Tag: lectures

My first talk on science fiction

I have my first talk on science fiction last night to the Arlington Writers Group, of which I am a member. The group has all kinds of writers and occasionally do genre workshops to introduce members to different genres. Last night I talked about science fiction.

I’d prepared a PowerPoint slide deck, mostly devoid of bullet points  but instead containing magazine and book covers and a few other images and charts that I put together. I organized the talk around roughly 4 topics:

  1. What is science fiction
  2. History of science fiction
  3. So you want to be a science fiction writer
  4. My favorites of the genre

I spoke for about 75 minutes and it was followed by a discussion with questions and answers, many of which were very good and some of which I don’t think I was able to adequately answer. But based on the feedback I got from folks who attended, I think I did a pretty good job. I imagine there are more of these types of things in my future so this gave me a good start.

My focus was on the kind of science fiction that I most enjoy and in the discussion afterward, there was some talk of the authors and works that I left out. Many of these, as it turns out, are works that are often deemed “literary” by the outside world: Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow; Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale; Daniel Keyes’ Flowers for Algernon; Kurt Vonnegut, etc. The question arose as to whether or not purist in science fiction deliberately sequester themselves within the genre, something I wholeheartedly agree with. The reason I left these out was in part that they generally don’t make up the kind of science fiction that I enjoy reading.

There were questions on the role of women in science fiction, something that I felt ill-equipped to speak on, not being a woman, but I did my best. Early in my talk, for instance, I pointed out C. L. Moore and Judith Merill as two women who were an important part of the Golden Age. I also discussed some of the more recent issues with women and science fiction–for instance their representation in annual awards. I think several people found this interesting, but I felt slightly out of my elements because I simply don’t know enough about the issue.

It was a lot of fun and an easy talk to give since I already had most of the facts in my head. The hardest part, in fact, was putting together the presentation in a way that would allow me to talk more or less off-the-cuff, but to have my visual aids available when I wanted them, and I think that worked out well in the end.

Isaac Asimov Speaks!

The Time Traveler Show has, as it’s 10th show, an hour long talk given by Isaac Asimov at Johns Hopkins University on March 3, 1974. It is available as a podcast, or you can listen to it on the website. I’m listening to it right now and it is great! Asimov is a terrific speaker, and in addition to being a great teacher, he is also very funny. Check it out!