Re-issued & Updated: “#Utopian #Sci-fi/ #Speculative Fiction: Why it’s Intriguing and Necessary”

My guest blog post on Tonya R. Moore‘s Sci-Fi site from July, 2014, re-issued/ updated today!

#Utopian #Sci-fi/ #Speculative Fiction: Why it’s Intriguing and Necessary

utopia3.inline vertical

image from http://www.nypl.org (New York Public Library)

Writers are often exhorted to “write the books we want to read,” especially when they seem not to exist, yet. I am following that advice with The Spanners Series. I know what I want to read and what I can’t find because I am a life-long, avid reader. I have probably read hundreds of thousands of books in my 60 years of reading independently and quickly, sometimes enjoying ten books a week. If I say that books like mine—–more utopian sci-fi/speculative fiction series like The Spanners—–don’t yet exist, I’m probably correct.

However, there is a long history of utopian sci-fi that spawned speculative fiction and inspired technological and biological/ medical breakthroughs/ inventions and social and political change over many centuries. Ann Grindley’s article from May, 2014, http://www.fact.co.uk/news-articles/2014/05/utopia,-limited-what-can-sci-fi-tell-us-about-our-future.aspx, “Utopia, Limited: What can sci fi tell us about our future?” offered these insights:

Civilisations that do demonstrate utopian qualities have surpassed our view on money, weaponry and material wealth and anxiety. They have matured past our inequalities and share a common goal. This goal is usually scientific, in a sense that they have discovered, created, and utilise technology which unites people globally.

I don’t know which “civilisations” Ann Grindley referred to, but I’d like to find them!

Grindley seemed to be quite supportive of my intentions when she stated: “I’d like to think utopia still requires creativity and pleasure through art, although maybe utopians won’t need escapism.”

Grindley also verbalized my heartfelt wish: “It is wonderful how even in our social and political density and under-development, that we can imagine an idyllic and model world…” But then, she recognized the possibility that “our ideas of utopian and dystopian futures are only limited to our current knowledge and understanding, and perhaps that is why, in reality, we’re yet to achieve the fantasy; the fiction in our science. Perhaps utopia is beyond our imagination as well as our means.”

Well, perhaps our imagination is not that limited! Check out these sci-fi/ speculative fiction inventions and ideas that have become “real” as researched by Annalee Newitz, from March, 2014: http://io9.com/7-utopias-that-changed-the-future-1541411068. Newitz described several utopian sci-fi books whose ideas or inventions have influenced our lives directly, including:

Communism by Karl Marx
“Marx’s powerful vision…inspired coups, union movements, and even hippie communes….Pop versions of Communism inspired many ‘soft’ revolutions in the uprisings of the 1960s,… often inspiring positive social changes and greater freedoms.”

Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Herland is a lost island nation where everyone is equal, goods are plentiful, and war is unknown. It is an enlightened, scientifically advanced society where everyone is educated and healthy…[and it is all] run and populated entirely by women…. This idea, that woman leaders would create a far less cruel and authoritarian world than men have, has influenced everything from philosophy to feminist politics.”

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Brave New World…[influenced] the Occupy movement, which is in part a rebellion against capitalist societies that try to distract people with happy consumerism, instead of addressing problems with the disparity between rich and poor.”

Star Trek by Gene Roddenberry
“Freed from the need for money and from the horrors of war, humans in the Star Trek universe devote their lives to exploration or productive work that is freely chosen. But of course, Star Trek‘s vision is almost as old as Thomas More’s. The Enterprise is a lot like the Isle of Utopia, with elements of de Toqueville’s America, Marx’s Communism, and even Gilman’s Herland thrown in.”

Newitz summed up the utility of utopian sci-fi so perfectly: “Utopia, after all, has always been a fiction. But it’s one that can inspire us to change our worlds —sometimes, if we’re lucky, in a way that brings us just a little closer to our ideals.”

In her list, Newitz, of course, included:

Utopia by Thomas More
“Thomas More was a British writer who invented the word ‘utopia’ — from a Greek pun that means both ‘no place’ and ‘good place’ — for this book about his idea of the perfect society. Published in 1516, the book is about a man who has returned from the Isle of Utopia, where many of England’s social ills don’t exist.”

Just to prove the point—that sci-fi and speculative fiction continue to influence us—let’s go further into more specifics from this ground-breaking novel with these fascinating recognitions, from Charlie Jane Anders, “Things from Thomas More’s Utopia That Have Come True Today” http://io9.com/5967561/things-from-thomas-mores-utopia-that-have-come-true-today:

—Before getting married, you should see your partner naked.
—Divorce is allowed for a married couple who ‘do not well agree.
—You’re under constant surveillance…….there’s no private property and everybody works for the common good when they’re not farming…
—Utopians eat in public….[which] basically means they eat out. All the time.
—Criminals are marked for life.
—Euthanasia is supported and even encouraged
—Husbands and wives go to war together.

In fact, we owe the term “utopia” to Thomas More! According to: http://www.sf-encyclopedia.com/entry/utopias: “…[More] derived the word from ‘outopia’ (no place) rather than ‘eutopia’ (good place)….It can be argued that all utopias are sf, in that they are exercises in hypothetical sociology and political science….[A] significant shift in utopian thought took place when writers changed from talking about a better place (eutopia) to talking about a better time (euchronia)….[U]topias ceased to be imaginary constructions with which contemporary society might be compared, and began to be speculative statements about real future possibilities…”

I agree wholeheartedly with this, and sadly agree with this opinion as well: “[Some authors set out to show that] all utopian schemes are absurd, and that real people could not live in them.”

