SFRA Country Report: Germany

SFRA Country Report: Germany

Julia Gatermann and Lars Schmeink

Coming home from the first international academic conferences we ever attended, incidentally the ICFA, the SFRA, and the Utopian Studies conference—admittedly quite a few years back—we both agreed that science fiction people shared an incredibly warm and welcoming attitude that made it easy to catch fire. Engaged discussions over coffee about books, films, and games, which we all felt passionate about, helped to easily connect and make national and cultural borders seem meaningless. Nevertheless, SF scholarship is also a field where difference is crucial and, at its best, is celebrated as it adds depth and can yield the most productive results—both in the texts we engage with, as well as in our interpersonal, institutional, and academic contexts. SF fascinates us because it can come in so many different shapes and forms. Therefore, we were delighted to read the wonderful country reports from England and India and the last issues of SFRA Review, which gave us some insights into engagements with sf from (to us) largely new perspectives. We would like to contribute to this exchange and present to the members of the SFRA, a status report on how research in SF is faring in Germany.

The Science Fiction Club Germany (SFCD), a fan-organization, is arguably one of the oldest institutions of sf engagement in Germany. While it was already inaugurated in 1955, it took until the 1980s to bring enough public attention to the field to establish several national awards recognizing the growing interest in science fiction (and the fantastic more generally). In 1980, the Kurd Laßwitz Preis (named after the German ‘father’ of SF) was established, followed by the Phantastik-Preis (granted by the city of Wetzlar) in 1983 and the Science Fiction Award (granted by the SFCD) in 1985, and finally in 2012 the Seraph Award presented at the Leipzig book fair.

Leipzig has become the central public trade fair for the fantastic, connecting literary publishing with comics and cosplay and becoming a hub for fan engagement, while the Frankfurt book fair’s bigger and more established venue rather caters to the economic (and decidedly more mainstream and highbrow) side of the literary market. In addition, several larger commercial and a whole slew of smaller conventions keep fantasy and SF fans busy during the year, highlights being the German Comic Cons (currently in four different cities), MagicCon (since 2017, larger in scope but following in venue for Tolkien-based RingCon), and the science-fiction themed FedCon.

Research in science fiction—mainly conducted by SF enthusiasts—has been developing since the late 1970s, but due to historically rather rigid and conservative structures at universities and a strong focus on canon in the fields of literary and cultural studies (for the most part in German or English studies), this engagement has, for a long time, mostly taken place outside of academia. It fell to individuals and small institutions to begin early forays into the field. Academic interest in SF and fantasy slowly began to manifest with Suhrkamp (a well-regarded publishing house) producing a book series of collected essays from both national and international authors (among them Roger Caillois, Louis Vax, and Edmund Wilson) on theoretical aspects of the fantastic: Phaïcon: Almanach der phantastischen Literatur, published in five volumes between 1974 and 1982. But a uniquely German research tradition was first institutionalized with the inauguration of the Phantastische Bibliothek Wetzlar, a research library, which began its collection and research work in 1987 and can be credited with establishing the first German-language book series [1] on research in the fantastic during the 1990s.

It took until 2010, though, to firmly anchor the fantastic as a field of university-based academic research in Germany. The Gesellschaft für Fantastikforschung (GFF, Association for Research in the Fantastic) was inaugurated in the fall of 2010 during a conference at the University of Hamburg and has since provided a research network for more than 120 members, establishing an annual international conference in varying locations in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Its next annual event will take place as an online conference, hosted by the Universities of Cologne and Bamberg under the title “Speculative Fiction and Ethics” from 23 to 25 September. [2] It might be appropriate to mention here that the GFF does offer small stipends for international students to attend the conference.  

Overall, it can be said that, over the last decade, research in SF and the fantastic has become a much more respected and recognized field at German universities and has found its way into curricula. Even at conferences with a more general scope, papers on science fictional topics are no longer a rarity (one example would be the annual conference of the German Association for Anglophone Postcolonial Studies [GAPS] that hosted four distinct panels dedicated to SF). And as a productive perspective to contribute to diversified interdisciplinary research, the importance of SF has been recognized as well, with ´third-party funded research projects such as Fiction Meets Science, which has dedicated a subproject to representation of science in postcolonial SF (that one of the authors of this text works for). 

