Con Schedule: Nine Worlds 2015

The Nine Worlds Geekfest is once again right around the corner, and the lovely folks there have once more invited me to teach a workshop and talk on panels. I also get to launch the book I was writing during last year’s con, and generally marvel at the completion of the ®Evolution trilogy. I’ll be happy to sign and chat, so do come help me celebrate – tickets are still available!

Friday 7 August, 6.45pm-8pm, Room 38

Arcadia or Armageddon? – an exploration of utopian and dystopian futures

From the (arguable) utopia of Iain Bank’s Culture to the dusty carnage of Mad Max, why are we so keen to explore our future and what’s the allure of the downfall of civilisation?

Francesca Haig, Geoff Ryman, Kim Lakin-Smith, Gareth L Powell (moderator), Dave Hutchinson, Stephanie Saulter

Friday 7 August, 8pm-10pm, Room 38

Jo Fletcher Books Summer Party & Book Launch

It’s the long-awaited launch of Regeneration! Also Tom Pollock’s Our Lady of the Streets in paperback, Sebastien de Castell’s Knight’s Shadow, and Snorri Kristjansson’s Path of Gods. Forbidden Planet will be on hand to supply books, authors will be available to provide signatures, and an abundance of good cheer and merriment is guaranteed.

Saturday 8 August, 10am-11.15am, Room 31

Writing the Other – learn to write outside your own experience

How does one write with sensitivity, avoiding the traps, tropes and clichés that reinforce stereotypes and produce one-dimensional characters? Back for the third year running and hosted this time around by the Fanfic track, I’ll help participants to identify their own preconceptions and develop strategies for addressing them. This interactive workshop provides a primer on pitfalls to avoid, and techniques for improving representation.

Based on Writing the Other by Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward. Suitable for all writers. Sign up in Room 12, from 4.30pm on Friday.

Sunday 9 August, 11.45am-1pm, Connaught B

“I Don’t See Race” – on telling PoC narratives without PoC

Looking at using aliens, mutants, robots and anything else other than people of colour to tell stories about racism.

UPDATE: Georgiana Jackson-Callen, Natalia Mole, Stephanie Saulter, Russell Smith

Sunday 9 August, 3.15pm-4.30pm, Room 31

Writing the Other – learn to write outside your own experience 

This is a repeat of the Saturday session.

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Nine Worlds: The ‘Just Don’t’ list from Writing the Other workshop

One of the things I did at the Nine Worlds convention over the weekend was run a workshop, Writing the Other (well two of the things really, since there was a repeat session on Sunday morning for those who couldn’t get in on Saturday). Writing the Other is intended to help writers learn how to identify and avoid harmful tropes, stereotypes and associations when creating characters that depart from the dominant paradigm; and to write with greater accuracy, sensitivity and insight. Many thanks to all the attendees – you were engaged and interested and lovely, and I learned at least as much from you as I hope you learned from me.

The reference text is Writing the Other by Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward, which for the purposes of the workshop I summarised, Anglicised and crammed into just under ninety minutes. I ended with a checklist of some of the tired, offensive and oft-repeated devices that serve only to reinforce unfounded prejudice, unearned privilege, and unquestioned presumption. I’ve been asked to post my notes on this section; so here is my plea to …

DON’T. JUST DON’T: 

