If it’s January, it must be time for Arisia…

For those of you attending Arisia (at the Westin Boston Waterfront from January 13 through 16, 2017), here is my panel schedule. Hope to see you there!

And if you have any ideas for questions we can discuss during the panels I’m moderating, go ahead and share them in the comments or send them to me via Twitter (@drurbanski).
Friday, January 13

DC Movie Universe: Crisis on Infinite Screens

Time: 5:30pm – 6:45pm

Room: Adams (3W)

Tracks: Media

I am moderating this panel with Ed Fuqua, Bob Chipman, and Dan Toland as panelists.

With three movies under its belt, the DC Cinematic Universe is proving to be a creative cesspit, with bad stories, creative miscues, and a complete lack of a moral center. It’s easy to point at Zack Snyder as the problem, but with studio backing and decent box office, clearly the issue goes further. What’s gone wrong with DC on the big screen, and is there any hope to be had from future movies?

 

On Shaming, Bullying, and Public Humiliation

Time: 8:30pm – 9:45pm

Room: Marina 3 (2E)

Tracks: Fan Interest

I am participating on this panel along with Andy Hicks, Mark Oshiro, TheoNerd, and Inanna Arthen.

SF/F fans are no stranger to bullying — many of us who were picked on for being different at a young age found refuge and escape in the other worldliness of fantastical books, movies, and newer media. The internet age of un-moderated twitter, 4chan, and Gawker has made bullying and harassment easier. The behavior surrounding GamerGate has practically normalized it. What can this teach us about forms of public humiliation and bullying, and what we can do to push back against it?

 

Saturday, January 14

Another Look at the Bad Old Days

Time: 7pm – 8:15pm

Room: Hale (3W)

Tracks: Literature

I am participating on this panel along with Jonathan Woodward, James Hailer, Sarah Lynn Weintraub, and John G. McDaid.

A lot of SF has aged very badly. A lot of it bore appalling elements even for its time. There’s some usual suspects, but let’s look at the older works of SF with awful elements as a whole. Is there anything worth looking for in those stories? Who deserves to make problematic fave among the problematic horde? Are there lessons that are relevant to modern readers and authors to be found among the stories that make us wince?

 

Musicals as Fantasy

Time: 8:30pm – 9:45pm

Room: Bulfinch (3W)

Tracks: Fan Interest

Types: Panel

I am participating on this panel along with Chris Brathwaite, Brian Liberge, Victoria Queeno, and Jesi Pershing

Musical Theater is an art form that has a very passionate and committed fan culture. Many musicals have a lot in common with classical fantasy, both in concept and in form. So why aren’t musicals celebrated in the same spheres as Science Fiction and Fantasy literature or media? This panel will challenge the status quo as we entertain and explore arguments for and against including musicals under the umbrella of our love for all things SF/F genre!

 

Sunday, January 15

Beyond Physics: Many Sciences of Science Fiction

Time: 7pm – 8:15pm

Room: Burroughs (3E)

Tracks: Literature

I am participating on this panel along with Andrea Hairston (moderator), Heather Urbanski, Walt Williams, Dr. Pamela Gay, Dash

While a lot of speculative fiction is still very focused on physics, speculation can come from any field of study including anthropology, computer science, psychology, and history. A discussion of some of the more unusual ways that science fiction has chosen to examine the human condition.

 

Star Wars, 2017 Edition: Rogue One and More

Time: 8:30pm – 9:45pm

Room: Marina 2 (2E)

Tracks: Media

Types: Panel

I am moderating this panel with Mario Di Giacomo, Frank Wu, Kevin Cafferty, and Mink Rose as panelists.

Our annual discussion of all things Star Wars will focus on December’s *Rogue One*, but we’ll also spend some time looking at *The Force Awakens* now that the hype has settled down, and talk about future releases in the franchise.

 

Monday, January 16

Routing Around Cognitive Biases

Time: 10am – 11:15am

Room: Alcott (3W)

Tracks: Science

I am moderating this panel with Ruthanna Emrys, David G. Shaw, Stephen R Balzac, and Andrea Hairston as panelists.

