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Scheherazade in Blue Jeans
freelance alchemist
Arisia programming! 
23rd-Sep-2013 11:35 am
Brain worms
Once again, there's almost nothing remotely usable in the Arisia brainstorming forums, and thus I must once again pull an entire track of literature programming out of my ass. This week.


So once again I call upon you! What literature panels would you like to see at Arisia? What are your thoughts on genre work and authors? Please comment here or e-mail me with titles and panel descriptions (I get a maximum of 500 characters for description, FYI). Any help would be good - as you know, I've kinda had a lot going on the past few months, and I'm not as in the loop with, well, anything as I want to be.
23rd-Sep-2013 03:50 pm (UTC) - If you're feeling brave
I'd love to see someone seriously take on the overlap of games and literature. Hopefully with something more sophisticated than the Yes/No of whether or not games are literature, and rather asking questions like "What kinds of stories are told well in games? What do we make of so-called 'literate' games? What do we make of emergent-story games (of which I can think of only two right now, Google's Ingress and Eve Online)?

I realize I'm saying "games" and meaning "computer games" but that's because I don't know anything about the tabletop genre of storytelling/literary games.
23rd-Sep-2013 04:16 pm (UTC) - Re: If you're feeling brave
That would be an excellent fit for the Gaming Track; send it to Andy! :)
23rd-Sep-2013 05:38 pm (UTC) - Re: If you're feeling brave
You are, of course, the master of your own domain. But I'd posit that this is a literature topic in the way that "e-books as literature" is a literature topic. Or perhaps "graphic novels as literature" is a better example. The idea I think is that there are multiple art forms each of which can be taken as literature.

Putting it in the gaming track would be more echo chamber, as gaming people have been talking to each other about this forever.

Thanks for the response anyway.
23rd-Sep-2013 06:19 pm (UTC) - Re: If you're feeling brave
Well, graphic novels as literature would go on the comics track. :) We are forbidden to cross the streams! Hijacking other tracks' subject matter would be impolite.
24th-Sep-2013 04:54 pm (UTC) - Re: If you're feeling brave
I'm sending this to Andy anyway, and maybe the panel could be changed to include more literary type people? Or presented as deliberately including both tracks?

Speaking of which, I'm sure Andy would be happy to take any gaming panel suggestions you have, too.
24th-Sep-2013 04:56 pm (UTC) - Re: If you're feeling brave
We have a bunch of literary-type panelists who would be great on this. :)
28th-Sep-2013 03:33 am (UTC) - Re: If you're feeling brave
Sorry for being late to the party. Shira has too many panels anyway, and gaming never has enough good, interesting, new discussion. I think it probably belongs in the gaming track, but I'd certainly work with her to get more literate people on the panel. Though that probably has as much to do with an elegantly crafted panel title as it does a track selection.

Can you write up a description and send it to me?
28th-Sep-2013 05:42 pm (UTC) - Re: If you're feeling brave
What, me?

Title: "What the hell does 'Games are Literature' Mean?"

Gamers have spent years defending our genre as a "legitimate" form of "literature" without ever having a clear sense of what that means, nor having more than one or two examples to point to. This panel will explore what literature means in an environment where one or more live people co-create story - action, characters, challenges, plots, resolutions, adventures - with a game's authoring team. We will focus on titles that go beyond a repetition of Joseph Campbell's monomythic "hero's journey" by offering more than one person's saga through difficulty to redemption.

Sample questions for people desiring to be panelists: Is "Eve Online" a form of literature? How about Google's "Ingress"? Are pure puzzlers such as "Myst" literature, or simply literate? Is a constructionist game such as "Minecraft" literature per se, or more akin to paper-and-pen in being an environment for story creation? What good tabletop games revolve around storytelling, and is player storytelling enough to qualify a game as "literature"?

Edited at 2013-09-28 05:44 pm (UTC)
28th-Sep-2013 06:46 pm (UTC) - Re: If you're feeling brave
Awesome! I had to edit it down a bit to under 500 characters, so this is what I went with. I also appreciate the panel-questions suggestions.

