Register here. You can choose to register as a hybrid ($130) or online ($35) attendee. Students can avail of a special rate for registration ($90). Attendees must also be active SFRA members ($55-$110, depending on institutional status). Registration is open until April 1, 2024.
“When things are changing too quickly, you don’t have any place to stand from which to imagine a very elaborate future.” – William Gibson
“Science Fiction is the literature of change,” Veronica Hollinger memorably noted, “but change is exactly what now defines the present. It no longer guarantees the future as the site of meaningful difference.” Indeed, Heraclitus’ famous statement that change is the only constant in life can nowadays be felt on a myriad of levels and scales, and with a special kind of artificially enhanced intensity. Indeed, it looks like what we’ve come to expect from the future is no longer a linear progression towards – or a gradual fulfillment of – some ideals, but simply more and more unprecedented change. Accelerated technological development, together with large geopolitical conflicts and multiple crises on a global scale have generated a permanent atmosphere of instability and unpredictability, resulting in a strong sense of collective cognitive vertigo. In parallel, there’s a strong yearning for utopian change, equally unsettling in its apparent unimaginability and unattainability, and evidence of a deeper standstill of capitalist realism lurking underneath the surface acceleration. How to grapple with and make sense of all this change? How to reduce the vertigo to be able to enact real change? One possible way, suggested by SF as a form, is to take Heraclitus seriously and focus on the moments and processes of change itself: that is, on transitions.
SF has long been a powerful medium for representing, envisioning, exploring, and critically reflecting upon transitions of all kinds: from mind-bending technological leaps to radical societal upheavals, from personal transformations to global paradigm shifts. Some transitions are visible and explicit, others implicit and recognized in retrospect. Some are planned or desired, others accidental or enforced. And multiple transitions can be related to each other in very complex ways. The genre has developed its own distinct poetic, representational and metaphorical capabilities to make our real-life transitions visible, to reflect upon and make sense of them. But transitions can also happen to science fiction as it traverses history, interacts with other forms, and shifts its position in the contemporary genre system: from one ideological or discursive formation to another, from national to global arena, from genre to mainstream, and so on.
Thus, “Transitions” seeks to discuss all kinds of transitions as the thematic, narrative, formal, historical, philosophical driving force behind SF: both how SF envisions transitions, and how the representation of transitions critically and metaphorically reflects upon our own.
Hybrid access and participation is available in all panels.
The SFRA awards a limited number of travel grants of up to $500 (US) for SFRA members attending the conference in person. For more information on these grants, please click here.
All participants must be members of the Science Fiction Research Association and pay the conference registration fee.