Problem-Solution Paper Idea

by Dr Davis on August 23, 2014

Have students map out the different paths for Choose Your Own Adventure Books… What if we did this for when they are working on a problem solution paper? Then make them figure out what the consequences would be.

It’s a potentially masterful brainstorming tool, at least.


If Teaching Oedipus…

by Dr Davis on August 22, 2014

If you are teaching Oedipus Rex, here are modern day articles you might want to use to introduce the topic:
2014– Woman discovers she is married to her brother.
2008–Twins married.


Content and Form: Writing SFF in non-Western Modes

by Dr Davis on August 18, 2014

LONCON3_logoAmal El-Mohtar M—edit Goblin Fruit, journal of poetry
Aliette de Bodard—France, mother from Vietnam, destroy sff on regular basis
Rochita Loenen-Ruiz—writer from Philippines, breaking status code
JY Yang– editor of short fiction, write short forms
Nick Wood—Zambia born, South African naturalized

First question, what do you think of as distinctly Western forms and structures?

JF Yang—wondering what forms talking about
In terms of storytelling, idea of 3-4 act structure, must have a protagonist.

Nick—emphasis tends to be on individual
individualistically based mode
character development, not community or variety of stories and characters

Amal—Pacific Rim He wanted the Yaegers. Important to see them operated by teams. Every part of film is about directing team.

Wesley Grimm has a double beginning.

Questions: 3 act structure and indiv thrust—do these have something to do with each other?

JF Yang—would not say 3 act structure and individualistic style of storytelling … Can have a 3-act structure, without focusing on single character. Wonder if stories that get told in Western culture are all individualistic? Historical/cultural bias.

Nick—with compression of time in history, Western tradition focus on nuclear identity and lone identity…

Questions: In your own riding have you ever come up against Western forms as obstacle? Has it informed markets?

Rochita—sff way established, white male narrative
how to undermine the trope? change the center of the storytelling
Have somewhere else be the center.

??Will just changing the locale change the story fundamentally?
Rochita—Think in some way, yes. Change content. Mindset of story. Writing of separate language.
Need to change way look at story.

Aliette—talking about difficulties of placing writing
how to get across a lot of world building in as few worlds as possible
otherwise it is very medieval tropes, Westernized genre
dealing with Vietnamese culture, more important to be scholar than knight
knights had horrible reputation. They were the flunk outs of scholarship.
Have to describe, otherwise readers’ culture will assume primary place.

Amal—mother sacrificing herself might be described by white feminism may be read very differently, not understanding what is at stake

Nick–African lit is more community focused.
Grew up with fairy tales about communities. When moved to South Africa, that went away. Stories from South Africa had no black stories. Stories have started to flow through since apartheid.

Hillborough—surviving in former white suburb of Johannesburg
Kgebtly Moele –The Book of the Dead—first narrator is suffering from AIDS, second narrator is an AIDS virus

examples from own writing or elsewhere, felt you needed to change structure of story. Are you ever explicitly challenging Western norms? Moments where after the fact, you realize something else was challenging to the readers?

tribal literature, grew up in mountains, storytelling told through trance, single person and a chorus—who respond/develop…
more you go back into indigenous writing/work, you come to work that is different
Working now on experimental work that draws narrative (narrative from native language), very different from how I write in English. Someone said I distance in the English-language story.
in indigenous language my work is closer.

Questions: Speaking/reading in more than one language. What you read will reflect what you write?

JF Yang—national library has Read Singapore every year. Translate it into Mandarin Chinese. Took “xx Menagerie”… I was reading the translated version. Written in simple language. But in Chinese, very dense, poetic. In Chinese, simple translation, it read like someone’s grade school composition.

Sometimes there are some things that translate well, but often not.

English style is not the same as Chinese.

Aliette—had same experience. Translated my work from English into French. Odd. For translating Vietnamese poetry, most untranslatable thing, tones in Vietnamese writing impossible to show. Language has set nuance.

Amal—in Arabic there is a pronoun for 2 people, one for 2 women and one for 2 men. Plural = 3+

You are native French speaker, but you only write in English. Do you write in French?
Aliette—Whenever I try to write in French, I hear my HS teachers reprimanding.
Would have to re-learn to write.
Very weird thing about my novel translated into French. Been speaking too much in English. I don’t have the snap instinct anymore. Translating is a different job. So very bravely did not do my own translation.

Nick—Very rusty Afrikaans, a little of 2 other languages.

??Have you ever read stories in a different story?
struggling with Afrikaans.looking for an English link. Sometimes the Afrikaans word is unique. A overlap and nuances that are hard to pin down.

Another question:
Do you think possible for Westerners to write non-Western SFF well?

Friend … editors said “couldn’t connect to the story” She finds that shocking.

Rochita—Western writer would need to decolonize. Those who come from history of empire need to throw off colonial mindset.
Problem with pushback against stories that are completely different, have someone who is subtle-y Western. Non-Western readers would say that they could identify with it.

Necessity as well for everyone to decolonize.

Don’t see non-Western modes as shiny, new.

Amal—less appropriative, more ordering of mind

Aliette—very similar, not sure what I could add
You have to … What I have seen I authors who think they have read their research… But they will still perpetuate the clichéd Asian…
That is annoying.

Of course the writers feel like they have done your job.

Have to see from within the culture, because otherwise won’t recognize what should be different.

Just slipping cultural tags in, you aren’t structuring non-Western…
Western paradigm is dominant.
People who exist within that paradigm are rarely challenged. If you look at it as a paradigm,

Amal–Think of people as aggregations of stories. WE are talking about changing our own internal structures.

Nick—leave them to the imagination. Bring up fact that I was part of empire. When writing, used white characters for fear of stereotyping, etc.
Looking at it seriously. This is a partake mentality… Black characters need to be in the study too.
Have readers who help me with the cultural aspect.

