Warsaw Conference

Just starting in a few hours is a conference in Warsaw on “Chasing Mythical Beasts… The Reception of Creatures from Graeco-Roman Mythology in Children’s & Young Adults’ Culture as a Transformation Marker”. You can download the programme booklet here, which makes clear that it is packed full of discussions of modern children’s fantasy, so directly relevant to what this blog is interested in.

Also there’s a Tumblr post here about Amazons in the forthcoming Wonder Woman movie.


Folklore Society Conference at Kingston

A brief note about the conference ‘Reflected Shadows: Folklore and the Gothic’, taking place over the weekend at Kingston University. I don’t see anything in the programme that’s directly relevant to Classics, but there are likely to be some shared thematic concerns.

Like a phoenix from the ashes …

At the Classical Association Annual Conference in Edinburgh a week ago, where I was part of a session on ‘Science Fiction and Classical Mythology’, along with Lynn Fotheringham, Nick Lowe, and the person who brought us all together, Marian Makins (you can find the abstracts in this document, at least until the site gets taken down, as it no doubt will soon), Frances Foster bemoaned the fact that nothing got published on this blog any more. So I have decided to resurrect it, though the Twitter account will remain dormant.

There’s a new issue out of Transformative Works and Cultures, the critical journal of the Organization for Transformative Works, who, among other things, maintain the fanfiction archive Archive of Our Own. This is a special issue on ‘The Classical Canon and/as Transformative Work’, edited by the redoubtable Ika Willis. I have a piece in here. I haven’t yet had time to read the rest, but dependable authors (and speakers at the ‘Swords, Sandals, Sorcery and Space’ conference) such as Amanda Potter and Juliette Harrisson have contributed.

Just this last weekend, Brett Rogers and Ben Stevens, who have previously brought us Classical Traditions in Science Fiction and ‘The Once and Future Antiquity’, together with Jesse Weimer, organized ‘The Modern Prometheus; or, Frankenstein’. The paper titles look really good, and I look forward to the publication.

Fantasy writer and Classics graduate Juliet McKenna writes about the importance of knowing how views of the past change, using attitudes to Greek homosexuality as her example.

C.E. Murphy has a new novel about Atlantis, Atlantis Fallen. I haven’t read this yet, so can’t comment.

Finally, Katherine McDonald has a blog post about the use of Latin in the 2008 Doctor Who episode ‘Planet of the Ood’ (the episode which follows immediately the famously Classical ‘Fires of Pompeii’), and how that text draws upon Seneca and Cicero and Petronius – maybe. The post is interesting in itself, but it also led me to Penny Goodman writing about the Latin in Murray Gold’s ‘Vale Decem’, and Philip Boyes’ gloriously fannish trawl through Classics in Doctor Who, in two posts. I’ve covered myself much the same material in a more academic fashion, in my contributions to Space and Time and Impossible Worlds, Impossible Things, and Amanda Potter will be writing about this for a forthcoming volume on Broadcasting Greece. Philip misses The Armageddon Factor, but brings my attention to the Greeks in Four to Doomsday, which I had missed. And I think that ‘The Fires of Pompeii’ very much is a celebrity historical in the general style of New Who, the celebrity in this case being Vesuvius itself. But Philip makes a lot of good points I shall have to consider when I return to this material.

Anyway, that should do for now.

Ninth Science Fiction Foundation Masterclass in Science Fiction Criticism 2015

The Ninth Science Fiction Foundation Masterclass in Science Fiction Criticism will be held from Friday 17 July to Sunday 19 July 2015

The SFF Masterclass involves three days studying texts supplied by three class leaders.  It is a great way to broaden your critical perspectives, sharpen some critical tools, and to make contacts with other people writing on SF and Fantasy.  The class leaders are drawn from professional writers, academics and fans, and this is a great opportunity to learn from people experienced in their craft.
Anyone interested in writing seriously about science fiction and/or fantasy, at whatever level they are in their careers, is welcome to attend.  This includes not just critics and reviewers, but historians and other scholars.  Those who have attended past Masterclasses are also welcome to apply (though we will prioritise applications from those who have not been previous students).
Past students have found these events immensely beneficial, and often return.  For some reports and endorsements from past students and class leaders, see the Facebook page for the Masterclass;
We are pleased to announce that the venue will again be the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, founded by Charles II in 1675, and the home of the Prime Meridian.
Price: £200£150 for registered postgraduate students.
The Class Leaders for 2015 will be:
Pat Cadigan, multiple Clarke and Hugo Award-winning author of Synners and Fools, and Official Queen of Cyberpunk.
Nick LoweBSFA Award-winning critic and writer of Interzone‘s ‘Mutant Popcorn’ column.
Graham Sleight, Hugo Award-winning Managing Editor of the Science Fiction Encyclopedia.
To apply please send a short (no more than 3,000 words) piece of critical writing (a blog entry, review, essay, or other piece), and a one page curriculum vitae, to masterclass@sf-foundation.org.  Applications received by 28 February 2015 will be considered by an Applications Committee consisting of Tony Keen, Andy Sawyer and Kari Sperring. Applications received after 28 February may be considered if places are still available, on a strictly first-come first served basis.
Information on past Masterclasses can be found here.

