What are some of the characters and narratives we’ve seen enough of? Is it time for the assassin with the heart of gold to take a break? Should the farmer keep farming and stop exchanging his rake for a broadsword? Could the squabbling will-they-won’t-they couple just get a room already? More generally, why are tropes used, and what are their structural, stylistic and political implications?
There are many different approaches to book blogging: some focus on news and announcements, running author interviews and ARC giveaways supported by publishers; others concentrate on reviewing and opinion pieces; still others are devoted to raising awareness of certain types of writing, like SF Mistressworks or the World SF Blog. Our panel discusses how they chose their blogs’ format and focus, how the blogs evolved over time, and how they found their ‘voice’ and their audience.
John Clute is one of the people who lifted reviewing in the field to an art form. What makes the difference between a workmanlike review that tells us what we need to know, and a review which becomes a text worth studying in its own right? Under what circumstances does a review transcend its immediate subject, and become part of the wider conversation about genre? Who are reviews for: readers, authors, industry, other reviewers?
From Earthsea to Noughts and Crosses, The Summer Prince to Akata Witch, children and teens need to see books with characters that represent the diverse world they live in, whether they are dystopian romance or fantasy adventure. Organisations like We Need Diverse Books are helping to promote diversity in children’s literature, but what actions can we take – as readers, writers, publishers, and book-buyers – to help them in their goals? And who are the great authors of the past few years we should be catching up on?
Fanfiction, fan art, and other forms of transformative works can be a sensitive topic with authors understandably having mixed reactions to works based on their creations. In this session four successful authors embrace forms of creative (not-for-profit!) output based upon their works. They discuss the benefits and difficulties of having fans creatively engage with their material. Beyond that they openly talk about their own experiences with fan works, whether they have written, still write, or read fanfiction or produce other forms of fan works.
Bloggers have become an integral part of YA book promotion. How do authors find these bloggers? Why should readers trust their opinions? What are the best book blogs out there right now and what makes them so useful?
When aliens invade, why do they almost always hit New York? With a few partially-honourable exceptions, such as Pacific Rim and District 9, the American-led alliances of Independence Day and its ilk are still the norm for SF cinema’s supposedly global catastrophes. What is it like to watch these films outside the Anglophone world? Do attempts to move away from American exceptionalism feel real, or are they just window-dressing? And how do different countries deal with apocalypse in their own cinematic traditions?
Are genres gendered? Truisms like “women don’t read science fiction” or “men hate romance” abound, but to what extent do these sorts of assumptions determine what we see on the shelves? How have certain sub-genres become strongly associated with writers (and readers) of a single gender? What are the difficulties faced by a writer trying to work in a (sub)genre traditionally associated with a gender other than their own? What role(s) can publishers and booksellers play in creating, reinforcing, or challenging such bias?
The YA publishing boom has been accompanied by a boom in film adaptations, but while some have seen commercial success others have stalled. What does it take to transition from book to film? Are there any special considerations when working with a young adult story? Modern YA is a genre with distinctive tropes — how are these being transferred to the screen? How is “classic” YA adapted in that context? Is this to the original story’s benefit or detriment? Which YA books have successfully made the transition–for good or ill? What stories would make great films, but haven’t yet been done?
Much of what we see in the YA shelves is dour, grimy and deadly. Why is that? Where can we find the lighter side of young adult fiction? Which authors should we look to for a satisfying happy ending or a good belly laugh?
Science fiction and fantasy have a long history of both comic writing and essentially light-hearted adventures. However, more and more it seems authors want to take themselves seriously, focusing more on the darker elements of story telling. Is genre too po-faced outside the work of certain specifically ‘comedy’ writers? Why do so many writers steer clear of trying to be funny?
At the end of last year, to mark ten years since the broadcast of the final season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on the BBC, Naomi Alderman made a special edition of the Radio 4 programme Front Row, featuring interviews with cast, creator, and critics. Among other things, she asked what the show’s legacy had been, and whether the right lessons — female characters written as well as men, given as much narrative importance as men, and surrounded by other women — had been learned. Following on from her discussion, our panel will ask: who are Buffy’s heirs? (And you can listen to the original programme here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03m7zmq)