Readercon, for those who don’t know, is one of the premier conventions for literary science fiction in the world. And this year, much to my squeeing glee, I’ve been asked to be on some panels, which I’ve only been wanting all of my adult life. So, yeah, I’m thrilled to be doing these:
Friday: 3:00 PM G Speculative Fiction and World War I. John Clute, Felix Gilman, Victoria Janssen (leader), Jess Nevins, Graham Sleight, Sonya Taaffe. On 28 July 1914, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, and World War I began. Hugo Gernsback had not yet named science fiction at the time, but proto-SF stories inspired by the war exist, many early SF writers would draw inspiration from their experiences of the wartime era, and alternate history stories of WWI are numerous. WWI had a tremendous effect on fantasy and horror stories as well, with surrealist, expressionist, and apocalyptic modes flourishing alongside tales of lost arcadias. Looking back 100 years later, how did WWI shape the readers and writers of speculative fiction and the genre as a whole?
Friday: 4:00 PM ENL The Immediate Influence of Mary Shelley . F. Brett Cox (leader), Andrea Hairston, Theodore Krulik, Jess Nevins, Diane Weinstein. At least since Brian Aldiss’s history of the genre, Billion Year Spree, it’s been a commonplace that Mary Shelley founded modern science fiction by writing Frankenstein; Or, the Modern Prometheus (1818). But instead of talking in general terms about her influence on science fiction, this panel focuses specifically on the works that came immediately afterwards. How much did Mary Shelley influence 19th-century science fiction? What individual works, and what trends, stemmed from her pioneering visions?
Friday: 9:00 PM ENL The Gothic in 19th-century Science Fiction. Jess Nevins. Jess Nevins will describe the influence of the Gothic on 19th-century science fiction. The dominant genre at the turn of the 19th century, the Gothic would peak in 1820 and then dwindle away until it became, in John Sutherland’s words, little more than a minor byway of Victorian fiction, returning only at the end of the century. Yet its tropes, motifs, and plot elements were highly influential on the science fiction of the century, including Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1819) and the anti-Gothic Edisonades.
Saturday: 10:00 AM CO Fictionmags. John Clute, Jess Nevins, Gordon Van Gelder (leader). The listserv Fictionmags has been in existence since 1999. Formed by David Pringle, ex-editor of Interzone, its formal remit is the study of all fiction-bearing magazines throughout history. Featuring approximately 175 members at any one time, it boasts such luminaries as Ellen Datlow, Gordon Van Gelder, Barry Malzberg, John Clute, Paul DiFilippo, and Scott Edelman. This panel will discuss Fictionmags and the resources it provides.
I hope to see you there!