PCA/ACA Conference: Day Five and Six (The End)

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Well, to wrap up my brief recap of the PCA/ACA conference, I have some general impressions, a discussion of a screening of the director’s cut of Aliens, a few more words about some panels I visited on the last day, and some new reading for the reading list! We’ll do it in that order. Also, I have a post in the works about the presence of science fiction and fantasy in airports, which clearly hinges off of this trip. Look forward to that in the next few days. Now, to the final days of the conference!

The conference was pretty much all kinds of awesome. I learned a lot of amazing things and made some great contacts (professional and otherwise). Career-wise, I think this conference has been more influential than any of the others I have attended. I made contacts with two publishers who are working on two separate projects: McFarland and Intellect. The former has a running series of scholarly work on various aspects of science fiction and I may be submitting a proposal to them early next year (once I finish my MA). The publisher of that particular track ran a brief Q&A session where scholars could basically ask questions to the editors involved (very helpful indeed). The second is an academic journal publisher who primarily focuses on film, culture, and horror; the fellow who was there indicated to me, however, that they are trying to put together a science fiction journal (which would make the grand total of serious academic journals for SF to six: Foundation, Extrapolation, Science Fiction Studies, FemSpec, and Science Fiction and Television)–I brought his contact information to some of my professors at the University of Florida (apparently they’re working on building a science fiction track here, which is totally awesome). Additionally, I found out about two book projects that are looking for essays and I intend to submit to both!

Beyond that, I had a blast hanging out with people and talking about science fiction and all sorts of other topics. I made some excellent new friends and I may propose a panel next year on ninjas (from an academic standpoint, obviously; yes, there is a lot to say about ninjas). We’ll see. Any emerging scholars out there might consider checking out the PCA/ACA conference next year, which will be in San Antonio, TX. It’ll a lot of fun!

Now, for other things.

The last night of the conference ended with a viewing of the director’s cut of Aliens, one of the best science fiction movies ever made. I’ve never seen this particular version, and it is certainly enjoyable to see (they added in a few scenes that give more context to the overall narrative, which definitely makes it better). The best part of going to a film screening like this, however, is being in a room full of like-minded fans. Why? Because when you’ve seen a movie like Aliens a few dozen times (or even once), some lines of dialogue in the early parts of the movie actually become quite comical. Take, for example, when Burke says he’ll keep Ripley safe and that they’re going to the colony to destroy, not collect; having seen the movie, you know that’s all a load of bullcrap, and when you’re in a room full of people who know this too, laughter ensues. You should try it. Best film screening ever!

Moving on to the recap of the panels:

–The most fascinating paper on the last day of the conference dealt with the interesting relationship of various characters to books/literacy in a wide-range of post-apocalyptic fiction. The presenter made an interesting argument that, in post-apocalyptic literature, books and other written mediums become a kind of survival mechanism (at least in some cases). Very interesting approach.

–The last panel I saw was actually a roundtable on teaching horror films. I didn’t attend any pedagogical panels at the SWTXPCA conference in February, but I attended this one because it seemed more geared to my interests. I have no idea how I can work in a horror film in a composition course, but the advice they gave was excellent. We’ll see if I can work it out.

Reading/Watching List:
–Earth Abides
–“The Long Emergency”
–After London
–The Edukators

And that’s basically it. The sixth day mentioned in the title was actually my last day in St. Louis; the conference ended on day five. The trip back was pretty much uneventful, but somewhat depressing. I didn’t want to leave. I really enjoyed the conference and I hate going home knowing that so many of these fascinating people are floating out there in other places, inaccessible to immediate conversation. I hope I’ll have the opportunity to meet some of the same folks again in the future (I talk to a number of them online now, but that’s not the same).

In any case, that’s all I have. So, back to regular programming!

P.S.: I had my first ever Shepherd’s Pie at this conference and also experienced a tapas (small portion) restaurant. The former was pretty freaking good and the latter was tasty, but not quite worth the money; I am not tapas friendly.

About the Author:

Shaun Duke is an aspiring writer, a reviewer, and an academic. He is currently a graduate student at the University of Florida studying science fiction, postcolonialism, posthumanism, and fantasy.

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