Amal—give me examples of moments where you felt yourself needing to challenge in your won work

Rochita—shift when I decided to present myself as Philippine sf author
what is truly my own?
Looing for own voice outside the Western story-telling
Constantly trying to push and find
How far can you push the genre?
Seen sf as genre of possibilities.
Constantly trying to find border.
Stories think succeeded most are ones which did not get published.

JF Yang—Singapore, colonialism left 50 years ago
grew up thinking I couldn’t write about Singapore because not cool enough
partially language comes into this, English different
took me quite a while, in my 20s, late 20s, I run into issues of language. Writing in proper English. Then when I write dialogue that is Singaporian…
Doesn’t exactly fit with the prose.
Ongoing problem for me.
Want to try at some point—stabbed at it—trying to write stories in Singlish. But I don’t know if there is one with non- standard narrative structure and in Singlish.

Aliette—space fairy internet culture
can’t igure out how to edit
one character chased by soldier court, space station will be cut off by Emperor—This is not working.
My brain realized that I was working with Western story endings. I want my two main characters to discuss and decide to go with flow.
Took me about a year to get that ending written.

Nick—parts and monkeys story
hard to pin together
corrective rape in South Africa
issue was around trying to think of story that manages theme and plot arc

read stories from Zambian stories, “Heart of a Monkey” is a cross-African variation… Monkey been tricked to lose his heart. “I actually let my heart at home. Left it in the trees.” Tricks them into taking him home.
Had narrator narrate as a frame story
Would like to develop the same structure
resonance of old stories in a postapocalyptic future

oral traditions and how they interact…
Storytelling oral = community
reader to page is individual
Mode of communication changes the content of the stories.
Does this effect your writing?

Rochita—been thinking about htat
one thing interesting is how to combine Western and Eastern sound
Eastern are also bound to certain story telling traditions
told a Philippino tale. Tried to replicate experience of chorus telling story…
Already so much of a mindset, makes harder for folks to read. Reviewers said “oral tradition” and hard to connect in my stories.
Mine things connected to self and heritage.

You inhabit your story as a writer.
When can make use of tradition, you are putting your own skin into the story.

tradition of praise singing, call and response, oral tradition

Audience Questions

2 questions: JF Yang—how Singlish different? Mostly English. Has elements from Chinese, Malay, dialect of Chinese that was spoken by immigrants. Grammar different.
“Could you not do that?” = “Not any hard to that?”
phrases and words not being used when I was a kid are being use now
not proper English, but is what we speak regularly

For entire panel, modes that dispense with suspence?

Amal–Comics. Are about experiencing.
This One Summer.
Nothing suspenseful there.
Friendship between two girls who meet and grow up going to lake every summer and knowing each other only there.
One narrative. No hooking and suspending you.

Nick—man’s relationship with whale and with woman and the conflict between the woman and the whale
no suspense

JF Yang—entire sort of manga “slice of life”
just looking at. No main conflict.
Some people do have difficulty understanding this story. Different way of telling story.

Got story published. 2 halves of story. First was first person POV. She is connected to a building and has to work for state talking for the building.
Talked about her day. When she went home.
–didn’t understand second half of the story, but second half is a response to first half
Her life is different from how she is being used.

Amal—short story must do something
stories are like a sculpture
still stories
not about moving parts, but having eye following structure of story
nothing happened in your story

Rochita—not everyone able to accept
“Where’s the conflict?”

Amal—notion of crucial conflict is also Western.

To what extent do you consider audience? Like to read, but get disconnected.

JF Yang—Do write specifically for 2 separate markets. I write for Singapore public presses. Also write stories for Western markets. Both written in English.
For local, dive straight into the story. Layer in cultural references.
For Western, treat Singapore as if it were an alien planet. You have to weave the details into an explanation.

Aliette—when I turned in draft, all critiques were lost
1.5x volume to explain cultural references
Let’s think of this as if alien culture.
–example of family relationships. Address with Vietnamese pronouns. Lots of people thought they were related. (big sister = older friend)

Rochita—must be a terribly lazy writer
Never bother to explain anything.
Maybe I am just rebellious. I am writing the story. I didn’t have to understand the story reading Western culture stories.
I am writing this story. My background is mountain Philippino. That’s how I write story. Accept it or not.

novella written with Nigerian
editor said to make sure names are recognizable to Western audience
southeast mountains are commonly name as Dragon’s Mountains in Afrikaans—but original term not recognizable. So used translation of Zulu “barrier of spears”

story must do something, like an automaton—Western (story with moving parts)
Describing difference in Western mind between prose and poetry.
Distinction is true.

Amal–Do any of you write poetry? do the same questions and structure apply within poetry?
“Better World Building through Poetry” panel yesterday
density of attention—switch that takes place

Aliette—wrote a short story about a scholar who is reluctantly at head of revolution
writes poetry about important points of her life
interspersed into 3rd person narrative
The poems had to be culturally relevant to her and had to sound like poetry in English. Had to get very creative.
Interestingly when translated into Chinese, they asked for the “actual Chinese poems” that were the inspiration.

Nick—struggle with poetry

JF Yang—don’t write poetry
terrified of literature
told not good enough to write literature
poetry is literary
Reading your (Amal’s) poetry makes me want to right.