I think this explains a lot, particularly the reasons that dystopias are so much more prevalent in sci-fi: it’s easier to write about disaster and failure than to imagine what could actually work out for the best, since we almost never see “the best” occur IRL [In Real Life].

One researcher claimed: “Genre sf has never been strongly utopian…. they were often small enclaves facing imminent destruction”

I hold out for members of this “small enclave” to become leaders and inspirations in every generation.

These and others recognize the dilemmas we utopian writers of sci-fi and speculative fiction face: “The necessity for works of fiction to be dramatic and the fact that workable plots require conflict inhibit the use of sf to display utopian schemes.” I face this problem in my current series.

Because I don’t want to depict a lot of death, destruction, violence, apocalyptic futures and heartache, many readers request and editors demand that my series “show more conflict.” I resist. I do mention it and refer to it, but most of it happens off-camera, in the wings, so to speak, or in conversations between two or more characters rather than the ways most sci-fi authors and screenwriters choose to depict conflicts.

I can’t be the only one who is bored and disgusted by dystopias’ ubiquitous conflicts—large-scale, CGI “wars” and “battles,” martial arts “fights” resplendent with wires to create impossible acrobatics, and car or other vehicle chases—awful, because they supplant character development, plot depth and actual emotions. Am I wrong?

Unfortunately, dystopian futures abound in both fantasy and sci-fi. Most genre writers, even those that include romance in their stories, choose to depict increasingly worsening conditions on and around this planet and across their universes. In some imaginary incipient time, their “visions” of our future pile on the violence, showing increasing discord, more political and social unrest, deaths and destruction even worse than we have now.

We already have too much awfulness IRL for me to want to read about even worse to come.

Enough, already!

Fortunately, I am in good company. Conferences, seminars, webinars, zines and print currently devote a lot of time/space to these topics. I am encouraged, for example, by this exhortation to writers like me from a panel http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/women-remember-a-roundtable-interview/ moderated by Mary Robinette Kowal with Ursula K. Le Guin, Pat Cadigan, Ellen Datlow, and Nancy Kress, given in June, 2014, in which Kowal summed it up: “We write science fiction and imagine the future we want to live in. We want that future now.”

Kowal went on to say: “Seeing how the field has changed gives me perspective on the future that I’m living in and, hopefully, will help women writing today continue to destroy science fiction for subsequent generations of writers.”

Even more approval flows to us writers of utopian sci-fi when I saw that a July, 2014, Science-Fiction Symposium from the World Futures Society http://www.wfs.org had listed these events:

A. Panel Session: “Fiction as a Futuring Tool,” featuring Madeline Ashby, Trevor Haldenby, Glen Hiemstra, and Tom Lombardo. “The work of science fiction writers and futurists often informs, sometimes predicts, and occasionally affects the future.”

B. Panel discussion: “Hacking into Utopia: The Future of Optimistic Innovation,” featuring Ramez Naam (moderator), Gray Scott, Lindsea Wilbur, and Kevin Russell. “Science fiction writers have been talking about utopian futures for a long time. What are young writers and innovators doing right now to create such a future?”

C. Panel discussion: “What Current Science Fiction should Futurists Read?” featuring Vicki Stein (moderator) Glen Hiemstra, Brenda Cooper, Madeline Ashby, and Brad Aiken.

I wish I could have attended and I wished that they had put the discussions, above, online.

I believe we need some hope, ideas of how else things could go, whether or not I always believe they will take these turns. I am imagining routes for improvement for the entire multiverse.

I am not alone in believing in a more perfect future that, due to simultaneous time, is already “here.” Gray Scott, Futurist/Founder of SERIOUS WONDER™, http://www.seriouswonder.com/about/ and http://www.seriouswonder.com/category/scifi/, has this tagline on his website: “The future has already happened and technology is just the echo bouncing back at humanity.“ 

His “think-tank” self-describes in this way:

SERIOUS WONDER is a progressive future concept and technology website. We are obsessed with the future. Our mission is to bring our readers the best in futuristic ideas, technology, robotics, science, techno-philosophy, psychology, space travel, and modern concept design. Intense curiosity, positive intention and inspired imagination can transform our future. This future will be more magical and abundant than anyone could ever imagine. We are constantly looking for innovation and optimistic wonder. The future is our passion.

The future IS now!

Donna Dickens listed “science-fiction becomes science-fact” from 2012:
—Quadriplegic Uses Her Mind to Control Her Robotic Arm
—Stem Cells Could Extend Human Life by Over 100 Years

And, from 2013:
—Two rats have their brains telepathically linked.
—Portable device allows users to see through walls.
—Program allows user to remotely move objects with their hands.
—The world’s first fully mind-controlled synthetic leg goes for a stroll.

If you like these “Science-Fiction-Becomes-Science-Facts” lists? Check out this great chart/ infographic:
http://io9.gizmodo.com/all-the-times-science-fiction-became-science-fact-in-on-1570282491

Here are some compelling reasons we need and want to have such optimistic creativity from writers of sci-fi:

The value of science fiction has been also recognised in the rise of a new method for designing technology, called design fiction. If science fiction stimulates the imagination about extraordinary views of the future, design fiction explores the futures that ordinary people would prefer. Design fictions—like short sci-fi films, prototypes and graphic novels—are provocative and engage people, encouraging them to envision, explain and raise questions about direction of future technology and society.

from https://www.theguardian.com/media-network/2015/aug/13/science-fiction-reality-predicts-future-technology

Then, we have the incredible Raymond Kurzweil. I first read about him in Mike Floorwalker’s post from March, 2013: http://listverse.com/2013/03/15/10-ridiculously-specific-predictions-that-came-true/ Kurzweil is an inventor and a futurist who is also the Director of Engineering at Google. According to Floorwalker, Kurzweil has “made dozens of predictions over the several decades—–with an absolutely unbelievable rate of accuracy. Not only do Kurzweil’s predictions almost always come true, he usually can accurately predict WHEN they will come true.”