Gamers have spent years defending our genre as a "legitimate" form of "literature" without having a clear sense of what that means, or more than one or two examples. This panel will explore literature in a medium where one or more live people co-create story - action, characters, challenges, plots, resolutions, adventures - with a game's authoring team? We will focus on titles that go beyond Joseph Campbell's monomythic "hero's journey" by offering more than one person's saga.
23rd-Sep-2013 03:54 pm (UTC) - here are some ideas I submitted for WisCon
"Found Families in Speculative Fiction"
A lot of fans find a home/family in fandom. Found families are also a common theme in specfic, both written and in tv shows such as Farscape and Star Trek. What narrative and thematic purposes can found families serve? How does this trope resonate with other themes present in speculative fiction?

"Bring on the MPREG"
Male pregnancy is a common theme in fanfiction, and a great deal of it (perhaps most of it) is written by women. How is pregnancy and its outcome portrayed for men, through a female lens? How does this sub-genre comment on gender relations and reproductive issues within our society? Are issues raised that would not be discussed in relation to female pregnancy? Is some of the genre simply inspired by a wish to see a man suffering through morning sickness and labor? Aside from the tv version of "Alien Nation," are there examples of MPREG in mainstream speculative fiction?

"Omegaverse Slash Fanfiction and Feminism"
An entire sub-genre of fanfiction involves a world in which reproductive behavior is biologically directed and very hierarchical. How might this type of fiction be related to current debates about feminism and reproductive rights in the United States? Or is it just a kink that some people enjoy reading about? There is some omegaverse femslash - how does it differ (or not) from male/male omegaverse slash? http://fanlore.org/wiki/Alpha/Beta/Omega

"I Want My Animal Companion - Or Do I?"
Anne McCaffrey, Mercedes Lackey, etc. - soul-bonding to an animal companion can be a powerful element in speculative fiction. How can this type of animal companion be compared and contrasted thematically with human-linked animals in Philip Pullman's THE GOLDEN COMPASS and Lauren Beukes' ZOO CITY?
23rd-Sep-2013 04:02 pm (UTC) - more thoughts
--Female authors, male point-of-view characters

--Media tie-in novels: literary challenges of writing them, how they fit into the history of the specfic genre

--Babies in fantasy: children don't usually turn up on epic quests unless the book is aimed at children. Is this because of practical concerns? Why is the dwarf never pregnant?

--Futuristic foods - the so-so, the bad, and the really yummy

--How Telepathic Union is and is not like sex

--The Outcasts Take Over as a plot for fantasy novels

--Galaxy-spanning empires: what would they need to really be viable? Could they operate without instantaneous communications?

--Models for Space Empires: Roman empire, European colonialists, American corporations

--Generation ships! What issues can be explored in these microcosmic societies?

24th-Sep-2013 11:54 am (UTC) - Re: more thoughts
Descriptions, please!
26th-Sep-2013 04:37 pm (UTC) - Re: more thoughts
"Precursors of Space Empires" - science fiction is full of galaxy-spanning empires. What are the real-world sources that can be adapted for this purpose? This panel will examine classic space opera and how it used empires of various types in Earth's history, such as the Roman empire, European colonialism, and modern American corporations, as models. How can today's more global economy be adapted and explored through space opera?

"Futuristic foods" The so-so, the bad, and the really yummy-sounding food of science fiction, and how food can be used to extrapolate technological advances, or show culture change.

"The Outcasts Take Over" A common plot for fantasy novels involves outsiders saving the world. How effective is this plot as a model for lasting social change?

"How Telepathic Union Is and Is Not Like Sex" Telepaths in speculative fiction are frequently portrayed as needing to commune with other telepaths, or sharing an underlying telepathic link with one or more people. Is this an analogy for sexual relationships? What other models of telepathy would be interesting to explore in fiction?
(Deleted comment)
24th-Sep-2013 11:54 am (UTC)
Can you write me up a thing on the space opera idea?

JJ peeing is more MediaTrack - will direct Adam here. He could do a good panel on adaptations...
(Deleted comment)
23rd-Sep-2013 09:01 pm (UTC)
That was actually the first panel I put in, way back in the dawn of Arisia '14 planning. :) Timing is noted!
24th-Sep-2013 02:14 am (UTC)
There was an author who had awesome ideas about immigration and writing and I think it was submutted things for Wiscon but I'll have to look it up later. I'd like to see those or ones like them please?
24th-Sep-2013 11:53 am (UTC)
...I would have no way of knowing who this person is, and I have no access to Wiscon's suggestions e-mail account...
24th-Sep-2013 10:55 pm (UTC)
I know, I know... hence the me looking it up. But it took being in front of a computer and not my cell phone to finally do so.


