Thursday, March 26, 2015

ICFA 2015

As usual, I had a wonderful three and a half days at the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, and not only because of the warm, sunny Orlando weather. We were very lucky with the weather this year, no rain at all. I walked outside frequently between sessions but still have not glimpsed the alligator that lurks in the adjacent lake. This conference focused on the theme of "The Scientific Imagination," with James Morrow, Joan Slonczewski, and Colin Milburn (guest scholar) as guests of honor. The lunch talk by Morrow, author of such novels as TOWING JEHOVAH and ONLY BEGOTTEN DAUGHTER, elaborated on the concept that science fiction works are "thought experiments" analogous to imaginary scenarios such as Schrodinger's cat. In SF as opposed to real-world science, however, a single thought-experiment question can evoke an endless number of different stories from different authors. The author discovers the "answer" in the very process of writing, and, as Morrow put it, at best the result displays a "surprising inevitability." In an evening program, Slonczewski discussed experiments with bacteria and showed slides of dazzling photos she took on an expedition to Antarctica. Milburn gave a lunch talk about hacking, which included images from an early video game, created on a mainframe computer long before home PCs.

I delivered a reading of a light fantasy tale called "Dusting Pixie," which can be found here:

Sorcerous Signals

Unfortunately, that session started at 8:30 in the morning, so we didn't have a big audience. Of the other two authors in the session, one re-imagined KING KONG in the giant ape's voice, and the last read a surrealistic story called "The Cat in the Helmet Comes Back," which, as the title implies, alluded to Dr. Seuss but in a terrifyingly alien mode.

As always, we had a meeting of the Lord Ruthven Assembly, devoted to vampires and other revenants; we discussed screening a classic film (probably NOSFERATU) with commentary next year. I attended a panel on Terry Pratchett's Discworld, which of course had been planned long before his death. Therefore, the session developed into a retrospect and memorial as well as a lively discussion. The most exciting presentations I heard were a paper session on "Disney Body Image" and a panel on violence and nihilism in contemporary fantasy. Our panel on "The Millennial Age and the Vampire," with Amanda Firestone, Jean Lorrah, Owl Goingback, and me, had a great audience and a stimulating discussion, which culminated in speculation about immortality and the future of aging and death in our real-world society. This conference uniquely brings together scholars with authors and editors in fun, thought-provoking encounters every year in the same location. I encourage you to attend if you can. Information here:


Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

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