The Eaton Conference: Day Three — Idea Overload B

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(You can read about Day One and Day Two here and here.)

Day Three

The third day of the Conference (technically the second and last day of the event, which only ran from Friday to Saturday) proved to be both intellectually exciting and terrifying.  We first attended a panel called “Neocolonialism, Global Capitalism, and Monstrous Subalterns,” which included a presentation by Steven Shaviro on hyperbolic futures and a paper on River of Gods and Cyberabad Days (both interesting books I think you folks would enjoy reading).  After that, we attended a panel on Polish SF, which I have some familiarity with through an undergraduate cyberpunk course I took at UC Santa Cruz (we read Imaginary Magnitudes by Stanislaw Lem).  Both panels were interesting, though I suspect their early placement and my pending presentation impacted my note taking, as most of my notes for these panels are quite empty (I did find them interesting, but I didn’t see a need to take too many notes).

The third panel we attended was actually mine.  Most of you know that I was pegged to present a
paper on the work of Nalo Hopkinson and Tobias S. Buckell.  Nalo was present for the presentation (there were two of us, since the third person apparently couldn’t make it), which was quite alarming, but was also expected (thank you Twitter!).  I didn’t get as many questions as I had hoped, but so be it.  The person who presented alongside me talked a great deal about the cultural elements of Hopkinson’s Midnight Robber, which didn’t figure as prominently in my discussion (I was largely focused on the broader picture and how that imagined outer space as liberative of the postcolonial condition). I took a lot of notes during the panel, which may prove useful when I put the next batch of changes into my Master’s thesis.

This is Loopdilou’s WTF face…
After that I had the pleasure of meeting Hopkinson (again) and having her sign my beat-up copy of Midnight Robber and the new one I bought specifically for her to sign.  We had a nice, but brief discussion about her work, my paper, and Tobias S. Buckell.  She told me that she was quite pleased that I was talking about Buckell’s work, since very few people are.  That’s pretty much all the validation one needs, to be honest!
Also, she is a coward.
Following lunch, we attended the last panel of the day, which, oddly enough, happens to be a topic we intend to discuss on The Skiffy and Fanty Show.  The panel was called “Religion, SF, and Otherness” and included a paper by one of the professors in the English department at UF (my reader for my thesis had to read the paper because she had an unexpected illness).  Her paper discussed the Catholic legacies and allegories in Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow and The Children of God.  The other paper was actually quite funny.  The author discussed at length the problems of religious representation in SF film–specifically, the representation of non-Christian/Catholic religion.  The shortened version of his paper would read:  they don’t represent them very well at all!  We ended up having a good discussion with him after and hope to bring him onto to the show alongside John Ottinger.
The “WTF, I’m coming out the public bathroom, jerk!” pose.
The final event was the keynote, Mike Davis, and a discussion panel including Nalo Hopkinson, Karen Tei Yamashita, China Mieville, and Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, Jr.  Overall, the speech was interesting, although it was not as focused on SF/F as I had expected it to be.  Still, his discussion of Ward Moore was amusing and I suspect I will do some research on what he called “counterfactual historiography.”  The panel, however, was riveting.  One of the issues I am interested in right now is the problem of access to publication and translation (there have been a few discussions already in the last month or so which have highlighted this issue). Peoples from outside of the western sphere of influence often have difficulty accessing the literary voice either because publishers don’t publisher foreign writers all that frequently or because publishers aren’t willing to shell out tens of thousands of dollars to translate works not originally written in English.  While the panel didn’t come to any absolute conclusion, it was still awesome to see professional writers and critics tackling the issue of translation and Global SF in general.  I may attempt to write about this issue for my U.S. Imperialism course.
The Panel of Awesome!
And then it was all over.  They gave everybody wine, cheesecake, and other nibbly bits and we had one last riveting public gathering before we all disappeared into the night, never to be seen again until at least the following morning or the next conference.  Before signing off (and recording the second half of the special Eaton Editions of The Skiffy and Fanty Show), I did have one rather embarrassing moment in which I asked China Mieville a rather silly question.  I won’t tell you what it is, but I’m pretty sure he knew it was a silly question too.
There will be one more edition of this series, but it won’t have much to do with the conference.  Instead, it will deal briefly with other things that occurred on the following Sunday and Monday.  For now, that’s all I’ve got.
Now I will leave you with a page from my notes, which has nothing directly to do with anything we saw at the conference:
Click for larger image.
If you can figure out what we were talking about, I will give you an imaginary present.

About the Author:

Shaun Duke is an aspiring writer, a reviewer, and an academic. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Digital Rhetoric and Writing at Bemidji State University. He received his PhD in English from the University of Florida and studies science fiction, postcolonialism, digital fan cultures, and digital rhetoric.

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