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Monday, February 21, 2011

The Eaton Conference: Day Two -- Idea Overload A

As promised, here are my notes/thoughts about the Eaton Conference (part one).  Day Two should go up tomorrow or the day after.  Here goes:

Day One
The theme of the Eaton Conference this year (Global SF) proved to be an immensely informative one, not simply because I had the opportunity to be exposed to all kinds of non-Western literatures, but also because I have a fascination with SF from elsewhere, SF from diverse perspectives, and so on.  Eaton, as such, was a perfect venue for my intellectual curiosities.

The first panel we attended (my friend Loopdilou and I attended the same panels because we,
oddly enough, were interested in the same things) was on China Mieville called "Politics, Aesthetics, and Post-Humanism."  It was not the first panel of the event, but as I mentioned here, we arrived quite late and decided that we could either get up for the first panel and fall asleep through it, or sleep in a little more and remain awake.  In any case, the Mieville panel proved to be quite interesting, delving into trope-ological patterns in Kraken (Easterbrook), anti-utopianism and political economy in The City and the City (Carl Freedman), and amborgs -- a.k.a. human/animal hybrids -- and post-human identity in Perdido Street Station (Gordon). I took quite a lot of notes during this panel and expect the ideas presented will be very useful for any future work I write on Mieville or other New Weird-ies.

The second panel we attended was called "Orientalism in SF and the Pulps," which proved to be one of the few panels that exposed me to a whole range of fiction I had never heard of before.  The second paper dealt with what is called "yellow peril fiction," but from a completely different perspective:  within the Orient itself.  Apparently there is a wealth of literature from places like India, China, etc. where other Asian nationalities, races, etc. are presented as the bad guys in much the same way as Western literature tends to portray people from the Orient.  The other papers were also interesting, dealing with Philip K. Dick's orientalism and peripheral orientalism in Ted Chiang's "The Merchant and the Alchemist Gate."

We decided to keep things foreign throughout much of the conference.  The third panel for the first day was on South African and Taiwanese SF, which was an odd mix, but proved interesting in terms of thickening up my future bibliography.  The fourth panel was called "Labor, Transnationalism, and Trauma in SF Film," which dealt primarily with Alex River's Sleep Dealer and the fascinating African film called Pumzi, the latter of which we had the opportunity to see (and it's quite good considering the financial limitations; I'm hoping that someone will do the same for Pumzi as was done for District 9).

The last event of day one was actually a screening of Dreams With Sharp Teeth, a documentary on the infamous Harlan Ellison.  It is, first of all, a hilarious film, but it is also a rather deep character study of Ellison:  his attitudes, his motivations, etc.  I recommend seeing it if you can, primarily because I think Ellison is an important writer (genre and otherwise) and because I think it's important to learn who he actually is rather than relying on snippets from blogs and so on.

That does it for day one.  To conclude, I give you my "reading list" (i.e., stuff I discovered from these papers that I want to read, etc.):

  • The City and the City by China Mieville
  • Kraken by China Mieville
  • Philip K. Dick on ethics and alterity
  • Gramsci
  • The Scar by China Mieville
  • 50 Key Figures in Science Fiction 
  • Ursula K. Le Guin on fantastic literature
  • Present Past:  Modernity and the Crisis (pretty sure that's the title)
  • Interview w/ China Mieville by Rick Kleffel of The Agony Column (listened to it before, but I need to go back to it)
  • Michael Moorcock on String Theory
  • Raymond Chandler (crime novels)
  • Empire by Hardt and Negi
  • Donna Haraway on cyborgs
  • The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
  • Descarte
  • Ezra Pound
  • Derrida on Chinese language as ideographic
  • "The Merchant and the Alcehmist Gate" by Ted Chiang
  • Derrida on "the future can only be predicted in terms of a danger"
  • Richard Rive
  • Alex Le Guma
  • Can Themba
  • Inherit the Earth, Recoil, and The Sky Trapeze by Claude Nunes
  • State of Emergency by Jan Rabie
  • Waiting for the Barbarians by Coetzee
  • The Life and Times of Michael K by Coetzee
  • Spiral of Fire by Michael Cope
  • Probe (magazine of the SFSA)
  • Welcome to Our Hillbrow by Phaswane Mpe
  • Souvenir by Jane Rosenthal
  • Horrelpoot/Trencherman by Eben Venter
  • Poison by Henrietta Rose-Innes
  • The Book of the Dead by Kgebetli
  • Something Wicked (magazine)
  • Summer's End by Peter Wilhelm
  • The Slayer of Shadows by Bregin
  • The Heart of Redness and The Whale Caller (already read) by Zakes Mda
  • Zoolin Vale and Chalice Ringtar by Craig Smith
  • Deadlands by Heme
  • Light Across Time by Learmont
  • The Mall by S. L. Grey
  • Science Fiction in South Africa by Deirdre Byrne
  • Moxyland by Lauren Beukes
  • The Literature Police by MacDonald
  • The Uncanny
  • The A.I. Chronicles
  • "The Science Fictionalization of Trauma" by Luckhurst
  • Borderlands by Anzaldua
  • Third Cinema (film manifesto)
  • Nnedi Okorafor
And there you go.  Will I read all of these things?  Probably not, but I offer these things up in case you find something of interest in them.

That's all for now.  One to the next piece...

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