In terms of German-language academic journals on research in the fantastic, the Zeitschrift für Fantastikforschung (ZFF), established by the GFF, has the honor to be the first of its kind. Since 2011, the journal has published peer-reviewed original articles, German translations of key texts from other languages, introductions to international fantastic literatures, and much more twice per year. In 2019, the ZFF has become the first German-language journal to move to the open-access platform Open Library of the Humanities [3], establishing new and very successful formats, such as a collection of shorter essays under the rubric “Forum”, which initiates academic debates around new aspects of the fantastic and thus serves as an ideal spark for longer research endeavors, or unusual interviews on the fantastic, i.e. currently an interview with former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis about his book Another Now: Dispatches from an Alternative Present (2020).    

As for science fiction production from Germany, there is a large field of creatives in SF covering a large range of areas, styles, and genres—ranging from the famous pulp series Perry Rhodan (established in 1961 and still going strong, putting out a weekly space opera) to high literary endeavors that somewhat shy away from identifying with the genre (historically, SF was stigmatized with a low-brow reputation). Examples are Juli Zeh’s Corpus Delicti (2009, The Method) or Christian Kracht’s Ich werde hier sein im Sonnenschein und im Schatten (2008, not translated into English, but meaning: “I’ll be here in sunshine and in shadow”). One important issue for international audiences is the limited availability of translations of and English-language scholarship on German SF. Some (subjectively) selected texts of SF since the 2000s, which have been available in English translation, include Frank Schätzing’s SF-thriller The Swarm (2004), Dietmar Dath’s posthumanist philosophical novel Abolition of Species (2013), and Marc-Uwe Kling’s recent social media satire QualityLand (2017). But if German SF has ever made a big international splash in recent years, then it is probably due to the Netflix series Dark (2017–20) by Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese. The show plays with well-established SF tropes of time travel but connects it with the 1980s nostalgia of Stranger Things and a very distinctly German sense of Heimat (home) and Spießigkeit (roughly translates to narrow-mindedness). It is international in its scope and yet can immediately be recognized as distinctly German—a mixture that is typical of much German SF.

All in all, Germany has a vibrant SF community, both in- and outside of academia, striving to diversify and connect with international perspectives. This feature helps us learn more about SF in other countries, and we are delighted at this opportunity to introduce our own community you. We hope that we can further develop and foster exchange and connections beyond our own contexts.

[1] Schriftenreihe und Materialien der Phantastischen Bibliothek Wetzlar, edited by Thomas Le Blanc –

[2] Extending a warm invitation, please do attend:


Julia Gatermann is currently writing her dissertation with the working title “The Future is Female: Non-Normative Embodiment as a Site of Resistance in Contemporary North-American Cultural Production.” She works as a researcher at the University of Bremen for the interdisciplinary research project “Fiction Meets Science II” with the subproject “Science in Postcolonial Speculative Fiction: Nature/Politics/Economies Reimagined.” She is a founding member of the Gesellschaft für Fantastikforschung and has served on its executive board for ten years. 

Lars Schmeink is Vice President’s Research Fellow at the Europa-University of Flensburg and project lead of the “Science Fiction” subproject in the “FutureWork” research network. He is a founding member of the Gesellschaft für Fantastik–forschung and has served as president of its executive board until 2019. He is the author of Biopunk Dystopias (2016), and the co-editor of Cyberpunk and Visual Culture (2018), The Routledge Companion to Cyberpunk Culture (2020), New Perspectives in Contemporary German Science Fiction (2021) and Fifty Key Figures in Cyberpunk Culture (2022).

SFRA Country Report: India

SFRA Review, vol. 51, no. 2


SFRA Country Report: India

Vishnu Prasad Thandassery Radhakrishnan

This is my first contribution to the SFRA Review in any format and I am deeply humbled and honored to write the country report for India. The report features an Introduction to the Indian Association for Science Fiction Studies (IASFS) and our activities including the organization of an International online conference in 2020 and proposed activities for 2021, followed by an overview of the Indian SF films and literature released in 2020 and 2021 until now.