"1) The recent cultural appropriation debates (of doom) seemed to be very US centered. I think it would be worthwhile to get together a panel of people from non-dominant cultures (ie, not US, Canada, Western Europe or Australia) and talk about CA from a more global perspective. Of course, this discussion gets more complicated since national lines are added to the racial ones, but it is worthwhile, IMO. For one, from the outside any culture is perceived as monolithic while inside it is much more fractured; it would be interesting to talk from the perspectives of people to whom Western culture is a colonizing influence.

2) Another foreigner-friendly suggestion is to have a panel of writers who write in English as their second language. How are perceptions of a writer's work colored by the fact that s/he is not a native speaker? What specific challenges and advantages these writers face?"

I'm not sure that "the recent" is really all that recent, as the post is from 2 years ago, but the nature of the talk about appropriation that I've heard still seems very US centered, so I think it's still applicable.

These are Ekaterina Sedia's ideas, not mine, but I'd love to see them! (They were originally submitted to wiscon, but were posted publicly in the comments on her blog.)

Edited at 2013-09-24 10:58 pm (UTC)
24th-Sep-2013 04:42 am (UTC)

  • Anything about genre boundaries.

  • SFF as an ongoing conversation.

  • SFF as commentary on other SFF.

  • Any panel on Le Guin, for any reason.

  • Time travel and the quest for redemption.

  • We have met the alien, and he is us.

  • There's the here-and-now, and then there's everything else: mainstream literature as a subset of SFF.

  • Cat's Cradle at fifty.

  • The witch is really a mathematician: Glory Road at fifty.

  • "Kirinyaga" at twenty-five.

  • What remains unsaid: literary allusion in SFF.

  • The legacy of Astounding/Analog (marking the 75th anniversary of the start of Campbell's tenure as editor

  • No longer a place to hide? SFF takes its place in the mainstream.

These are all the ones I could think of off the top of my head. I can't remember: is "literature" separate from "craft of writing"? Because I could rattle off a dozen of those easily.
24th-Sep-2013 11:52 am (UTC)
Write up descriptions! :)
25th-Sep-2013 07:38 pm (UTC)
How's this?

SFF as an ongoing conversation.
John Scalzi's Redshirts is only the most recent work of SFF that responds directly to tropes, themes or claims in another work of SFF. Sometimes parodies, sometimes commentaries, sometimes angry rebuttals, our genre has a long tradition of dialectic, perhaps enabled by how small a group we are. How does this dialectic function, what are some of its major landmarks, and what are the pivotal points in the conversation right now?

From Earthsea to Ekumen
Arguably Ursula K. Le Guin's two greatest imaginative achievements -- certainly those to which she devoted the most ink -- are the fantasy world of Earthsea and the SF universe of the Ekumen of Known Worlds. Earthsea is a world of natural magic, in which adepts are able to call on the true nature of things to work their will, and in which the self-knowledge of the adept is the key to effectiveness. The Ekumen is a members-only interstellar organization, enabled by the ansible and near-lightspeed travel, encompassing numerous cultures. Do we see the same vision in these two worlds? Are they different sides of the same coin? How do we compare the ethics of Earthea's wizards to those of the Ekuman's observers and envoys? And how have these two worlds influenced the fiction of the last four decades?

MaddAddam and MaddEve in the MaddGarden
Margaret Atwood has finally completed the trilogy of novels she denies are science fiction: Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood, and MaddAddam. Regardless of their genre (which might actually be fantasy), these wonderfully structured and textured novels raise a wealth of questions about the nature of ethics, civilization, and humanity itself. This panel will be a discussion of the issues of both style and substance in this trilogy. How does the parallel to Genesis and Exodus work here? Are we content with a world in which the Children of Crake are the future of the human race? Is religion such a tenacious artifact of intelligence that it flowers with almost no prompting, and in such absurd circumstances? Do we believe this vision of a human future so unavoidably bad that it can be repaired only through catastrophe? How does it compare to other recent dystopian fiction, such as Bacigalupi's The Windup Girl?