As if that’s not enough, “…[i]n his novel, The Age Of Intelligent Machines, Kurzweil predicted: the fall of the Soviet Union by 1991; a computer’s beating the best human players at chess by 2000; and, wireless Internet’s becoming practical for mainstream use in the early 21st century. In The Age Of Spiritual Machines (1999), Kurzweil predicted ebooks, facial recognition software, and nanotechnology…” among other things!

Floorwalker stunned me with these stats on Kurzweil: “Kurzweil stated that by 2009, 89 out of 108 predictions he had made were entirely correct. Of the rest, 13 were ‘essentially correct’—likely to come true within a few years. A re-evaluation in 2012 determined that Kurzweil’s prognostications are correct a ridiculous 86 percent of the time—and the good news is, this is a man who has predicted that it won’t be too long before we humans conquer death altogether.”

Kurzweil is beyond a genius: he reinforces the existence of simultaneous time. How else do you explain his timely “inventions” and uncanny “predictions”? Floorwalker informed us: “His inventions are numerous—–text reading software, speech-recognition devices—–and five of his novels have been bestsellers.”

We sci-fi writers should ALL be more like Kurzweil!

I like to believe that I am predicting, prognosticating, prophesying and foretelling, since my stories depict better times in every way. Even when things are “bad,” there is more “good” than bad. I am continuing my utopian illusions in The Spanners Series.

In my current and future multiverses, all communicative beings, including humans, will have more pervasive and lasting peace, better circumstances and conditions, and inner spiritual strengths that lead to harmonious living: we can have it all!

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Speculative Fiction #Genres, According to one Jaded #Feminist

Speculative Fiction #Genres, According to one Jaded #Feminist (and two other, actual experts…)

Here are two great sources of info about the overall genre of Speculative Fiction (Spec Fic) and all its subgenres, (also the two main sources of the images, below):
About Speculative Fiction, from blogger/author, Sherry D. Ramsey at http://www.sherrydramsey.com/?page_id=1005; and,
The Difference between Speculative Fiction and Science-Fiction, from SPi Global, at http://www.spi-global.com/blog/cs-blog/the-difference-between-speculative-fiction-and-science-fiction/


from http://www.sherrydramsey.com/?page_id=1005

So, you don’t have to go by my jaded, biased, perhaps not entirely fair or accurate descriptions, below.

Also, check out many of the Spec Fic online and hard-copy ‘zines and subscription magazines that publish short stories, plays, graphic novels or excerpts, art, poetry, novellas and announcements, such as: Heliotrope: Online Speculative Fiction Magazine, http://www.heliotropemag.com/

JUST MY OPINIONS, below.

  • Science-Fiction (also known as sci-fi):
    ◙ Stories about what could be or might have been that feature science, tech, weaponry that does not exist (yet); mostly written by men and somewhat invisible women; mostly about men and almost invisible women; if in graphic novel form, the females are scantily clad for no apparent reason, while men are wearing body armor; mostly about men, with one or no female main characters, except to support or be loved by males.
    ◙ If part of a series, “good guys” do not prevail for the long-term but do win in skirmishes, until the end, which can be dystopian (no HEA–Happily Ever After) or partly HEA (at least, for the romantic component).
    ◙ If politically and/or social commentary-oriented, can illustrate the ways our current cultures are harsh (but accurate) regarding racist, species-ist, misogynistic practices and attitudes.
    ◙ Main characters can die, but usually not in the first parts of a series.


    from http://www.sherrydramsey.com/?page_id=1005

  • “Hard” Science-Fiction:
    ◙ Futuristic stories mostly about the male “heroes” (and steroid/testosterone-ridden women, cyborgs and robots) fighting alone or in groups against whom/whatever, using lots of weaponry and spaceships; see above, for costuming; mostly about men, with one or no central female main characters, except to support or be loved by males or inhabit computers.
    ◙ If part of a series, “good guys” do not prevail for the long-term but do win in skirmishes, until the end, which can be dystopian (no HEA–Happily Ever After) or partly HEA (at least, for the romantic component).
    ◙ If dystopian (typically), often includes destruction of one or more planet, victors’ having slaves, horrible classism and race/species discrimination and other awful plot points and outcomes.
    ◙ Main characters can die, but can be reborn into tech creatures. Often, a “space opera” that spans many years/centuries and vast expanses.


    from http://www.spi-global.com/blog/cs-blog/the-difference-between-speculative-fiction-and-science-fiction/

  • Steam-Punk Fantasy/Science-Fiction:
    ◙ Stories about what might have been or could be, written by both men and women; depicts women in low bodices, wearing corsets, and carrying fans; men have pocket watches, vests, and private (“public” in England) educations or tutors; everything is run by steam engines; characters are mostly Anglo and espouse or resist British/American Anglo upper- and middle-class Victorian values (e.g., either virginal or whorish women, class distinctions, elitist “manners,” rigidly gender-ized clothing); stories are mostly about men, with one or no central female main characters, except to support or be loved by males.
    ◙ If there are GLBT characters, they are usually depicted as deranged/homicidal, stereotypes, and/or objects of ridicule or pity. Rarely has human characters who are not Anglo (so I deliberately included a drawing that has males of color, here).
    ◙ Can include murders and other crimes in which females are the victims or need to be rescued.
    ◙ May not be clear who the “bad” guys are, at first (think, prostitute or crime lord with the “heart of gold”).
    ◙ Main characters cannot die unless already replaced by a successor.


    from https://writingcareer.com/black-power-the-superhero-anthology-is-seeking/

    This anthology, whose prototype cover is above, Black Power: Superheroes of Color, was released last month, February, 2017: https://thenerdsofcolor.org/2017/02/27/black-power-the-superhero-anthology/
    edited by Balogun Ojetade, with a great line-up of authors within it.

