Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Science Fiction Foundation Masterclass

From Edward James:
Please share as widely as possible! 
The Eighth Science Fiction Foundation Masterclass in Science Fiction Criticism will be held from Monday 11 August 2014 to Wednesday 13 August, immediately before Loncon 3, the 2014 World Science Fiction Convention.

We are pleased to announce that the venue will be the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, founded by Charles II in 1675, and the home of the Prime Meridian. This is across the Thames from the Excel site where Loncon 3 will take place.

Price: £200.

The tutors for 2014 will be:

Andy Duncan, Professor of English at Frostburg State University, Frostburg MD, winner of the Theodore Sturgeon Award and two World Fantasy Awards, and winner of the 2012 Nebula Award for Best Novelette.

Neil Easterbrook, Professor of English at the Texas Christian University, and a prolific reviewer and critic, whose monograph on China Miéville is due to be published in 2014.

K.V. Johansen, a Canadian writer of fantasy, science fiction, and children’s fiction, who has also published three books on the history of children’s fantasy. Her adult novel Blackdog was shortlisted for the Sunburst Award in 2012.

Please apply to
Send a short piece of critical writing, and a one page cv.

Deadline for Applications: February 28th 2014

Monday, January 13, 2014

BSFA Awards nominations

Nominations for the BSFA Awards close on 14th January (i.e. tomorrow).  If you're a BSFA member, please consider works that you feel should be nominated.  In particular, historically artwork and non-fiction get fewer nominations than the fiction categories, so think of some deserving works for those.

Unfortunately, I haven't read that much stuff in 2013, but I have nominated John Johnston's excellent introduction to the Unearthed collection of early mummy stories, published by Jurassic.

Nominate by using this form:

And this post should give you a memory-jogging list of what has been nominated so far.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Michael Gove and the First World War

Much though it pains me to admit it, there is some foundation to the remarks made by Michael Gove yesterday (in The Daily Mail, to which I shall not link). The view of the Western Front presented in Blackadder Goes Forth does indeed include a number of inaccurate myths. In particular the view presented of the general staff, insane and with little feeling for the soldiers they sent to the slaughter, is unfair on the real Captain Darlings and General Melchetts. Staff officers often worked themselves into a state of nervous exhaustion, and many tried to get posted back to the front, feeling that this was the proper place for them. Fifty-eight generals were killed as a result of combat (Richard Holmes, The Western Front, pp. 117-18). 

Nor is it the case that everyone saw the war as futile and pointless, either in 1918 or now. As Hew Strachan notes (The First World War, p. 321), it wasn't seen as pointless in Belgium in 1918.

Where Gove is wrong is in his politicization of the debate, in his lack of respect for those who disagree with him, in his promotion of an equally simplistic view of the war as a heroic struggle, in his support of the government's plans to commemorate the First World War, which are dangerously close to celebration, and in his linkage of all this to his educational "reforms", which seem intended to prepare young people for a world of imperial heroics, a world that no longer exists.