Science Fiction Studies

#98 = Volume 33, Part 1 = March 2006


Utopiales 2005. I attended this year’s “Utopiales: Festival International de Science-Fiction” in Nantes, France, on November 10-13 and enthusiastically recommend it to the readers of SFS. A true festival devoted to all aspects of science fiction, it combines many of the best aspects of sf “cons,” sf literary conferences, and sf museum expositions. Begun in 2000, Utopiales is held annually at the Cité Internationale des Congrès, a spacious and ultramodern convention center that is a short five-minute walk from Nantes’s main train station. One distinguishing feature of Utopiales is its highly interdisciplinary and multimedia program, which includes large open-forum presentations, small-group literary discussions, continuous film showings in its two on-site cinemas, several impressive art exhibits, a large sf bookstore complete with tables for author signings, rooms devoted to various sorts of sf games (role-playing, board games, etc.) and bandes dessinées, and even a mini-planetarium. Everything is open to the general public. Dozens of sf writers, artists, and filmmakers are invited from around the world (wireless simultaneous translation was easily available), and a number of European literary and cinema awards were officially presented. I especially enjoyed the talk of special-effects legend Ray Harryhausen, this year’s guest of honor, as well as the many interviews with and/or discussions among international sf luminaries such as Pierre Bordage, Igor and Grichka Bogdanov, Aleksi Briclot, John Crowley, Jean-Claude Dunyach, Jacques Goimard, Joe Haldeman, Serge Lehman, Norman Spinrad, Neal Stephenson, Elisabeth Vonarburg, Roland C. Wagner, and Ian Watson, among others. I was also fortunate enough to participate in several of the smaller “literary café” round-tables, which included mostly French sf authors and scholars discussing the work and legacy of Jules Verne, the featured author for 2005. Overall, I found Utopiales to be well-organized, stimulating, and a lot of fun. And, with over 20,000 visitors attending, it continues to grow in importance as one of Europe’s premier sf events. For an overview of this year’s program, consult the Utopiales website at <>.—ABE

SF and Fantasy at the MLA Convention. Several sf and genre-related panels at the Modern Language Association’s Annual Meeting (Washington, D.C., December 27-30, 2005) suggest that the field is flourishing with rhizomatic vigor, often across genres and historical periods. The MLA’s Discussion Group on SF and Utopian and Fantastic Literature selected “Social Fantasy” as this year’s theme, with papers by George T. Garneau of the University of Hawai’i (“Orchestrating Utopia”), Marie Lathers of Case Western Reserve U (“Tony and Jeannie Live in Cocoa Beach, FL”), and Steven Shaviro of Wayne State U (“Parasites on the Body Politic”). Carl Freedman (Louisiana State U, Baton Rouge) was respondent and John A. Rieder (University of Hawai’i) presided as Chair. Also scheduled was a Special Session on “Early Modern Science Fiction,” with papers on “Telescopic Fantasies: Bacon, Kepler, and Early Modern Romance of Plural Worlds” by Catherine Gimelli Martin (U of Memphis), “Francis Godwin’s The Man in the Moon and the Question of Technology” by Peter C. Herman (San Diego State U), and “Undiscovered Countries: Against Retroactive Taxonomies of Science Fiction” by James J. Marino (Cleveland State U). The respondent was Scott Maisano (U of Massachusetts, Boston); Lara A. Dodds (Mississippi State U) presided. The MLA’s Division on Popular Culture hosted a panel on “Race and Technoculture Studies” that included a presentation by Thomas Foster (U of Washington, Seattle) on “Queer World-Making” in Samuel R. Delany’s Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand (1984). Other sessions included single papers that touched on the genre: opening the session on “Literary Linguistics,” for instance, was a presentation on “Tolkien and the Profession” by Mary E. Faraci of Florida Atlantic U; and the session on “Postcolonial Genre Writing” included a talk by Eleanor R. Ty (Wilfrid Laurier U) on “Alien Spaces and Asian Bodies in Hiromi Goto’s Science Fiction The Kappa Child.” —CM   