  • Cast heroes/villains exclusively along lines of race, religion, sexual orientation or any other form of ‘other’ – a classic example is embodied in the line “The dark hordes attacked.”
  • Use the issues which affect a minority/marked group to reemphasise the importance of, and say generally positive & uplifting things about the majority/unmarked group – Glory syndrome
  • Create a marked secondary character whose sole purpose is to validate or create a motivation for the central character – i) the cool sidekick phenomenon, ii) “fridging”
  • Reinforce power imbalances; often done even when characters are beautifully and sympathetically drawn, but nevertheless and for example: all the Asian women just happen to be timid & obedient; all the black men just happen to be sexually promiscuous; all the poor people just happen to be uneducated. This is a subtle form of victimisation, but it’s still victimisation.
  • Cast the unmarked-state hero as saviour of the marked-state victims.
  • Fetishise difference, by an unmitigated focus on the characteristics of otherness. Examples include: the Noble Savage; the simple-minded spirit-worshipper; the ‘beautiful flower’ sexual stereotype of Asian women.
  • Use a specific instance to imply a general truth; where an assertion or action of one member of a group is taken as representative of the entire group.
  • Be disrespectful with dialect. I don’t hold with the view that the marking of accents and dialects in the text automatically deprivileges them by flagging them up as nonstandard; pretending variations don’t or shouldn’t exist is just as deprivileging. But the careless use of dialect, diction and language is a very easy way to be unintentionally and terribly offensive. Be careful.
  • Emphasise evil by ramping up innocence – the Saintly Victim trope. The target of racism does not need to be honest, quiet and hardworking; the child who is abused does not need to be the most adorable infant ever born; the rape victim does not need to be a nun; for racism, child abuse, rape to be abhorrent.
  • Use abuse as a catalyst for positive transformation – for example the rape victim who emerges stronger, smarter, better from the experience, with the implication that it was the thing that finally ‘turned them around’, made them ‘get themselves together’, etc. ad nauseum. (To say nothing of the victim who falls in love with his/her rapist. Really? Don’t.)

My Nine Worlds Geekfest Schedule

UPDATE 30 July: Signing and room assignments added

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Here’s my schedule for the 2nd Nine Worlds Geekfest Convention, now (gasp!) only a month few days away:

 

Friday 8 August 15:15 – 16:30, County C&D

Superheroes and Superhuman: exploding the myth of the superwhathaveyou

Superheroes are everywhere these days, from comic books to literary novels to the Disney Store. How is society exploring what ‘super’ means, and how does that change depending on the suffix attached?

Nick Harkaway, Jenni Hill, Taran Matharu, Barry Nugent, Stephanie Saulter

 

Friday 8 August 22:15 – 23:30, Royal B

New Voices: Welcome to the class of 2014!

The evening showcase of new writers – one of last year’s most popular events – returns! Bring your drinks, bring your friends: this is your chance to find your next literary addiction. Fun and fast, New Voices is an opportunity for debut writers – if you know someone who would fit the bill, head over to Twitter and nominate them at @booksnineworlds.

MC: Stephanie Saulter

 

Saturday 9 August 11:45 – 13:00, Connaught B

Writing The Other – A workshop for writers

How do you write ‘the Other’ without falling into common traps, harmful tropes, and clichés? Back by popular demand after last year’s successful event, we will be exploring these issues in a writers’ workshop, with exercises, discussion and a Q&A.

Facilitator: Stephanie Saulter

 

Saturday 9 August 22:15 – 23:30, Royal B

New Voices: the class of 2014 continues!

More fun and fast-paced readings from the best new writers.

MC: Stephanie Saulter 

 

Sunday 10 August 11:45 – 13:00, Connaught B

Reading SF While Brown – Views on speculative fiction

For many of us, reading science fiction and fantasy was a formative experience — one that introduced new ideas, and shaped what we knew or hoped to be possible. But what imaginative leaps does a reader have to make to buy into worlds that don’t include anyone who looks or talks like them? And what impact does making that imaginative leap, time and again, ultimately have? Genre writers and readers talk about their experiences of reading SF while brown.

 Camille Lofters, Taran Matharu, Rochita Loenen Ruiz, Stephanie Saulter (moderator), Aishwarya Subramanian

 

Sunday 10 August 13:30 – 14:45, County C&D

X-Punk: punk as suffix, genre and state of mind

Steampunk, Cyberpunk, Grimpunk, Sandalpunk, Godpunk, Pinkpunk, Punkpunk… what’s nextpunk? Our panelists consider the next big thing – and the perils of the X-Punk genre lifestyle.

Djibril al-Ayad, Kim Curran, Mathew Pocock, Stephanie Saulter, M. Suddain

 

Sunday 10 August 14:45 – 15:45, Commonwealth West

Signing @ Forbidden Planet table

Gail Carriger, Stephanie Saulter, M. Suddain

 

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You can follow Nine Worlds news and updates on Twitter at @London_Geekfest.

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