Call for Papers: Far Rainbows Science Fiction Cinema Conference

We are actively seeking paper submissions for a one-day international workshop, FAR RAINBOWS: Russian and Soviet Science Fiction On Screen, which will take place at Wadham College, Oxford University on April 12, 2013 (Cosmonauts’ Day!).Image
Papers of approx. 20 mns’ length are encouraged on any aspect of the adaptation of Russian and Soviet science fiction for cinema, television, and other media. The organisers are particularly interested in studies of how the Strugatskii brothers’ novels have been adapted for the screen, although papers on adaptations of fiction by other authors will also be welcomed. Confirmed speakers include Professor Yvonne Howell (Richmond), Henriette Cederlöf (Stockholm), Dr Andrei Rogatchevski (Glasgow), Professor Sofya Khagi (Michigan), Dr Muireann Maguire (Oxford) and Dr Matthias Schwartz (Berlin).
Please contact Muireann Maguire ( and/or Andrei Rogatchevski ( with any queries, or try our conference email address:

Possible areas to explore include intertextuality, representations of utopia and dystopia, auteur cinema versus the role of censorship, how symbolism and meaning change between media (and over time), casting, and film theory.  If you wish to submit an abstract about an adaptation of the Strugatskiis’ novels, please note that the following films and directors (Stalker, Days of Eclipse, The Sorcerers/ Letters of a Dead Man/Ugly Swans, The Dead Mountaneer Hotel and Es ist nicht leicht ein Gott zu sein) have already been preselected by invited speakers.

Closing date for submission of abstracts: 15 December 2012


Urban Apocalypse and Renaissance – Conference Review

text by Eric R. Laursen (University of Utah)

The SFRA (Science Fiction Research Association) Conference was held in Detroit from June 28 through July 1 (see programme here).  The conference theme this year was Urban Apocalypse, Urban Renaissance: Landscapes in Science Fiction and Fantasy, an especially appropriate theme given its venue, next to the Renaissance Center in beautiful downtown Detroit.  For the first time, there was a panel devoted to Soviet science fiction.  Anindita Banerjee (Cornell University) delivered a paper entitled “Of Mothers among Other Things: Ethno-Racial Eruptions in Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We.”  Richard Lee Pierre (University of Michigan) delivered a paper entitled “Familiar Foreign: Geographic and Linguistic Commons in A.N. Tolstoy’s Aelita.”  Eric Laursen (University of Utah) delivered “Energy Monsters & the Soviet Social Network: Ivan Efremov’s Andromeda Nebula.”  Sofya Khagi was scheduled to speak on Pelevin and the Strugatskys but unfortunately fell ill at the last moment.  There was a lively discussion following the panel, and participants hope to resurrect it next year, when SFRA will combine with the Eaton Conference in Riverside California, April 10-14, 2013 to hold a joint conference on science fiction in multiple media (see here).

Other highlights of the conference included an opening panel discussion with scholars Eric Rabkin, Melissa M. Littlefield, Steven Shaviro, and science fiction writers Saladin Ahmed, Minister Faust, Robert J. Sawyer, and Sarah Zettel.  There were lively debates about science fiction in the classroom and its current directions in American culture.  Featured authors were available to sign their most recent books throughout the conference and each of them read from their work at some point.  Panels devoted to scholarship on science fiction were spread over three days, with an awards banquet on the final day.  The Pilgrim Award was given to Pamela Sargent for life-time contributions to SF/F studies, especially her work in promoting female science fiction writers.  The Pioneer Award for outstanding essay-length work of the year was given to David M. Higgins: “Toward a Cosmopolitan Science Fiction” American Literature 83.2 (June 2011).  The Thomas D. Clareson Award for Distinguished Service  was given to Arthur B. Evans.  One of the most touching moments of the 2012 SFRA Conference was a Memorial panel to Ray Bradbury held on the final day, when a series of documentary clips were shown of Bradbury discussing his work in a variety of offices over the course of his career.  Bradbury’s offices were like his mind, filled with wonderful, fantastic things–rockets and aliens, comic books and classics, toys and photographs.  The landscape changed, but over every desk he posted a sign giving valuable advice for any writer:  “Don’t Think!”

Visions of the Future – Conference Review

This post and the next feature reviews of recent sci-fi conferences attended by Snail on the Slope contributing member Eric R. Laursen (University of Utah) – namely, April’s Global Science Fiction Cinema conference in Iowa and July’s Science Fiction Research Association conference in Detroit. For pictures, useful links, and more, read on!