IASFS is a non-profit association established on 2nd January 1998. The association’s headquarters is in Bangalore, Karnataka State. This is the only registered association in India which promotes the research in science fiction and fantasy. The association promotes research in the field of Science Fiction, organizes conferences and conducts SF short story writing workshops for Indian citizens of all ages and levels of education. IASFS has organized 14 National and 5 International Science Fiction conferences at different locations in India. The Association has collaborated with many Colleges, Universities, Local Bodies and Institutions in organizing conferences. Hence, it was able to bring together hundreds of academicians, scholars, students, scientists, writers, publishers, critics, movie makers, journalists, fans, industrialists, technologists, farmers and readers.  So far the Annual Conferences of IASFS were held at Chennai, Coimbatore, Gandhigram, Gudiattam and Vellore in Tamil Nadu, Bangalore, Yelahatti and Mysore in Karnataka, Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Aurangabad and Pune in Maharashtra, Pondicherry, and Ernakulum in Kerala, my home state. Each conference had plenary sessions and story reading sessions by respective authors in addition to the paper presentations. IASFS had also arranged a SF Story Writing Workshop conducted by Eric Miller and story reading sessions by respective SF writers. The association was also able to organize a video conference with Professor James E Gunn, Director of the Center for Science Fiction Studies at Kansas University.

Dr. Srinarahari is the Secretary-General of IASFS and he plans and distributes all the duties and activities of the association including memberships, roles of members in association and conference related activities. I am a life member of the association since 2019. The 19th Annual or the 5th International Science Fiction virtual Conference of the association was held in collaboration with Bangalore University, from December 7 to 10 in 2020. This conference was entitled “All Roads to Science Fiction”. A unique feature of the conference was that all the 52 departments of the Bangalore University, SF fans, media and the general public had converged at “ISFC 2020”. Themes of the conference varied from myths to advanced technology and to the life in other worlds. The conference was inaugurated by the Chief Minister of Karnataka State, and the Deputy Chief Minister, the Minister for Higher Education, the Minister for Primary and Secondary Education, the Vice Chancellor of Bangalore University, and the Physics Nobel Laureate of 2019 Professor Didier Patrick Queloz had made their esteemed presence. Some of the highlights of this conference include plenary sessions from SF experts and scholars from different countries, paper presentations, special lectures, interviews, panel discussions, and the narration of SF stories. Guest Speakers of the conference included science fiction writers from Czech Republic, Julie Novakova and Lucie Lukacovicova. The conference also hosted guest speakers from different disciplines including Neural Engineer Dr. John RoLacco from Singapore, NASA scientist Ravikumar Kopparapu, and Dr. Ashish Mahabal, Astronomer and Data Scientist from Caltech.

The Association publishes a quarterly magazine entitled Indian Journal of Science Fiction Studies. It comprises of papers and stories presented in the previous conferences, review of books, and an interaction by the readers. As part of the conference, we had also prepared a collection of all the abstracts received for the conference and it was released as an E-book after the conference. Selected papers from the conference will be published in a peer reviewed journal maybe later this year. IASFS proposes to hold Regional, National and an International Conferences during 2021-22. This year’s National Conference may be held at Shridi in Maharashtra.