Rochita—my first successful story came from an experimental form of poetry
love poetry
not always successful at writing it


Intersubjectivities in The Flood

by Dr Davis on August 17, 2014

LONCON3_logoAdam Welstead

intersubjectivities Maggie Gee’s The Flood

early 20C dystopian
literary legacy of utopian and dangerous European experience from utopia
1910 Wells

critiques of utopian stories
James “effect of anonymity …fundamental”

dystopian imagination
JG Bard—engulf self in crowds
Sarah Hall—brutally administered Britain, Sister revolutionary
Sam Taylor—cages of modern world, expat youths, contemporary Lord of the Flies
Thompson 2005—pop split by quarters, homogenization of space homogenizes people

Maggie Gee’s The Flood 2004
radically different notions of being together
“portrays prevailing conditions through near-future dystopia”
waterlogged Britain, unequal living conditions, frivolity of the rich, hopes for change lost
after the flood, people live utopian lives in the gardens

Sarah Dillon in critique “foregrounds ways in which … rejuvenating science fiction”

Living in the End Times, “global capitalist… approaching an apocalyptic zero-point.”
use the stages of grief to examine apocalyptic narratives

social divisions, equalities,
stage of denial in pending apocalypse
characters are living in the End Times, characters don’t recognize/accept the experience is happening at the time

“collective fetishistic disavowal”
just something new

easier for us to imagine world’s destruction than end of capitalism

News of ‘flood sickness’

ceremony marks 25-year anniversary of pleasure zone
destruction of pleasure zones
ominous foreshadowing, but politicians at a gala
lingering sense of hope resounds through the Flood
city “gorged on dreams”
spectators are linked only by disconnection

The Flood’s dystopian Britain
“dress up and see and be seen”

disaffection of those who do not appear
margins remain and yet are absent
only those who define the city are those who are heard
“Who is this ‘our people’ that they’re going on about?”
social discontent
closed spaces of society, social and religious activists
bored people are actually looking for

following the flood, post-apocalyptic space
“Unusually thoughtful”
garden as heterotopia, Michel Foucault
effectively enacted

Kew Gardens are sites of utopia. Something new, something other.
“Something outside the city, a blueness, a greenness”


modest reinvention of utopia/dystopia

two worlds of the future—change and continuance… continuance is dystopia, change is utopia

Gee’s illustrations of marginalized people
social objection and its disastrous ramifications
alternative modes of existence


Agent Hunting

by Dr Davis on August 17, 2014

LONCON3_logoPeter Newman—podcaster, debut author, taking notes at this time last year doing this—Got it all this year! Juliette XXX

Francis Knight—published with Orbit. 3 books pub. another book next year. Couple of years ago I was close to giving up. Alex Fielder.

Martin Owton—been agented for 7 years. Don’t have a deal.

Wesley Chu—Angry Robot and Tor. Debuted in May. Signed 3rd deal this year. Russell Gaylin.

Advice—marry Emma.
Started writing years back. Joined a writing group. Practicing. Then writing furiously every day and writing lots of stuff that folks won’t ever see.
When you finish your book, you want to get it out there. I didn’t get it out there. Was told to wait a while. Come back to the book and look at it.
Maybe your first book isn’t the one you want to send to an agent. I sent my fourth book out.
Hard to get an agent. Get gazillion submissions.
The fact that you are here is you’re in the top 25%. Your odds are a lot better.
Quite impatient. Submitted to publishers and agents at the same time. If I got a publisher, I would get an agent. … [Everyone else is saying cons.] It worked. I got an offer from a publisher. At same time had agents who were interested. I picked the agent that I wanted and
Literary Rejections online site. List all the agents that are currently accepting and the kinds of things they are interested in.
Always follow the guidelines.
Follow the instructions. It’s a test. Can you follow instructions? Are you going to be easy to work with?
Some agents stand out for some reasons.
Proactive looking at the agents’ websites, etc.
#askagent on Twitter
ask all the dumb questions

Godward_The_Old_Old_Story_1903 love romance WC pdFrancis—published romance author
Don’t need an agent in romance. Just submit. Did that. Sold five. Didn’t want to be writing romance.
Looked for agents. Sent out three queries. “fantasy noir” agent is who I was hoping for. Two weeks later got an agent. Eight weeks later I had an offer from Orbit.
That was the second or third book I started but the seventh I finished.
You can learn a lot from a smaller press—as long as it is reputable.

Angrila Books had a ? in March
Got 945 submissions. Asked for query and 3 chapters.
Asked for 65 fulls.
25 made it to editorials.
5 received deals.

Between 25 editorial I queried 6 agents. My agent interviewed me. Got an agent.
Two months later, got the deal.
Russ is one of top 2 agents in world—career that I want to follow. John Scalzi’s agent is Ethan Ellenberg.
Russ represents Phillip K. Dick, JK Rowling, etc…

In the last year, I like to hear about agents “they’d be good for me.”
Not just any agent will do.

I caused gasps of horror among writers because I have never met my agent and only talked over the phone.

Agents wear different hats and do different things.
Hand holders, they will encourage you at every single step. A lot of debuts need.
Lawyers, all about the wording of the contract.
Sharks and businessmen, those who only chase the deal.
Editorial, edit the crap out of you.
Keep that in mind. Writers are insecure people. You might not get the emotional support you want from your agent. Find the personality of the agent that works for you.

my agent was so enthusiastic. He really liked the book.
He is good at showing enthusiastic.

Do not fixate on a particular agent.
They might not be the person you can work with.
Took me 7 years to find an agent. Sent out 100 queries. Got 6 whole book reads.

lots of reasons to be rejected from publishers.

Serusier's 1892 The Grammar woman writing book pub domPeter:
Don’t send to multiple agents in an agency—unless they allow it.
Will be specified in the guidelines.

How are you going to find that out?

UK agents:
Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook—general and not always up to date
You can usually call a UK agency. You might get straight to the agent.

Standard submission:
first 3 chapters
1,000 word synopsis

Every US agent has website. Check guidelines. Some will want only query letter.
5-10 pages, 50 pages, 3 chapters

Albert Anker 1865 children writing pub domMartin:
Don’t send the prologue.

Don’t write a prologue.

short cover letter

Send queries out and follow query tracker and difference is 3 days and weeks.
Agents will farm out their reading. If you accept it, give me a summary.

[Got rejection from Wesley Chu’s agent in 15 minutes.]

often not what they are doing 9-5
Nearly everybody knows everybody.
Even if you get a rejection, don’t reply. Don’t write about it. Don’t Tweet it. No matter how they hurt you, don’t…
Posted all her rejections and was snarky.

People at WorkWesley:
Think it depends on a reply.
Don’t be an a**hole.
All authors know each other. We all talk.
If they send a rejection, you don’t need to reply.
If it is a personal letter, you should send a thank you. –Can I submit something else to you? (If they wrote “liked this, lost me here.”)
Depends on specific reply.
There are some where it seems like they were on the fence… I have requested a rejected rewrite/reread, I got one.