Third Edition of The SF Encyclopedia. Locus reported in its September 2005 issue that during the WorldCon in Glasgow (August 2005), David Langford, Peter Nicholls, and John Clute signed a contract with Orbit UK to produce a third edition of their magisterial reference work. The new edition will appear in an electronic format only, with monthly updates for subscribers. The work is projected to be ready late in 2007 and is expected to be 50% longer than the 1993 second edition. See the Orbit website to sign up for an email newsletter with updates on the progress of the work: <>.—CM

East Carolina University Acquires Schlobin Collection. The Special Collections Department at the J.Y. Joyner Library at East Carolina University (Greenville, N.C.) has announced the addition of the James and Virginia Schlobin Collection of Literature of the Fantastic. Established in 2004 by Professor Roger C. Schlobin in honor of his parents, the collection comprises approximately one thousand titles, mostly sf and horror novels by such authors as Andre Norton, Michael Moorcock, Roger Zelazny, L. Sprague de Camp, Philip José Farmer, and Charles de Lint. We anticipate that new materials will be acquired through gifts, purchases, and transfers. Readers can access the printed materials in this collection through the Joyner Library’s online catalog at <>. For further information, please contact William T. Bunting, Jr., Communications Officer, J.Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University <buntingw@>.—William T. Bunting, Jr.

Special SFS Issue on “The Animal”: Call for Essays. Science Fiction Studies invites proposals for a special issue on science fiction and animal studies. As Claude Levi-Strauss observes in Totemism, animals are “good to think with.” Papers are invited that explore the variety of ways that science fiction intersects with animal studies. Animals are among the oldest metaphors through which humanity has defined itself. As Jacques Derrida argues in a late essay (“The Animal That Therefore I Am,” Critical Inquiry 28.2 [Winter 2002]), the word “animal” is a category that designates a tremendous variety of beings and makes sense only when understood in terms of what is excluded from it, i.e., the human. Science fiction is one of the genres most concerned with defining the human through examination of its Others (aliens, cyborgs, robots, etc.), and the growing field of animal studies has many resources to offer for the study of science fiction.

Papers are encouraged from a variety of theoretical perspectives. We welcome articles that deal with representations of animals in sf and also welcome analyses of “speciesism” as a metaphorical category used to enforce social boundaries and establish a humanist subject. Finally, we invite papers that consider our changing material relationships with animals, especially as these are mediated by changing technologies. Science fiction’s long history of engaging with themes of alterity and technological change point to the many possible intersections of sf and animal-studies research.                

Proposals might consider (but are not limited to): conjunctions of animal studies and sf; manufactured animals as commodities, workers, or tools within the sf world (including manufactured “lab tool” animals such as OncomouseTM); animal-like aliens as companions, family members, or pets of humans; animal-like aliens as competition, invading force, vermin, or predator of humans; representations of humans as animals from the point of view of alien species; challenges to the species boundary through human/animal hybrids; Darwinian stories, especially those dealing with non-human primates (including proto-human species); animals and nature seen as resources for human projects such as scientific experimentation; stories of animal cognition, including those in which animals evolve to a point beyond humans; and finally, new technological relationships with animals and their implications (factory farming, gene splicing, xenotransplantation, pharming, etc.). Send abstracts of no more than 500 words by September 30, 2006  to: Sherryl Vint, Department of English, St. Francis Xavier University, P.O. Box 5000, Antigonish, NS B2G 2W5 Canada. FAX (902) 867-5400; <>.—Sherryl Vint, St. Francis Xavier University

Special SFS Issue on Afrofuturism: Call for Essays. In late 2006 or early 2007, Science Fiction Studies will be publishing a special issue on Afrofuturism. In addition to articles on such sf/fantasy writers as Samuel R. Delany, Octavia Butler, Charles Saunders, Steve Barnes, Nalo Hopkinson, and Tananarive Due, we solicit work on 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), in popular music (e.g., Sun Ra, George Clinton, Lee Scratch Perry, DJ Spooky), in fine arts (e.g., Basquiat, Rammellzee), in comic books (e.g., Black Panther, Luke Cage, Black Lightning, Black Goliath, Blade, and Storm), in 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 overview of Afrofuturism, see <>. All inquiries, proposals and submissions should be addressed to <>. The deadline for submission of articles of up to 8,500 words has been extended to July 1, 2006.—Mark Bould, University of the West of England, Bristol

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