As for the recent developments in Science Fiction novels, films, and TV shows from India, there is very little to mention from the year 2020 till now. One SF novel worth noting is Samit Basu’s Chosen Spirits. This is a dystopia set in a near Indian future and has all the elements of a traditional dystopia like surveillance, an exploitative government, and the manipulation of technology. It was featured in the short list of the JCB Prize for Literature in 2020. Other honorable mentions include The Wall by Gautam Bhatia, Analog/Virtual: And Other Simulations of Your Future by Lavanya Lakshminarayan, Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar, and Hunted by the Sky written by Tanaz Bhathena. S.B. Divya, who is known for her SF short stories, published her first SF novel Machinehood in March 2021.When it comes to SF films and TV shows, the trend is no different in the number of production. Only two SF films were released in theatres after the pandemic. It is to be noted that both of these are Telugu-language films. Disco Raja directed by Vi Anand was released on 24th January 2020 before the lockdown phases started in India. Zombie Reddy directed by Prasanth Varma was released on 5th February 2021 when the theatres partially reopened amidst the pandemic. This film is considered as the first zombie film in Telugu language and it is also based on the COVID-19 pandemic. Two Hindi language SF web series were released in 2020, Betaal and JL50. Betaal is a zombie horror series directed by Patrick Graham and it was released on Netflix. Even though it received mixed to negative reviews, it is still India’s first zombie web series. JL50 is directed by Shailender Vyas and it is available on the streaming platform Sony Liv. OK Computer is the only Indian SF series released in 2021 till now. This SF comedy drama series is directed by Pooja Shetty and Neil Pagedar and it was released on Disney+ Hotstar.

I feel that this is the ideal time for me to write a country report for India. Because India is going through the worst second wave of COVID pandemic and people are dying from the lack of oxygen supply in hospitals all over the country. It feels like we are living in a dystopia on the verge of apocalypse which also reflects our common interest in this venture, Science Fiction.   Let us hope that the pandemic will be over very soon so that we can survive this trial and get back to our normal lives.  

Vishnu Prasad Thandassery Radhakrishnan is a Ph.D. Student in the English department of St. Thomas’ College (affiliated to the University of Calicut) in Thrissur, Kerala, India. His MA dissertation was on J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. In his Ph.D. thesis, he is working on Young Adult Dystopian literature which tries to look into the genre’s impact on popular culture, film adaptations, and social media discussions all over the world. Vishnu is a lifetime member of the Indian Association for Science Fiction Studies (IASFS) which promotes science fiction research both in English and India’s regional languages and organizes an International Science Fiction Conference every year. He is also the current country representative of India for the Science Fiction Research Association (SFRA). Vishnu is also a member of the YA Studies Association and his research interests include Science Fiction and Fantasy, Utopias and Dystopias, Children’s and Young Adult Literature and Media, Gothic Studies and Popular Culture Studies.

SFRA Country Report: The UK

SFRA Country Report: The UK

Francis Gene-Rowe and Paul March-Russell

Part 1: Francis Gene-Rowe

My contribution to this column will consist of an introduction to the London Science Fiction Research Community (LSFRC), which I co-direct, followed by an overview of our 2020 activities and 2021 plans.

The LSFRC (est. 2014) is an organization of sf scholars and fans, led by a directorate of graduate students. The Community presents film screenings, work in progress colloquia, and special talks with guest speakers—whose number has included Brian Stableford, Sherryl Vint, and David Brin—several times a year, and also hosts a monthly reading group (previously located in Central London but currently online) on Monday evenings. Each year the reading group engages with texts organized around a central theme. Since 2017, we have hosted a conference centered upon our annual theme each September. The 2017 conference was entitled “Organic Systems: Environments, Bodies and Cultures,” and subsequent themes have included “Sublime Cognition: Science Fiction & Metaphysics” (2018) and “Productive Futures: The Political Economy of Science Fiction” (2019). In addition to academic keynotes, we also invite authors and other creators to participate in roundtable discussions—previous guests have included Aliette de Bodard, Gwyneth Jones, Jeff Noon, Chen Qiufan, and Larissa Sansour—as well as activists and organisers for a “provocations beyond fiction” session. Our 2020 conference was entitled “Beyond Borders: Empires, Bodies, Science Fictions,” and we are currently planning a 2021 conference around the theme of Activism & Resistance. Expect a call for papers for that around early Spring.

LSFRC is not affiliated with any external bodies or institutions, although we enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship with Birkbeck’s Centre for Contemporary Literature. We also maintain friendly relations with the Beyond Gender collective, Vector, and Utopian Acts. Our events are open to all, regardless of geographical location; there is no LSFRC membership structure, and events we host always offer a free registration option. Our primary community presence is in our Facebook group, but we also maintain a Twitter page and website. We support and encourage diversity in sf studies and fandom, not only in the range of approaches to the genre, but also in our commitment to providing a welcoming space for engagement with sf for people of all backgrounds and experience.

