2015 BSFA Lecture

The 2015 BSFA Lecture at Dysprosium (the 2015 Eastercon) will be given by Dr Simon Trafford (Institute of Historical Research), and is entitled ‘“Runar munt þu finna”: why sing pop in dead languages?’ The lecture will be given at 5.30 pm on Saturday April 4th, in the Discovery room of the Park Inn, Heathrow. The lecture is open to any member of Dysprosium.

Simon Trafford is Lecturer in Medieval History and Research Training Officer at the University of London’s Institute of Historical Research. He specialises in the history and archaeology of the later Anglo-Saxon period in the north-east of England. He completed his undergraduate studies and his D.Phil. at the University of York, where his supervisor was Professor Edward James, who sf fans know as current Chair of the Science Fiction Foundation. Simon has a particular interest in the depiction of Vikings in popular culture. His talk for us develops this, with a special focus upon the use of dead ancient and medieval languages in pop and rock songs.

The BSFA Lecture is intended as a companion to the George Hay Lecture, which is presented at the Eastercon by the Science Fiction Foundation. Where the Hay Lecture invites scientists, the BSFA Lecture invites academics from the arts and humanities, because we recognise that science fiction fans aren’t only interested in science.  The lecturers are given a remit to speak “on a subject that is likely to be of interest to science fiction fans” – i.e. on whatever they want!  This is the eighth BSFA Lecture.

News roundup

Here at BSFA Towers we get various items of news about forthcoming events sent to us; but we aren’t always too good about disseminating them.

When I say “we”, I mean “I”, of course. My fellow committee members and Towers-dwellers are lovely and excellent and would never sit for weeks on something that came in via the contact form.

Anyway, to make up for my tarditude (a new word I’ve just invented), here are four items of interest that have come in recently. My apologies to the various organisations for them all being in a collected post.

Cheltenham Literature Festival

Hanna Goldschmidt writes:

I am contacting you on behalf of The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival, which takes place 3 – 12 October in the centre of town, as you may know. We have just announced our programme for 2014, and there are a number of events that would be of interest to your members, readers and visitors.

I would like to especially highlight our series of Science Fiction and Fantasy events. Celebrating Sci Fi and Fantasy, River of London author Ben Aaronovitch, Mitch Benn and Joe Abercrombie discuss their latest works. Another special event featuring Jem Roberts, Ed Victor and Terry Jones will pay tribute to Douglas Adams, best known for his iconic work The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. http://www.cheltenhamfestivals.com/literature/whats-on/grid?genres=232

Please also visit our general programme for more information on the overall Festival schedule, including topics such as Fiction, Lifestyle, Current Affairs or Studio, Stage & Screen: http://www.cheltenhamfestivals.com/literature/whats-on/grid

English PEN

Rebekah from English PEN — who recently hosted Audrey Niffenegger’s excellent talk at Loncon 3 — says:

I’m writing to let you know about a science fiction/literary event taking place on Monday 6 October at Southbank Centre in London.

English PEN is the founding branch of an international writers’ organisation/free speech charity, of which HG Wells was an early president.

Science Fiction: Home of the Literary Activist‘ will take HG Wells as a starting point for a discussion on what it is about activism that engages the SF community. Often, especially on matters regarding freedom of expression, readers and writers of the science fiction genre are particularly active in English PEN’s campaigns.

The event will take the form of a panel discussion chaired by Sophie Mayer, featuring writers Nick Harkaway, James Smythe and Gwyneth Jones and editor Anne C. Perry.

De Montfort University call for papers

Peter Conde says;

Please find enclosed a call for papers for the De Montfort University Narratives of Cyber event taking place on 26th November

CALL FOR PAPERS: Prometheus, COLOSSUS, HAL … and Beyond:  The Narratives of ‘Cyber’

De Montfort University, The Curve Theatre, Leicester:  26th November 2014

When a nation is powerful it tells the world confident stories about the future. The stories can be enchanting or frightening. But they make sense of the world. But when that power begins to ebb, the stories fall apart. And all that is left are fragments, which haunt you like half-forgotten dreams.
(Adam Curtis)

This one-day conference seeks to draw together academics and practitioners from as many different fields as possible, to encourage debate and discussion around the complex, contentious and contested theme of ‘cyber’, information technology, and the relationship between Human and Machine.

Humanity structures its vision of the world through constructed narratives (cultural, religious, political…) which seek to explain and justify our reading of reality; what are the narratives which have shaped and are shaping our existence as individuals and groups in a realm mediated and ordered through technology? As Grant Morrison puts it. “We live in the stories we tell ourselves”; what are the stories we tell ourselves about our relationship with the computer?

We seek proposals (300 words maximum) for papers of 20 minutes duration approaching these issues from as wide a range of perspectives as possible. A non-exhaustive list of subject areas might include:

  • Literary and cinematic visions of the information age
  • Robotics, cyborgs and transhumanism
  • Cyber-dissidence and resistance
  • Technophila and technophobia
  • Definitions of ‘cyberculture’

and many more…

All proposals must be received by 30th September 2014. (Speakers will be informed of acceptance within 1 week of deadline.)

