Full ConQuesT 50 Schedule

My full schedule for Kansas City’s 50th Anniversary ConQuesT SF Convention is now available under Appearances.

Come by the Sheraton at Crown Center and see me talk about Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, Doctor Who, and read some of the stranger excerpts of my research on American sci-fi from Gears and God.

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ConQuesT 50th Anniversary

The Kansas City Science Fiction Convention (ConQuesT) has updated its list of panelists. I’ll be appearing there, along with some fine writers, artists, and fans, starting on Friday, May 24.

I’ll post more under the “Appearances” tab once I know what my actual schedule is.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the event. I think I attended my first one as a young Star Wars fan, accompanied by a nonplussed father, in the 1980s.

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Summer UC Davis Class: American Novel to 1900

This summer, I’ll be teaching the “American Novel to 1900” course for UC Davis English Department. The full information is on their course schedule page. The first three novels we’ll cover in the six-week class:

  • The Female American, Winkfield (1767)
  • The Coquette, Foster (1797)
  • The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, Poe (1838)

My goal is to incorporate something I’ve wanted to do since I saw Trinity College Professor and Heath Anthology of American Literature general editor Paul Lauter lecture on U.S. literature over a decade ago: student input into the choice of readings. Because books from this time period are mostly out of copyright and available online, I can do it without putting undue burden on the students.

On the first day, they’ll take a poll (what American “classics” they’ve read, what authors they think we should read in a college class) and then I’ll introduce parts of American literature that they may not be familiar with, including sentimental/domestic fiction, sensation and serialized novels, utopian fiction, dime novel western/invention/detective serial narratives, and more. Then we’ll vote on what novels to cover in the 2nd half of class.

As we do this, I’ll challenge them (or they’ll challenge each other) to pick a variety of material based on what they think is important. We’ll address inclusiveness, historical importance, etc. We’ll also cover things like how these novels were published and how writers or publishers conceived of what a “novel” was. Some things I’m particularly curious about:

  • Will they gravitate toward “American Renaissance” antebellum works or toward Realist novels of the late 1800s?
  • Are the books that were standard U.S. high school curriculum 20 years ago still entrenched? Have they all read Red Badge of Courage or The Scarlet Letter, for example? If not, what works have ascended to that often-dubious honor?
  • Will anyone question the inclusion of a work (Female American) from before the U.S. was actually a nation?
  • What novels have they already covered at the university level, perhaps even more than once?

I’m very much looking forward to it.

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Cambridge History of Science Fiction is Out!

I received my contributor’s copy of The Cambridge History of Science Fiction this week.

This book is a thorough, thoughtful collection of essays about key developments in the history of SF worldwide. Gerry Canavan and Eric Carl Link have done a splendid job in making this project happen and editing the edition. My essay on American Edisonades (19th-century “proto-steampunk” inventor tales) is just one of 46 chapters in over 800 pages(!) taking science fiction from antiquity to today.

It’s comprehensive, which is often publishing speak for very big and somewhat expensive. If you can’t buy it, ask a local library to pick up a copy for everyone to access.

Photos (with help from my office staff, Sam and Ed) are below:

ScienceFictionCambridgephoto

SFCambridgeopen

 

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This Year’s Sturgeon Short-Fiction Award Nominees

One of the coolest things my alma mater’s Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction does is facilitate the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for best SF short story of the year. They announced nominees this week.

Named for the phenomenal author who bridged pulp SF and highbrow literary complexity, the Sturgeon Award is aimed specifically at short fiction: anything from flash to novella.  I’m copying the list of finalists from the Center’s Facebook page below:

This year’s finalists for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for the best short science fiction story have been selected. The award will be presented this year during the Campbell Conference Awards reception on Friday, June 21, 2019.

Our 2019 Finalists Are:

“Freezing Rain, A Chance of Falling,” 
L.X. Beckett.
Fantasy and Science Fiction, July 2018.

“The Only Harmless Great Thing,”
Brooke Bolander.
Tor.com Books

“The Secret Life of the Nine Negro Teeth of
George Washington,”
P. Djèlí Clark.
Fireside Fiction, Feb 2018.

“Umbernight,”
Carolyn Ives Gilman.
Clarkesworld, Feb 2018.

“Nine Last Days on Planet Earth,”
Daryl Gregory.
tor.com, Sept 2018.

“When We Were Starless,”
Simone Heller.
Clarkesworld, Oct 2018.

“The Starship and the Temple Cat,”
Yoon Ha Lee.
Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Feb 2018.

“When Robot and Crow Saved East St. Louis,”
Annalee Newitz.
Slate.com, Dec 2018.

“Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach,”
Kelly Robson.
Tor.com Books

“On the Day You Spend Forever with Your Dog,”
Adam Shannon.
Apex, Dec 2018.

“Yard Dog,”
Tade Thompson.
Fiyah, July 2018.

Congratulations to the nominees!

And just to clarify, I’m on the advisory board of the Gunn CSSF, but I’m not on the Sturgeon Committee or involved in the nominations process in any way. That task is reserved for a dedicated group of pros with a collective publishing experience that spans more than six decades and hundreds of works, that includes Kij Johnson, Andy Duncan, Elizabeth Bear, the center’s founder and namesake James Gunn, and trustee of the Sturgeon estate, Nöel Sturgeon.

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This Year’s Nebula Finalists

Just a quick note that the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) announced nominees for the Nebula Awards this week.

I’m posting a link to the full list. I just want to commend Andy Duncan, Tina Connolly, and Mary Robinette Kowal on their nominations. (That’s just based on my prior reading; I need to book up and read some of the other nominees, esp. in short fiction categories).

Probably most related to this blog, however, is the nod Janelle Monáe got for her album, Dirty Computer. Sci-fi music turns up in the Nebula and Hugo awards for media/related categories more and more frequently. That’s a good thing.

SFWA is a fantastic organization that works very hard to help speculative writers get opportunities (for good-paying story sales, for representation, etc.). I’ve been an Associate Member since my first professional sale.

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New Review of Gears and God

U of Alabama Press just recently sent me a copy of a forthcoming Gears and God review by John Rieder that will be appearing in the next issue of Science Fiction Studies. I’ll try to get permission to excerpt it here, but for now you can read it on the book’s Amazon site (they’ve added it to the blurbs under “Editorial Reviews”).

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