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Monthly Archives: June 2018

The Sixth International Symposium on the Poetics of Science Fiction


Memory, History and Mindspace in Science Fiction

Department of English and American Studies

and the Porter School of Cultural Studies,

Tel-Aviv University

17-18 March 2019

While science fiction excels at alternating between hopeful and bleak visions of possible futures, perhaps the most unsettling scenario the genre has to offer involves modification of individual and/or collective memory. So often thought of as the foundation of identity, memory has been shown to be unstable, malleable and subject to falsification. Science fiction writers have poked and prodded at the basic tenets of cognition and memory, constructing nightmarish visions of identity crises, fractured psyches, and mental projections with the depth and detail of an entire world. But memory is also a collective endeavor, shaping our cultural ontologies and our perception of history. Here as well, SF has shown how manipulation of collective memory is capable of generating dystopian societies and altering our perception of both past and future.

Whether hard or soft, space opera or cyberpunk, technological and ideological encroachment on our memories and minds remains a subject that continues to fascinate authors across space and time: from Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward to George Orwell’s 1984 to Octavia Butler’sKindred, from Philip K. Dick’s “We Can Remember It For you Wholesale” to Roger Zelazny’s The Dream Master to Ted Chiang’s “Story of Your Life” (the basis for the blockbuster movie Arrival). Memory, both individual and collective, remains at the forefront of SF’s engagement with technological, social and psychological change.

Our conference, the sixth in the annual series of SF symposia, is jointly hosted by the Department of English and American Studies and the Porter School of Cultural Studies at Tel-Aviv University, and seeks to address cultural, historical, and narrative questions raised by representations of memory and the mental realm in science fiction. We welcome multimedia, transmedia and interdisciplinary proposals, from literary texts to film and television to video games and more. Topics can include, but are not limited to:

  • Technological manipulation of memory (e.g. false memories, artificial memories, memory transfer/erasure, uploading minds)
  • Artificial intelligence and memory
  • The interrelation between mental, physical and virtual spaces in SF
  • Alternative history and memory
  • Memory and temporality (e.g. time travel)
  • Posthuman and Transhuman memory
  • Alien memory (e.g. “mind-melds” with alien species)
  • Utopian/Dystopian memory
  • Memory as commodity (e.g. cyberpunk)
  • Memory and Nostalgia in the SF genre
  • Digital ghosts and virtual memories

Proposals of up to 300 words for individual papers and/or panels are to be submitted alongside a short bio to and by September 30, 2018. Notifications of acceptance will be sent by the end of October 2018.

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Call for Program Book Editor

The IAFA is soliciting applications for someone to edit the conference program book. This appointment will be for one-year, on a trial basis, with the possibility of renewing the position indefinitely. Experience with IAFA culture is considered an asset for this position. Professional experiencing with layout and similar design work is a must. The content for the book will be provided by the IAFA officers, and the files used in design of previous program books will be made available to help assist in the production of the new one. At the time of appointment, the IAFA will provide a detailed outline to the Program Book Editor of what should be included in the program book and in what order it should be printed.

The duties of the Program Book Editor include:

• Work with the Public Information Officer and Registration/Membership Coordinator to develop templates for the book in a professional design program (i.e., InDesign, Quark, or equivalent);
• Using these templates, and information provided by the First and Second Vice Presidents about the conference’s guests and program schedule, produce camera-ready copy for the production of this book;
• With art provided by the Second Vice President, design the cover of the book;
• Submit the program book layout for approval to the IAFA Board by February 15, 2019, and make any adjustments as required by the Board after this review;
• Continue to update the book with cancellations and other errata up to the time of printing; in consultation with the First Vice President maintain an errata sheet once the book has gone to print;
• Produce an index for this book, with individuals listed by name and session number, and include this index in the final book;
• Investigate appropriate vendors for printing the book in a cost-effective manner and arrange for the printing and delivery of the book to the hotel in numbers as specified by the Registration/Membership Coordinator.

