (736).  In addition to the work of such sf/fantasy writers as Delany, Octavia Butler, Charles Saunders, Steve Barnes, Nalo Hopkinson, and Tananarive Due, Afrofuturism is concerned with appropriations of sf in the work of writers working outside the Anglo-American generic conventions (e.g., George Schuyler, Ralph Ellison, Ishmael Reed, Amos Tutuola, Dambudzo Marechara, John A. Williams), popular music (e.g., Sun Ra, George Clinton, Lee Scratch Perry, DJ Spooky), fine arts (e.g., Basquiat, Rammellzee), comic books (e.g., Milestone Comics, Truth: Red, White, and Black, and such characters as Black Panther, Luke Cage, Black Lightning, Black Goliath, Blade, and Storm), movies (e.g., Space is the Place, The Spook Who Sat by the Door, The Brother from Another Planet, Born in Flames, Blade), and in other media. For an expansive but still incomplete overview of Afrofuturism, see <www.afrofuturism.org>.                

Despite a number of important publications over the last few years, the sf academic community has generally offered little commentary on Afrofuturism and has continued to define sf in terms that are primarily white and literary. This special issue aims to enable a meeting of the sf and afrofuturist communities. Please address all enquiries, proposals and submissions to <mark.bould@uwe.ac.uk>. The deadline for submission of articles of up to  8,500 words is December 1, 2005.—Mark Bould, University of the West of England, Bristol


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