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AI Meets Tolkien: Non-Human Minds in Speculative Fiction

CFP: Finncon 2019 Academic Track, Jyväskylä July 5–7, 2019

The organization committee of Finncon and the Finnish Society for Science Fiction and Fantasy Research (Finfar) are happy to announce that Finncon 2019 will once again feature an academic programming track! As in previous years, the track is intended as multilingual and interdisciplinary, and it will be free of charge and open to everyone interested in the research of speculative fiction. The aim of the track is to employ various academic frameworks and approaches in order to examine the themes and issues discussed in science fiction, fantasy, horror, and other genres of speculative fiction.

As per usual, the academic track aims to follow the overall themes of Finncon, which means that this year’s programming will center on artificial intelligence on the one hand, and J.R.R. Tolkien on the other hand. AI has slowly but surely crept from the novels, TV screens and geeky daydreams to our everyday lives. In other words, the theme now covers everything from familiar smartphones and search engines to dystopic Skynets and machine uprisings. It is not only AI sci-fi that probes the threats and possibilities of non-human intelligence, however. J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic works also depict creatures that are as conscious of themselves as humans, but differ from us in various other ways. Indeed, where thinking machines are a central topic in science fiction, fantasy and horror have investigated multifarious other kinds of non-human minds, such as the minds of fairies, orcs, and monsters.

The Academic Track of Finncon 2019 thereby welcomes 20-minute oral presentations whose topics could include but are not limited to:

  • Artificial life
  • The relationships between the humankind and intelligent technology
  • Non-human creatures and their conscious or non-conscious activities
  • The relations between human and non-human characters and societies
  • Depiction or narration of minds and intelligences in speculative fiction
  • Cognition and speculation

Although literature has traditionally been considered the cradle of speculative fiction, the presentations can also discuss works from other media, including comics, digital games, films and TV shows. You are welcome to give your presentation in Finnish, English or Swedish.

If you would like to participate in the academic programming and introduce your research to the wide, enthusiastic audiences of Finncon, please send a 300-word abstract and a short bio to academic@2019.finncon.org by May 10, 2019. Pdf- and .docx files are both accepted. Presenters chosen for the academic track will be contacted personally in late spring or early summer.

The Finnish Society for Science Fiction and Fantasy Research is also planning other informal activities for Finncon, which all presenters are welcome to join. Furthermore, before the main event, Finfar will organize a traditional paper workshop at the University of Jyväskylä. Everyone interested in speculative fiction research, especially students working on their MA theses or doctoral dissertations, are invited to send in short works-in-process papers to be discussed in the workshop. Further details will be announced at a later date.

For more information on Finncon events and Finfar’s activities, please consult the websites: Finncon 2019 & Finfar

Call for Papers: Fafnir 2/2019

Special edition of Fafnir on Speculative Climate Fiction

Guest editor: Dr. Juha Raipola, Tampere University

Fafnir – Nordic Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy Research invites authors to submit papers for a special edition on speculative climate fiction.

Over the last decade, interest in global anthropogenic climate change as a topic of fiction has grown consistently. In conjunction with increasing societal concern about the impact of global environmental change, a growing number of imaginative visions of climate futures have begun to appear in fiction. Now commonly discussed under the broad rubric of climate fiction, or cli-fi, these fictional accounts of global climate change have typically been speculative in their basic orientation. This means that the emergent narratives of climate fiction can often be fruitfully analysed as part of, or in connection with, a longer tradition of science fictional, weird, fantastic, utopian, dystopian, and apocalyptic visions of ecological changes on the planetary scale. ... Continue reading Call for Papers: Fafnir 2/2019

AI Meets Tolkien: Non-Human Minds in Speculative Fiction

Jyväskylä July 5–7, 2019

The organization committee of Finncon and the Finnish Society for Science Fiction and Fantasy Research (Finfar) are happy to announce that Finncon 2019 will once again feature an academic programming track! As in previous years, the track is intended as multilingual and interdisciplinary, and it will be free of charge and open to everyone interested in the research of speculative fiction. The aim of the track is to employ various academic frameworks and approaches in order to examine the themes and issues discussed in science fiction, fantasy, horror, and other genres of speculative fiction.