    Real cover:

  • Fantasy:
    ◙ Usually set in some pseudo-medieval or -Renaissance, Earth-like setting or Earth’s own possible past or present, but with talking animals, mythical creatures, imaginary creatures (e.g., fairies, gnomes, dwarves, trolls, dragons, giants, ogres, witches, warlocks, wizards); usually includes some kind of magic or pseudo-science mixed with magic; if there are non-human creatures, they are almost always male or overly glamorized females (large breasts, small waists, heavy make-up); could have human shape-shifters who usually become large predators (wolves, bears, lions, panthers, etc.); can have vampires, whose subplots usually include some kind of incapacitation and then sexual assault accompanying the blood-sucking, usually of women by both males and females.
    ◙ Always has “good guys” and “bad guys,” with the “good guys” prevailing in the end.
    ◙ Main characters cannot die unless already replaced by a successor.


    from http://www.sherrydramsey.com/?page_id=1005

  • High Fantasy:
    ◙ Similar to Fantasy, but with more court-like/royal characters and class conflicts/settings; usually some star-crossed royalty romance for the teen or young adult main characters that ends HEA (Happily Ever After); usually has dragons or other mythical creatures centrally featured; for specious reasons, characters often speak in upper-class British accents/styles and/or insert French- or Spanish-sounding words randomly; often heavily laced with sword fights, quests, riddles and other “tests” for the main characters (usually male), which they have to lose at least twice before becoming victorious (“getting the girl” is usually part of their “prize”).
    ◙ Duels are common.
    ◙ Usually HEA (Happily Ever After).
    ◙ Main characters cannot die unless they’re old or can become mythologized and/or unless already replaced by a successor.


    from the cover of Issue 5 of http://www.heliotropemag.com/

  • Urban Fantasy:
    ◙ Similar to Fantasy, but set in decaying cities; usually dystopian/post-apocalyptic; can blend magic with tech, though not as originally or interestingly as the author believes; not enough female characters and frequent fighting among the males; duels are common; cyborgs, androids, political and social tyrants, crime and criminals abound.
    ◙ Only HEA (Happily Ever After) for about 3 “beats,” then more fighting.
    ◙ “Good Guys” can be ethically challenged and compromised frequently.
    ◙ Main characters can die.


    from http://www.spi-global.com/blog/cs-blog/the-difference-between-speculative-fiction-and-science-fiction/

  • Dark Fantasy:
    ◙ Exactly like one or both of the above Fantasy genres, but with more sex (sometimes BDSM or hard-core porn, here); lots of blood, gore, fighting, elements of Horror, etc.; has conflicts that maim, kill off or otherwise harm the female characters severely, who then need to be rescued (when possible); hauntings, ghosts, evil from other dimensions and realms, summonings gone wrong and other horror-like elements can occur frequently, usually showing the main characters to be idiots; features ominous castles and fortresses a lot.
    ◙ Does not usually go with HEA (Happily Ever After) because the main characters get to be “happy” (have amazing sex and lie around together afterwards) for about 3 “beats” before someone tries to kill one or both of them.
    ◙ Main characters can be cursed, ensorceled and/or die.


    from http://wallpaper-gallery.net/wallpapers/dark-fantasy-wallpapers.html

  • Horror:
    ◙ Similar to Dark Fantasy or Dystopian Sci-Fi, but with more gore, blood, death, suspense, killing, maiming, scaring, scarring, psychological and physical trauma of all kinds as both the causes/ motivations and outcomes for the characters AND the readers (can you tell I do not read Horror?); often has demons, demonic forces, battles between “good” and “evil” embodied in various physical and spirit bodies.
    ◙ Doesn’t even think about including “Happy” endings, except as punctuation marks between disasters and/or parodies.
    ◙ Main characters can and do die, usually horrifically (pun intended).


    from http://www.spi-global.com/blog/cs-blog/the-difference-between-speculative-fiction-and-science-fiction/

  • Young Adult Speculative Fiction (usually known as YA Spec Fic):
    ◙ Usually dystopian, futuristic Sci-fi or Fantasy; features an abundance of orphans or single-parent-raised main characters; usually has one female for every two male main characters; often includes a plot/characterization that starts with the MC as an undistinguished, low-living, bullied, betrayed, enslaved or harried young person who then experiences the uncovering of special powers or previously unknown importance revealed in the first few chapters.
    ◙ Big on “destiny,” “fate,” “saving the world” and such…really, the MCs are attempting to help only a small number of beings within or a local geographic section of their/”our” world.
    ◙ Can be leaning more toward Fantasy or Sci-fi or blend both.
    ◙ Main characters can die, but usually only within an extended series; most do not.
    NOTE: YA Spec Fic is probably the best source among all Spec Fic subgenres for finding stories that feature people of color, those with disabilities or who are neuro-atypical, queer and other non-mainstream main characters and sidekicks.


image from a guest post by Julia Ember (no relation) on Jamie Kramer’s Books and Ladders blog, http://booksandladders.blogspot.com/2016/06/guestpost-unicorn-tracks-by-julia-ember.html


I told you I was jaded. I am not the only one, by any means. The following quote and analysis (please read entire article; link below) sums up my major complaints perfectly:

[Spec Fic is] not just about shiny, phallic rocket ships populated by deep-in-the-closet Aryan brethren conquering the Final Frontier, people. It’s about different futures, alternate realities, dangerous fantasies. You’d think such places, where dragons dwell, would be heavily populated with equally unusual people, but nope. Looks like everybody important there is white, male, anglophone and straight. Not to mention perfectly healthy physically and mentally.

