Science Fiction Studies

#137 = Volume 46, Part 1 = March 2019

 

NOTES AND CORRESPONDENCE

Lem, Philip K. Dick, and Royalties in the Soviet Era. Marcin Wołk’s review essay on “Stanisław Lem, Holocaust Survivor” (SFS 45.2 [2018]): 332-40) offers a balanced review of the books by Agnieszka Gajewska and Wojciech Orliñski, including the fact that Lem’s statements about himself are not to be trusted; yet it also contains mistakes and inaccuracies, supposedly because the reviewer takes Orliñski at face value. In note 13, for instance, Wołk claims that Lem already foresaw in his Dialogi (1957) that “no totalitarian regime could be sustained in the long run because there would be no positive feedback from society” (339); he is obviously referring to the essay “Cybernetyka stosowana: przykład z diedziny socjologii” [Applied cybernetics: an example from the realm of sociology]. But this was added as “Annex I”—“Dialogi po szesnastu latach” [Dialogues after 16 years]—in the second edition of Dialogi in 1972. In 1957 there could hardly have been published in Poland an essay that opens with the statement that “So far there exists no textbook on the pathology of socialist administration.” This piece is, by the way, Lem’s most open political statement in Communist times, and his best political essay. So much for the increased censorship after 1970! Yet in 1972 it is far less impressive a prophecy than it would have been in 1957.

Wołk argues that “Lem’s letters to his most important translators and publishers (Franz Rottensteiner, Michael Kandel, Wolfgang Thadewald, Virgiljus Čepaitis)” (337) also constitute a significant source. Michael Kandel was of course an important Lem translator, and about the only one with whom he conducted an extensive correspondence. But as far as I can find out, Virgilijus Čepaitis, the Lithuanian translator, publisher, and politician, translated only Lem’s “The Chain of Chance” (into Russian) and never was Lem’s publisher. Wolfgang Thadewald was a German science-fiction fan and Lem’s agent for the German language. Unless one counts my sf fanzine, I was never Lem’s publisher, though I was his literary agent up to 1995 in the West (with the exception of Germany) and a free-lance editor for the Insel/ Suhrkamp group responsible for many of Lem’s German appearances. But I never was a “major” Lem translator. I Englished just a few of Lem’s critical writings from German and translated Lem’s “Mein Leben” into English; it had been commissioned by Gale Research for the first volume of their CONTEMPORARY AUTHORS AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL series. When Lem learned that the fee was $1,000, he wrote the piece at once in German, assuming that I would translate it into English. I did and then sold magazine rights for $10,000 to  The New Yorker, where it appeared as “Chance and Order” (30 Jan. 1984).  The Gale Research publication, which contains photos, is apparently unknown in Poland.

The review claims that “in the socialist economic reality, the royalties from foreign film-makers and publishers had to be collected abroad in person and spent there” (337). This does not apply to Lem, for of course there existed a system for the transfer of royalties among socialist countries. The case of Philip K. Dick is quite different, for Dick had signed a contract specifying payment in Polish zloties. And those zloties were not transferable into hard currency. Sometimes publishers had to pay in foreign currency, which was always scarce in the communist economy; but science-fiction rights were not high on a list of commodities to be bought for hard currency. If Dick had insisted on a payment in dollars, Ubik simply would not have appeared in a Polish translation in 1972. But Lem got enough money from other socialist countries—at official exchange rates. If he traveled to Prague and Bratislava (in the 1950s and 1960s it must have been), it was presumably on shopping sprees. In Poland itself, with its economy of dearth, many things simply were not available. Czechosovlakia was a relatively rich country, its cities had not been destroyed by the war, and stores were well stocked, much better than in Poland; so his Czechoslovak income was valuable there, but pretty worthless in Poland, for lack of goods to be bought. Although printings were large in Communist times, books were cheap, and the money not worth much. And in the 1970s, when Lem’s books took off in the German Federal Republic (where he got more royalties than in the rest of the world combined), he earned millions of German marks, which he could dispose of in Poland at black- market rates. Then Lem’s income from Communist countries became simply negligible and irrelevant. In Poland, the US dollar was the unofficial currency; its value was excessively high, and for German marks or  dollars you could buy in Poland things that were not available otherwise. In this way, Italian marble intended for the renovation of Wawel Castle turned up in the bathrooms of Lem’s luxurious new house, which he had built in the late 1970s. And with his mounting success abroad (while he was neglected at home), his position became in reality unassailable. If Lem often traveled (in the 1970s and early 1980s) to (West)Berlin, it was because the city could be easily reached by car and the East German border-guards, unlike the Polish ones, knew and liked Lem’s books and did not search his car. In addition, because of the special political status of Berlin, Poles could enter the city without needing visas for the German Federal Republic, so there was no red tape to be overcome. — Franz Rottensteiner, Vienna