Most of us have a friend who always plays the same lottery numbers, refuses to travel by airplane “because they’re not safe,” and thinks music was better when they were a kid. Your friend – indeed, most people – suffers from multiple cognitive biases. How do you make people aware of the flaws in their thinking so that they have the critical tools to avoid such biases in the future? What about the more difficult task of identifying your own biases?

 

Fan Etiquette: How Not to Be *That* Fan

Time: 2:30pm – 3:45pm

Room: Bulfinch (3W)

Tracks: Fan Interest

 

I am moderating this panel with Mark Oshiro, Eric Zuckerman, Justine Graykin, and William Frank as panelists.

Have you ever been embarrassed by your fellow fans when meeting actors, musicians, and other people of note? How can you control your emotions and come across as a fan, not a stalker? Even at movies, some fans are yelling at the screen distracting other viewers from enjoying the film. This panel would give some insight as to what is the best way to present yourself and your fandom in a favorable light.

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Off to WorldCon I go…

Where to find me at MidAmeriConII (WorldCon) in Kansas City

I’ve got a great schedule of programming this week at MidAmeriConII (the 2016 World Science Fiction Convention). I hope to see you there!

 

Panel title: The Interstices of Historical and Fanfiction

Day/Time: Wednesday Aug 17 at 07:00 PM to 08:00 PM

Location: Kansas City Convention Center – 2204
Historical fiction is a work of literature, comic, film, or television program set in the past. Fanfiction is a work of fiction produced by fans for fans, using famous people or source texts as their inspiration. Frequently the worlds overlap. Let’s discuss the overlaps, benefits, and pitfalls of working in these genres. The overlaps include writing fanfiction about historical fiction, setting fanfiction in an alternative universe by placing the narrative in a different historical era, fanworks about real-life historical figures (Historical RPF), or historical fanworks — any fanwork set in the past.

With Lyda Morehouse; Ms Sumana Harihareswara; Teresa Nielsen Hayden

 

Panel title: Joyful Disruption: Narratology and the SF/F Franchise (Solo presentation)

Day/Time: Thursday Aug 18 at 09:00 AM to 10:00 AM

Location: Kansas City Convention Center – 2201

Despite familiar complaints about the lack of creativity, interlocking franchise stories like those in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Star Wars saga rely on complex narrative functions that I weave together into a cohesive theory involving disruption among layers of narrative; the role of canon, and other forms of cultural memory; and textual boundaries. My overall goal is to identify what it is about these franchise stories that creates “built-in” loyal audiences in the first place. In other words, I’m working to answer the question, what are the narrative features of these franchises that keep bringing audiences back time and again?

 

Panel title: Science Fiction at Universities: Creating the Canon

Day/Time:Thursday Aug 18   06:00 PM to 07:00 PM

Location: Kansas City Convention Center – 2204

Different universities including Dundee, Liverpool and the local Kansas City University run science fiction courses. The reading material they cite as foundational varies considerably, with some including very few women, PoC or otherwise diverse SF while others start from a basis that SF began with Mary Shelley and includes works such as Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland (1915) and Yevgeny Zamyatin’s, We (1921). What influence do university courses have on canon formation and what responsibilities do they have in representing and encouraging awareness of the diversity of material that is published?

With Dr. Paul Booth; Ms. Lynne M. Thomas; Gary Wolfe

 

Panel title: I Don’t Believe in Science

Day/Time: Sunday Aug 21   01:00 PM to 02:00 PM

Location: Kansas City Convention Center – 2204

All too often we hear about people who “Don’t Believe in Science”, but science isn’t about belief.  A discussion about why talking about science in terms of belief does science, and faith, a disservice.

Moderating this discussion with panelists Renée Sieber, Brother Guy Consolmagno SJ, Carl Fink, and Benjamin C. Kinney.

My Arisia 2016 Schedule

For those of you attending Arisia (at the Westin Boston Waterfront from January 15 through 18, 2016), here is my panel schedule. Because of other commitments, I won’t be arriving until Sunday but am looking forward to fitting in as much con as I can. Hope to see you there!