—penned by Paula R. Stiles, “Diversity in Speculative Fiction,” on http://www.fantasy-magazine.com/non-fiction/articles/diversity-in-speculative-fiction/, from the Dec., 2016 (Issue 60) – People of Colo(u)r Destroy Fantasy! Special Issue [NOTE: “Fantasy Magazine has merged with its sister publication, Lightspeed, so this site will no longer be updated with new content. However, the fiction and interviews you would have found here at Fantasy will now be part of Lightspeed, so please sign up for our newsletter (sent out once or twice a month) to receive updates about the release of new issues of Lightspeed Magazine, news about the magazine, and more.”]
——-Lightspeed Magazine also published, starting in 2014, Queers Destroy… each of the subgenres (Fantasy, Horror, Fantasy), starting with Science-Fiction Special Issues, which you can find out about here: http://www.destroysf.com/queers/
And, on that same page, they have links to their POC [People of Color] Destroy… series of Special Issues for each subgenre (Fantasy, Horror, Fantasy)


2015’s Queers Destroy Science-Fiction cover

—Women are at the forefront of these critiques and do them so well, I have so many to choose from. Here is another, from an interview conducted by Alexandra Alter with N. K. Jemisin [Jemisin was the the first African-American writer and the first woman of color to win a Hugo Award for “best novel” (others have won for short fiction)], “N. K. Jemisin on Diversity in Science-Fiction and Inspiration From Dreams,” published by the New York Times (!?) on https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/25/books/n-k-jemisin-on-diversity-in-science-fiction-and-inspiration-from-dreams.html?_r=0
Jemisin says she “decided to focus on an oppressive society at the macro scale and what that society does to individuals” in her spec fic novels. Why? Because “a woman of color from an impoverished culture, being brought up among wealthy, privileged white people and having to cope and perform in ways that she has not been raised to do… was obviously drawn from some personal experiences. I do that in everything — explorations of power, identity and belonging.”

—Another great article, “Genrequeer,” by Theodore McCombs at http://www.fictionunbound.com/blog/2016/4/6/genrequeer, offers this excellent insight: “To make space for black achievement and transcendence, speculative fiction lets us change all the rules that should never have been rules in the first place.”


So, there is a lot of hope for increasing diversity, better representation of women and girls, more interesting stories and compelling ways to resolve conflicts than wars and violence in the Spec Fic genre and all its subgenres, with dozens of websites, groups and other resources to help us find them.

Here are some:
—The Black Science Fiction Society: http://www.blacksciencefictionsociety.com


Logo from Black Science Fiction Society website, 2017

—The Speculative Literature Foundation offers “Diverse Writers and Diverse Worlds Grants …The two $500 awards support any purpose that writer recipients may choose to benefit their work.”
FMI: http://speculativeliterature.org/ and a resource list of orgs for writers of Spec Fic: http://speculativeliterature.org/writers-resources-2/writers/writers-organizations-2/

African-American Sci-Fi: http://www.africanamericansciencefiction.com/

Latino Spec Fic: http://www.latinospeculativefiction.com/, which published Latin@ Rising: An Anthology of Latin@ Science Fiction and Fantasy, which “is the first anthology to bring together U.S. Latinos/as who are working in science fiction, fantasy, and other speculative genres”; edited by Matthew David Goodwin.


Cover of Latino@ Rising: An Anthology of Latin@ Science Fiction and Fantasy

—Two other not-so-recent anthologies: Dark Matter: Reading the Bones (2005), edited by Sheree R. Thomas, and Cosmos Latinos: An Anthology of Science Fiction from Latin America and Spain (2003), edited by Andrea L. Bell and Yolanda Molina-Gavilán, which “showcase African-American and (mostly) Spanish-speaking spec-fic writers, respectively.”

—Check out writers in the sub-category of Afrofuturism, which is defined in Wikipedia: “Afrofuturism addresses themes and concerns of the African diaspora through a technoculture and science-fiction lens, encompassing a range of media and artists with a shared interest in envisioning black futures that stem from Afrodiasporic experiences.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afrofuturism

Tracy Mumford, about a year ago, wrote, in: “‘We want to hear new voices’: Diversity in sci-fi and fantasy” for https://www.mprnews.org/story/2016/04/05/books-diversity-in-sci-fi-and-fantasy [as part of The Thread newsletter, which I recommend you sign up for right now (on that page)], some great commentary about those topics.
This article also has a great recommended reading list, curated during and prior to 2015, mostly, of diverse writers’ work in spec fic.

—Queer Sci-Fi has so much to offer, now, and via so many sites. Here is one website that may list the majority of them and offers more resources, besides: https://queerscifi.com/


Weigh in, please. I’d love to have great discussions, here, about other elements of Spec Fic and intersectionality (the places that social identities overlap and in which we analyze privilege, oppression and efforts to effect change). What have I left out, got wrong, etc.?

I’d love to hear from you. I also welcome Guest Bloggers (see my site for Guidelines): http://www.sallyember.com/

Current Research in Speculative Fiction Liverpool, UK, (CRSF) Conference was June 27, 2016

Current Research in Speculative Fiction Liverpool, England, UK (CRSF) Conference was Monday, June 27, 2016, at the University of Liverpool!