Visions of the Future: Global Science Fiction Cinema Conference was held in Iowa City at the U of Iowa April 12-14 (  Panel titles ranged in topic from “Empire and the State” to “Biopolitics and Bioethics” to “Cyborgs, Affect, and Sexuality.”  Scholars delivered papers (and tantalizing clips!) on films from cultures around the world, including Bollywood, North Korea, and of course Japanese Anime.


Two keynotes were delivered, one on April 12 by Katherine Hayles entitled “Theorizing the Global Influence of Digital Media through the Technogenetic Spiral.”  Hayles is the author of How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature and Informatics, which won the Rene Wellek Prize for the Best Book in Literary Theory for 1998-99, and Writing Machines, which won the Suzanne Langer Award for Outstanding Scholarship. Her latest book, How We Think: Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis, appeared in Spring 2012 from the University of Chicago Press.

On April 13 Thomas Lamarre delivered a second keynote entitled “Humans and Machines–Media Interface after the Cyborg.”  Thomas Lamarre is a James McGill Professor in East Asian Studies and Communications Studies at McGill University. He is the author of books dealing with the history of media, thought, and material culture, with projects ranging from the communication networks of 9th century Japan (Uncovering Heian Japan), to silent cinema and the global imaginary (Shadows on the Screen) and animation technologies (The Anime Machine: A Media Theory of Animation), the latter which won an Honorable Mention for the 2011 Katherine Singer Kovács Book Award.

Lamarre’s keynote was followed by a live taping of an NPR and PBS program WorldCanvass dedicated to science fiction.  Participants included Istvan Cicery Ronay, Jr., Rob Latham, film-maker Alex Rivera and six of the panelists presenting at the conference. You can listen to the broadcast here:

Each evening there was a screening of a science fiction film.  The first two nights participants viewed the Japanese film Ghost in the Shell II: Innocence (2004, & the German Transfer (2010,  On the final day of the conference, after the last panel participants viewed a showing of world science fiction shorts.  This was followed by a banquet, after which participants raced through a torrential Iowa rainstorm to see Sleep Dealer (2008), a Sundance movie that was filmed in the U.S. and Mexico, which was followed by a Q & A with the film’s director Alex Rivera (  The picture below is a still from Sleep Dealer taken from the conference program.

ImageOrganizers of the conference were Jennifer Feeley (Dept of Asian and Slavic Languages) and Sarah Ann Wells (Dept of Spanish), both faculty members at the University of Iowa.

Soviet Science Fiction and Russian Film seminars at UCL SSEES

UK-based readers of this blog will be enthused to hear about a series of three seminars organized by Professor Julian Graffy and Dr Philip Cavendish at UCL SSEES under the auspices of the Russian Cinema Research Group, which holds regular seminars during termtime. In the current semester, on 5th March, Andrei Rogatchevski (Glasgow) will speak on ‘The Strugatskii Brothers’  Khromaia sud´ba and Arkadii Sirenko’s Iskushenie B’. Alistair Renfrew (Durham) will discuss the ‘Attack of the Soviet Bs: Corman, Cosmos, and the American Mainstream’ on March 12th. See here for more details of these and many other interesting SSEES seminars. (Confession: I gave the first seminar in this series, on Konstantin Lopushanskii’s apocalyptic films, on Feb 6th).

If you can’t wait until Andrei Rogatchevskii’s talk, Sirenko’s Iskushenie B (The Temptation of B) is available to watch on YouTube here. This film and a vast range of others are, additionally, available to watch in SSEES’s extensive Russian film library, by prior arrangement with university staff.


Update on Science Fiction Panels at ASEEES and AATSEEL 2012

We’re very happy to announce that our three projected science fiction-themed panels for the 2012 ASEEES convention, to be held in New Orleans on November 15-18, are now being submitted – and fingers crossed, they will all be approved by the panel organisers. Our triad of panels examines, in  turn, three separate post-1917 historical periods within the general framework of the interaction of science and scientists with Soviet and post-Soviet literary fiction. Here they are, in outline:

  • Science Fiction I (Pre-revolutionary & Early Soviet): How the Style Was Tempered organized by Eric Laursen, University of Utah (
  •  Science Fiction II (Cold War): Cold War, Hot Topics organized by Sibelan Forrester, Swarthmore College (
  • Science Fiction III (Post-Soviet): Apocalypse Then: Dystopian Narratives in Contemporary Eastern European Fiction organized by Sofya Khagi, University of Michigan (

Many thanks to all those who volunteered to become panellists, discussants, or chairs on all three panels – we’re looking forward to November in New Orleans!