 

Sunday, January 17

Time: 4:00 pm

Panel #473: Beauty and the Best at 25

Location: Marina 2

Description: Disney’s Beauty and the Beast remains the only animated feature to get a Best Picture Oscar nomination during the five-nominee era, and is one of Disney’s modern masterpieces. It’s got gorgeous songs, wonderful animation, and great acting, but also has some incredibly uncomfortable issues revolving around gender roles and abuse. How well has this Disney classic aged, how much has it influenced contemporary animation, and where does it rank amongst Disney films?

 

Time: 5:30 pm

Panel #480: Lesser Known Tropes v. Women in SF/F

Location: Faneuil

Description: We’ve had enough of the tropes of woman-as-accessory, sexual assault, and fridging. We debate what makes a Strong Female Character. But there are other tropes that crop up in stories around women characters that deserve discussion, many of which deserve to be retired. This is the panel to talk about these lesser-discussed tropes and what to do with them.

 

Time: 8:30 pm

Panel #460: The Hunger Games

Location: Burroughs

Description: With part two of Mockingjay, the big-screen adaptation of The Hunger Games has finished its run. We’ll look back on the series as a whole, evaluating it both as it relates to the books of Suzanne Collins and as a standalone set of films. How has the range of different directors and writers (as well as the casting choices, which have leaned very heavily towards whitewashing the cast) helped shape the franchise, and what affect has the series had on the state of YA filmmaking?

 


 

Monday, January 18

Time: 10:00 am

Panel #306: Inside Out: Pixar Gets Smart

Location: Marina 4

Description: Pixar’s Inside Out was a huge hit, and received rave reviews even by Pixar standards. Part of this love comes from the surprising depth of insight the movie has into what makes people in general — and young girls in particular — experience emotions, and why “negative” emotions like sadness can be absolutely vital. But beyond the insight, it was also a gloriously entertaining movie, and one that we’ll discuss and celebrate on this panel.


Time: 1:00 pm

Panel #323: I Hate the Hero

Location: Marina 1

Description: Is there a story with a protagonist that you dislike or maybe is just not likeable. I don’t mean, ‘The heavy is cooler than the hero,’ which is common. I mean you loathe the hero, to the point of rooting for the antagonist just to see them fail. What makes a hero likeable and do they have to be likeable for fans to be interested in the story?

 

Time: 2:30 pm

Panel #351: The Story Within the Story

Location: Marina 2

Description: Relatively few SFnal works give narrative the kind of central role within their heroes’ world that it often plays in our own. What works have best created stories within a story, and which are notable for the absence of a literary tradition where you might expect to find one?

Where to find me at Arisia 2015…

Better late than never…if you are attending Arisia 2015 this weekend, here is my panel schedule. I’m excited to talk about each of these and hope you are as well. See you there?

Friday, January 16

Panel #379: Fairy Tales on Film and TV

Location: Marina 1

Track: Media

Day/Time: Fri 10:00 PM

Description: Between Once Upon a Time and Grimm on television, and movies like Maleficent and Frozen, it’s a good time for fans of entertainment based on fairy tales. What makes these works so effective at translating these classics into other media? Why aren’t we seeing more works based on fairy tales and folklore from other cultures? What other works are coming up that deserve to be highlighted?

I am moderating this panel, which will also feature Monica Castillo, George Claxton, James Macdonald, David Olsen, and Hanna Lee Rubin Abramowitz (H-chan).

 

 

Saturday, January 17

Panel #355: Marvel Cinematic (and TV) Universe, 2015

Location: Marina 1

Track: Media

Day/Time: Sat 7:00 PM

Description: In 2014, we saw Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Captain America: The Winter Soldier deal with global corruption, while Guardians of the Galaxy took on Thanos and Ronan. As this panel takes place, we’ll have Agent Carter on TV, with a Netflix Daredevil show hitting in May. We’ll talk about where this increasingly complex and connected universe goes from here, and how things are looking after the last year.

I will be participating on this panel, moderated by Shira Lipkin, along with Elektra Hammond, Ed Fuqua, Kevin Cafferty, and Gillian Daniels.