SFS 1-85 (1973-2001) Available. Here is an opportunity for some lucky SFS reader to acquire all the issues from the first, in 1973, up until the end of 2001. All 85 issues are in at least good condition and almost all of them are like new. The SFS website offers the issues from 1980 on. But 20 numbers from 1980 to 2001 are no longer available there, and all issues prior to that date are sold out. Furthermore, the price at that source is $20 each. At $20 each, my holding would come to $1,700. My price, $475, is therefore less than 30% of what you would have to pay if all 85 issues were available from SFS itself. Moreover, my asking price includes shipping (but only to US and Canadian addresses). I also have a number of post-2001 issues available if you can send me a wantlist at <r.philmus@concordia.ca>.— RMP

Call for Essays on “Intersectional Automations: Robotics, AI, Algorithms, and Equity.” This collection will explore a range of situations where robotics, biotechnological enhancement, artificial intelligence (AI), and algorithmic culture collide with intersectional social-justice issues such as race, class, gender, sexuality, ability, and citizenship. Human-machine communication (HMC) has moved from an important yet somewhat marginal field to lodge itself at the center of societal workings and visions for the future. From autonomous vehicles to the algorithmic filters of search results and social- media content; from online harassment and political boosterism via bots to sex robots; and from ubiquitous AI assistants in our homes and smart devices to wearable tech that tracks and shares our biometric data and/or extends our biological capacities, such technologies are rapidly mapping themselves onto almost every conceivable realm of human experience. This edited collection will draw an analytical circle around these interconnected and adjacent issues, lending a critical eye to what is at stake due to the automation of aspects of culture. How do equity issues intersect with these fields? Are the pronounce- ments always already dire, or are there also lines of flight towards more equitable futures in which agentic artefacts and extensions can play an active part? Chapters may address one or multiple equity issues, and submissions that address emergent intersections between them will be given special consideration. Proposed chapters may address topics such as algorithmic classism, ableism, racism, and sexism; issues around robotic labor and poverty, Universal Basic Income, and robotic utopias/dystopias; issues around the use of deadly autonomous or semi-autonomous robots by the military or non-state actors; issues surrounding sex-robotics, teledildonics, VR, and AI sexuality; the politics and ethics of the Singularity and the future status of robotic and AI workers with respect to labor, citizenship, and human rights; assumptions, representations, and discourse surrounding dis/ability and human augmentations, including “supercrip” and “cyborg” discourses; and potential tensions between feminist technoscience (e.g., Haraway) and critical disability studies (e.g., Allan, Cascais, et al.). Deadline for abstracts is 1 April 2019. Abstracts should be 750 words and should include a collection of keywords and a 150-word biography; they should be directed to Dr. Nathan Rambukkana, the editor, at <n_rambukkana@ complexsingularities.net>. Drafts will be due 1 October 2019 with the final versions sent by 1 April 2020. — Nathan Rambukkana, Wilfred Laurier University

Call for Essays (Edited Collection): SF Television and the Politics of Space. The past twenty years have witnessed a surge in the creation of sf television shows, the securing of larger budgets for their production, and their movement from the margins of cultural consumption into the mainstream, with shows such as Battlestar Galactica (2003-2009) and Westworld (2016–). Their popularity seems to reflect what is referred to as “peak TV,” a contemporary Golden Age of tv production with ease of access via digital technologies and   a growing fascination with the imaginative, challenging, and sometimes prophetic qualities of the genre. In this same period, the so-called “spatial turn” across academic disciplines has greatly influenced popular culture. While sf genre television has often been ostensibly concerned with outer space (e.g., Star Trek: The Next Generation [1987-1994]),  it  has  also reflected upon the inner space of the mind (e.g., Dollhouse [2009-2010]), and regularly reflects our own cultural “spaces.” It has, for example, been greatly effective at considering the politics of our own time (e.g., Black Mirror [2011-]). It is therefore our aim with this edited collection to examine the numerous ways that space is used, explained, represented, and manipulated in science-fiction television; in other words, we call for papers that explore the politics of space in contemporary sf television. We take 1987 as the starting date, as it was the year when Star Trek: The Next Generation began airing.  Our understanding of the terms “space” and “politics” is broad, to allow a greater scope for critical response. Papers will primarily examine shows and their “spaces” through languages and/or theories of space and place. Deadline for proposals is 9 April 2019. Proposals should include a submission title, a 400-word abstract, a 250-word biography, and a list of relevant publications. Send proposals and queries to the editors at scifispaces@gmail.com. — Joel Hawkes, University of Victoria; Alex Christie, Brock University; and Thomas Nienhuis, Camosun Colleg