If you got something specific, they’ve read it. That’s not their standard. Boilerplate is their standard.
Personalized rejections say something about your book, about your individual characters…
When they say, “do please think of me with your next submission,” they mean it.

Agents with mature lists don’t have that many places for new writers.
Maybe 3 a year.

One of your best options is if you spot a new agent. Editor who left publisher and went with an agency. Or newly finished intern whose an agent.

Keep an eye on the BookSeller. “So and so has joined this agency.”

Look on QueryTracker.

Coppo_di_Marcovaldo,_Inferno canto 34 c1301 mosaic Hell devil WC pdQueryLetterHell is brutal. But helpful.

who is central character?
what do they want? what are the obstacles?

what is different about your work?
focus on action of character

QueryShark blog
Read the whole of that. Read the whole archive.
She rips them apart.

Writing a query is a dark art, completely different from writing a novel.

specific art
once in industry, never have to write again

If vague, send a query letter and first 5 pages.

Worth paying attention.
They want an email that’s a quick hello and response.

15% didn’t follow guidelines, so automatic rejection

9Worlds 2014 wonder woman crew-6198Wesley:
literally reading directions, but there are other things that I found invaluable.
WorldCon is one of them.
Take advantage of conventions.
WorldCon (WorldFantasy) has high

directions, my ability to read and pay attention was very different.
Have a responsible adult check before each step.

With manuscript, wait.
Get some other people to read it and get response.

You mess it up once.
New editor from Tor KoffeeKlatch.
Miriam Wineberg. Reps Victoria Schwab who wrote Vicious.

People at WorkWesley:
Get elevator pitch ready.
Ginjer Buchanan, editorial director of Ace.
She asked me what my book was about.
Rambled for 2 minutes.
You need solid in 45 seconds.
At the end, she said, “It’s got a nice title.”

Dealer’s Room
Editors and agents are standing behind their books.
Marcus and Gillian Langus

Koffeeklatch’s are critical.
There you can talk to them about what you are doing.
Book it and do it.
Book in with writers. How did you do it?

Caution strongly about approaching editors and agents with intent to pitch.
They are here to work but also hang out.
Last thing they want is to be swarmed. Don’t pitch unless asked. Introduce yourself. Be friendly on a non-professional letter. At end of conversation, ask if you can give them a card, can I query you?
Good possibility he will then ask you. “What’s your book about?” then answer it fast.
But be wary about asking.

Err on the side of caution.
You know these guys are inundated.
It is an art when you do this in person. It is about getting to know them.

Pretty good at seeing the desperation.

questioning??Synopsis for a series:
“This book has series potential.”
Agent will ask… What else are you working on? What else have you got?

While you are submitting, keep writing. Write on something else.

Don’t write the sequel to your book.

How much query letter differ from 30-second pitch?

after a demonic apocalypse, man with humanity’s last hope, taking it where it needs to go, with a baby and a goat

boy surrounded by question marksQuestion:
Write across genres?

Publishing is inherently conservative. Guidelines you want to follow.
Don’t make first book too long.
Identify a genre to be in.
Expect to have to write another book in that genre.

If publisher rejects you, agent will say I can’t take this back there.
It’s a risk.
Flip side, if you got a deal, you’ll get a choice of agents.

But when you have a deal in hand, you might receive offers from agents to negotiate that contract only. BE CAREFUL OF THAT.

With a deal in hand, the agents didn’t want to sign me.

boy surrounded by question marksQuestion:
What is process for agent?

contract—sff only specified

How quickly do they communicate back?—You want to know they’ll answer soon.

There are bad agents.

No agent is better than a bad agent. But was with a reputable agency initially.
Check the agent online.

If they want to charge you for reading your book or sell you editing services, those are scams.

student_question hand raisedQuestion:
Talking to agent.
Query + 5 pages, then full mss
What might I do to mess it up?

As long as you are polite, should be fine.

if trading emails, they are trying to figure out how malleable you are, …
I didn’t make big enough changes at his request, so I was rejected.
Angry Robots wanted 3 small things. I rewrote 60% of the book in a month. Make big changes in response.
If it’s really a small change, they will sign you.
If they want to see the change first, then it is significant. Need to see how it impacts whole work.

If sell in my language, is that a plus?

No. You might have great career in native country. May or may not write well in English.

Do I approach in a different way as a non-native speaker?


green and orange booksQuestion:
Does it still help to have a portfolio of short stuff published?

Not really.

Agents are readers first and foremost.
A short story success does help you acquire an agent.
I know several authors who did really well in short story market and agent approached them to see novels.

If you love writing short stories and novels, then go that route.
If you don’t love them, then don’t write short stories.

Your novel will sell your novel.


Bible and SFF

by Dr Davis on August 16, 2014

LONCON3_logoEmma England Moderator

Matthew A Collins—senior lecturer in Bible and Judaism at U of Checeister—look at Dead Sea Scrolls, way in which Bible is used in culture, biblical literacy
Chris Meredith—lecturer in Bible and critical theory—U of Winchester—literary genres tied to biblical readings, how biblical texts impact culture—one of particular areas (in addition to sexuality, identity, body) biblical worlds (space and spatial realities), long time sff fan, ways in which sf stages world similarly to Bible
Hugh Pyper—prof of biblical interpretation –Bible as cultural artifact, interesting things as sff fan and intersections between them
Frauke Uhlenbruch—editor in theology and religion dept, working on Bible and understanding—PhD Bible as dystopian and utopian, Bible as alien artifact that we can read and understand

Frauke—recently wrote at biblical episode about spies to explore Promised Land, how can be read as a Star Trek episode—not a perfect parallel
10 who said “can’t enter” = red shirts
fear of being eaten and assimilated by strangers (borg)