 

 

Sunday, January 18

Panel #1176: TV Writing: Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror/Genre

Location: Alcott

Track: Writing

Day/Time: Sun 1:00 PM

Description: We often talk about what we like and don’t like about particular TV shows, but it’s not easy to tell some genre tales right on the screen. Our panelists discuss the challenges of telling supernatural tales for TV and film, what the limitations of the medium mean for telling those stories, and common pitfalls of writing for TV/films.

I will be participating on this panel, moderated by Thomas Vitale, along with Steve Sawicki, Randee Dawn Kestenbaum (Randee Dawn), and Chris Denmead (Dr. Chris).

 

 

Panel #572: Outlander: Scotland, Romance, and Time Travel

Location: Marina 3

Track: Media

Day/Time: Sun 4:00 PM

Description: Outlander has been a huge hit for Starz. How well has Diana Gabaldon’s series translated to the small screen? Does it reflect the tone that fans expected? Is it really aimed at viewers not familiar with the plot? Does the amount of sexual violence in a female-centric fantasy differentiate it or make it indistinguishable from material like A Game of Thrones? Join us for a fun, spoiler-filled discussion!

I am moderating this panel, which will also feature Gayle Blake, Forest Handford, Trisha Wooldridge, and Anna Erishkigal.

 

Panel #1100: Fear Is the Mind-Killer: Dune at Fifty

Location: Marina 2

Track: Literature

Day/Time: Sun 7:00 PM

Description: In 1965, Frank Herbert’s Dune, which went on to win the 1966 Hugo award, was published. Arriving in the wake of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring a few years earlier, Dune was perhaps the first SF novel to explore ecology on a grand scale. It has spawned several sequels, been adapted into multiple filmed adaptations, and inspired countless works of music in several genres. Come celebrate the 50th anniversary of this seminal work.

I will be participating on this panel, moderated by Ken Schneyer, along with Max Gladstone, Karl G Heinemann, and John Chu.

 

 

 

Panel #562: Topical, Typical, and Trope-ical

Location: Marina 2

Track: Literature

Day/Time/: Sun 8:30 PM

Description: Essays are devoted to analyzing them and TVTropes curates them. “Tropes” usually refer to the motifs we’re used to consuming in fiction, like the Casanova, the Action Girl, the Trickster, or the Hero’s Journey. What families and variations of archetypes add to the grand, literary tradition, and what are the stale, even harmful stereotypes readers could do without?

I will be participating on this panel, moderated by Adam Lipkin, along with Gordon Linzner, Israel Peskowitz, and James Macdonald.

 

Oh, and the Merida costume and Jedi robe will be making appearances this con as well…

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CFP for A Second New Edited Collection (Memory in Post-Apocalyptic and Dystopian Tales)

I am thrilled to announce that I have signed another contract with McFarland for a companion collection to Essays on Memory in Popular Culture, this one focusing just on the way memory works in post-apocalyptic and dystopian stories. The tentative title is Recovering What We’ve Lost: Essays on Memory in Post-Apocalyptic and Dystopian Tales. See the below for details and please consider submitting an abstract, or sharing the CFP with anyone you know who might be interested.

Summary

Upcoming collection on memory in post-apocalyptic and dystopian stories, under contract with McFarland and Company, seeks proposals for academic essays on the complex role of rhetorical and social memory in science fiction/fantasy, fandom, and online gaming. Abstracts due 1/5/15 with final essays due 6/1/15.

 

 

Details

For the upcoming collection Recovering What We’ve Lost: Essays on Memory in Post-Apocalyptic and Dystopian Tales, I am seeking abstracts for essays to be included in a collection designed to blend the classical rhetorical concepts of memory with more post-modern approaches to the notion of social and public memory as a lens for examining stories set in post-apocalyptic and/or dystopian settings across many media. Essays analyzing films, television shows, online games, and graphic novels are being requested along with those focusing on traditional print fiction.