The IAFA will pay a stipend of $500 for this work. Those interested in applying should submit
1. a cover letter, which provides details of professional layout and design experiences, as well as information about the candidate’s history with the IAFA;
2. a portfolio of previous design work; and
3. a CV outlining relevant professional and academic experience.

Applications should be sent to Sherryl Vint, IAFA President, at The closing date for applications is July 15, 2019. An appointment will be made by the end of July.

Call For Papers:

Playing Utopia

Futures in Digital Games
(Games Studies Summit)

Niklas Luhmann once asked in which forms the future might present itself in the present. One answer
is that media narratives inform our ideas of the future. Games are currently making a significant
contribution to this imaginative space: On the one hand, they demonstrate a particular propensity for
fantastic and futuristic scenarios. On the other hand, they often serve as an experimental field for the
latest media technology. However, while dystopias are part of the standard gaming repertoire, games
feature utopias much less frequently. Why?

This summit seeks to examine playful utopias from two perspectives. We will investigate utopias in
digital games, and we will investigate utopias of the digital game; that is, the role of ludic elements in
scenarios of the future, as they are, for example, often found in the field of gamification. Hence, we
would like to invite contributions which might include (but are not limited to):

– research on utopian aspects in games, e.g. regarding political and social
– research on utopian aspects of games, e.g. as ludic technologies that help
to develop a ‘better world’ in the broadest sense

The Game Studies Summit is hosted by the Cologne Game Lab and the Institute for Digital Media
Culture of the University of Cologne. It will take place on November 13, 2018. Please send abstracts
(no longer than 300 words) along with a short bibliography/ludography to
Deadline for submissions is the 31st of July. Notifications of acceptance/rejection will be sent by the end
of August. In special cases, we will be able to cover for travel and accommodation costs.


Call for Submissions: Articles and reviews on Robert Holdstock’s writing

Robert Holdstock – a celebration of ‘Mythago Wood’

‘No other author has so successfully captured the magic of the wildwood’, Michael Moorcock

Call for Submissions: Articles and reviews on Robert Holdstock’s writing

With the tenth anniversary of Robert Holdstock’s death approaching, the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy seeks articles and reviews with a focus on the author’s Mythago Wood series for publication in Gramarye, its peer-reviewed journal published by the University of Chichester.

Neil Gaiman considers Mythago Wood to be a ‘classic of the literature of fantasy.’ In this spirit we are looking for scholarly and imaginative submissions that will once more take readers in to the heart of the British mythic landscape.

The deadline for this issue is 21 September 2018, and the Guest Editor will be Dr Steven O’Brien.

General Gramarye submissions information

Gramarye is an international, multidisciplinary, peer-reviewed academic journal examining folk narratives, fairy tales and fantasy works, both as independent genres and also in terms of the resonances and dissonances between them and other cultural forms.

There is no charge or fee for submitting an article or abstract.

Articles should be 5,000 – 7,000 words, book reviews c.1,000 words, and submitted as a Word .doc or .rtf attachment to the editor (Email:

All submissions should be accompanied by a 100-word abstract and 100-word biographical note.

Relevant colour image files, along with copyright permission, must also be supplied by the deadline.

For contributions that include any copyrighted materials, the author must secure written permission (specifying “non-exclusive world rights and electronic rights”) to reproduce them. The author must submit these written permissions with their final manuscript. Permission fees are the responsibility of the author.

The deadlines are always 21 March for the summer issue and 21 September for the winter issue. If you would like to receive a complimentary e-book of the most recent issue to check content and style, please request one from assistant Heather Robbins (

Only original articles that are not simultaneously under consideration by another journal will be considered. Unrevised student essays or theses cannot be considered.

Submissions must include all quotations, endnotes, and the list of works cited. References should follow the Chicago Manual of Style.

The copyright for a submission remains with the author at all times.

