the good and the bad
Friday July 12
The Chair Became the Suit: Expressions of Disability in Speculative Fiction.
Gwendolyn Clare, Lisa Janice (LJ) Cohen (leader), Shira Lipkin.
Disabled characters have gradually become more common in SF/F, including entities as different as Batgirl/Oracle, Nahadoth, Toothless, and Hodor. In genres that offer the possibility of writing out or eliding disability using technology or magic, what do we see when authors choose to feature it prominently instead? How do authors and characters handle questions of access—to physical spaces, to assistive devices, to therapeutic treatment, or to participation in the community?
Sunday July 14
Teen Violence, Teen Sex.
Steve Berman, Gwendolyn Clare, Jack M. Haringa (leader), Donald G. Keller, Phoebe North, Shveta Thakrar.
As seen in bestsellers like The Hunger Games and The Daughter of Smoke and Bone, today's literary teen heroes, and especially its heroines, are more likely to commit violence than to have sex. Coming of age and coming into your own is often marked in YA spec fic by survival and destruction rather than sexual awakening. How is the exploration of violence in books related to consensual sexual exploration, and cultural anxieties and mores around it, in real teens' lives?
Enclaves and Conclaves: Subsocietal Safe Spaces.
Gwendolyn Clare, Shira Daemon, Resa Nelson (leader), John Shirley, Sabrina Vourvoulias.
People often form societies of commonality to act as safe spaces: LGBT community centers, religious social groups, Girl Scouts, D&D campaigns, speculative literature conventions. We rarely see this sort of sub-societal safe space in speculative fiction, finding instead more tangible safe spaces of domed cities, post-apocalyptic enclaves, or rails over a dangerous earth; and often, in fiction, the perimeter is breached. What does this say about our perceptions of safety and danger, our establishment and perpetuation of in-groups and out-groups, and our ambivalence toward purported utopias?
The bad: I do not yet have my schedule for Contemporal, which is this weekend. It'd be nice to know what's going on with that.