 

This collection looks to directly connect two overlapping cultural trends of the early 21st century: the popularity of post-apocalyptic/dystopian speculative fiction and concerns over the ways we remember and memorialize the world around us. Fears regarding the “outsourcing” of memory in the 21st century (to smartphones and other digital devices) are echoes of past panics about loss of memory (such as Plato’s famous complaint about writing). But the current panic is as ahistorical as the previous ones in that much of recorded history relies on memory objects that foster and celebrate shared cultural memories. These might be the ballads of old heroes and monsters or the monuments commemorating great battles or simply a family Bible keeping track of the generations. The power of such memory objects is one reason that post-apocalyptic and dystopian tales resonate so strongly across the generations.

 

As genre and cultural studies scholars have argued before, the post-apocalyptic and dystopian strains of speculative fiction more often than not carry a message of hope. This optimism takes several forms such as recovery of freedom/civilization, resilience of the survivors to carry on, and successful prevention of the dystopia on the part of readers. David Brin has called this tendency the “self-preventing prophecy” and while not all tales in this category fit that mold, many do.

 

A key part of that recovery and resilience is the collective social memory of the characters within the story. At times, the history has been lost and must be reconstructed (see Canticle for Leibowitz) while other stories focus on the characters’ attempts in the immediate aftermath to preserve the cultural memory (as in the show Falling Skies). Much of the power of post-apocalyptic stories lies in the ruins of the familiar: the decaying monuments in Logan’s Run, the traces of familiar English in the dialects of Canticle, the brief mention of the “ancient” form of self-governance known as democracy in Mockingjay. Meanwhile, the power of the state, or other controlling entity, in dystopian tales very often relies on their ability to control information not only about the present, but especially about the past as well.

 

I am particularly interested in receiving abstracts for essays by and about texts from under-represented groups across the spectrum and the globe. In addition, graduate students and junior faculty are especially encouraged to submit abstracts. Anticipated themes of this collection include, but are not limited to,

  • Ancient Memory: Allusions to Shared Myths and Legends
  • Memories of Domestic Life: Hearth and Home
  • Memorials and Landmarks: Visual Symbols of Loss
  • Stolen, not Lost: Authoritarian Control over Information and Memory
  • Entertainments of the Past (Music, Novels, Theater)
  • The immediate past (such as V for Vendetta) compared to long-lost past (such as Hunger Games and Canticle)

While the underlying premise of this collection is rhetorically based, interdisciplinary approaches are most desirable. In particular, my goal is to collect perspectives that cover the intersection of contemporary interpretations and explorations of the ancient rhetorical canon of memory, narrative theory, and cultural studies. Please also keep in mind, however, that the primary audience includes both fans and academics so the approach should be accessible to interested, but not expert, readers.

 

Abstracts (250-500 words) proposing essays of 5-7,000 words each will be accepted until January 5, 2015, with completed essays due June 2015. Please send the abstracts as attached Word files to Heather Urbanski at memoryinsf_book @ icloud.com.

My finalized LonCon3 schedule (where to find me at WorldCon next week)

In case you might have missed the news, the World Science Fiction Convention begins next week in London. And I’m so excited (and not just because I’ll be debuting a new hall costume inspired by Brave’s Merida).

My official programming appearances are on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday (see below) but I am also planning on attending the events on Thursday to open the academic conference.

Come and find me and we’ll chat about….well, I’m sure if you follow me on social media and are at WorldCon, we’ll have plenty of topics.

Hope to see you there!

I’ll also be in Dublin the next weekend for Shamrokon (the Dublin Eurocon 2014) and hope to have that schedule finalized soon.

 

 

Thursday, August 14

“Diversity in Speculative Fiction”: Welcome to the Academic Conference

Capital Suite 6 (Level 3), 10:30am – 11am

A chance to find out what the academic programme is and to meet (other) academics at the event before the first session. Please bring your own drinks along.

 

Diversity in Speculative Fiction Conference Reception

South Gallery 21/22, 10pm – 11:30pm

A reception primarily aimed at participants in the academic programme “Diversity in Speculative Fiction” but open to those who are interested in meeting the academics and discussing the programme with them. It is sponsored by the Science Fiction Foundation, who will be publishing selected papers drawn from the programme in the journal Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction.