The peer-review process for Gramarye is as follows:

The paper, edited to fit Gramarye’s house style, will first be sent to the editorial board to approve it for peer review if they find it to be original, interesting, and of value to Gramarye’s readers.
One or two experts in the field of the paper will then be chosen as peer reviewers, in a double-blind process in which neither reviewer nor author identity will be made available to the other.
The reviewers will ascertain the relative strengths and weaknesses of the paper, including but not limited to:
a. whether it is properly referenced,

b.whether any opinion or evidence is presented clearly and is relevant to the overall argument,

c. and whether the language and purpose of the paper and its conclusion are clear and comprehensible.

This takes one to two weeks.

The reviewers’ comments will be returned to the editor, who will ensure the reviewers’ anonymity and return them to the author if any revisions are necessary.
If the author resubmits their revised article to the editor after peer-review and some queries haven’t been addressed, the editorial board will make the final decision on whether the article should be returned to the author to address the remaining issues, or whether it should be published or discarded. The author will be informed about this decision as soon as possible.

The New Americanist would like to announce a general call for papers for its third issue (Fall 2019). The New Americanist is an interdisciplinary journal publishing scholarly work on the United States and the Americas broadly considered. We are especially interested in work which includes a global perspective, introduces new critical approaches, and proposes theoretical frameworks to the study of the US. We welcome contributions from scholars from around the world and across the humanities and social sciences.

“Hobgoblins of Fantasy: American Fantasy Fiction in Theory”

Special feature in The New Americanist

In association with the American Studies Center, University of Warsaw

“A frightful hobgoblin stalks through Europe. We are haunted by a ghost, the ghost of Communism.” The Communist Manifesto (1850)

A frightful hobgoblin stalks through genre fiction, too. Fantasy is haunted by that same ghost, the ghost of critical theory. The fantastic, the hobgoblin, and fantasy literature as we know it were “always already” present in the early articulations of critical theory. Fantasy, though, does not merely echo within, or from, Marx and Engels. It presents unique challenges to critical theory, both to readers and to literary critics, not least because of its seeming opposition to realism, materialism, and history itself. That is to say, critical theory’s ostensible rationalism confronts fantasy’s vision of itself as myth. Even the word “myth” carries such different meanings in the theories of Horkheimer and Adorno, Barthes, or Lacan, rather than in fantasy, that the two can barely understand each other. That instability roots fantasy in a “negative capability,” possibly even an antifoundationalist tendency, when it comes to theorizing it. Suvin or Jameson, for example, set it in opposition to science fiction, its twin genre. So while fantasy finds more traction than SF in political allegory or feminist critique, that very capability clashes with the class theory of history, the critique of neoliberalism, that SF ostensibly contains. The result is that fantasy vacillates between Marxist critique, with its determinism and false consciousness, and social commentary, with its direct representation and even accusation.

What are readers to do? Must the hobgoblin be exorcised, or do we find a medium through which to communicate? Is the hobgoblin itself a product of the struggle between fantasy and rationality? As a special feature in the newly-relaunched The New Americanist, and in association with the American Studies Center at the University of Warsaw, “Hobgoblins of Fantasy: American Fantasy Fiction in Theory” seeks articles on critical approaches to American fantasy fiction. The special feature section is open to articles from any critical paradigm and of any period in American fantasy but is particularly interested in readings of fantasy that draw on the conflicts among competing critical methods. This collection reflects debates around definitions, sub-genres (urban fantasy vs. heroic fantasy, or high & low fantasy, etc.), periodization, historicization, gender & sexuality in reading communities, reception theory, and so forth. Portals into the critical fantastic include (but are not limited to) some suggestive tensions:

China Miéville observes in Red Planets that the SF project had begun subtitled “Marxism, Science Fiction, Fantasy.” Whence fantasy and why this trend?

Jameson and Suvin welcome fantasy into history with the departure of magic, or precisely when it ceases to be fantastical. Are other historicizations of fantasy possible?

