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Thursday, December 16, 2021

5:30 pm EST

Folklore & Mythology Across Three Traditions

Older (Virtual), 5:30 pm EST View Replay

Three academic talks:

Gillian Polack: Jewish Cultural Representation in Novik’s Spinning Silver

Foodways are integral to interpreting the use of food. How Jewish characters and culture are depicted in Spinning Silver through foodways demonstrates how Novik depicts cultures and religious values in the novel. Viewing foodways in the context of the culture of Jewish Lithuania in illuminates Novik’s invented Litvas.

Alison Baker: Folklore in Three British Children’s Fantasy Books.

In this paper I will be discussing the use made of three characters from folklore (the Black Dog, the Headless Horseman and the Brownie or Hob) in Briggs’ Hobberdy Dick, Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and  Pratchett’s The Wee Free Men. I will outline the use the authors make of folklore to underpin or under cut the sense of Britishness and social class.

Eugen Bacon: African Creation Mythologies.

Aligned with cultural influences on international genre works, this paper will gaze at creation mythologies in the African continent. It showcases the rich belief systems that carry across Africa and the diaspora, and that might inform current and future black speculative fiction. 

Type: Panel

Friday, December 17, 2021

10:00 am EST

The Future is Creating/Stealing Your Job

Calvert Room, 10:00 am EST *

Two academic talks:

Hirotaka Osawa: SF Prototyping for Business Innovation

SF prototyping is a business thinking method for utilizing science fiction narrative for making innovative ideas when considering the design of future societies. The method is getting famous in the US, China, and Japan. We compared it with conventional scenario planning in 9 groups, and the results were analyzed by 14 business experts with Mitsubishi Research Institute. The results suggest that the SF prototyping approach is more provocative and fun than the scenario planning approach.

Jesper Stage: Do Androids Dream of Taking Your Job?

In the past, technological breakthroughs have often led to job losses in individual economic sectors, but average wages have usually gone up and overall employment has generally increased as well. Might things be different in the future? What might artificial intelligence and robots mean for the labor market? This talk will look at some of the real-world economics of the impacts of technological change on the labor market and compare with how we see this depicted in science fiction.

11:30 am EST

Round Table on Business Innovation

Congressional On-Site Viewing (Virtual), 11:30 am EST View Replay

Science fiction prototyping is a promising way of thinking about future societies in the VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity) era. SF prototyping creates scenarios using workshops to activate the knowledge of multiple persons in a company, and to discuss how society should be by backcasting from a future image. We welcome distinguished researchers from Japan.

Type: Panel

5:30 pm EST

Sufi, Arabic, and Italian SF

Older (Virtual), 5:30 pm EST View Replay

Three academic talks:

Emad El-Din Aysha: Sufi Science Fiction

Sufism has been deployed many times in genre works, not least SF. Sufism however is lacking in Arabic and Islamic science fiction. The situation is changing as Arab SF authors, old and young, brave this fledging subgenre. The downside is commercialization and commodification of Sufism and Islam.

Ahmad Al-Mahdi: Law, Economics and Arabic Science Fiction

World-building involves translation. There is futurespeak but also the way a world is introduced via motifs and tropes the audience can recognize, a process of familiarization analogues to translation. Linguistic translation of a work of science fiction involves another layer, a shift from one cultural-historical set of experiences to another. 

Simone Pettine: The Birth of Science Fiction in Italy

This paper will discuss the first sf novel published in Italy, by Dino Buzzati in 1960: Il grande ritratto. Using the strategies of textual criticism, the proposal therefore aims to make a point of the influences that led to the drafting of Il grande ritratto of Dino Buzzati, as well as the themes that it left as a starting point for posterity. 

Saturday, December 18, 2021

1:00 pm EST

Heinlein & Enlightenment; Asian Food Futures

Calvert Room, 1:00 pm EST *

Two academic talks:

Bradford Lyau: Robert A. Heinlein: Radical Moderate and the Enlightenment

Analyzing Robert A. Heinlein in light of recent revisions of the Enlightenment and studies analyzing Heinlein works. The different, often conflicting ideological slants used to describe Heinlein’s politics could be explained in part by this analysis. I will use Jonathan Israel’s recent studies of the Enlightenment as the basis of this era’s recent revisions.

Annie Sheng: Taste and Longing in Asian SF 

Humans transform identities and histories through relationships with food in imagined futures. I draw from anthropological analysis and Asian SF stories to examine how people make meaning of their lives through food. An example is machinery, corporeality, and the desire for taste present in futures featuring humanity and the synthetic in Xia Jia, Indrapramit Das and Isabel Yap’s works. From noodle stalls to fruits of the homeland, sensory-rich scenes of food are layered with analytical meaning.

4:00 pm EST

Changing the Future of the Future

Congressional On-Site Viewing (Virtual), 4:00 pm EST View Replay

Two academic talks:

Laura Osur: Alt-Histories Against Technological Determinism.

For All Mankind (Apple TV+, 2019-) and Mary Robinette Kowal’s Lady Astronaut series (2018, 2020) present alternative histories of the space race. Read in conversation with each other and as part of a global debate around ethical technology and the commercialization of space, these two properties argue against the theory of technological determinism and for a more active, nuanced, and gendered discussion of the history and future of technological development.

Jenna N. Hanchey: Africanfuturism as Developmental Rebellion.

I examine how Africanfuturism pushes back against Western visions of development through what Nyerere calls developmental rebellion. Examining the work of Nnedi Okorafor, Tade Thompson, Wanuri Kahiu, Suyi Davis Okungbowa, & Tendai Huchu, I trace four ways that Africanfuturism decolonizes development. Africanfuturism: (1) releases radical desire; (2) recreates ecological contexts; (3) uses alien technology in decolonial ways; and (4) limns alternative possibilities for life itself.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

11:30 am EST

Manifestations of Gender

Congressional On-Site Viewing (Virtual), 11:30 am EST View Replay

Three academic talks:

Jennifer Zwahr-Castro: Author and Character Gender in the Hugos

From 2001-2020, over half of Hugo winners in this category have been women. The current study is a first step in a more nuanced understanding of gender representation among nominees in the best novel category and the central characters portrayed in those works. 

Nick Hubble: Where Will it All Lead?: Gwyneth Jones’s Life

I compare Gwyneth Jones’s novel, Life, with Marie Stopes’s Love’s Adventure, the novel to which Virginia Woolf repeatedly alludes (Chloe and Olivia) in A Room of One’s Own. I examine how Jones’s novel imagines the ending “of the great project”  in which Anna is free both to “like Olivia” and to run her own lab.

Marcia D. Nichols: Gynoids, Fembots, and other Mechanized Women

A mainstay of science fiction, gynoids and other mechanized women wreak havoc on the masculinist order.  I will trace the history of the gynoid from her roots in 18th century science and literature into the 20th century in order to provide a feminist critique of the traditional use of the gynoid as a projection of fear.

Type: Panel
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