Our 2020 activities began with a screening of Sun Ra’s Space is the Place as part of the “Beyond Borders” programme, followed by reading group sessions on Tade Thompson’s Rosewater and stories from the Broken Stars (ed. Ken Liu) anthology in February and March, the latter of which was conducted in part as a teach-out on a picket line at Birkbeck, University of London. Subsequent reading group sessions—Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer in April, N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season in May, stories from Walking the Clouds (ed. Grace Dillon) in June, Ahmed Saadawi’s Frankenstein in Baghdad, and Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti in August—and other events all took place online. The switch to online facilitated remote participation from people based outside of London, and for those still unable to attend we post session reports and/or bibliographies to our website. During this time, we also hosted a work in progress event that featured a guest talk from Glyn Morgan, started up an informal film club for remote group viewings, and hosted a bonus reading group session and Twitter Q&A as part of the launch of M. John Harrison’s collection “Settling the World.” In September, our efforts were focused on the Beyond Borders conference, after which several members of our team—Tom Dillon, Sing Yun Lee, and Katie Stone—stepped down after years of stellar service. In the wake of their departure, we issued a call for new directors that elicited a slew of excellent applicants, and our team now consists of Ibtisam Ahmed, Angela Chan, Avery Delany, Cristina Diamant, Rachel Hill, Guangzhao Lyu, Mia Chen Ma, Sasha Myerson, Josie Taylor, and myself.

The remainder of 2020 was spent formulating and launching our theme for 2020-2021, Activism & Resistance. The theme was born of a desire to re-examine the relationship between activism, resistance, and the mass imagination with regards to sf. As a genre dedicated to imagining alternatives, sf offers a space of radical potential which allows for diverse explorations of dissent. It is also however a space that has been rightfully critiqued for its historic inequities, formed by and favoring white cis-het men. Our hope is to instigate a reckoning with how precarious bodies engage in activism and resistance in the context of their material realities and restrictions, and acknowledge how communities in the margins—queer, disabled, BIPOC, immigrants & refugees, religious minorities, indigenous populations, casualized workers, the homeless and unemployed—have specific ways of subverting and undermining oppressive systems. Our 2020 programme rounded off with reading group sessions on Kwodwo Eshun’s “Further Considerations on Afrofuturism” & John Akomfrah’s The Last Angel of History (October), Begum Rokeya Hossain’s “Sultana’s Dream” & Bani Abidi’s The Distance From Here (November), and Kathy Acker’s Empire of the Senseless (December). We also hosted a work in progress event in November that featured a stimulating and inspiring interview with Alison Sperling.

As things stand, it seems that our events will remain online-based for a while yet. In addition to the Activism & Resistance reading group sessions (the texts for which are listed below) and conference, we will be hosting a work in progress session sometime in Spring, and hope to also facilitate other events, with current ideas including an activism workshop and some sort of video games-focused event. We will also be brainstorming a theme for 2021-2022. We are eager to forge new, generative connections wherever and whenever possible, and are keen to ensure that our events and discussions are not cloistered within the bubble of career academia. While our focus is primarily scholarly, it is our view that any meaningful study of sf must necessarily engage with politics in a fuller way than academy-circumscribed approaches. We also acknowledge that we have much to learn, and welcome whatever transformative encounters with ignorance and learning we may meet in the days to come.