As per usual, the academic track aims to follow the overall themes of Finncon, which means that this year’s programming will center on artificial intelligence on the one hand, and J.R.R. Tolkien on the other hand. AI has slowly but surely crept from the novels, TV screens and geeky daydreams to our everyday lives. In other words, the theme now covers everything from familiar smartphones and search engines to dystopic Skynets and machine uprisings. It is not only AI sci-fi that probes the threats and possibilities of non-human intelligence, however. J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic works also depict creatures that are as conscious of themselves as humans, but differ from us in various other ways. Indeed, where thinking machines are a central topic in science fiction, fantasy and horror have investigated multifarious other kinds of non-human minds, such as the minds of fairies, orcs, and monsters.

The Academic Track of Finncon 2019 thereby welcomes 20-minute oral presentations whose topics could include but are not limited to:

  • Artificial life
  • The relationships between the humankind and intelligent technology
  • Non-human creatures and their conscious or non-conscious activities
  • The relations between human and non-human characters and societies
  • Depiction or narration of minds and intelligences in speculative fiction
  • Cognition and speculation

Although literature has traditionally been considered the cradle of speculative fiction, the presentations can also discuss works from other media, including comics, digital games, films and TV shows. You are welcome to give your presentation in Finnish, English or Swedish.

If you would like to participate in the academic programming and introduce your research to the wide, enthusiastic audiences of Finncon, please send a 300-word abstract and a short bio to academic@2019.finncon.org by April 30, 2019. Pdf- and .docx files are both accepted. Presenters chosen for the academic track will be contacted personally in late spring or early summer.

The Finnish Society for Science Fiction and Fantasy Research is also planning other informal activities for Finncon, which all presenters are welcome to join. Furthermore, before the main event, Finfar will organize a traditional paper workshop at the University of Jyväskylä. Everyone interested in speculative fiction research, especially students working on their MA theses or doctoral dissertations, are invited to send in short works-in-process papers to be discussed in the workshop. Further details will be announced at a later date.

For more information, see Finncon's website and Finfar’s website.

The Finfar seminar ‒ Fantastic Paper Workshop is a closed feedback session for written research papers. You are welcome to participate, whatever your level of study or scholarly experience is. In the previous fourteen years, we have had participants in e.g. Bachelor’s, Master’s, PhD, and Post Doc level. Whatever is closest to your current level, we have a lively discussion in store for you! The Finfar seminar also suits perfectly as your first research seminar outside your Alma mater.

The papers are read by all participants beforehand, and the workshop is dedicated to discussion. Each individual paper will receive 30 minutes of time and will have two professional scholars on science fiction and fantasy acting as vanguard commentators. After our vanguard commentators, the discussion on each paper will be opened.

Due to the participatory nature of the workshop and limitations on time and space, the workshop is open only for the participants and designated commentators.

Please submit your final paper for the seminar to Jyrki Korpua (jyrki.korpua(at)oulu.fi) no later than June 3rd, 2018. The final paper should be approximately 10,000–15,000 characters in length and submitted on .rtf, .doc or .odt format. You can submit a paper either in English or in Finnish.

Papers delivered in the Fantastic Paper Workshop will have a later opportunity to be submitted as an article manuscript to Fafnir - Nordic Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy Research. More information on the subject will be given during the seminar. For more information on Fafnir, visit journal.finfar.org.

Please also note that at 14th and 15th July there will be Finncon 2018 held at the University of Turku. Finfar society is also hosting the Academic track at the event. Further information about Finncon at https://2018.finncon.org/?lang=en.

 

If you have any further questions about the workshop, please contact Jyrki Korpua (jyrki.korpua(at)oulu.fi). For further information on Finfar-society, visit http://www.finfar.org.

Have you sent an online application to join Finfar through our website? We recently noticed that our online form is out of order. We have received information that people have applied for membership, but not, for example, their names or e-mail addresses. If you have sent us an application, but have not received an answer, please contact the Society's secretary at sihteeri(a)finfar.org .

The board will discuss your application in its next meeting and, after a favorable decision, you will receive information about how to pay the membership fee for 2018 later this spring.

The instructions for 2018's membership will also be send to those who paid their membership fees in 2017. If you are a former member who did not pay the fee in 2017 but want to rejoin in 2018, please contact the secretary through the email above.