New stuff you need to know

Forgive me for I have sinned. It has been far too long since I blogged at this site. And there are things you need to know (and not just that Atlantis is back …)

First off, there will be another conference on Classics and Science Fiction, this time in the US, organized by Brett Rogers and Ben Stevens.  The Once and Future Antiquity: Classical Traditions in Science Fiction takes place 27-29 March 2015. The deadline for the call for papers is 15 December 2015.

Speaking of Brett and Ben, their collection Classical Traditions in Science Fiction should be out by the end of the year (the OUP website says October 2015, but that seems to be wrong). This will be followed by Classical Tradtions in Fantasy. Meanwhile, the proceedings of the 2012 Paris-Rouen conference have come out:  L’Antiquité dans l’imaginaire contemporain – Fantasy, science-fiction, fantastique, edited by Mélanie Bost-Fievet and Sandra Provini. This is an important volume, not least because it demonstrates that not all important works on Classical Reception are anglophone. Some pieces from Swords … are also starting to appear. Liz Gloyn’s and Stephe Harrop’s papers from the Hadrian’s Wall session are on Strange Horizons. And Foundation 118 is mostly devoted to a special issue reprinting six papers from the conference. Fantasy author Juliet McKenna, a Classics graduate herself, has written about this issue.

I’m very pleased that there is now more material appearing in print discussing the intersection of Classics and SFF. For too long these have been conversations going around – now finally the products of these conversations are starting to appear, and we can point people making enquiries of us at actual bibliography.

There are a few reports of the conference that I haven’t mentioned: Liz Bourke in Strange Horizons, Chris Pak in the SFRA Review, and myself and Cat Wilson in Foundation 116. I also talked about the conference on Classics Confidential.

Back in October there was a talk in Leeds on Greece and Rome in Star Trek. The audio should become available soon. Other interesting pieces on this blog include Malcolm Heath on the location of Atlantis, Bev Scott on George Lucas (not yet uploaded), and Eleanor OKell on The Hunger Games.

I shall leave you with notice of a conference that may be of interest to readers of this blog: Sideways in Time: Alternate History and Counterfactual Narratives. The CFP for this also closes on 15 December.

BSFA Lecture at Loncon 3

paula-jamesA special BSFA Lecture will be given at Loncon 3 by Dr Paula James (Open Unversity), and is entitled ‘Pygmalion’s Statue and her Synthetic Sisters: The Perfect Woman on Screen′. The lecture will be given at 20.00 on Saturday August 16th, the ExCel Centre, London Docklands. The lecture is open to any member of Loncon 3.

Paula James is a familiar face and voice to anyone who has studied the Open University’s Arts Foundation courses over the past fifteen years or so, or any of their courses in Classical Studies. Paula is Senior Lecturer in Classical Studies and Staff Tutor in Arts at the OU. She began her academic career after raising her family, and joined the Open University in the 1990s. She is an expert in Latin Literature, particularly the Metamorphoses of Ovid and Apuleius. She also writes on the reception of Latin texts in modern cinema. She has written an excellent introduction to Ancient Rome, Understand Roman Civilization, now in its second edition, and has jointly edited works on the imagery of Trade Union banners and the parrot in literature. Her most recent book is Ovid’s Myth of Pygmalion on Screen: In Pursuit of the Perfect Woman (2013), and it is from this work that her talk to us is derived.
The BSFA Lecture is intended as a companion to the George Hay Lecture, which is presented at the Eastercon by the Science Fiction Foundation. Where the Hay Lecture invites scientists, the BSFA Lecture invites academics from the arts and humanities, because we recognise that science fiction fans aren’t only interested in science. The lecturers are given a remit to speak “on a subject that is likely to be of interest to science fiction fans” – i.e. on whatever they want! This is a special lecture for Worldcon, and is the seventh BSFA Lecture.

Eighth SFF Criticism Masterclass 2014

I know, it’s ages since I’ve done a proper post here.  I do mean to do that, but in the meantime, I’d like to plug this year’s Science Fiction Foundation Masterclass.

People I think would find this immensely valuable: pretty much anyone who wants to write seriously about science fiction, at whatever level you’re currently operating. Great for learning, great for networking. And no bar on applying if you’ve attended previously.

Please share!

Here’s a link to details: