The 2012 SFRA Conference will meet in Detroit, Michigan on June 28-July 1.
With the theme of “Urban Apocalypse, Urban Renaissance: Science Fiction and Fantasy Landscapes,” the conference will explore urban destruction and construction through science fiction and fantasy media including novels, short stories, music, movies, television shows, and video games. The Guest of Honor is Eric Rabkin, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and the guest speakers include Professor Steven Shaviro of Wayne State University and writers Saladin Ahmed, Sarah Zettel (aka C.L. Anderson), and Minister Faust.
Call for papers:
Urban Apocalypse, Urban Renaissance: Science Fiction and Fantasy Landscapes
Detroit is at once an apocalyptic city and a Renaissance city. Over the past ten years, Detroit has suffered immensely, especially during the economic downturn and the virtual demise of the auto industry. Its apocalyptic landscape of abandoned buildings, its negative image due to high crime rates, a recently impeached corrupt Mayor, Kwame Kilpartick, and the loss of close to 300,000 people in the last census have made it the symbol of a city with a hopeless future. However, there is hope as the so called Renaissance city of the 1970s may now be experiencing a true Renaissance. New venues for the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Lions, funding obtained by Mayor Bing to raze many of the abandoned buildings, the resurgence of the auto industry along with an invitation to the film industry, and a call for repopulation of Detroit with legal immigrants by New York Mayor Bloomberg may re-establish Detroit as the major city that it could be.
It is an urban landscape of change, revealing the end of one era and the beginning of another–an urban landscape that is ripe for science fiction and fantasy literature. The wide-ranging landscape of Detroit, Michigan is reminiscent of the various landscapes evident in science fiction and fantasy. Thus, Detroit can serve as an inspiration for paper topics considered at this conference. Papers can cover any topic concerning landscapes. Here are some suggested topics.
- Apocalyptic Landscapes in science fiction and fantasy, as in the novels Slaughterhouse Five by Vonnegut, Dreamsnake by Vonda McIntyre, or The Road by McCarthy
- Renaissance landscapes evident in utopic literature such as More’s Utopia
- Psychogeography presented in recent novels like Valente’s Palimpsest or Mieville’s The City and the City
- Alien Landscapes: from the landscape in Weinbaum’s “A Martian Odyssey” to Pohl’s Venus in The Space Merchants to Le Guin’s Gethen in The Left Hand of Darkness to Robinson’s Mars trilogy to Vinge’s Fire upon the Deep
- Landscapes created by terraforming
- Set design in SF films, like Syd Mead’s set design in Blade Runner, based in part on the Detroit skyline of the early 80s
- Virtual landscapes as in the fiction of Greg Egan, William Gibson, Charles Stross, etc. or in films, such as The Matrix
- Foreign landscapes as evident in recent novels like Bacigalupi’s Thailand in The Wind- Up Girl, McDonald’s Istanbul in The Dervish House, VanderMeer’s Ambergris in Finch, etc.
- Alternate history landscapes
- U.S. landscapes as in Gaiman’s Minnesota in American Gods or Doctorow’s San Francisco in Little Brother
- Ecological landscapes: The effects of pollution or eco-terrorism on landscapes
- Future landscapes as in Banks’ Algebraist, Stephenson’s Anathem, or Wilson’s Julian Comstock or past landscapes as in Butler’s Kindred, Willis’ Doomsday Book, or Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
- Space or the spaceship as a landscape?
- Gender Landscapes