2021 Activism & Resistance Reading Group Texts:

January: Brother from Another Planet, John Sayles
February: Elatsoe, Darcie Little Badger
March: Tales of Nevèrÿon, Samuel R. Delany
April: Deep Space Nine & Blake’s 7 (selected episodes)
May: New SunsDisabled People Destroy SF, and How long ’til Black Future Month (selected short stories)
June: Wild Seed, Octavia Butler
July: 80 Days, Inkle Studios
August: Emergent Strategy, Adrienne Maree Brown

Part 2: Paul March-Russell

In 2020, the activities of the Science Fiction Foundation were necessarily constrained by Covid-19. Eastercon was cancelled, so there was no George Hay Lecture this year, whilst an abbreviated version of our AGM was moved online. The SFF Collection, housed at the University of Liverpool, was inaccessible for much of the year, but our Librarian, Phoenix Alexander, continued to answer online requests. We still had a visiting scholar though, Iren Boyarkina from Belarus, who researched the Olaf Stapledon Archive with the aid of an SFF bursary. Foundation, the journal of the SFF, appeared as per usual with two general issues and a special issue on Canadian science fiction. This issue also contained Katie Stone’s Peter Nicholls Prize-winning essay on James M. Tiptree and a roundtable discussion, with Gerry Canavan, Jennifer Cooke and Caroline Edwards, about sf and apocalypse. Back issues of Foundation, since 2013, are now available online via Fanac while the revised SFF website has the beginnings of a cumulative index to the journal. Membership of the SFF remains competitive – students can join for £15 ($25) per year, overseas individuals for £32 ($48) per year, and overseas institutions for £50 ($82) per year. Please go to the Membership page of the SFF website or contact our secretary, Roger Robinson, at

Although in-person events were not possible, the SFF continued to support the Arthur C. Clarke Award and contributed two of this year’s judges, Farah Mendlesohn and Chris Pak. Both the SFF and the Clarke Award sponsored an online celebration, in its fortieth year, of Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker. The organising committee—myself, Andrew M. Butler, Fiona MacDonald and Sonia Overall—had begun planning in the summer of 2018 with the intent of bringing together the three major HE providers in Canterbury (Canterbury Christ Church University, the University of the Creative Arts and the University of Kent) in a commemoration of Hoban’s Kent-based apocalypse. Our initial vision was to feature a symposium on the Christ Church campus; a creative writing competition; dramatic, musical and puppet theatre performances; public lectures at the University of Kent and Canterbury Cathedral; a walking tour of sites in the novel; a book group; films and public discussions at Kent and the local Curzon cinema; and commissioned art-works to be displayed around Canterbury and East Kent. We applied for funding from the Arts Council, England, only to narrowly miss out at the final stage, so we were forced to scale-down our plans. As it turned out, even if we had been funded, much of what we planned would have had been rendered impossible by the pandemic. On the eve of the lockdown in March, though, we received good news by becoming part of the Canterbury Festival program, which still went ahead in October with a mixture of online and socially distanced events.

In the wake of the lockdown, and its continuing effects over the summer, we opted to move our remaining plans online. These consisted of the symposium (‘Sum Poasyum’), the competition in collaboration with the local Save As Writers, and the book group with support from the Festival. With only a small budget at our disposal, we had to use our initiative and to make the most of opportunities. We devised a webpage via the Canterbury Christ Church website, and we received free illustrations of The Legend of St Eustace from the Canterbury Archaeological Society, and drawings from Hoban’s papers courtesy of the Beinecke Library. We asked for short (five-minute) responses to the novel from, amongst others, Neil Gaiman, Paul Kincaid, Una McCormack, David Mitchell and Max Porter, which we uploaded to our own YouTube channel. In exchange, we asked viewers to contribute to two local charities. Fiona received funding from the Whitstable Biennale to complete her filmed response to the novel, which also took the overall name of our celebration – Sum Tyms Bytin Sum Tyms Bit. Fiona’s film was premiered on 15th October, one day before the 40th publication of Riddley Walker, at the Folkestone Festival of Looking. In the meantime, we took guidance from Francis Gene-Rowe and Lars Schmeink, who had coordinated online and streaming events over the summer, and from the IT team at Canterbury Christ Church. Due to the institutional support, we used Christ Church’s preferred platform, Blackboard Collaborate, which in the end worked well.