Call for Proposals (Edited Collection): Dune for the 21st Century—Frank Herbert’s DUNE  Saga. Despite being one of the best-known and best-selling  sf novels, Dune has been relatively neglected by scholars. This  collection seeks to awaken interest in academic approaches to the novel. We are looking for essays of 3,500-5,000 words that will enhance understanding of the  original novel as well as its sequels. We especially welcome proposals from outside traditional literary disciplines or that utilize innovative research methods. Submissions may be critical but should be constructively so, given that readers will most likely also be fans. Deadline for proposals is 31 March 2019. Proposals should include an abstract of 250-500 words, contact information, and a resume/c.v. for each author/co-author. Email proposals and queries to the editors: N. Trevor Brierly <trevor.brierly@signumu.org> and Dominic J. Nardi <dnardi@umich.edu>.—N. Trevor Brierly and Dominic
J. Nardi


Call for Manuscripts on Ray Bradbury. I am part of an ongoing project to compile a volume dedicated to the work of Bradbury, with the provisional title Ray Bradbury, Between the Aesthetics of Utopia and Dystopia. The project has fallen short of roughly two contributions necessary to meet length requirements. This message is therefore an extension of the original call: we seek two or more scholarly contributions that consider Bradbury’s fiction in terms of style, scientific elements, and social, political, and/or historical contexts. We welcome single-authored and multi-authored papers by contributors and independent scholars working in the humanities or closely related fields; and we strongly encourage submissions that take into consideration intersections among categories of difference, including gender, class, immigration, nation, ethics, philosophy, linguistics, comparative literature, cinema, theatre, etc. The selected essays will be published by a leading academic publisher. We invite 200-word abstracts for scholarly essays between 6,000 and 8,000words, including notes and bibliography. We reserve the right to exclude any final manuscripts that do not meet expectations. Manuscripts must conform to The MLA Handbook (7th ed.) in all matters of form. Articles may be sent as  an email attachment in MS-Word 2007 (or later). The author’s name, affiliation, mailing address, telephone and/or fax numbers, and e-mail address should be provided on a separate cover page, along with a brief biographical note of approximately 50 words. Photos and illustrations should be sent as a separate .jpeg file. Any reference that would enable the reviewer to know the author’s identity should not appear in the manuscript. The project’s main editor is Dr. Jesús Isaías Gómez López (University of Almería, Spain). Email: <jigomez@ual.es>.  If  interested,  please  contact  <Angel.Mateos@uclm.es>.  I will be happy to provide more information about the volume itself, other contributors, and publisher. — Angel Mateos-Aparicio, University of Castilla- La Mancha

CFP: “Science Fictions” Academic Conference. We invite you to submit a scholarly paper to the “Science Fictions, Popular Cultures” conference, to be held on 26-29 September 2019 on the sunny western coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. Now in its third year, this academic gathering is held in  conjunction with a larger, well-established sf and fantasy convention, HawaiiCon, an annual gathering of sf fans, comic-book enthusiasts, creative cosplayers, anime followers, future-envisioning authors, cultural practitioners, Geek-film featurettes, comic and fantasy artists, and Hollywood sf producers, voice actors, and movie/television stars, along with vendors, musicians, teachers, students, scientists, and science-fiction and other scholars. Those presenting at or attending SFPC may also attend all HawaiiCon events: the SFPC registration and membership fee provides attendees with open access. We invite scholarly papers exploring the intersections among science, science fiction, fantasy, technology, and culture. Scholarly peer-reviewed proceedings are published as a result of SFPC Academic Conference presentations. A feature unique to SFPC is the additional opportunity for SFPC scholars to sit on discussion panels with other HawaiiCon guest speakers. Visit our conference website at <http://www.caperteam.com/sfpc> for detailed registration, proposal submission, and hotel venue information. Presentation proposals are being considered at this time on a rolling basis on the first of each month, with a priority acceptance and discounted early-bird registration rate until 15 May. — Jason T. Eberl, St Louis U; Carrie Cole, Indiana U of Pennsylvania; Timothy Slater, U of Wyoming; and Stephanie Slater, CAPER Center for Astronomy and Physics Education