Urban fantasy has flourished through identity politics (gender, LGBTQ+, “minority” communities), but what of concepts of consolation, inoculation, or cultural appropriation that question foundational works in the sub-genre?

The rise of Afrofuturism in SF suggests a parallel Afrofantastic. What of other communities find voice through (or represented in) fantasy? What voices do Indigenous, Latinx, Asian American, and other fantasy communities find in the genre?

Reader response and reception theory in pulp fiction has largely related to romance reading communities—in what ways is fantasy divergent from (or contiguous with) this established critical project?

Other questions might include (but are not limited to):

Is there a “Hard Fantasy,” and is it complicit in the potential toxic masculinity of demands for a Hard SF?

Fanfic studies have concentrated on SF, often in relation to identity and communities of resistance in underground publications, yet S/K echoes very differently in the commercial success of Fifty Shadesresponding to Twilight. What are the sexual politics of fantasy fanfic? What are its genders and communities?

What are fantasy’s nationalisms? Is there a manifest destiny stalking American fantasy?

Is “Cli-Fi” necessarily a subset of SF’s cognitive estrangements, or is a fantastic confrontation with nature “always already” allegorizing anthropogenic climate change?

Do Animal Studies or human/non-human networks find unique representations or opportunities in fantasy and/or in fantasy audiences?

Do we confront, through Klein, Lacan, Žižek, et al., the “phantasy” in fantasy, linking it to desire, the Other, and radical transformation, or must we also remain discontent with metonymic substitutes as a function of fantasy?

Please submit 1-page abstracts and a short biographical note for proposed articles to James Gifford ( and Orion Kidder ( by 31 July 2018. Selected articles (6,000–8,000 words) will then be due by 31 December 2018 for peer-review. The third issue of The New Americanist will be published in Fall 2019 with “Hobgoblins of Fantasy: American Fantasy Fiction in Theory” as its special feature.

Religious Practices and Ideology in the Works of Octavia Butler

Octavia E. Butler burst onto the science fiction literary scene with the publication of her first novel, The Patternmaster, in 1976. Her work continued to transform and develop the field in remarkable ways until her death in 2006. From creating worlds of powerful telepaths, alien beings looking to “trade” with humans to advance their civilization or creating a religion that fosters and encourages its followers to believe that “God is change,” Butler’s talent is astounding and groundbreaking.

In The Parable of the Sower Octavia Butler creates a new religion, Earthseed. Earthseed is based on the concept that God is change, that change is the only true constant in this world. The goal of Earthseed is to “take root among the stars.” Earthseed is a pragmatic religion that allows its followers to take active control of their lives in a way that provides them with support and community. While the concept of change runs throughout all of Butler’s work, it is in The Parable collection that she solidifies it.

This collection will explore and interrogate how religion is developed in Octavia E. Butler’s canon. We invite abstracts (400– 500 words) to and (mark both of us) — addressing topics that include but are not limited to the following:
• Religious imagination of Octavia Butler
• The role of religion in Butlerian world-making, community-building, envisioning the divine
• Teaching Octavia Butler in the religion classroom
• Cults, Fanaticism and Religion
• Folklore and Mythology
• Multidisciplinary and interfaith approaches to sermonizing and preaching
• Cult of the Occult
• Role of religion in post-human, non-human bodies, metamorphosis and hybridity, monstrosity and the fantastic in Butler
• Religious beliefs and practices in alternative concepts of subjectivity including gender, sexuality, species, etc.
• Liberation narratives related to or inspired by religions around the world
• Visual Culture: Butlerian images/embodiments and the Transcendent
• Sacred Texts
• Ethics
• Survival

Abstracts are due by July 1, 2018. Please put OCTAVIA BUTLER AND RELIGION as the Subject of the mail you send us. Scholars chosen to participate in the collection will be notified by August 15th with a final draft due March 15th, 2019..