 

 

Saturday, August 16

Place and Time: Capital Suite 6 (Level 3), 9:30am – 11am

Panel Title: Mediated Boundaries

Panelists: Jo Lindsay Walton, Pawel Frelik, Colin Harvey, Heather Urbanski

Three academics each give a 15 minute presentation. These are followed by a jointly held 30 minute discussion with the audience.

  • Heather Urbanski, “Narratology of Science Fiction and Fantasy Franchises”**
  • Colin B Harvey, “Tink Talks! Transmedia Memory and Neverland”
  • Pawel Frelik, “Subversive Moddernity—Fantastic Game Modification and Politics”

**I’ll be presenting the latest version of my analysis of Agents of SHIELD, Hunger Games, and Once Upon a Time as narratively disruptive franchises.

 

Sunday, August 17

Place and Time: Capital Suite 1 (Level 3), 10am – 11am

Panel Title: Working for a Living

Panelists: Martin McGrath, Donna Scott, Susan Connolly, Alison Page, Heather Urbanski

Most SF TV focuses on (and is written by!) professional/white collar/middle class individuals. But a few recent examples — such as The Walking Dead, True Blood, Orphan Black and Misfits — have included a greater focus on working class/blue collar experiences. How does this affect the stories such shows tell, the range of characters and identities they include, and how they use their fantastic elements?

 

Place and Time: Capital Suite 15 (Level 3), 1:30pm – 3pm

Panel Title: Secrecy in Science

Panelists: David L Clements, Katie Mack, Heather Urbanski, Carolina Gómez Lagerlöf, Sunil Patel, Leah-Nani Alconcel

What role does secrecy have in science? Should drug companies be allowed to hide trial data from their competitors? Should scientists be allowed to publish papers and not the data they are based on? Is there a place for commercial confidentiality in space missions? But if everything is open, how will anybody get commercial benefit from new inventions and discoveries? And do we really want DNA sequences for super-flu, and the designs for dirty bombs and plutonium refineries to be available to all?

 

 

Monday, August 18

Place and Time: Capital Suite 13 (Level 3), 12pm – 1:30pm

Panel Title: Brave Young World

Panelists: Cory Doctorow, Gillian Redfearn, Heather Urbanski, David Farnell

How is the nature of young people’s reading changing, and how should it change the ways we write and publish? Are new forms of storytelling emerging along with new technologies?

 

 

 

My LonCon3 (2014 WorldCon) Schedule

I’m so excited about my LonCon 3 schedule. Be sure to follow @loncon3 and @AcademicLoncon3 on Twitter for even more details and updates.

 

Here’s where to find me at WorldCon this August:

Mediated Boundaries (Part of the Academic Track)

Saturday (8/16) 09:30 – 11:00

Three academics each give a 15 minute presentation. These are followed by a jointly held 30 minute discussion with the audience.

  • Heather Urbanski, “Narratology of Science Fiction and Fantasy Franchises”
  • Colin B Harvey, “Tink Talks! Transmedia Memory and Neverland”
  • Pawel Frelik, “Subversive Moddernity—Fantastic Game Modification and Politics”

 

Working for a Living

Sunday (8/17) 10:00 – 11:00

Most SF TV focuses on (and is written by!) professional/white collar/middle class individuals. But a few recent examples — such as The Walking Dead, True Blood, and Misfits — have been grounded more in working class/blue collar experiences. How does this affect the stories such shows tell, the range of characters and identities they include, and how they use their fantastic elements?

Panelists: Chris N. Brown (Moderator), Kate Keen, Martin McGrath, Donna Scott, Heather Urbanski

 

Secrecy in Science

Sunday (8/17) 13:30 – 15:00

What role does secrecy have in science? Should drug companies be allowed to hide trial data from their competitors? Should scientists be allowed to publish papers and not the data they are based on? Is there a place for commercial confidentiality in space missions? But if everything is open, how will anybody get commercial benefit from new inventions and discoveries? And do we really want DNA sequences for super-flu, and the designs for dirty bombs and plutonium refineries to be available to all?

Panelists: David L Clements (Moderator), Katie Mack, Heather Urbanski, Carolina Gómez Lagerlöf, Sunil Patel (@ghostwritingcow on Twitter), Leah-Nani Alconcel