CRSF logo

Here is their report:

CRSF 2016 Post-conference Report
Posted: 04 Jul 2016 05:26 AM PDT
The sixth annual Current Research in Speculative Fiction [CRSF] conference was held last week on Monday 27th June and was a great success.

As usual, the papers delivered were of a high quality and a diverse range of topics from D&D bestiaries to feminist utopia, ecological disaster to Harry Potter, medieval English horror to Japanese dystopian YA and far more besides. As usual huge thanks go to those who presented a paper: thank you for the enthusiasm with which you approached the task and for the hard work you did preparing for the conference, a conference – no matter how the organising goes – is nothing without its delegates.

CRSF 2016 represents a record year for number of delegates, with non-presenting delegates outnumbering presenters for the first time. This was in no small part thanks to the excellent Science Fiction Research Association (SFRA) conference also held in Liverpool on the 28th-30th June, a number of whose delegates came along to see CRSF in action. There were, however, a number of non-presenting delegates, including former presenters from previous years, who made the trip to Liverpool especially to see CRSF, I cannot think of a better endorsement for the atmosphere and organisation of the conference than for those who have been before to want to come back, even if they’re no longer eligible to present.

In total we had fifty-six attendees and thirty papers presented, over three parallel streams, by delegates from institutions throughout the UK, as well as Ireland, Belgium, Germany, Finland, Spain, Russia, Israel, Canada, and the United States, among others.

Thank you to all who attended. Additional thanks to all those who engaged with the conference on social media. I’m a firm believer in the Twitter back channel for conferences, and CRSF performed ably in this regard too. If you’re not on Twitter and you want to (re)discover the tweet-by-tweet coverage of the conference it’s been conveniently archived on Storify here for you.

Thanks also to our wonderful keynote speakers: Dr. Caroline Edwards (Birkbeck University of London) and Dr. Pat Wheeler (University of Hertfordshire) who not only gave fascinating and insightful keynote lectures, but also attended numerous panels, asking insightful and constructive questions throughout, and offering many a kind and supportive word for delegates in the breaks and more informal moments of the conference. Caroline’s paper opened the conference and was entitled ‘”But there is still such beauty”: Post-Apocalyptic Fiction and Eco-Eschatological Time in the 21st-Century’, it took us through such post-apocalyptic novels as Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven and Maggie Gee’s The Flood, highlighting the pastoral beauty often found in these texts and the implications of that for our vision of the apocalypse and the future (if any) of humanity’s role on the Earth. Pat’s keynote was entitled ‘”She can’t love you, she’s just a machine’: Metal-fevered Boys and their Passion for New Eves’, which challenged how we should read gynoids in the twenty-first century: as either challenge or constriction to women’s agency.

Thanks as ever to the University of Liverpool staff who provided support both in the build up to, and during, the conference: the Rendall Building staff, and Filomena Saltao, the Administrator of the School of the Arts, and Siobhan Quinn. Thanks also to Andy Sawyer, academic librarian for the Science Fiction Foundation collection at the University of Liverpool’s Sydney Jones Library, for once again arranging for all delegates to receive free copies of Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction. Thanks also to the staff at Il Forno, our traditional restaurant of choice, who once again dealt with our large numbers with aplomb.

As always we welcome your feedback on CRSF 2016, all comments are useful and appreciated. Please leave a comment on our website’s post at http://currentresearchinspeculativefiction.blogspot.com, or e-mail them to us at crsf.team@gmail.com.

CRSF will return in 2017….

Glyn Morgan,
Molly Cobb,
Leimar Garcia-Siino,
Chris Pak

I wish I could have been there.

To refresh, if you missed my explanatory pre-conference post, read below:

CRSF is a postgraduate conference designed to promote the research of speculative fictions including, but not limited to, science fiction, fantasy and horror.

Our aim is to showcase some of the latest developments in this dynamic and evolving field, by providing a platform for the presentation of current research by postgraduates. The conference will also encourage the discussion of this research and the construction of crucial networks with fellow researchers.

The planned schedule was as follows:

9:00-9:30: Registration and Refreshments

9:30-10:30: Keynote Lecture #1: Dr Caroline Edwards,

“But there is still such beauty”: Post-Apocalyptic Fiction and Eco-Eschatological Time in the 21st-Century

10:30 -12:00: First Round of Panels

1.1: Press START to Play
Andrew Ferguson – Clipping Out of Bounds: Reading House of Leaves Through Portal

House_of_leaves

  • Britanny Kuhn – [Awaiting Title]
  • Ivaylo Shmilev – Oppression, Warfare and Transcultural Memory in the Complex Post- Apocalyptic Environments of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Game Series

    STALKER game image

1.2: Horrific Narratives
Travis Gasque – The New Cosmic Horror: A Genre Molded by Tabletop Roleplaying Games and Postmodern Horror
Matthew McCall – “My manez mynde to maddyng malte”: Tracing Horror in the Middle English Pearl

Pearl_Poet

  • Selena Middleton – Climate Collapse and the Uncontained Body in James Tiptree Jr.’s A Momentary Taste of Being

    Momentary taste (in the 1975 anthology, The New Atlantis and Other Novellas of Science-Fiction)

1.3: You’re Only Young Once
Lan Ma – Censorship and Resistance: Information Control in Japanese Dystopian Young Adult Fiction in the 21st Century
Alison Baker – Protocols for the education of young witches and wizards
Arunima Dey – The Grotesque in the Harry Potter Series

Potter box set

12:00 -13:00: Second Round of Panels

2.1: Beasts and Bestiaries
Rob O’Connor – “The History of All Hitherto-Existing Societies is the History of Monsters”: The Bestiary and the Depiction of Monsters as Social Commentary
Sandra Mänty – Representation and function of animals in the world of Harry Potter

Potter collection cover

2.2: The Greater Good
Maxine Gee – “If something stinks put a lid on it, don’t see it”: Self-censorship and the brave new world of Psycho Pass

Psycho Pass

  • Jonathan Ferguson – Crimes Against The Greater Good are Victimless Crimes?