CFP: Second International Conference on Artificial Intelligence Humanities, 14 August 2019. The Humanities Research Institute (HRI) at Chung-Ang University, Seoul, Korea, a hub of critical and creative humanities research, invites the submission of abstracts for paper presentations addressing the relations between Artificial Intelligence and fields in the humanities. We invite papers and proposals on the “Coexistence of Humans and Artificial Intelligences: Utopia, Dystopia, and Heterotopia?” Topics of interest include AI and utopian/dystopian studies, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic narratives, science fiction, posthumanism, transhumanism, and animal rights. Also invitedare proposals addressing interrelations between Artificial Intelligence and ethics, visual studies, sf and fantasy films, cyborg and robot studies, translation, and/or other related topics. Talks will be twenty minutes long, followed by ten minutes of discussion. The official languages of the conference are English and Korean. The abstract should be written in English, and the length should not exceed 500 words (less than one page, not including references). They will be reviewed anonymously and must not include references to the author(s). Abstracts must be submitted electronically to <aihumanities2019 @gmail.com> with the author(s)’ information on a separate page including name, affiliation, title of the presentation, and email address. They should be submitted in MS Word and in .pdf, both of which should be titled as [AUTHOR’S NAME_abstract]: e.g., for Chan Kyu Lee: <chankyulee_ abstract.doc, chankyulee_abstract.pdf>. If you use phonetic characters, please make sure that they are displayed correctly. The deadline for abstract submission is 30 April 2019; notification of acceptance will be received by 31 May 2019.—AI Humanities Conference Organizers

CFP: Doris Lessing 100: The Writer’s Quest, 12-14 September 2019. The School of Literature, Drama, and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia will be hosting an international conference to mark the centenary of Lessing’s birth. Lessing is one of the most widely read and culturally important writers of the twentieth century, yet her academic reputation does not reflect this fact. On the occasion of her centenary, this conference  proposes a new critical exploration of the life and work of a complex and multifaceted writer, presenting an opportunity to rethink her contribution to modern literature. It also seeks to establish Lessing as a central figure in twentieth-century literature who traverses a range of forms, styles, periodizing categories, genres, political orientations, and readerships. The conference will take place at the University of East Anglia, an institution with which Lessing had a strong connection and to which she donated her extensive personal papers on her death. The event will coincide with an exhibition dedicated to Lessing’s life and work in the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts at UEA: letters, manuscripts, and personal effects will be on public display for the first time. Please see <http://dorislessing100.org> for more information. Confirmed keynote speakers include Patrick French (Lessing’s official biographer), in conversation with Professor Christopher Bigsby (University of East Anglia), as well as Dr. Nick Hubble (Brunel University) and Professor Roberta Rubenstein (American University, Washington). Topics may include, but are not restricted to, Lessing’s relationship to questions of gender, feminism, and women’s liberation; her politics; her relation to science fiction; colonial/postcolonial elements in her writings; and her reception and readership. Please send proposals for 20- minute papers, panels, round tables, and creative contributions to <lessing100 @uea.ac.uk> before 30th April 2019.—Matthew Taunton and Nonia Williams, University of East Anglia, Organizers.

NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS

Silvia G. Kurlat Ares is an independent scholar specializing in Latin American (Southern Cone) literature and the relationship between culture and politics. She has been a visiting professor at George Mason University and Johns Hopkins University where she was the associate director of the Latin American Studies program from 2003-2006. She has published Para una intelectualidad sin episteme [For an Intelligentsia Without Episteme, 2006] and La Ilusión Persistente. Diálogos entre el campo cultural y la ciencia ficción argentina [The Persistent Illusion: Science Fiction in Argentina, 2018] and has edited special issues for several academic journals such as Revista Iberoamericana and Alter/nativas and Conversaciones del Cono Sur. Her recent publications include “Reading Images: Art, Aesthetics, and the Imagery of the Future in Argentine Science Fiction” in Latin American Textualities (2018) and “The Malvinas War in Argentine Memory: Graphic Representations of Defeat and  Nationalism (1982-2015)” in Cultures of War in Graphic Novels: Violence, Trauma, and Memory (2018).

