Enquiring minds wish to know – well, all sorts of things really. It’s the impulse behind so much speculative fiction. Our genre’s abiding central question, whether scientific, historical, political or social, is ‘what if…?’
Accordingly, Eastercon has a long-established and impressive tradition of presenting guest speakers to the membership. This year Dr Louise Livesey of Ruskin College Oxford will give the BSFA Lecture; “A Highly Political Act: speech, silence, hearing and sexual violence”.
One SF writer noted that ‘if you read Nature long enough, your dreams will start to carry footnotes to other dreams’. Dr Henry Gee has been on the editorial team of Nature for a quarter of a century. In the SF Foundation George Hay Memorial Lecture, he will offer an insider’s view of this leading international journal of science.
As EightSquaredCon honours J B Priestley, we are delighted to welcome Lee Hanson of the J B Priestley society. He will re-introduce us to Bradford’s very own and perhaps unjustly neglected early SF author, and discuss Priestley’s inclusion of new technologies in his fiction, his interest in time theories, and his friendship with HG Wells.
We’re also remembering Alexander Bogdanov, science fiction pioneer, philosopher, physician, Lenin’s friend and rival. He explored the idea of automating society. The West calls this cybernetics and it fuels consumer culture. But in the Soviet Union, Bogdanov’s philosophy was discredited and suppressed. With pictures, video, short readings, and no small amount of handwaving, Simon Ings explains why Bogdanov, not Wells, is the true founder of modern sf.
For the mathematically inclined, Dr Nicholas Jackson gives another of his popular talks, on Pure and Applied Mathematics. It seems all pure maths turns out to be useful eventually, with even its abstract branches proving to have important applications in chemistry, physics and biology.
Maths fans should also keep an eye out for the panel on The Clay Institute Problems. In the year 2000, the Clay Institute offered $1,000,000 for the solution to seven different problems on the frontiers of mathematics. Michael Abbott, Nicholas Jackson and Susan Stepney discuss which problems, why, and what progress has been made. Vince Doherty, Liz Batty, Tracy Berg and Joan Paterson will similarly discuss ‘What’s Big in Microbiology.’
Acclaimed SF author Ken MacLeod has said “History is the trade secret of science fiction” and you’d be hard put to find a fantasy writer who’d disagree. But is the line between fact and fiction in history becoming blurred? Countless movies have formed our impression of a Roman city – all gleaming marble and tall columns. But were all Roman cities alike? What’s the difference between an amphitheatre and a Colosseum? Tony Keen will take us through the ancient streets, and tells you what you could expect to see in Rome or Londinium.
Professor Edward James will address the facts underpinning the fictions so beloved of epic fantasy fans. Were the original barbarians who invaded and settled much of Europe in the first millennium AD really muscled, semi-naked, and well equipped with weapons but overall, a bit short on grey matter? Where have these stereotypes come from?
Still got an appetite for learning more? Excellent. In our Fast Fact Talks: Ideas To Go, we pay homage to the global TED Talk phenomenon with our own TED-style presentations on big ideas.
There will be two sessions over the weekend, each with three speakers, where experts and thinkers from among our membership will expound on a topic of their choosing for 15 minutes. No panels, no questions, no gimmicks; just great people on inspiring topics.
Here’s the cover for Freda Warrington’s forthcoming book, the third Aetherial Tale after Elfland and Midsummer Night. The amazing artist is KY Craft.
Freda’s also been keeping a close watch on recent developments in the age-old and as it turns out, on-going story of King Richard III. This won’t surprise those of you familiar with The Court of the Midnight King, her novel exploring this tale from an alternate reality. She writes more about this on her blog where she also hints at interesting possibilities for those fans with ereaders…
A supremely classy cover for EightSquared’s Fantasy Guest of Honour, Freda Warrington, as her novel A Taste of Blood Wine gets a re-issue from Titan Books next Spring. How nicely timed for Eastercon.
Our Guest of Honour Walter Jon Williams is currently in New Zealand (by way of Hawai’i, on a cruise ship) and is detailing his excursions, observations etc in a very entertaining series of blog posts. Yes, he’s visiting Hobbiton and other Lord of the Rings places but there’s much more besides. Recommended reading.
There will be a large and exciting exhibition of (our Artist Guest of Honour) Anne Sudworth’s work at the beautiful SW1 Gallery in Belgravia, London this October. Over thirty pieces of her work will be on show in an exhibition called ‘Out of the Light’.
The exhibition will run from the 16th October to the 20th October at the SW1 Gallery, 12 Cardinal Walk, Roof Garden Level, Cardinal Place, London SW1E 5JE.
After this, parts of the exhibition will be on show at a number of fine art fairs around the country.
If you get a chance to see these paintings, do!
Our fantasy Guest of Honour Freda Warrington’s latest book, Midsummer Night, is now out in paperback and also available for Kindle and other e-readers.
And isn’t this fabulous artwork?
In common with a great many writers, Walter Jon Williams has been making his backlist available via ebooks. One year in, he reflects on what he’s achieved, what he’s learned and what this all means, for himself and for other writers. Read the full, fascinating article on his blog.