2) Voting for the Sputnik Awards is still open. Shortlisted: Jim Butcher, The Cinder Spires (Roc); Becky Chambers, The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet (Hodder & Stoughton); Berit Ellingsen, Not Dark Yet (Two Dollar Radio); N.K. Jemisin, The Fifth Season (Orbit); Emma Newman, Planetfall (Roc); Peter Newman, The Vagrant (Harper Voyager); Naomi Novik, Uprooted (Del Rey); Nnedi Okorafor, The Book of Phoenix (Hodder & Stoughton); Adam Roberts, The Thing Itself (Gollancz); Kim Stanley Robinson, Aurora (Orbit); Neal Stephenson, Seveneves (William Morrow); Fran Wilde, Updraft (Tor Books). If the UK can vote to leave the EU without knowing what it is or whether we're actually in it, you're probably OK to cast a battle-ballot in the Sputniks. I wrote an editorial in the current Interzone to talk a bit about the Sputniks and other new awards.
3) SFRA & CRSF conferences were fun. My papers, "Marvellous Moneys & Financial Familiars" and "The Dystopglyn Glyns," are online at Academia.edu. The first one was basically a primer on controversies in the ontology of money, then a few selections from the Economics in SFF project. The second was an attempt at thinking about some of the huge everyday topics and tools of SF Studies (utopia, the future, diegetic prototyping, SF vs. fantasy, Suvin's cognitive estrangement).
4) It is not long since the last flake of the Smurfette fake tat I won for losing Laser Tag washed off my shoulder. Though I think she may have enlisted as a Pokemon. Meanwhile, wouldn't Ghostbusters make an intriguing location-based AR game? Especially if it was genuinely terrifying. A bit Five Nights at Freddy's maybe.
5) If anyone has material they would be willing to contribute to the Economics in SFF project, I'd love to take a look. Here's a formal-ish CfP, but if in doubt, just get in touch.
6) Are you organising a conference or something similar in 2017? Maybe you should get in touch too. There's something I want to talk to you about.
7) "Who?" Here's a good game you can play when you meet new people (& here's the original).
8) Those science fiction conferences. So, there was really far too much great stuff at SFRA & CRSF to attempt even an attempt at a report, but I want to pick out three moments almost at random. One was the long feared and in the event totally gratifying and stimulating collision of contemporary experimental poetry with SFF in the Stephen Mooney panel. A second was Sarah Lohmann's paper on feminist utopias, science, and chaos/complexity. Before I heard that paper and let it sink in a little, I would have said that the problem with utopia-as-CAS is that the transformations of CASs are by definition unpredictable: too open, too flexible, too fickle, and incapable of cherishing and protecting anything worthy of the name utopian. The just-maybe-brilliant insight that suddenly makes me, in a really good way, way less sure, was the focus on science work as a CAS. A society organised according to edge-of-chaos utopian science feels like a very different proposition to a society organised as edge-of-chaos utopia. A third was Joan Haran's keynote, an attentive exploration of points where SFF and activism touch (swirling around WisCon, The Fifth Sacred Thing, Octavia's Brood, and possibilities for genomics SF research activisms).
9) Liverpool is so hot right now. Prof Michael Dougan on Leave and criminal irresponsibility.
No law seems to be able to cope with politicians just making up shit as convenient, & retracting it later. Signal strength governmentality— Jo Lindsay Walton (@jolwalton) June 24, 2016
& yet the whole process of deliberate loud & timely lies & quiet after-the-fact retractions is in principle available to legal rationality.— Jo Lindsay Walton (@jolwalton) June 24, 2016
10)@jolwalton GOVERNMENTALITIES FOR THE GOVERNMENTALITY GOD— Appropriate Tributes (@godtributes) February 8, 2016
12) Fredric Jameson in 1982: "For the apparent realism, or representationality, of SF has concealed another, far more complex temporal structure: not to give us 'images' of the future—whatever such images might mean for a reader who will necessarily predecease their 'materialization'—but rather to defamiliarize and restructure our experience of our own present, and to do so in specific ways distinct from all other forms of defamiliarization." The sort of thing I'm trying to return to and perhaps gently productively disagree with in that triptych of talks at Northumbria Summer Speakers / Fantasies of Contemporary Culture / CRSF.
13) Science Fiction and the Medical Humanities at Glasgow University was also good craic. Particularly enjoyed the first panel I went to (Imogen Woodberry, Phoenix Alexander, Joshua Odam) which poked me into seeking out Octavia's Brood ed. Walidah Imarisha and adrienne maree brown. Wish I'd done so sooner. Snippet from the intro:
"Visionary fiction" is a term we developed to distinguish science fiction that has relevance toward building new, freer worlds from the mainstream strain of science fiction, which most often reinforces dominant narratives of power. Visionary fiction encompasses all of the fantastic, with the arc always bending toward justice. We believe this space is vital for any process of decolonization, because the decolonization of the imagination is the most dangerous and subversive form there is: for it is where all other forms of decolonization are born.
Many of the contributors to Octavia's Brood had never written fiction before, let alone science fiction. When we approached folks, most were hesitant to commit, feeling like they weren't qualified. But overwhelmingly, they all came back a few weeks later, enthusiastically, with incredible ideas and some with dozens of pages already written. Because all organizing is science fiction, we are dreaming new worlds every time we think about the changes we want to make in the world. The writers in this collection just needed a little space, and perhaps permission to immerse themselves fully in their visionary selves.14) Two very different speculative fiction anthologies out recently.
15) "Work as if you live in the early days of World War III."
16) I'm reading some kind of SF or fantasy prose with TBC in the BristolCon Fringe on 15 August. Come!