I’ll be at Readercon in Burlington, MA next weekend.
Guests of Honor: Nicola Griffith and Gary K. Wolfe.
Memorial Guest of Honor: Joanna Russ.
Friday, July 11, 11:00 AM. G
Drift-Compatibile Fictional Characters.
Amal El-Mohtar, Victoria Janssen, Nicole Kornher-Stace (leader), A. J. Odasso, Navah Wolfe.
The film Pacific Rim created the idea of two people who are “drift-compatible,” able to live inside each other’s minds and memories without sustaining massive psychic damage. Let’s use this as a metaphor to explore our favorite speculative fiction duos—whether they’re friends, traveling companions, siblings, or spouses—and talk about what makes those deeply intimate pairings work.
Friday, July 11, 6:00 PM, F
From the French Revolution to Future History: Science Fiction and Historical Thinking.
Christopher Cevasco, Phenderson Clark, Jonathan Crowe, John Crowley, Victoria Janssen (leader).
Arts journalist Jeet Heer wrote, “It’s no accident H.G. Wells wrote both [The] Time Machine and The Outline of History (one of the most popular history books ever), [and] it’s no accident that science fiction writers are also often historical novelists: Kim Stanley Robinson, Nicola Griffith, etc.” For Heer, science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, and horror can all be grouped under the meta-genre of fantastika, and all emerged from the “epistemological rupture” of the French Revolution, which “forced us to think of history in new way, with new emphasis on ruptures and uncontrollable social forces.” Is Heer right to see these commonalities? Is it useful to think of historical fiction in fantastika terms? And how do speculative genres borrow from historical ones?
Friday, July 11, 7:00 PM, ENL
Recent Fiction Book Club: Persona.
Victoria Janssen, Kate Nepveu (leader), Fran Wilde.
In a world where diplomacy has become celebrity, a young ambassador survives an assassination attempt and must join with an undercover paparazzo in a race to save her life, spin the story, and secure the future of her young country in this near-future political thriller. For author Genevieve Valentine, restraint is a mode of composition, both in the beautifully understated sparsity of her prose and in her protagonists’ taut, tense stillness. In Persona, where the degree to which one has or has not smiled reveals or conceals a wealth of information, restraint is crucial to a Face’s survival. Persona brings up questions of identity and celebrity, managing to be a tense, carefully wrought thriller while still nodding and winking at the camera. You’ll never look at a red carpet the same way again.
Saturday, July 12, 9:00AM, ENL
Classic Fiction Book Clu: Herland
Ken Houghton, Victoria Janssen (leader), Sarah Langan.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, a prominent social critic and lecturer at the turn of the 20th century, is perhaps best known for her short story “The Yellow Wallpaper,” a chilling study of a woman’s descent into insanity, and Women and Economics, a classic of feminist theory that analyzes the destructive effects of women’s economic reliance on men. In Herland, a vision of a feminist utopia, Gilman employs humor to engaging effect in a story about three male explorers who stumble upon an all-female society isolated somewhere in South America. Noting the advanced state of the civilization they’ve encountered, the visitors set out to find some males, assuming that since the country is so civilized, “there must be men.” A delightful fantasy, the story enables Gilman to articulate her then-unconventional views of male and female roles and capabilities, motherhood, individuality, privacy, the sense of community, sexuality, and many other topics.
Saturday, Jul 12, 1:00PM, ENL
In Memorium YA Book Club: Hat Full of Sky
Stacie Hanes, Victoria Janssen, Shira Lipkin, Rachel Steiger-Meister, Emily Wagner.
The second book in the Tiffany Aching series sees Pratchett’s young heroine ready to begin her magical apprenticeship, which goes nothing like she expects and leads to trouble, especially with other young witches-in-training. What she doesn’t know is that something insidious is coming after her, and none of the other witches can help. We wanted to do something to mark the death of genre giant Pratchett, and while any of his books would be worth talking about, the Tiffany Aching series is some of his most thoughtful work. The adventures of a young girl learning what it means to be a witch speak deeply to readers, as she demystifies some aspects of witchery and finds deeper mysteries of life and magic in others, all while learning to be clever, kind, and brave. Readers of all ages are welcome to join the conversation.