Matt—biblical literacy book, 100 years ago people knew the Bible inside out, lots of arguments, book which is coming out (lots of contributions, including Chris)
addressing and questioning to what extent biblical literacy is in decline
how does it get used in transmedia—appropriated—what was this called in the last panel?
looked at Lost, lots of biblical imagery, allusions, appearing throughout—episode names, stuff that isn’t pointed out to you
developed lots of following, folks analyzing minutiae in the shows
lots of people were picking up the implicit allusions because of the explicit allusions, they were reading it into it (even if folks didn’t mean it when they created it)
encouraging biblical literacy

Miniatore_di_S_Alessio_in_Bigiano_-_Leaf_from_Bentivoglio_Bible_-_Walters_1270 WC CCHugh—sff often viewed as the poorer brother
like literature to STEM
trying to use one as the leaven for the other
theme I am looking at right now, tardis as temple –all ideologies need a space, looking at how temple spaces collapse a particular kind of world into a small amenable world—trying to interrogate how the tardis is functioning in the resurgence of Doctor Who AND how tardis is used throughout the franchise
other thing enjoyed doing—feet of clay and the golem figure, body animated, corpse/corpus, sacred abroad… how you engage with that in a developing thought system
how fertile and febrile some of these things can be seen
see Bible as where our cultural discourse is happening

Chris—Will Selfe’s Book of Dave, misreading of a taxi driver’s journal buried in his back yard…
thinking about the ways the Bible has been used, misused, re-used
written on that
want to expand that—whole concept of revelation, what on earth can that mean in a contemporary or futuristic world
many sff writers have dealt with, looking at Ian M Banks and Accession
—-various races of cultural world, bring judgment onto themselves by responding to this enigmatic thing that comes into the world
What is this thing that comes into your world? Bible is everywhere. What is it doing? I never quite get an answer yet. Banks is an interesting writer to use for this. Along Dawkins side.
literary unsung –Stanis xxx Lem, great figure, His Master’s Voice (HMV) gamma rays—message or not? discover ways of interpreting it that can bring a sort of life
Lem, in the course of that novel, is really thinking through what revelation might be and what it could be and how it could be detected and confirmed

lack of awareness about what biblical scholars do
introduced how sff and Bible, so how would apply sff to biblical texts?

Miniatore_di_S_Alessio_in_Bigiano_-_Leaf_from_Bentivoglio_Bible_-_Walters_W151232V_-1270 WC CCjpgFrauke—used Lem a lot to look at biblical scholars, he likes to invent these disciplines. Solaris. Solaristics, what solarists do and how many libraries they bring—a little like we are doing solaristics, not getting to core
looking at Ezekiel, sff folk think alien intelligence
“have a new heart and a new soul”
reading commentaries on Ezekiel
then reading a lot of material about transhumanism
looking at Ezekiel to apply to biblical scholarship
but looking at transhumanism to see what it does

Matt—Bible can be viewed as being the sff 2000 years ago
same sort of things occurring in Bible
people rising from dead, regeneration (not zombies, despite what he said)
bizarre beings
performing the same role, perhaps, as sff

Hugh—do you think they peform same role?
genesis, creation
golem figures made from dust, heterotopia
then you have Odin, father of masturbators (Charles Kellogg wrote whole treatise on Odin whilst on honeymoon)
Sodom as fantastical novel, homosexual world and wipe it off planet, and have a reset
Do you think that sf now does that same job of legitimization?

Matt—I don’t know.
same sorts of things, ideas, that the fantastical in sff “we get” from sff, we find in sff
I would say we find them in sff BECAUSE they are in the Bible.
think the monsters are there

Chris—fascinating things for me is what books say about books
look at OT, nobody in Bible ever reads the Bible
find where they read anything
they don’t read and they don’t write, don’t spend a lot of time
Bible has odd attitude to circumstances of its production.
Just b/c reading Banks Hydrogen Sonata—this particular culture has this book, as science advances the book appears more and more accurate—talks about new argument about theism—old medieval notion about Bible and the book of Nature, what we are learning now is to read the book of nature well, at the expense of reading the Bible
some things going on in whole genre, alternative book/world to read
always a world that is being written to be read

Bible of Wencelaus Noah ark WC pdQuestion:
examples of places where people read texts

Chris—got to the end of your fingers, there aren’t that many considering that the people in the Bible knew how to write and were concerned about writing
Not saying it never occurs. Just saying you have to look for it.
but you get genre where people are arguing about reading books in the book

Jewish, OT is counterculture text, specifically against beliefs in area—now it is the constant of main culture and sff is sort of counterculture—can you connect those two things?

Bible of Wencelaus entire page WC pd 1389Frauke: looking at Abraham to sacrifice his son, lot of negotiation in this text
us against them
we don’t do it that way
They are not our friends.
but you get cracks—near sacrifice of Isaac, crack it open, quite rebellious
idea of Abraham being obedient… seems outrageous (but was very common in the culture)
read Testament graphic novel and text Open Source Democracy
flip the story around, becomes a story about rebellion and written from perspective of Isaac
biblical scholarship becomes open source Bible

obedience, recently did paper on new Noah film—made OT more savage
director uses fantasy tropes to negotiate and support story, and obedience again
Spoilers—there is a lot of rain. Everyone dies.
Noah firmly believes that the human race is supposed to be wiped out. His job to save animals, but not people.
When he finds out his DIL is pregnant decides he should kill his DIL or the babies.
use of fantastical—rock giants, kind of there (Genesis 6—the watchers and the Nephilim, at the time there were giants on the earth)
takes flood story from Book of Enoch and Book of Jubilee—fallen angels sleep with human women and giants are born
in the movie, the rock giants are the fallen angels
Noah does seem to think that God is telling him to kill these children. Quite problematic how it is dealt with.
Resolution of this is that Noah decides he can’t murder them. Thinks that in doing so he has disobeyed God, which is what leads him to getting drunk after the flood.
His family is upset that he was wandering around the ark with a knife planning to murder them.