2.3: Character Studies
Beata Gubacsi – Monstrous Transformations: Becoming posthuman through art in Vandermeer’s Ambergris novels

Ambergris 1

  • Matteo Barbagallo – Do we have a deal? Petyr Baelish, Varys, Rumpelstiltskin and their role as Doppelganger

13:00 -13:45: Lunch Break

13:45 -14:45: Keynote Lecture #2: Dr Patricia Wheeler

“She can’t love you, she’s just a machine”: Metal-fevered Boys and their Passion for New Eves

14:45 -16:15: Third Round of Panels

3.1: Revenge of the Film
Pablo Gómez Muñoz – Greening Apocalypse: Eco-Conscious Disaster in Twenty-First Century Science-Fiction Cinema
Josephine Swarbrick – Monstrous Men and Masculine Monsters: Gender and the Cyborg in Paul Verhoeven’s Robocop (1987) and José Padilha’s Robocop (2014)

Robocop

  • David Contreras – Gothic Surrealism in Mexican Cyberpunk Short Film: The Borderlands Strike Back

3.2: Theoretically Speaking
Jo Lindsay Walton – The Dystopian Glimpse
Artem Zubov – Science-fiction studies and genre theory
Pascal Lemaire – Fans of history first, fans of S-F more distantly ? Alternate History as a form of History’s fan fiction

3.3: Tell Me a Tale
Kanta Dihal – Science and Religion in Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials

Wrinkle coverPullman box set

  • Rina Jean Baroukh – “Your Light Has Come” : Fantasy and Reality in Shimon Adaf’s Sunburnt Faces

    Sunburnt faces cover

  • Laura-Marie von Czarnowsky – Re-Defining the Bildungsroman: Traumatic Journeys as a Trend in Contemporary Fantasy Fiction

16:15 -16:30: Refreshment Break [YES: English Tea Time!]

16:30 -18:00: Fourth Round of Panels

4.1: Perceptions of the Female Self
Sonya Dyer – aPOCalypso: Janelle Monae and (Science) Fictional Black Feminisms
Sarah Lohmann – “Solar Loyalties”: The Utopian Ethics of Posthumanism in Naomi Mitchison’s Memoirs of a Spacewoman

Spacewoman cover

  • Mylène Branco – The Construction of the Female Self in L.P. Hartley’s Facial Justice

    Facial cover

4.2: Alternate Beings
Tom Kewin – ‘A Society of Screens’: The State of Digital Surveillance and the Repercussions for the Humanist Subject
Mattia Petricola – From mesmeric trance to living avatars: Rethinking consciousness and death after Mr. Valdemar

Valdemar

4.3: Dystopian Time, Resurgent Space
Gabrielle Bunn – Future Ruins: The intersection of nature and culture in the post-apocalyptic landscape of J. G. Ballard’s The Drowned World (1962)

Drowned cover

  • Hollie Johnson – Anarchy, Nostalgia, and Resistance: The Role of Nature in We, Brave New World, Nineteen Eighty-Four

    We cover1984

  • Thomas Connolly – “There was a thing called Heaven”: The end of time in Huxley’s Brave New World

    Brave New World cover

18.00 -19.00: Post-Conference Wine Reception and Official Conference Group Photo

Download a PDF of the entire schedule here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4DNnD_AmJQmeWdEREJfemd1YWs/view

Want to present or attend next year? The “Call for Papers” usually occurs in early December for the following June’s annual conference. Check out past conferences/calls and get more information here and visit their
website: http://currentresearchinspeculativefiction.blogspot.com/
or contact their team (the team members’ list has not been recently updated, yet: CRSF.team@gmail.com and follow their Tweets: ‎@CRSFteam

Their website is not very “interesting,” IMHO, but the topics ARE. Here is a sampling of Q & A from their FAQs…

FAQ

What is CRSF?
CRSF is short for Current Research in Speculative Fiction, an annual conference organised by postgraduate students for postgraduate students. The conference was first held in 2010 at the University of Liverpool and has been held annually since, attracting an international selection of speakers from as far afield as Turkey and the USA. The conference aims to provide a welcoming and friendly atmosphere for researchers who are at the very beginnings of their fields to test ideas, network with others, and gain valuable conference experience.

What is Speculative Fiction?
Simply put, we consider speculative fiction to be the collective name for the non-mimetic genres of science-fiction, fantasy, horror, and their related sub-genres. Essentially, if it’s a bit weird, it’s probably eligible. If in doubt, feel free to run your idea by us. At this juncture, it’s probably also worth us pointing out that the conference doesn’t discriminate among media: papers on television, film, video games, music, fan culture, etc., are as welcome at CRSF as papers on literature.

I’m an undergraduate student/ university faculty member/ speculative fiction fan/ author, can I attend?
We welcome non-presenting delegates from all aspects of speculative fiction whether you be a non-academic fan or a professor at a university.

How much does CRSF cost to attend?
Since CRSF is funded entirely off the delegate fees we can never be 100% sure of our budget until we know how many papers we will be accepting for the conference. As such, confirmed fees are not available until after abstracts have been processed and invitations to present accepted. However, as a guide, past conferences have charged £30 (about $44 USA) for the day with an early bird discount available for those who register early. This fee includes lunch and refreshments.

My recommendations are on “SF SIGNAL” “MIND MELD” “This Is What We Want To Read In 2016”!