Fafnir – Nordic Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy Research invites you to submit a paper for the upcoming issue 1/2018!

Fafnir – Nordic Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy Research is a peer-reviewed academic journal which is published in electronic format four times a year. Fafnir is published by Finfar – The Finnish Society of Science Fiction and Fantasy Researchers (Suomen science fiction- ja fantasia tutkimuksen seura ry, http://www.finfar.org).

Now Fafnir invites authors to submit papers for its issue 1/2018. Fafnir publishes various texts ranging from peer-reviewed research articles to short overviews and book reviews in the field of science fiction and fantasy research.

If you would like to submit your text for Fafnir 1/2018, we kindly ask you to take the following into account:

– The submissions must be original work, and written in English (or in Finnish or in Scandinavian languages).

– Manuscripts of research articles should be between 20,000 and 40,000 characters in length.

– The journal uses the most recent edition of the MLA Style Manual (see for example https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/).

– For further notes on style and submission guidelines, see http://journal.finfar.org/for-authors/

– The manuscripts of research articles will be peer-reviewed.

– Please note that as Fafnir is designed to be of interest to readers with varying backgrounds, essays and other texts should be as accessibly written as possible.

– Also, if English is not your first language, please have your article reviewed or edited by an English language editor.

In addition to research articles, Fafnir welcomes text submissions such as essays, interviews, overviews and book reviews on any subject suited for the journal.

The deadline for the submissions is 30 November 2017.

Please send your electronic submission (as an RTF-file) to the following address: submissions(at)finfar.org. For further information, please contact the editors via submissions address. See also more detailed information on our checklist and submission guidelines: http://journal.finfar.org/for-authors/submission-guidelines.

The upcoming issue is scheduled for March 2018.

The Far Side of English:
New Gothic and Science-Fiction Monsters

University of Tampere, Finland, 3.-4.5.2016

Ever since Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the Gothic and Science Fiction have been moving in parallel ways – Brian Aldiss refers to the latter as characteristically cast in the Gothic or post-Gothic mode. Both the Gothic and Science Fiction are replete with allegories and metaphors about the human condition, particularly in topics that are considered taboo, such as ethnicity/“race”, the origin and eventual fate of life, or the human place in the cosmos. Both in the Gothic and in Science Fiction, to understand the monster lurking in the shadowy forest or the alien crawling on the space station, is to understand one’s self.

We invite English-language literature students and researchers at all levels to submit abstracts (~250 words) for presentations related to “The Far Side of English”, which will be held from 3.-4.5.2016 at the University of Tampere. Areas of research and fields of study can include (but are not limited to):

- Gothic/Science-Fiction “others”.
- Adaptations and allegories of classic and modern myths in a Gothic/Science-Fiction context.
- The future of the Gothic and Science Fiction.
- Hybridity, artificial intelligence, and conceptual monsters.

Please submit your abstracts via email to christos.angelis@uta.fi by 20.03.2016. Speakers will be notified of their acceptance by 25.03.2016.

Attendance at the conference is free of charge.

See also http://www.uta.fi/ltl/plural/konferenssit/farside.html

Call for Papers for a

Fantastic Paper Workshop in Tampere, June 30th – July 1st, 2016

The Finnish Society for Science Fiction and Fantasy Research (FINFAR) organises an annual paper workshop at the threshold of Finncon 2016, at the University of Tampere on June 30th and July 1st 2016.

Finncon is one of the largest events on science fiction and fantasy in Europe. In 2016, Finncon is held in Tampere (University of Tampere), on July 1st–3rd. The main theme of the event is “fairytales”. For more information on Finncon 2016, visit http://2016.finncon.org/en/what-is-finncon/ .

Science fiction and fantasy research is present at Finncon 2016 in two forms: an academic track and a paper workshop. The Guest Scholar for Finncon 2016 is Raffaella Baccolini (University of Bologna). If you wish to present in the academic track, please respond to the separate call for papers (http://finfar.org/en/call-for-papers-for-the-academic-track-at-finncon-2016-fantastic-visions-from-faerie-to-dystopia-3/ ).