Bible of Winchester 12thC initial D and bear WC pdHugh:
biblical excrementia –how Bible gets turned into shit in popular culture
issue of reading
What I think Aaronski is doing, is retelling biblical text but to have tension has to have Noah as a fundamental—solid communicative message that has to be answered.
Calls contemporary use of the text into question—what the notion
building in a kind of internal biblical impetus

Jesus is not reading the Bible.
eunuch is not reading the Bible
text is reading itself being misread

God is entirely absent in the film.
all characters are asking God for a sign and they aren’t getting it
We don’t have direct text from the film of God.
Wakes up and feels he needs to kill the children.
Whole theme of obedience and God in the film is … undermined.

asp turtle? bestiary bible imageQuestion:
comparison to natural stories of Bible and sff?
what difference does it make if you are making theoretical speculation?

preternatural—what is not yet explained by science
like to look at sff where you encounter situations that you don’t understand
sff and Bible have in common—difficult to imagine the unimaginable
zone where laws of physics are bent, but you don’t know why
Bible is imagining the deity, but we don’t know why
how do we as a society write the unthinkable?

thinks of story little girl to the airport and airplane takes off, how does the plane fly? the little girl says pilot, going fast, finally—magic
what differentiates us in life is at what point you say magic

one of things in biblical text, Noah text, the Watchers all that fantastical material is there in other fantastical ancient
there in Enoch, etc
Genesis 1 doesn’t contain these other conscious beings… small light, big light—not naming because the names have been used as gods, so they aren’t gods; they are made things
not magic all the way down

God-Architect frontispiece of Bible Moralisee mid-13th C France WC pdBook of Genesis way of saying not magic all the way down
to locate it all in one divine act
that’s just another stage “it’s magic—God did it”
but it is a different stage from other ancient cultures
in that very text that becomes the scientific Western culture, already a push to move away from animism or little gods fighting—gone beyond that, at least

different fundamental laws in different texts
Song of Songs, immaterial or unnamed magic—AiW
no real impetus behind the magic, is it a dream?

interpretation of who is God? talked about Noah in movie not having voice of God? Want to cite Star Trek: TNG omnipotent Q implies to Jean Luc Picard that he is God, Picard shouts “You are not god!” None of Bible heroic figures do that…

tricky one… where I would go to think about it is to Q-like prophets. King in Jerusalem and Jeremiah or Elijah.
Elijah as a Q figure.
Elijah and Elisha are wonderfully subversive.

Manuscript_European_Bible_Ottheinrich_15th_Century p488 ebay bc of age pdFrauke:
Q Who episode… puts them in the Delta Quadrant… to demonstrate they are not as strong as the borg
can be found biblical parallels
maybe the flood–would add the Israelites in the desert

whole plot line of the gospels, someone claiming to be god, that claim being disputed and still is
That story isn’t closed. (as Heather Urbanski used it)
people do go back to that kind of moment and ask how we could know. What would make it true for us? culturally mediated
God as God.
Job does that. Job is in an argument with that.
Can’t get the direct communication.
One of the hearts of the contemporary discontent = if you are there, why not make it more obvious?
Bertrand Russell, if show up in Heaven and there is a god, what would you ask. “Why did you make the evidence of your existence so limited?”

ST:TNG might be that ST franchise doesn’t want God in the worldbuilding.

1611 KJV 1st ed She geneologies ebayQuestion:
ST: Deep Space 9
Bajorans think of them as gods.
Cisco sees them as aliens.
Cisco eventually starts to get the spiritual element to it later.

Stargate: SG1 or original film, all these aliens who are the origins of all the mythological gods
rationalization of some of this stuff
religion and belief, divine figures, just people with abilities we don’t have
to attempt to answer your question—Once you have the explanation, do you ever still accept the spiritual?
21C we know the explanations—like evolution—nevertheless there are those who continue to accept spiritual explanations

in ST: DS9, race—Feringi and Jewish business man
occupation of Canaan, who are innate Canaanites?
Cardassians, Bajorans, Starfleet?
what conquest texts are hoping for
how religion is featuring in a trans-national


An Anthology of One’s Own: SF Anthologies

by Dr Davis on August 15, 2014

LONCON3_logoJulio Rios M
Jeanne Gomoll
Alisa Krasnostein
Alex Dally MacFarlane
Ann Vandermeer

memory of anthologies
Aurora anthology
XX Wonder series edited by Pam ?—republished in XXX during WisCon 20
introductions and histories of where we come from
tell people this is not a brand new event—need for the education and reminder hasn’t changed
hopeful new renaissance of anthologies will help other people realize they are part of a tradition and give role models
need to keep alive because it is still necessary to combat idea that

more than just women writing sf
women writing in all genres: horror, surrealism, etc
doing Weird Anthology discovered interesting things—people thinking that in early 1900s women weren’t reading and writing it—but there were a lot of women loving that stuff early on—Weird Tales Club 40% were women
Frances Stevens, huge influence on Lovecraft (woman pseudonym)
trying to look at women always doing this throughout tiem, tho called diff things

anthology looks at more recent work by women, mostly since 2000
partly because my interest and “most recent” pushes the boundaries
Not suggesting this is the first time that interesting things are happening.
Did not originally intend this, but it grew in such a way that I was looking at more recent work.
excited by more and more fiction that includes queer character (has happened before) but more and more interest from publishers, diversity
personal preference for narrative styles of how people write sff today—don’t particularly
Margaret Cavendish Blazing World subverted language and grammar in the book

Twelve Planets project came out of conversation in Australia, women not making short lists for awards
What would happen if we just published a whole heap of women publishing in one year?
Evolved into bigger than that.
These authors knew they could get their works published. Novellas can get published.
This has changed the conversation in Australia.

history source: The Battle of the Sexes (dissertation for PhD) in Science Fiction
Daughters of Earth collection of stories form 1920s to 2000, w article for each about context etc.