My recommendations are on “SF SIGNAL” “MIND MELD” “This Is What We Want To Read In 2016”!

Andrea Johnson was kind enough to invite and include me in this amazing roster of #speculative #fiction authors’ recommendations for upcoming spec fiction books we are looking forward to reading this year.

Mine are near the middle of the list, this time.

Visit, comment, subscribe!

http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2016/01/target-113mind-meld-want-read-2016/

What about other 2016 new releases in Speculative Fiction? There are so many lists/books!

Goodreads has a list:
https://www.goodreads.com/genres/new_releases/science-fiction

Here, via Barnes & Noble, some editors/publishers/bookstore owners are tooting their own horns, so to speak (hawking their own company’s books)? First:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/sci-fi-fantasy/2016-books-sff-editors-want-you-to-read/

then, with lots of overlap, this one:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/sci-fi-fantasy/42-sff-books-we-cant-wait-to-read-in-2016-in-2-sentences-or-less/

If you’re focused on #Fantasy and want to know when most upcoming releases (from predominantly/exclusively MALE authors, which I’m sure is some kind of weird accident… sure, it is) that are already scheduled are due to be available, use this new-releases calendar (most do not have covers, yet):
http://www.bestfantasybookshq.com/best-fantasy-books-2016/

A much better and more inclusive list, here, from Locus Online:
http://www.locusmag.com/Resources/ForthcomingBooks.html

from B*TCH MEDIA, “#Feminism and #Science-Fiction” #Podcasts

from B*TCH MEDIA, “#Feminism and #Science-Fiction” #Podcasts

If you are a feminist, interested in feminism, a science-fiction writer or reader, or all four, you MUST listen to these 4 podcasts from Popaganda of B*TCH MEDIA.

You can listen to them all in a row (first window) or listen to each one separately. Here are the titles of the four podcasts in this Episode of Popaganda:

fem_sci_2

“The beautiful ‘feminism and sci-fi’ illustration is from Voyage by Molly Mendoza. Voyage is a visual essay on the Voyager Interstellar Mission and is embedded with the themes of wonder, distance, and exploring places far away from home.”

  • DEEP THOUGHTS ON ELLEN RIPLEY: Ellen Ripley and Gender in “Alien”
  • INTERVIEW WITH WALIDAH IMARISHA: Peace, Justice, and Octavia Butler
  • INTERVIEW WITH ADRIENNE MAREE BROWN: What Can Social Justice Activists Learn from Science Fiction?
  • AN ESSAY ON FAMILY, SCIENCE, AND POP CULTURE: The Laws of Familial Thermodynamics

If you don’t subscribe, yet, to BiTCH MEDIA, an unavoidable pop-up comes with this link, below, asking for you to subscribe. Sorry. I don’t know how to disable it, but honestly, you SHOULD subscribe and, if you can afford it, donate. BiTCH MEDIA is a great source of info, critique and news.

LINK TO ALL PODCASTS:
http://bitchmagazine.org/post/popaganda-episode-feminism-and-science-fiction

from B*TCH MEDIA, “#Feminism and #Science-Fiction” #Podcasts

from B*TCH MEDIA, “#Feminism and #Science-Fiction” #Podcasts

If you are a feminist, interested in feminism, a science-fiction writer or reader, or all four, you MUST listen to these 4 podcasts from Popaganda of B*TCH MEDIA.

You can listen to them all in a row (first window) or listen to each one separately. Here are the titles of the four podcasts in this Episode of Popaganda:

fem_sci_2

“The beautiful ‘feminism and sci-fi’ illustration is from Voyage by Molly Mendoza. Voyage is a visual essay on the Voyager Interstellar Mission and is embedded with the themes of wonder, distance, and exploring places far away from home.”

  • DEEP THOUGHTS ON ELLEN RIPLEY: Ellen Ripley and Gender in “Alien”
  • INTERVIEW WITH WALIDAH IMARISHA: Peace, Justice, and Octavia Butler
  • INTERVIEW WITH ADRIENNE MAREE BROWN: What Can Social Justice Activists Learn from Science Fiction?
  • AN ESSAY ON FAMILY, SCIENCE, AND POP CULTURE: The Laws of Familial Thermodynamics

If you don’t subscribe, yet, to BiTCH MEDIA, an unavoidable pop-up comes with this link, below, asking for you to subscribe. Sorry. I don’t know how to disable it, but honestly, you SHOULD subscribe and, if you can afford it, donate. BiTCH MEDIA is a great source of info, critique and news.

LINK TO ALL PODCASTS:
http://bitchmagazine.org/post/popaganda-episode-feminism-and-science-fiction

Latest #Author #Interview with Sally Ember, Ed.D., on Connie Dunn’s page, goes live TODAY!

Thanks for a fun and great #interview, Connie, conducted/recorded on September 4, 2014, despite numerous technical difficulties!

My interview goes live TODAY, September 29, 2014. We talked about #writing, #science-fiction, The Spanners Series and its #aliens, the Series’ #cover art and Aidana Willowraven as the cover artist,

logoAuthorsDen

my #utopian views, writing in the present tense to emphasize the #multiverse/#paranormal/#psi elements, #science/#research, book #reviews, “crowd creating” and other #collaborations, ghost writing, #series writing, writing across #genres and for multiple audiences/age groups, inspiration/creativity, my writing history (from age 9 on), #editing, #indie publishing and much more.

http://publishwithconnie.com/mondaymorning is the link to Connie’s website. Please visit, look at her books and what she offers to authors!

From there, you can go listen to my interview: http://publishwithconnie.com/teleseminar-dashboard/sally-ember/