Our Aims for the Eight Squared Con Programme

Browse the SF & Fantasy bookshelves – real or virtual – these days and you will see an unparalleled breadth and depth of reading on offer, with every more sophisticated ideas and understanding underpinning the entertainment. Any boundary between genre and literary fiction is becoming increasingly irrelevant as authors like Freda Warrington and China Miéville, to name merely two, write with mature and nuanced sensibility. Established writers like Jane Rogers, winner of this year’s Arthur C Clarke Award, are moving into our field, finding our genre can offer more scope than the mainstream for the ideas they wish to develop. SF&F has most certainly advanced far beyond the fast prose, fast idea standards of the pulps.

Divisions between the Science Fiction of spaceships and alien planets and the Fantasy of magical, secondary worlds have become ever more nebulous. Always outward looking, our genre now finds inspiration from other writing, from horror through crime and mystery fiction, historical and romance. Appropriately for a genre spanning time and space, we see speculative fiction both evolving and developing as well as increasingly reflecting ‘scientifiction’s’ origins in the popular reading of more than a century ago.

At the same time, the core traditions of both hard SF and traditional fantasy offer increasingly sophisticated and thoughtful stories, contemplating the challenges of our technological age and possible futures on one hand while on the other, modern epic fantasy’s reflections on the uses and abuses of power hold up a magic mirror through which to view our own lives and societies.

Speculative fiction began with books. These days we engage with alien and magical worlds through film, television, computer games, comics and graphic novels. DVD and streaming technology has changed the ways in which we engage with movies and television while tablet computers are influencing visually-driven story-telling and the advent of ebooks offers new potential for shorter forms of writing.

So our programme, like our choice of Guests of Honour, aims to celebrate the stories being told through speculative fiction in all its current diversity, with contributions from readers, writers and artists.

If you have an idea for a panel discussion, a talk or a presentation to further these aims, please do let us know. We cannot guarantee that we’ll be able to use every proposal, inevitably. Regardless all suggestions are warmly invited, along with volunteers to take part in the programme generally. Let us know your particular interests – and both specific expertise and general enthusiasm are equally valuable.

If you have seen someone offer an interesting presentation at another convention, if you have had a fascinating chat with someone who you realise will offer new and interesting perspectives on a panel, let them know that you’ve appreciated their contribution. Encourage them to contact us and take part in the convention. If you don’t know how to get in touch with them directly, tell their editor or publicist if they’re an author. If they’re another fan, contact the event organisers where you met them, to pass on a message.

Don’t badger people, obviously. We don’t want anyone to feel pressured or uncomfortable. What we want to see is those people who might feel diffident about stepping forward, encouraged to raise their hand, knowing that their participation will be most welcome.

So have a think and get in touch through prog@eightsquaredcon.org

Juliet E McKenna

Chair, Eight Squared Con



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