Dogs in Old-Time Science Fiction. That’s what my next two weeks will be about.
On Sunday the 26th, I’m giving a fiction reading at ConQuesT (the Kansas City Science Fiction Convention) that will include my “steampunk dog” tale. It’s a tribute to dime novel SF (the Edisonades) and a critique of that sub-genre’s imperialist impulses.
If you write about 19th-century dogs, you gotta stumble over the giant feet of Jack London, and then over all the social Darwinist stuff that comes with it. I give it my best shot.
On Wednesday the 29th, I’ll be presenting a research paper called “Re-imagining Mark Twain’s Dog Sentimentalism in 21st-Century” in Lawrence, KS. In 1903, Twain wrote a syrupy tear-jerker of a short story, “A Dog’s Tale,” to protest vivisection of animals by scientists. He did it by having a dog tell the whole story in first person.
Two of the best speculative fiction stories of the last ten years–Brad Denton’s “Sgt. Chip” and Kij Johnson’s “Evolution of Trickster Stories Among the Dogs of North Park After the Change–use first-person dog narration to similar ends. They honor the Twain tradition, without being retro or saccharine at all. That’s all happening at the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment Conference. (I’m on the panel with Drs. Christy Tidwell and Bridgette Barclay, who always do great stuff.)