Please send your paper proposal, and any requests for further information, to:

Email: cybertalk@softbox.co.uk (email heading “Cybernarratives proposal”)

Tel: 01347 812100

Web: www.softbox.co.uk/cybertalk

Arvon residential Science Fiction writing course

From Emma Feasey we hear:

I am writing to let you know about a residential Science Fiction writing course we are running later this year. Our courses take place in beautiful countryside locations, with a mixture of workshops, individual tutorials and time and space to write.

SCIENCE FICTION: Dreams and visions 20th – 25th October 2014, Totleigh Barton, Devon

In a world hemmed in by clocks, schedules and ‘business as usual’, science fiction reminds us of the value of dreams, capturing our epic capacity for good and evil. Build imaginary worlds, join in philosophical games, crack wild and bitter jokes and conjure visions both alarming and alluring. For all prose writers keen to experiment, the week will introduce a genre spectacularly in tune with our times.

Tutors:

  • Simon Ings edits Arc, a literary quarterly from New Scientist. His books include The Eye, A History of Vision, and novels The Weight of Numbers and Dead Water. He is writing a history of Soviet science.
  • Liz Jensen is the author of eight novels spanning several genres, including science fiction, among them Ark Baby, The Rapture and The Uninvited. Her work has been nominated for several awards, developed for film, and translated into more than 20 languages.

Guest: M. John Harrison’s novel Climbers won the Boardman Tasker Prize in 1989. His most recent novel is Empty Space.
http://www.arvon.org/course/science-fiction/

Special August London Meeting: Ian McDonald Interviewed by Tony Keen

** Location: Canada Water Library, Learning Rooms 2 and 3, 21 Surrey Quays Rd, London SE16 7AR (Directly above Canada Water Station, building is accessible to all)

Ian McD

On Thursday* 14th of August, 2014, Ian McDonald (author of BSFA award winning The Dervish House, Brasyl, River of Gods, etc.) will be interviewed by Tony Keen (former meetings organiser for the BSFA).

ALL WELCOME – FREE ENTRY (Non-members welcome)

The interview will start promptly at 6 p.m.

*** Please note the different time, date and place for this meeting. This is due to the Loncon3 Convention being held at the Excel Centre. Canada Water is an easy 20 minutes from the venue, as well as being convenient to central London.Canada Water Library and Culture Space is situated directly above Canada Water station (Jubilee line and London overground). Exit the station towards Surrey Quays Shopping Centre.

Map is Here

FUTURE EVENTS:

24th September 2014- Sarah Maitland, interviewed by Farah Mendlesohn

22nd October 2014- David Bradley (SFX Magazine) interviewed by TBA

26th November 2014- TBC

July BSFA London Meeting: Geoff Ryman interviewed by Graham Sleight

Location: Upstairs, The Artillery Arms, 102 Bunhill Row, London, EC1Y 8ND

 

geoff-ryman1

On Wednesday 30th of July 2014, Geoff Ryman (science fiction, fantasy and slip-stream author of award winning novels-including BSFA Award winner Air) will be interviewed by Graham Sleight (Science Fiction critic).

ALL WELCOME – FREE ENTRY (Non-members welcome)

The interview will start at 7 pm. We have the room from 6 pm (and if early, fans are in the ground floor bar from 5ish).

There will be a raffle (£1 for five tickets), with a selection of sf novels as prizes.

Map is here.

FUTURE EVENTS:

14th August 2014, Canada Water Library, 6 p.m.- Ian MacDonald, interviewed by Tony Keen

24th September 2014- Sarah Maitland, interviewed by Farah Mendlesohn

22nd October 2014- David Bradley (SFX Magazine) interviewed by TBA

BSFA Lecture at Loncon 3

paula-jamesA special BSFA Lecture will be given at Loncon 3 by Dr Paula James (Open Unversity), and is entitled ‘Pygmalion’s Statue and her Synthetic Sisters: The Perfect Woman on Screen′. The lecture will be given at 20.00 on Saturday August 16th, the ExCel Centre, London Docklands. The lecture is open to any member of Loncon 3.

Paula James is a familiar face and voice to anyone who has studied the Open University’s Arts Foundation courses over the past fifteen years or so, or any of their courses in Classical Studies. Paula is Senior Lecturer in Classical Studies and Staff Tutor in Arts at the OU. She began her academic career after raising her family, and joined the Open University in the 1990s. She is an expert in Latin Literature, particularly the Metamorphoses of Ovid and Apuleius. She also writes on the reception of Latin texts in modern cinema. She has written an excellent introduction to Ancient Rome, Understand Roman Civilization, now in its second edition, and has jointly edited works on the imagery of Trade Union banners and the parrot in literature. Her most recent book is Ovid’s Myth of Pygmalion on Screen: In Pursuit of the Perfect Woman (2013), and it is from this work that her talk to us is derived.

The BSFA Lecture is intended as a companion to the George Hay Lecture, which is presented at the Eastercon by the Science Fiction Foundation. Where the Hay Lecture invites scientists, the BSFA Lecture invites academics from the arts and humanities, because we recognise that science fiction fans aren’t only interested in science. The lecturers are given a remit to speak “on a subject that is likely to be of interest to science fiction fans” – i.e. on whatever they want! This is a special lecture for Worldcon, and is the seventh BSFA Lecture.