"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars" - O.W.

Current Study

Recently Completed Study:
Ph.D thesis: "Mapping Planet Auschwitz: The Non-Mimetic in Anglo-American Fiction of the Holocaust"

Current Sub-Studies

Areas of Interest:
> Non-mimetic depictions of trauma
> literature, trauma, and ethics
> Science Fiction and Alternate History
> 20th and 21st century literature
> Comics
> Paratexts

14 November 2014

CfP: Sideways in Time: Alternate Histories and Counterfactual Narratives

CRSF 2015 is still in the planning phase but the call for papers for the other conference I'm organising next year is already available. Click here to get a PDF version, or visit the blog: http://sidewaysintime.wordpress.com/ which has all the same information as I'm about to post right now...

Sideways in Time is an Alternate History Conference to be held at the University of Liverpool - in association with Lancaster University. This interdisciplinary conferences will bring together scholarship in science fiction, fantasy, historical and literary fictions, as well as historians and counterfactual thought-experiments, to discuss those fictional narratives that deals with alternate histories and parallel worlds. We are pleased to announce Karen Hellekson, Adam Roberts, and Stephen Baxter as our keynote speakers. Karen Hellekson is a leading authority on alternate history fiction (The Alternate History: Refiguring Historical Time, 2001). Professor Adam Roberts is a leading science fiction critic and also an award-winning author who employs alternate history elements into some of his fiction (most notably Swiftly, shortlisted for the 2009 Sidewise Award). Stephen Baxter is currently a judge of the Sidewise Award for Alternate History, as well as being one of the former winners (“Brigantia’s Angels”, Voyage).

Why Alternate History?Alternate history has a long and international pedigree. Whilst most cultures and literary traditions can trace their own heritage of alternate history, alternate history arguments in the Western Canon can be traced into antiquity with Livy’s meditations on Alexander the Great. In their modern form, they emerged in France in the early 19th century before crossing into English at the latter half of the century. The form also become popular with historians and essayists, a notable early history collection being If It Had Happened Otherwise (1931) edited by John Squire which included counterfactual essays by, among others, Hilaire Belloc, Andre Maurois and Winston Churchill. It was not until H.G. Wells's late novel Men Like Gods (1923) that the form crossed into the territory of science fiction, and was not truly popularised until Murray Leinster's crucial story "Sidewise in Time" published in Astounding in 1934. Since 1934, the form has become a staple of science fiction and fantasy story-telling, sometimes including time travel or magic as a means of explaining the cause of the alternate history. However, the form has also been adopted by the literary mainstream with writers who chose not to relate their alternate world to our own, instead taking the lead from conventions of historical fiction. As such, alternate history has attracted such non-genre writers as Nabakov, Kingsley Amis, Robert Harris, Philip Roth, Michael Chabon and many more.

Despite a long and diverse history, alternate history has attracted surprisingly little scholarship. This conference will attempt to establish lines of communication which will rectify this deficit. It is hoped a selection of the essays presented at the conference will be made available as part of a published collection.

We are interested in papers analysing specific alternate history texts from all mediums including novels, cinema, comics and beyond. We also welcome broader papers on the various periods, subgenres, movements and modes of alternate history including steampunk, retro-futurism and more. Papers can be based on, amongst other things, theory, texts, cultural surveys, philosophy, and media studies.

Please submit a 300 word abstract to sidewaysconference@gmail.com along with a 50 word bionote by December 15, 2014.

8 May 2014

Lunchtime Classics 2014

For the third year running I've organised a series of readings and talks by local experts on books which they're passionate about. All talks happen in the Illy cafe of Waterstones Liverpool One (12 College Lane, L1 3DL), they're free and open to anyone.

The schedule is still being finalised but two of the earliest events are confirmed:

Lunchtime Classics: Under Milk Wood, presented by Dr. Chris Williams and Owen Teale
Tuesday 20th May, 1pm.

This year marks a number of anniversaries which Lunchtime Classics will be marking. Amongst those is Dylan Thomas's Centenary. With that in mind, please join us for what will no doubt be a fascinating discussion of Thomas's landmark work Under Milk Wood. Dr. Chris Williams (University of Liverpool) will present the work to us, drawing on his own extensive expertise on Thomas's work to describe what makes the play so special.

Chris will be joined by actor Owen Teale (best known for his roles as Alliser Thorne in Game of Thrones and Fluellen in The Hollow Crown BBC mini-series). Owen is playing the part of "First Voice" in a new adaptation of the play which is showing at Liverpool's Playhouse Theatre from Monday 19th - Saturday 24th May.

For more information on the Playhouse Production of Under Milk Wood please visit their website

* * *
In June, I'll then by doing my own talk on Vonnegut:

Lunchtime Classics: Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Wednesday 4th June, 1pm.

* * *

I'll get around to posting a more complete schedule once everything has been confirmed.

4 March 2014

Torque Control: Personal Log

I've not really made a song and dance about it, because on at least one level I was convinced that someone would realise they'd made a mistake and stop me from doing it before I even began, but a while ago I was approached about taking on the position of Features Editor of Vector: The Critical Journal of Science Fiction.

I can't claim that I'm the most qualified person for the job, but I can promise that I'll devote all of my available energies to doing the very best work that I can. I've been a member of the BSFA for a few years and have enjoyed reading Vector and contributing reviews for the journal.

So from now on, for the foreseeable future (or until they realise their mistake...), I'll be editing four issues a year and writing the famous "Torque Control" editorials to open each one. I don't have any sort of grand vision for the journal, in fact for the first few issues I'll just be happy if I don't stuff it up completely and no one notices that the editor has changed. That said, once I'm comfortable enough to feel like I can begin to change things, I do want to move Vector towards being more representative of modern science fiction, and of the BSFA membership.

In my mind this means a more diverse journal. Diverse in terms of the different formats of science fiction itself (not just books, TV and film), but also diverse contributors and topics which reflect more than just the white middle-class, middle-aged male perspective. And yes, I realise that I'm already into negative equity being an editor who fits into at least three of those four old-guard criteria, and who - worse - is replacing a female editor, Shana Worthen, who did sterling work in the post. But Shana has  moved onto pastures new, and new challenges, and I've been asked to take the job so here I am.

I'm going to post the contents page of each of  my issues here once they go to print. If you're interested in seeing the work and being involved in the British Science Fiction scene then why not consider joining the BSFA?

If you're interested in contributing to Vector then get in touch, you don't need to be a member to submit articles and I'm willing to read anything by anyone. I'll be publishing based on merit and whether of not the material is appropriate for the journal, not on discriminatory grounds (either positive or negative), but I will be encouraging more submissions from more diverse sources.