The paper workshop, held prior to the beginning of the main event, is a closed feedback session for written research papers. The papers are read by all participants beforehand, and the workshop is dedicated to comments and discussion. The workshop is targeted at undergraduates, graduate students and established scholars alike. We welcome proposals from all fields and approaches, as long as the subject matter relates to science fiction or fantasy. Established Finnish scholars on science fiction and fantasy will comment on the papers. Due to the participatory nature of the workshop and limitations on time and space, the workshop is open only for the participants and designated commentators.

Please send your 300-word abstract describing the content of your proposed paper, and a few words about yourself and your studies by March 31st, 2016, to kaisa.kortekallio@helsinki.fi and liisa.rantalaiho@uta.fi with the title “FINFAR WORKSHOP 2016 ABSTRACT [YOUR NAME]”. The selection will be made by April 15th. The final paper should be 10,000–15,000 characters in length. You can submit a paper either in Finnish or in English. The deadline for the final paper is May 31st, 2016. Further information and instructions will be sent upon approval.

If you have any questions about the workshop, please contact either Kaisa Kortekallio (kaisa.kortekallio@helsinki.fi) or Liisa Rantalaiho (liisa.rantalaiho@uta.fi). For further information on FINFAR, visit http://www.finfar.org .

Call for Papers for the Academic Track at FINNCON 2016

Fantastic Visions from Faerie to Dystopia

July 1–3, 2016, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland

Finncon 2016 is one of the largest events in Europe for anyone interested in science fiction and fantasy. By tradition, it is free of membership fee, and offers you several programme tracks with presentations, panels and lectures on all aspects of science fiction and fantasy. The main language will be Finnish, but there are programme tracks also in English and Swedish. For more information, see http://2016.finncon.org/en/what-is-finncon/ .

Finncon 2016 includes an academic track, organised in cooperation with the University of Tampere research project Darkening visions: dystopian fiction in contemporary Finnish literature and the Finnish Society for Science Fiction and Fantasy Research (FINFAR, http://finfar.org/en ).

The Finncon 2016 Academic Track aims to bring together a wide range of scholarly perspectives on the speculative and the fantastic. We hope for a broad, interdisciplinary discussion on the many ways in which genres such as fantasy, science fiction and horror take their readers, users, and consumers to strange speculative worlds, from modern dystopias to classic fairylands.

The Academic Track now invites presentations on fairy tales and dystopia. The general theme of Finncon 2016 is fairy tales, and accordingly the Author Guests of Honour are Catherynne M. Valente (USA), Jasper Fforde (UK) and Anne Leinonen (Finland). Fairy tales are a part of the shared human cultural heritage, and each culture has fairy tales of its own. Although fairy tales are often seen as children’s culture, fairy tale tropes and motifs may also belong to a galaxy far, far away, as they have become material for popular culture in many forms.

We also wish to emphasise the fiction of dystopia. One of the most noticeable trends in speculative fiction has been the rise of dystopian themes and visions that expand from undesirable, oppressive societies to apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic scenarios of the future of the mankind and life on earth more generally. What is the attraction of these dark imaginations that also penetrate young adult fiction?

The Guest Scholar will be Raffaella Baccolini (University of Bologna), who will give a plenary lecture and comment on papers.

Proposals for scholarly papers from any academic discipline that seek to examine, interrogate, and expand research related to any aspect of fairy tales or dystopia, for any age group, in any medium are welcome. Papers will be allowed a maximum presentation time of 20 minutes.

Please submit a 500-word proposal describing the content of your proposed paper, and a few words about yourself and your research to either Saija Isomaa ( saija.isomaa@uta.fi ) or Jyrki Korpua ( jyrki.korpua@gmail.com ).

The deadline for the proposals is February 29, 2016.

Tampere is easy to get to either directly by air or by train (or car) from Helsinki. The convention location is the University of Tampere which is downtown, near the train station and a short way from several hotels, shops and markets.

If you have any questions about the Finncon 2016 or the Academic Track, please contact Liisa Rantalaiho ( liisa.rantalaiho@uta.fi ).

Fafnir is pleased to announce its new editor: Aino-Kaisa Koistinen from the University of Jyväskylä! A roar of approval and best of luck to her, as well as many, many thanks to Päivi Väätänen, who is the first of the original editorial troika to step down.

Also in the news: the two-year-old Fafnir is now listed in the Finnish academic Publication Forum as a level 1 peer-reviewed publication channel - a signal of approval from the academic establishment for our editorial policies and level of academic quality.