The symposium took place on 24th October from 11 am to 5 pm. We began with Emily Guerry’s talk about the iconography of The Legend of St Eustace, the medieval mural that first inspired Hoban. The second session was a collaboration with the Kent Animal Humanities Network (Angelos Evangelou, Karen Jones, Kaori Nagai, Charlotte Sleigh), who focused on the role of dogs, borders and the nuclear context. The first post-lunch session featured a conversation between Fiona and Esi Eshun, a talk by Sara Trillo, and a live performance by Amy Cutler. The final session included a conversation between myself and the novel’s BBC Radio adapter, Dominic Power, and a roundtable discussion. The sessions were recorded and can be viewed here: The winners of the prose and poetry competitions were announced that evening, and a virtual walking tour took place the following day.

Part 3: Jo Lindsay Walton

The British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) is a venerable membership organisation of fans, scholars, authors, editors, publishers, and other stakeholders of science fiction. The BSFA has always been volunteer-run, and a rotating cast of volunteers mean that the exact nature of what we do regularly mutates. Our activities nowadays tend to encompass speculative fiction across all media, although true to our roots there’s continued emphasis on written science fiction. The principal glowing portals the BSFA maintains include a main website, a journal website, Twitter, Facebook group, Discord, Instagram, and YouTube channel

Vector is the critical journal of the BSFA, currently edited by Polina Levontin and myself. Vector serves a mixed constituency of SFF scholars; other academics with an interest in SFF; as well as non-academic SFF fans and writers. With the lines between fandom and scholarship now not only blurring, but also shimmering and strobing, this remains a frenetic but very satisfying space in which to be working and playing. As of 2021, Vector is moving toward a more open access policy, publishing more content online and adopting Creative Commons licensing for most of it. We have also been collaborating with FANAC to make available our rich back catalogue, stretching back to 1958, and offering a fascinating and occasionally horrifying window into the history of SFF fandom. Publishing plans for 2021-2022 include several guest editors: there is a CfP out now for a special issue on SFF and Class (guest-edited by Nick Hubble), and future themes are likely to include SFF and Prediction, SFF and Social Justice, Greek SFF, and SFF and Modernism. Currently the majority of our articles receive editorial review only, while a few also go through peer review. We welcome submissions and queries from scholars at any career stage as well as non-academic authors and critics.

The BSFA also publishes Focus (a magazine for writers, edited by Dev Agarwal); The BSFA Review (a digital reviews zine of all things SFF, edited by Sue Oke); in 2021 we’ll be launching Fission (a fiction anthology, edited by Allen Stroud). Many BSFA members also participate in the Orbit writers groups, co-ordinated by Terry Jackman. During the UK’s first lockdown period in 2020, we ran the solidarity salon, AKA Very Extremely Casual Tales of Optimism and Resilience, a series of online readings. Historically the BSFA also ran Eastercon, the UK’s national SF convention; while this isn’t the case any more, the two remain closely linked, with Eastercon playing host to the annual BSFA Lecture (organised by Shana Worthen), and Eastercon members voting in the annual BSFA Awards.

The BSFA 2020 Annual General Meeting saw the first major constitutional overhaul in many years, with some expectation of further tinkering in the years to come. In some respects this brought the constitution in line with existing practice, but it also created some fresh roles. Councillors will be elected and/or appointed officers who, along with the Chair (Allen Stroud), Treasurer (Farah Mendlesohn), and Membership Officer (Luke Nicklin), will govern the association between General Meetings. Pat Cadigan also took over as President of the Association, leaving the Vice President role vacant for the time being: we expect to announce the new VP before the 2021 AGM. The AGM also passed a number of interlinked diversity and inclusivity motions, which will include making some BSFA memberships freely available through partnership organisations such as the African Speculative Fiction Society.

As of early 2021, there are volunteer opportunities at the BSFA: three Councillors, a Diversity Officer, an Awards Officer, and a Publications Designer. If you are interested in finding out more and perhaps applying, get in touch with the Chair Allen Stroud. Just as the ‘L’ in ‘LSFRC’ has been rumored to secretly stand not for ‘London,’ but for ‘Large,’ perhaps the ‘B’ in ‘BSFA’ could secretly stand for ‘Big’? — we aspire for our conversations, our connections, and our communities to be, at a minimum, planet-wide.