Thursday, March 08, 2007

science friction

theres this interesting "sci fi and the canon" workshop coming up soon:-
anglia ruskin university)

the agenda is below with my annotations - my personal feeling is that
this is more about Sci Fi and the the Freudian sense:)

Tony Keen: Open University - 'A Secret Psychohistory: Appropriating Gibbon in Asimov's Foundation'

Asimov's main problem was his over-compensation for an almost neurotic anxiety about being Russian in origin and having to be more american than americans to offset this - the approproaite of gibbon in Foundation is not as relevant as the re-invention of America in the Future as Rome of Empire - the myth was inherent/and explicit, in Star Trek of course.

3. Genevieve Liveley: University of Bristol - 'A Cyborg Genealogy: Science, Fiction, and the Classics'

Read Sladek on RUR and Golem - many myths on Zombie/Golem/Mandrake/Dryad, come together in the cyborg - for filmic horror sci fi, you can't do a whole lot better than videodrome. I like the Cybernetic Serendipity exhibition at the ICA in around 1968....the attributes of the gods as spaceshoes of the gods (or basically technology so advanced that it is indestingishuable from an Arthur C Clark story) (as in Zelazny's excellent Lord of Light), etc etc

11.15 to 11.30 Coffee

coffee is basically mental-space-craft fuel.

11.30 to 12.45 Session Two: Science Fiction, Genre and the Canon
1. Andy Sawyer: Liverpool University - 'U.K. Le Guin and Pastoral'

Le Guin's "pastorals" are actually pretty gruesome au font - lik lullabys, superficially things are fine (in form) but fundamentally thigns are bad (content)
really some are pretty harsh allegories (e.g. of vietnam war)

2. Rowlie Wymer: Anglia Ruskin University - 'Mary Doria Russell's Rakhat novels'
as in jeff (high) noon, anthropology and human inform much better class of books!
12.45 to 14.00 Lunch
which comes before the long dark tea-time of the first post-lunch fallout dystopia

14.00 to 15.30 Session Three: Two Parallel Panels Panel One: Science Fiction and the Victorian Imagination

1. Christopher Pittard: University of Exeter - 'Dickens: Bleak House and the Dystopia of Bladerunner'
do androids dream of electric steam irons

2. Jess Nevins: Sam Houston State University - 'Victorian SF and the Canon'
The homegenisation of victorian era is weird - it was a very long period which went thru many changes...i wonder if here was any english working class oral/folk sci fi tradition? we'll probably never know. perhaps Mark and Darwin will turn out to be science fiction (maybe there really is a flying spaghetti monster, and she's pissed)

3. Katalin Kocsis: Szeged University - 'The Island of Doctor Moreau'

Islands are an interesting genre within the utopic literature - thing Aldous Huxley, the Island, and other Island books (and films - viz classic: This Island Earth) -
No man is an I&I land living in an Un-sound-system (brixton dub circa 1980)

Panel Two: Steampunk, Cyberpunk and the Contemporary Canon
1. Sandor Klapcsik: Debrecen Univeristy (Eotvos Fellow at Liverpool University) - 'Cyberpunk and the Contemporary Canon'

A lot of loose canons here - my persona feeling is that cyberpunk uses chandleresque shorthand as a prop to cover up for the (usual) lack of characterisation. (If a real character showed up in a hard sf book, it would scare the bejesus out of the sterotypical spotty adolescent geek male reader)

2. Lovorka Gruit Grmusa: Rijeka University - 'The Postmodern Perspective: Is SF only a tool?'

See Geek Chic - how many self-conscious moments are there in Sci Fi (and horror) movies when someone stops to do mugshot to audience and say "we did't really break the rules there did we?" -c.f. time travel for example (time&again, by his bootstraps)

3. Jason Ellis: Liverpool University - 'Steampunk and H. G. Wells'
The original vulcan? fire and fear eats the soul - I never liked Wells, esp. not Mr Polly - I think some histories are not worth learning from.

15.30 to 16.15 Tea

16.15 to 17.30 Session Four
1. Keverne Smith: Kings Lynn - 'The Tempest and Frankenstein: Forerunners of SF'
Ariel and Robbie the Robot?
Mary Shelley and Metropolis?
A Midsummer Nights Manned Mission to Mars?

Given Patrick Stewert appearing in the RSCs Tempest right now, this is timely, if not barking

2. Patricia MacCormack: Anglia Ruskin University - 'Deleuze and the Daemonic Fold: Lovecraft's Baroque Becomings'

Cthulu is mainly an experiment in getting readers to sound silly in front of their friends - eldritch is possibly a good name for a Detective Fiction writer from Harvard in 1874 -

17.30 Wine Reception and Closing Paper Michael Bywater: writer and journalist - 'Zorking Hell: How The PC Made Hobbits of Us All'

As a Mac using hobbit, I resent this:)

[added note in response to comment: while its true that multi-player networked games VR/dungeons&dragons and other fantasy, economy and eco type systems are far more common on PCs than on Apple platforms now, they were originally developed on pre-PC systems (see wikipedia entry on zork including apple, atari and commodores, because those systems had the functionality and had the user base (i.e. geeks) before the PC existed and long after until PCs got decent graphics. of course the point of the talk above iis probably going to be in the "Us All" bit, so its ubiquity of platform that matters and thats surely now the wintel boxen. however, the 3rd gen console systems are all networked, and PS3, WII and Xbox are way way better experiences and may end up replacing PCs since most people don't really want to run Microsoft Office at home - most the "Us All" want skype/IM, web, email, media center and games console (and whatever new mad thing people come up with) - Gates' was clueful when he targetted business applications, which is why the PC was always the unpleasant clunky cousin of computers that were "designed for living" - it wasn't a priority for Microsoft - but as computers vanish into the environment, incorporating design becomes a priority.

what i find interesting about the big online community games is that aspects of
Real Life like economy, and gritty grottiness somees to be a priority - this is something that a lot of fantasy literature seems to live out (do Orcs shit in the woods of Lorian?)


Michael Bywater said...

(1) There weren't Macs when Zork first appeared.

(2) Macs were a subset of PCs. "PC" denoting a Windows machine came much later.

(3) The Mac couldn't make Hobbits of us all, only about 5% of us.


Aren't Google Alerts fine?

clog said...

I suppose I should say that i put my big foot in it, but Big Foot aint necessarily synonymous with halfling
which is what i just got cut down to..

of course i dont play computer games or read sci fi or fantasy so i couldn't possibly comment o nthe accuracy of this - when the x86 came along, i was using a pdp11/44 still as a personal computer (or was it a whitechapel? hmmm let me check), no it was an icl perq running the ineptly named pnx operating that's way to personal to be politically correct...

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