I'm getting more and more excited about Aussiecon 4, the 68th World Science Fiction Convention, to be held in Melbourne between 2nd and 6th of September this year. I've never been to a convention before, so it will be a new experience!
Also, my abstract proposal has been accepted for the Aussiecon 4 World Science Fiction Convention Academic Program. The title of my paper is: "Adrift: The Generation Starship in Science Fiction." The paper will go for around 20 minutes, with an additional 10 minutes of question time—eep! I plan to look, very briefly, at the development of the generation starship trope and the role that religion plays in such stories. As I have written previously, this trope is usually used to explore a closed society whose loss of a sense of historicity has led to the ritualisation and mythologisation of the ship and its technology. The protagonist usually comes to realise the true nature of the ship and loses faith in the religion in which he or she was raised. Such stories often preach a rigid materialism, and seek to establish scientific enlightenment over religious superstition. Gene Wolfe, of course, puts a twist on this usual formula in The Book of the Long Sun. I'm going to have to figure out how to say a lot in only 20 minutes!
I have also received a provisional letter of acceptance for an abstract I submitted for Changing the Climate: Utopia, Dystopia and Catastrophe, the 4th Utopias Conference, to be held at Monash University from 30 August to 1 September (immediately before Aussiecon 4). There will be some great keynote speakers at the conference, including Kim Stanley Robinson and John Clute. My paper will be titled: "The Victorian Crisis of Faith in Australian Utopian Literature, 1870–1900."
I will post abstracts and programs here when I have more details. I also plan to blog about the events, so expect to see lots of blog activity in late August and early September!