Time travel, therapy, and the quest for redemption.
As a literary device, time travel provides allows writers to explore a fundamental human longing: to change what cannot be changed in ourselves. In numerous stories, films, and television programs, protagonists fly to the past in order to fix the crucial moments that shaped their lives. Usually these attempts backfire -- sometimes because he past does not allow itself to be changed, sometimes because changing the past creates a new range of problems, and sometimes because changing the past does not cure the ache in the protagonist's soul. Is time travel a parable for the therapeutic mining of our personal histories?

Here-and-Now vs. Everything Else: Mainstream Literature as a Subset of SFF.
The debates over the boundaries of the imaginative genres -- science fiction, fantasy and horror -- have become more fraught and confused as genre fiction has paid more and more attention to language and structure, and as other fiction has adopted (consciously or unconsciously) more tropes from SFFH. Perhaps the problem lies in our assumption that the boundary lies around SFFH, rather than around "mainstream" fiction. Perhaps, just as Newtonian mechanics is a special case in the less-familiar but broader paradigm of relativity, it is mainstream fiction that is the special case or exception in the broader paradigm of speculative literature.

The legacy of Astounding/Analog.
The oldest extant SF magazine still has the largest circulation of any print SFF short-fiction market. Since John W. Campbell took the helm in 1937, it has had only four editors, maintaining a remarkably consistent focus, taste and editorial vision throughout most of a century. How does Analog's role in 2014 SFF differ from what it was in 1939, 1964 or 1989? How does it fit with the current priorities and direction of the genre? What should we expect to see in its future?
26th-Sep-2013 12:14 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! :)
24th-Sep-2013 04:10 pm (UTC)
With the grain of salt that I haven't yet been to Arisia...

- Worlds with unexceptional queerness--some speculative fiction represents queer people/relationships as just a part of life. Are these more common in some subgenres than others? What helps this seem believable, and not just "we all woke up and nobody was homophobic"? Discuss variations in method, talk up your favorites, and daydream where you'd love to see more of this. (Could also include poly relationships?)

- Resources for international speculative fiction--Many people want to read more speculative fiction that isn't from the USA, but it can be hard to know where to start looking. Come share your favorite authors, lists, websites, etc., or just show up and take copious notes.

- Current trends in non-dystopian YA SF--The Summer Prince, Across the Universe, and Starglass are just a few of the recent YA SF publications that are substantially non-dystopian. Who's reading them? What do they have in common with--or how are they different from--the SF in similar settings written for adults? (Space opera, near future...) For that matter, what do they borrow from YA dystopia? And what are some upcoming books in this area that we're anticipating?

- Speculative historical documents, historical documents as SF/F--Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. A Natural History of Dragons. The Blazing World. Novum Organum. Are the recent crop of speculative "historical documents" convincing as history? As speculative fiction? How about the fact that plenty of historical documents, especially about natural philosophy, read as "speculative" to modern Western eyes? Can we read these two genres across one another, and what happens if we do?
(nb: that Long Hidden anthology's release date? Would be interesting to include in the conversation.)

That's all I have for now, I think.
24th-Sep-2013 04:12 pm (UTC)
(Ha! I wasn't paying attention to the character count and was sure I'd gone over on some of them, but apparently I didn't. Go me.)
24th-Sep-2013 04:15 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :)
25th-Sep-2013 02:27 am (UTC)
Whither the Midlist Author?

In previous decades, there were plenty of science fiction and fantasy authors who were fun to read, wrote regularly enough, but were not anywhere near to New York Times best-sellers. Has the midlist disappeared, or are there some authors near and dear who make a decent living but still fly under the radar despite the quality of their writing?

Reading--With Soundtracks

Have you ever read a short story or a poem and thought, "You know, there are some songs that would be awesome background music for this!" Listen to our readers while the music plays!
(This should be for short stories or sets of poems only)

Love Love Evolution!

Historical love stories are mostly set around the plot of Boy Meets Girl, usually with the Boy impressing or saving the Girl to win her. There are many more variations than this in SFF. We'll go over various versions that work, a few that don't, and where to find them.

(This is all I can do on serious sleep dep. I hope at least one of them is usable)
26th-Sep-2013 04:43 pm (UTC) - one more
"100 Years of Mordor" 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War One. This panel looks at the war's speculative fiction legacy, for exmaple, Tolkien's fantasy version of No Man's Land in Mordor, and the theme of lost innocence.
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