Jeanne—where they successful for rewriting history?
3 books
Women of Wonder—30s and 40s
More Women of Wonder—50s and 60s
New Women of Wonder—70s
putting fiction into context—extremely important for Pamela Sargent?, edited the books as historical narratives, this is what the future and transforming the future looked like to women of the time—historical, exciting
At that time, significant idea was the idea that women could have equal influence. Easiest way to get there was apocalyptic. Now, however, closer set to our own reality; not necessary to wipe the slate clean anymore.
We are going to continue to change as individuals and women’s movement evolves.

Ann—weird fiction
willingness to change? You and Jeff have been a major force for weird fiction into 21st century.
Lots of glass walls shattered, but still more to do.
People still have prejudices and we still have a ways to go.
for every submission from a woman, getting 10-12 from men, for Weird Tales
not getting enough submissions, Weird Tales over 90 years, only second female editor, now it is all male staff again
Lovecraft is not the end all and be all. They are taking away from the other writers who are doing more interesting things than he does.
Nowadays when you look at a TOC in an anthology, more balanced.
10 years from now, won’t have to think about women in the TOC, LGBT will be normal/accepted in 10 years

looking forward to SF anthology where I don’t have to count women in it

Julio—women in anthologies, when we fill it with just women, does it help solve problem?

don’t know
Definitely a danger to ongoing body of work to say “oh I’ve done that.”
Would hope that is not something I would do.
edited an anthology on aliens with 50-50%, hope I would do that again
Hope eventually I can stop keeping count. Hard to say though.
How much are these projects preaching to the choir?
“You’re really into that sort of thing.”
going to be those who marginalize, some who say “great,” some who perhaps interesting
hope part of a wider discussion about gender in genres
We’ve got a lot of work by women out there.
Don’t think collecting it is the only thing we can do. Keep talking about it.
Part of a much bigger conversation.

Everyone being in story and being able to publish stories …
diversity of theme and diversity of author—need a balance where writers are also having from multiple backgrounds
That is definitely happening in publishing right now. Diversity of author being developed.
Rose Limber, editor of Stone Telling (a poetry journal) and a bunch of other things

started publishing with women for a year, now doing Kaleidescope with a different diversity mission—What did you expect and what did you encounter?
expected a bigger fight than I encountered
as woman, interested in women stories, stories about how future will effect women
more diversity—kind of surprised by how many of my own biases I had to deconstruct and have a look at, mostly about what is a good story
awards select to stories chosen by editors
Just because I don’t engage with the character, doesn’t mean that someone else won’t.
Needed to learn to look at reading that wasn’t about me and still see a good book.
Australia small group—take writers, encouraging them
Being a cheerleader. Getting people to finish and submit.

men have more confidence in their work. It has been my experience as a magazine editor, I get submissions from young men who think they are wonderful. They seem to have a lot more confidence in their work than women with the same level of awesomeness.
Have to work a lot harder with some of those women.

Going to be a long journey –convincing women to listen to themselves and be confident
Ursula LeGuin Always Coming Home Certain allowable stories and they always started with man versus something. (fix the character analysis …)
Molly Gloss has explored the idea of generation ship, exciting things happening, but people are focused on their own lives.
You don’t have to just write the stories that have been written before.
Women in sf world are helping other people enlarge their space too (color, sexual orientation).
More we talk about our real selves.

what we all thought sf was
sf and feminism go together so well
Don’t think we are close, but the more we enlarge the possibilities of subject matter in stories…

stories at more organic level
Stories that stand out to me are the ones that aren’t equal.
Strange to see sf where things are not equal, because sf always has it that way.
submissions in-box, lots of stories with armies in future all men—Where are the women? How is this happening? Didn’t read further than the front page of the story because there were no women.

Ann said Men are more likely to think they are more confident. This is social conditioning.
As a society we teach boys that they are going to go out and do well. We teach girls they are going to go out and care.

Men are rewarded for going out there and being confident. Women are not rewarded for going out there.

submit everywhere
If you aren’t getting rejected, you are not trying hard enough.

in math in school, boys got bad grade, teachers said “need to buckle down” when I flunked “you don’t need it anywhere”

Audience Questions:
I run a small indep publishing house, themed anthology. Do % thing. But don’t say anything in my calls. Suggestion for wording to encourage diversity without saying you are only open?

Ann—contact writers whose work you want. Spread the word that way. People in the industry recommend the right writers.
Open calls are great, but not how to fill your space.

Alex—open to all genders, all backgrounds…
If you contact the writers individually, then they will see interest and send it.
Encourage open guidelines. LightSpeed has one.
But also endorse reaching out to people individually.
How do you develop editorial taste and what is the process of discovering new writers?

Ann—years of reading for editorial taste, but also have to consider indiv project and who is your audience—you want the widest audience possible, that’s your job
New writers? Totally excited each time I find them. Teaching—I teach and discover new writers. Promote the next generation.

Alex—Agree with what Alisa said about many ways to tell story. May not connect with stories due to norms of narrative.
Read widely. Reading intentionally. If something editor hasn’t done before, read specifically in that area. If you are bouncing, why? Yes, some bad, but others that make you think. Grow your sense of what a narrative is.
Know one person who when bought book by man, bought by woman. Think you should do that to diversity in other areas.

Julio—thinking about this, small exercise this, take a year’s work from free online magazines and choose your own list
make a list of best by gender, by POC, by xxx
Realize how it balances against what you are reading.

editing and reading are not passive acts

Going back to history, first woman’s anthology wasn’t book mentioned Women of Wonder. But had more emphasis and in direct conversation with other things.
Is there an attempt to provoke further discussion?
LightSpeed did xxx because there was a review that said “women need to be quiet like Barbie Dolls” in the SF Writers Association
“women are destroying our genre”
invited all the women we know and asked for pieces about destroying SF

first time we had award, “feminist cabal”
We thought that was cool. We did space women cabal tattoos.
Response to backlash in 80s from the 70s women writing.
Tremendously depressed when I saw that men were taking the forefront again.
Pat Murphy came with TipTree Award (originally a joke) but shows that we are interested. Offering space and reward, so it came back.
Authors wrote stories specifically to be submitted for the Award.
One needed proof that she was a valuable person and won two awards for her novel Ammonite.