Vitor Bonifácio is a professor in the Physics Department at the University of Aveiro, Portugal, and a member of the Research Centre on Didactics and Technology in the Education of Trainers. He is currently the main researcher of the project “The Transformation of Amateur Astronomy at the End of the Nineteenth Century: Characteristics and Impact of the Société Astronomique de France and the British Astronomical Association,” which aims to improve current knowledge of astronomical practices at the end of the 19th century.

Siobhan Carroll is an associate professor at the University of Delaware, where she teaches courses on Romanticism and contemporary speculative fiction. Author of An Empire of Air and Water: Uncolonizable Space in the British Imagination, 1750-1850 (2015), she is currently working on a book on the construction of human environmental agency in the long 19th century.

Stephen Dougherty is a professor of American literature at Agder University in Kristiansand, Norway. His essays on diverse topics have appeared in Configurations, Diacritics, SFS, Cultural Critique, The Psychoanalytic Quarterly, and elsewhere.

Gwennaël Gaffric is currently an associate professor of Chinese language and literature at the Université de Lyon in France. He is also a translator of Chinese, Hongkongese, and Taiwanese contemporary novels. He translated the French edition of Liu Cixin’s THREE-BODY TRILOGY. His research interests include literary studies (especially science fiction), ecocriticism, and postcolonial studies.

Li Guangyi is an associate professor of Chinese literature and culture at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences, Chongqing University, Chongqing, China. His main research interests are modern  Chinese literature, Chinese intellectual history, sf literature and culture, and utopian fiction and thought. His recent publications include the edited volumes, Zhongguo ke huan wenxue zai chufa [Chinese Science Fiction: A New Start, 2016] and, with Chen  Qi,  Santi de X zhong dufa [Diverse Ways  of Reading Three-Body, 2017].

Nathaniel Isaacson is an associate professor of modern Chinese literature in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature at North Carolina State University. His research interests include Chinese science fiction, Chinese cinema, cultural studies, and literary translation. He has published articles in the Oxford Handbook of Modern Chinese Literatures and in journals such as Osiris and SFS, as well as translations of non-fiction, poetry, and fiction in the translation journals Renditions, Pathlight, and Chinese Literature Today. His book, Celestial Empire: the Emergence of Chinese Science Fiction (2017) examines the emergence of science fiction in late Qing China and the relationship between science fiction and Orientalism.

Hee-Jung S. Joo is an associate professor in the Department of English, Theatre, Film and Media at the University of Manitoba (Canada). Her  research and teaching interests include speculative fiction, critical race studies, and queer studies. Her work has been published in MELUS, Journal of Transnational American Studies, Literature Interpretation Theory, and American Studies. She is currently at work on a book-length project on racial futurities.

Val Nolan lectures in the English Department at Aberystwyth University in Wales. His academic work has appeared in Irish Studies Review, Review of Contemporary Fiction, and Journal of Comic Books and Graphic Novels. His own fiction has appeared in Interzone, the ‘Futures’ page of Nature, and The Year’s Best Science Fiction.

Will Peyton is a PhD candidate in Chinese literature and translation at the Australian National University.

Kumiko Saito is an assistant professor of Japanese in the Department of Languages at Clemson University. Her main field of research is gender and technology in modern Japanese literature and popular culture, including representations of the body and sexuality in popular narrative media such as anime and manga. Her current project focuses on the development of the concept of romantic love in modern Japanese fiction, visual media, and video games.

E. Mariah Spencer is a doctoral candidate in English literature at the University of Iowa, specializing in seventeenth-century literature, the history of science, and Margaret Cavendish, the Duchess of Newcastle. Her research focuses on the utopian impulse and Cavendish’s formative role in the development of science fiction and other speculative literatures. More generally, by combining the study of literary genres with the careful methods of analytical bibliography, she examines the role that the book object plays in the history of the English imagination.


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