“Coming from America – and depending on the economic level of where you happen to be – the multiracial aspect [of Britain] is a great triumph, I think.”
“It is a successful post-racialist society. The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War. It’s meant to be an era of colour-blindness but the fact is the proportion of black and brown people in the US has quintupled in the last couple of decades.”
Two power users, JennyJen (Twitter, Booklikes) and Marco Manganiello (Facebook), who had hundreds of followers and reviews, initially had their reviews deleted based on the images in their reviews, which were flagged by other users for supposedly contravening GR’s arbitrary policy against nudity and anything remotely risqué or controversial, like semi-naked men kissing. The horror! The horror!
According to M John Harrison, “The zombie is the ultimate other in a neoliberal society … they will never embarrass you by revealing their humanity.” To what extent does this reading explain the popularity of zombie franchises? And what are we to make of works such as Warm Bodies, The Returned and In The Flesh, that start to rehumanise the zombie?
The extreme measures we take to remove responsible adults in order to empower children in stories – whether it’s J.K. Rowling starting poor Harry off an orphan, or C.S. Lewis exiling an entire family to the country, or Suzanne Collins forcing Katniss Everdeen to become the adult in her mother’s own house… Panelists will discuss the importance, or lack thereof, of parents in YA stories.
Panellists: Simon Bradshaw (intellectual property lawyer), Richard Ashcroft (bioethics professor), Jody Lynn Nye, Simon Ings (New Scientist), Carolina Gómez Lagerlöf (patent expert), Joan Paterson (doctor – genetics specialist)
Who owns medical implants – the patient, the health service, the company that made them? Should the patient have access to details of the hardware and software? If an artificial organ is keeping you alive, does the company get to turn it off if you don’t keep paying the ever rising bills? What happens when companies close? When you move from mechanical implants to genetic treatment, who owns the DNA inserted into your cells? Will you become a product wholly owned by Big Pharma?
Some female warriors represent the norm in their fantasy or science fictional societies and are expected to train and fight alongside their men. Others are “exceptions”, who need to battle the prejudice of their colleagues just as much as their enemies. Panelists will discuss female fighters of every kind, taking examples both from real life and fiction. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the characters under discussion? How has representation of female warriors changed over time? How does the author’s treatment of these characters vary by genre if at all?
One of the defining political issues of our time, societal inequality is showing up on-screen in films like In Time, Elysium and The Dark Knight Rises, and TV shows such as Continuum and Arrow. How successfully do these works engage with the issues they raise? Is the imagery they use at odds with the narratives they follow? And what would radical anti-inequality SF look like?
Why does SF hate poor people? It seems to echo the media’s hate for the poor.
Urban fantasy is a broad church. To some, it’s the genre of “Wizard of the Pigeons” and “War for the Oaks“; to others, it means Sam Vimes patrolling the streets of Ankh Morpork, or Locke Lamora conning his way through Camorr. Most recently, it has become synonymous with werewolves, vampires and hot detectives. What holds together the urban fantastic? Are different strands of the genre in conversation with each other? And how important is the influence of the stuctures and tone of other genres like crime fiction?
An Earth-like planet is found orbiting a distant star. It has water. And we can tell that something is living on the planet but we can’t determine what kind. To get there will take hundreds of years in a generation ship. There’s no suspended animation: only your (distant) descendants will see and, hopefully, colonise the planet.
Your ship is a partially hollowed-out asteroid 2 miles wide and 10 miles long. The initial crew is 1000 people. When you land, the target is having 10,000 colonists when you get in orbit around the planet. You job will include both building more living space inside the asteroid and teaching the descendants and passing on cultural values. The trip will take between 500 and 800 years. The asteroid would carry many times the equivalent of the Library of Congress. It would also contain a complete film library of movies, documentaries and tv shows. Obviously, it would also contain all the seeds needed grow plants and trees. Bacteria, viruses and the like would also be on board.
You would be able to go with your family if all the adults agreed and everyone (including the children) passed the tests. Would you volunteer to be a colonist? Why or why not?
*75% of this panel possessed science degrees, including a physicist. Continue reading