For Linguistics

by Dr Davis on August 13, 2014

“The Science of Accents” from i09.

Tells the English/Japanese baby la-ra experiment. Mentions Brave.


CFP: De/Constructing Monstrosity and Disability

by Dr Davis on August 13, 2014

“De/Coupling Monstrosity and Disability” — Kalamazoo 2015
full name / name of organization:
MEARCSTAPA (Monsters: the Experimental Association for the Research of Cryptozoology through Scholarly Theory And Practical Application)
contact email:
[email protected]
Sponsored by MEARCSTAPA (Monsters: the Experimental Association for the Research of Cryptozoology through Scholarly Theory And Practical Application)

It has been famously argued that there was no conception in the Middle Ages of the disabled as it would accord with modern notions of embodied difference. In looking for figures of the disabled and the deformed, scholars in medieval disability studies have often looked to monstrosity as an overlapping, if not entirely identical category. We are looking for papers that address the intersection of monstrosity and disability in provocative and searching ways. We especially encourage papers that do not simply collapse these two categories but rather look to interrogate the convergence and divergence of the monstrous and the impaired. What is the effect of reading monsters as disabled and the disabled as monstrous? How does the coupling of these two Othered figures obscure important features? How does reading them together illuminate the social and cultural processes by which difference is constructed? We invite papers from all disciplines and national traditions.

Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words together with a completed Participant Information Form (available here:
to session organizer Richard Godden ([email protected]) or Asa Simon Mittman ([email protected]) by September 15. Please include your name, title, and affiliation on the abstract itself. All abstracts not accepted for the session will be forwarded to Congress administrators for consideration in general sessions, as per Congress regulations.

From UPenn.


CFP: Nordic History and Cultural Memory in Comics

by Dr Davis on August 13, 2014

From the Land of the Midnight Sun: Nordic History and Cultural Memory in Comics

full name / name of organization:
Scandinavian Journal of Comic Art
contact email:
[email protected]

The past is all around us, not least in our entertainments. It is also a highly malleable thing that can be moulded and shaped to tell us who we are, who we should be, and where we came from. The myriad ways in which conceptions about the past can be informed by contemporary concerns and the ways the past can be used to legitimize present practices and ideas have been ably charted by scholars in the rapidly growing field of memory studies. Although highly interdisciplinary, comics studies has yet to truly enter this field, despite the fact that its subject matter provides ample opportunity for studies of representations of history and memory.

Nordic comics history and comics that represent the past and present of the Nordic countries provide one of many possible inroads into these fruitful lines of inquiry. For example, Nordic comics, from early comics strips through locally produced contemporary comic books, like the Swedish funny animal series Bamse, Norwegian humor series Nemi, the Finnish Moomin stories, Danish strip Poeten og Lillemor, and many more, all provide a vast and still largely unstudied archive of historical perspectives and attitudes. Similarly, Nordic comics creators, like “Team Fantomen,” who have produced the majority of Phantom stories for regional publication since the 1960s, make frequent use of the Nordic past as a setting or story element. In addition, varying degrees of adulation or criticism inform biographical and historical comics and graphic novels about personages like Swedish writer August Strindberg and Elias Lönnrot, compiler of Kalevala, Finland’s national epic. Finally, it can be noted that the Viking Age and conceptions about its culture and beliefs have been a particularly inspiring topic for comics creators, spawning among others Peter Madsen’s long-running and often ideologically anachronistic Valhalla, several adaptations of Swedish writer Frans G. Bengtsson’s Röde Orm (The Long Ships or Red Orm in English), and, in 2013, the superhero-inspired The Norseman.

Furthermore, comics have helped make Nordic history and memory international imaginative currency. The Viking Age has been a particularly frequent topic, appearing in American mainstream comics like Marvel’s Thor and Vertigo’s Northlanders, Japanese Manga like Viking Saga and King of Viking, and Franco-Belgian album series like Asterix, Thorgal, and Johan and Peewit. In these comics, and in many others like them, the creators use a past not their own to speak to and about their own time and place. But in recent years, Nordic comics have also increasingly appeared in translation, perhaps most notably in such anthologies as Kolor Klimax, From Wonderland with Love, and the United States’ 2010 “Swedish Invasion.” In various ways, these comics contend with preconceived notions about the Nordic countries and Nordicness.

The Scandinavian Journal of Comic Art is planning a special issue on Nordic history and cultural memory in comics, and invites articles about these and related matters. Welcome topics include, but are not limited to:

- Representation of Nordic historical personages and events
- Nordic comics and the search for a useable past
- Comics and revisionist Nordic historiography
- Comics, the past, and Nordic social criticism
- Nordic stereotypes and stereotyped Nordics
- Vikings and Old Norse religion in comic strips, comic books, graphic novels, and bandes dessinées
- Nordic comics in translation
- The reception of Nordic comics abroad
- What’s so Nordic about Nordic comics?

Please send an abstract of max. 300 words, along with a short bio and contact information, to [email protected]. The deadline for abstracts is October 1, 2014. Full articles due by January 1, 2015. We also welcome reviews and forum texts (brief, non-peer reviewed scholarly commentaries, essays, and debate pieces). Interested parties should review our submission guidelines and contact editor Martin Lund with a pitch or book request at [email protected].

Scandinavian Journal of Comic Art (SJoCA) is an online, open-access, peer reviewed academic journal about comics and sequential art. The journal is interdisciplinary, encouraging a wide range of theoretical and methodological perspectives. Although the journal is rooted in the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden), it is global in scope and aims to publish high quality research regardless of national or regional boundaries. The journal publishes articles, book reviews, and forum texts from the field of comics studies. The language of the journal is English.

Scandinavian Journal of Comic Art is an independent journal and is published by the non-profit organisation Scandinavian Journal of Comic Art.

From UPenn.