In other conference news,there were also a couple of science fiction panels at AATSEEL 2012 (Jan 5-8) in Seattle, the US’s second biggest Slavic Studies conference. At a panel on ‘Science as Fiction: Representing Soviet Science in Soviet Culture’, which was chaired by Sibelan Forrester (Swarthmore) and doubly discussanted by Devin Fore (Princeton) and Julia Vaingurt (Illinois), Muireann Maguire (Oxford) presented on the satirization of scientific research institutions in the works of Anatolii Dneprov and the Strugatskii Brothers, while Susanna Weygandt (Princeton) spoke about Stanislavsky, Lysenko, and Zelkind in the context of ‘Early Soviet Plasticity in the Sciences, Theater, and Dance‘. In a fascinating panel on ‘Automata, Robots, Clones: Anthropomorphism in Twentieth-Century Russian and Eastern European Culture’, Julia Vaingurt, Jacob Emery (Indiana), and Colleen McQuillen (Illinois) delivered papers on topics ranging from Karel Čapek and Kazuo Ishiguro to Władysław Starewicz, with Margo Rosen (Columbia) and Julia Chadaga (Macalester College) acting as chair and discussant respectively. See here for the full conference programme and abstracts. The call for papers and round tables at the next AATSEEL conference, to be held in Boston in January 2013, is now open, so get organizing those sci-fi panels!

Muireann Maguire

Call for Participants – Science Fiction Panels at ASEEES 2012

Good news for admirers of Slavic sci-fi! We are planning three marvellous science fiction-themed panels for the 2012 ASEEES convention, which will be held in New Orleans on November 15-18. As all panel proposals must be submitted by Jan 15, 2012, we urge anyone interested in presenting at the convention on this topic to contact us asap (and as directed below). Our triad of panels will each examine separate post-1917 historical periods within the general framework of the interaction of science and scientists with Soviet and post-Soviet literary fiction.

Our three panels are variously recruiting speakers, discussants, and chairs. If you are interested in contributing in one of these roles, please contact the relevant chair directly.

Science Fiction I (Pre-revolutionary & Early Soviet): “How the Style Was Tempered”

Seeking panellists, chair, and discussant

  1. Panellist: Eric Laursen (Utah), “Evgeny Zamiatin and the Second Law of Thermodynamics”

Science Fiction II (Cold War): “Cold War, Hot Topics”

  • Organizer:  Sibelan Forrester, Swarthmore College (

Chair: Anindita Banerjee (Cornell), Discussant: Matthias Schwartz (Freie Universität Berlin)


  1. Yvonne Howell (Richmond): “Mutant Flies, Cold War Spies”, on Dudintsev’s ‘Belye odezhdy’.
  2. Sibelan Forrester (Swarthmore): Soviet SF in English-language translations.
  3. Muireann Maguire (Oxford):  Viktor Shtrum in Grossman’s Zhizn’ i sud’ba.

Science Fiction III (Post-Soviet): “Apocalypse Then: Dystopian Narratives in Contemporary Eastern European Fiction”

  • Organizer: Sofya Khagi, University of Michigan (

Seeking chair, discussant, and third panellist

  1. Sofya Khagi: “The Shape of the Apocalypse in Contemporary Russian Literature” (Pelevin, Bykov, Ilichevsky)
  2. Matthias Schwartz: “Glukhovskii’s Metro 2033″ (tbc)

Muireann Maguire

Urban Apocalypse in Detroit (Sci-Fi Conference June/July 2012)

A post from blog member Eric Laursen:

The Conference of the Science Fiction Research Association (SFRA) is meeting in Detroit, June 28-July 1 2012. Their theme this year is “Urban Apocalypse, Urban Renaissance: Landscapes in Science Fiction and Fantasy.” I attended summer before last and had a wonderful experience, and I think it would be a great idea to create a Slavics presence at the conference next summer.

Would followers of this blog be interested in submitting papers and forming one or more panels? I’ll volunteer to collect abstracts and put together panels to submit. The deadline is April 23, so I’ll put out a more general call to SEELANGS before then, but I wanted to test the waters with you all first.

When I attended, they had a wide variety of panels, including one on teaching, where people presented courses they’d taught (successes, difficulties, etc.). They also had workshops at the beginning of the conference; I’m sure we could put one together if anyone has ideas. The SFRA Conference would be an amazing opportunity to meet face to face in the summer, when there are no classes and committees to rush back to, and discuss more joint ventures in lovely downtown Detroit! And it would let Science Fiction scholars know that there is more to Slavic Science Fiction than Solaris!

Anyway, check out the call for papers and the SFRA website, and let me know if you’re interested ( I’ll start putting together a list of tentative papers and panels. See the websites below for more details on the conference and the Science Fiction Research Association.

I look forward to hearing from you! –Eric Laursen
Associate Professor, Russian and Comparative Literary & Cultural Studies
Department of Languages and Literatures
University of Utah