Sunday, May 31, 2009


Thinkgalacticon Announces 2009 Convention Lineup

Local leftist fandom group Thinkgalactic will host it's second convention "Thinkgalacticon" June 26-28 at Roosevelt University, 430 S. Michigan Ave.
Thinkgalacticon, heavily inspired by feminist fandom institution Wiscon, Thinkgalacticon seeks to bring some of that spirit to Chicago.

According to the official Thinkgalacticon website, the panel offerings are as follows:

These days, many people seem to be making art, clothing, and technology by modifying found objects/recycling things. Many also repurpose older technology others have thrown out (e.g. turning old computers into a community center lab). Let's talk about what we're making and doing and how it relates to activism (recycling? making activist artwork?) and/or sf (characters making do with found objects).

When an author chooses to have biologically-defined gender roles (e.g., with werewolves, alien races, witches/warlocks with different abilities based on sex) for sentient species, what impact does that have?

ANARCHISM AND THE SUPERHERO: ANTI-CRIME DIRECT ACTIONIST OR ENFORCER OF THE STATE? Let's talk about superheroes. From Alan Moore's Watchmen and V for Vendetta to Warren Ellis's The Authority to DC's Superman to Marvel's Captain America there are a variety of perspectives on the superhero and politics.

FIGHTING FOR RECOGNITION IN THE SF COMMUNITY Let's talk about the history of women, GLBT people, and people of color to be recognized as SF writers and fans in the US and other countries. The intention of this panel is to provide useful perspective for current struggles.

RACE AND ETHNICITY IN YA How do young people decide how to identify? What stories deal with choosing how to identify? How does one's identity change over time? How does one identify as one race/ethnicity when coming from a different/mixed family? (A work in progress: please let us know what you’d like to see here!)

THE CONTINUING APPEAL OF THE APOCALYPSE A critical discussion of post-apocalypse stories. While many fans are interested in these stories because they explore the rebuilding of a better society, there is recurring theme where most of the world's population needs to die in order to start building new social systems. Why do these interest us and why is this problematic?

INFINITE DIVERSITY IN INFINITE COMBINATIONS... OR NOT? Particularly in light of the "reboot" of the Star Trek universe, let's take some time to talk about what the series has done with issues of race, gender, sexuality, disability, class, and so forth. And let's talk about what we'd like to see next!

RACEFAIL ‘09 RaceFail '09 is a blogosphere discussion about race and racism in science fiction books and fandom. Well-known white authors and some of their fans spoke out and responded to criticisms in racist and problematic ways creating a discussion that sprawled over dozens of blogs. If you fail publicly, how do you show yourself again in public? What resources should you consult to educate yourself before going out in public again? How do you avoid failing yet again by avoiding owning up to your fail? What positive things can come out of fail? What have we learned from RaceFail and what else should we do as writers, fans, and people? Let’s create some tools for the community.

IMAGINING THE FUTURE OF FOOD The head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change begs the world to eat less meat. While veganism and locavore movements are spreading, the production of genetically modified foods is also growing. Corporations like Monsanto are continuing to dictate what gets on to our plates and the U.S. government is continuing to do nothing about this. How does SF/F look at food and the ethical/environmental implications of how we produce it? What does writing about food issues look like? How can SF/F imagine what the future of food looks like?

GENDER AND SEXUALITY IN FAN FICTION Let's look at all types of fan fiction. In what ways do some fan authors subvert conventional notions of gender and sexuality? Conversely, in what ways are stereotypes reinforced? A number of tropes explicitly play with gender roles and expectations (e.g. "genderswap/genderfuck" stories, or the dreaded "mpreg")-- are these tropes subversive? If not, are there any individual stories that are subversive?

BLOCK PRINTING/BOOK WORKSHOP with notable guest Josh MacPhee. Make block prints & stencils out of recycled materials, and put together a book with everyone's prints to take home!

CULTURAL APPROPRIATION Instead of writing about futures with a lot less racism, and less cultural divisions amongst people, how do you write stories that include specific currently existing cultures? How do you educate yourself about other cultures and races without offending the people you want to learn about? People of color are not here to teach you anything, nor are they exotic beings for you to stare at. What resources are available?

POLITICS AND SF MOVEMENT Paul Kincaid has an article in Argentus 2008 (Hard Right) linking the implicit worldviews in the rhetorical outlook of hard science fiction and political conservatism. Do certain movements or subgenres in SF tend to get associated with certain political viewpoints? Are there works that break the mold or subvert expectations?

CLIMATE CHANGE Every con needs to talk about climate change. It's big. It's scary. It's here. What are the socio-political ramifications of climate change? In Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler looks at society at the beginning of environmental collapse while Kim Stanley Robinson has recently been exploring what scientific minds would do in the near future to stave off environmental catastrophe. Who else is imagining this future and what else can we do?

THE ABUSE AND EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN IN SF/F Child abuse is frequently used as a plot element or character motivation in SF/F literature; however, the occurrence and effects of maltreatment are commonly portrayed in a simplistic, inaccurate way. For example, people who suffer child abuse are depicted as either forever scarred or untouched by their experiences. Perpetrators of abuse are depicted as monsters, characters we can distance from ourselves by seeing them as inhuman. Not only does this simplistic treatment of child abuse lead to the creation of two-dimensional characters and tedious plot, it can impact how readers understand and react to the social issue. Let's explore the ways in which oppression, abuse, and resilience impact society and the individual. We'll discuss accurate information about child maltreatment, give examples from current SF/F of problematic and useful depictions of maltreatment, and open a discussion about how SF/F literature may influence current social attitudes toward children.

RECOGNIZING THE PRIVILEGE IN THEISM AND ATHEISM Explosive discussions frequently occur when atheists and theists try to talk about religion, non-belief, and our society. One of the main causes of this is because there are complicated privilege issues that make people in both groups defensive. Besides just looking at our own history, let us look at representations in sf/f of religion as both a liberating force and an oppressive one. What stories have an explicitly atheist-leaning world for better or worse? How can leftist atheists and believers come together and fight the religious right?

CLASS, THE ECONOMY, AND YOU How did class divisions contribute to our current economic collapse? How do we see art and activism in relation to different class positions? How does our art and activism change with OR in relation to our job status and the economy? How do these things change when combining your class with other underrepresented groups you belong to? Are the narratives we have in stories perpetuating the problems in our society and can we write and think our way out of them?

WHY ARE THESE BROWN PEOPLE HARSHING MY SQUEE? Why is racial representation important in genre fiction? What are the politics of being a Fan of Color? Just what is the cost of participating in fandom if you are a racial minority?


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