From the Secretary: Minutes of the 2020 Executive Committee Meeting


SFRA Review, vol. 50, no. 2-3

From the SFRA Executive Committee


From the Secretary: Minutes of the 2020 Executive Committee Meeting

Sean Guynes
Secretary, SFRA
Senior Editor, SFRA Review


July 30, 2020 / 2pm EDT / Via Zoom

Attendees: Gerry Canavan (President), Sonja Fritzsche (Vice President), Hugh O’Connell (Treasurer), Sean Guynes (Secretary), Keren Omry (Immediate Past-President), Katherine Bishop (Webmaster)

The Webmaster

Gerry: Thank you to Katherine Bishop for her work as webmaster.

Katherine Bishop discusses the need to end her tenure as webmaster and outlines the key webmaster duties going forward. Of principal concern is Wild Apricot — poor user interface that is clunky to work with, not easily editable, allows privacy overrides so that Wild Apricot can own our content, there were members who did not want to renew memberships because of the end-user license agreements. Overall this creates a poor digital brand for SFRA. We are considering using a WordPress website and using the WordPress Business account to manage membership, payments, and other services Wild Apricot offers. If SFRA does want someone to build a website from the bottom-up, Katherine suggests (after Pawel’s suggestion, several years before) that the person who takes on the website rebuild be paid a one-time design fee for services. As of the end of this meeting, Katherine’s tenure as webmaster will be ended and the executive committee will need to find a new webmaster. /Katherine leaves the meeting.

Discussion: What order should the webmaster and website redesign take? We want to ensure continuity so that a website redesign is potentially separate from the webmaster position, so that future webmasters don’t necessarily have to have HTML and web design experience. Moving forward, then, we will advertise a webmaster position that will be slightly more discursive than in previous years, with the intent to formalize a 3-year position. We will move forward with the webmaster before the web design so that we can have their input. Keren notes that we also want to have the next generation of the SFRA website part of a larger rebranding, including of the SFRA’s award trophies, logos, etc.

General Discussion

Award committees for 2020-2021 are set.

The Support a Scholar grant search will be begun shortly.

There will be no student paper award given in 2020-2021.

There are remaining logistical questions re: the 2021 conference as a result of the pandemic; the SFRA community and Executive Committee will need to think actively about the 2021 conference and possibilities for digital conferencing should the pandemic continue to disrupt academic conferencing.

We have two great recent examples of digital conferencing we can build on for 2021 if necessary: Lars Schmeink’s asynchronous cyberpunk conference (a large conference featuring videos, live Discord chats, and an archived website of the conversations/videos; pro — low participation burden offered by the asynchronous format across 3 days; con — conversations suffered intellectually and length-wise when compared to in-person conference) + Rebekah Sheldon and David Higgins’s synchronous “zoomposium” of SF scholars (a smaller conference of 16 folks who knew each other rather well, allowing a bond that kept folks together for 8 hours x2 days; pro — conversation is deeper and more engaged; con — burnout and exhaustion). Other models include specific “feeds” of papers and events that participants sign up to, but this limits what folks can do.

Sonja suggests we can expand the recognition of SFRA and virtual conference engagement (if it comes to that in 2021) by leveraging the new SFRA Country Reps; we will want their inputs to make sure that we have broad global participation if the pandemic continues to disrupt academic conferencing.

Committee Member Reports

Keren: the issue of the trophy redesign is still outstanding; we would like an update on Beata and Yoshinaga’s Support a New Scholar Grant projects (Sean will reach out to them for the SFRA Review).

Sonja: will be responsible for the upcoming round of the Support a New Scholar Grant call and applications in September (with a late October deadline for applicants).

Sean: nothing to report from the Secretary.

Hugh: we will likely go in the red by between a thousand and several thousand dollars, since memberships are stagnant this year as a result of the conference cancellation and because membership costs mostly go to pay for members’ journal subscriptions.

From the President


SFRA Review, vol. 50, no. 2-3

From the SFRA Executive Committee


From the President

Gerry Canavan
Marquette University


This note is a bit bittersweet: we should be coming off the high of our 2020 annual conference, but instead we all remain subject in varying degrees to a global regimen of social distancing and isolation that is now entering its fifth month. This situation is wearing on all of us; even as we begin our preparations for the 2021 conference in earnest we have to wonder what the world will actually look like a year from now, and if Americans will even be welcome in Canada by then. With luck and in hope, we’ll all be able to see each other in Toronto… 

In the meantime, my thoughts turn to celebration and gratitude. I wanted to commend again the winners of the 2020 SFRA Awards:

  • SFRA Award for Lifetime Contributions to SF Scholarship: Sherryl Vint
  • SFRA Innovative Research Award: Susan Ang
  • Thomas D. Clareson Award for Distinguished Service: Wu Yan
  • Mary Kay Bray Award for best SFRA Review review: Erin Horáková and Rich Horton
  • Student Paper Award: Conrad Scott and honorable mention Erin Cheslow
  • SFRA Book Award: Xiao Liu 

I invite you all to read the committee and awardee statements elsewhere in this issue. I also wanted to extend on behalf of the entire organization our thanks to the committees who selected these winners, especially the chairs, who will now be rotating off after a job well done; thanks therefore to Joan Gordon, Joan Haran, Pawel Frelik, Katherine Bishop, and Pete Sands.

Katherine Bishop, who has been our organization’s volunteer webmaster for the last three years, deserves an additional round of even more special thanks as she steps down from the post with all our gratitude. A new web director will be recruited very shortly; please stay tuned to the website and the listserv for more information on that if you think this might be a good way for you to contribute. In the meantime: thank you Katherine! 

Finally, I wanted to recognize the amazing work Sean Guynes has done not only as editor-in-chief of the journal but most recently in the wonderful redesign work he has done for both the Review in general and the Review’s website in particular. The facelift has positioned SFRA Review very well to continue to expand its reach online; thank you Sean! 

I could continue to thank people, but I will cut myself off here. Please, as we move into what is ordinarily a fairly quiet period for the organization, post-conference, let me know if there are events we can promote or calls for papers we can circulate. This is especially true for digital events: between the recent Cyberpunk and Zoomposium digital scholarship events our membership is finding creative ways to meet when we can’t meet—and I’d like to support that however I can.

Stay healthy, stay well!

From the Vice President


SFRA Review, vol. 50, no. 2-3

From the SFRA Executive Committee


From the Vice President

Sonja Fritzsche
Michigan State University


Greetings to everyone! I hope that this issue of the SFRA Review finds you healthy and safe. What strange times we find ourselves in, very science fictional, and all too real for many of us who are confronting multiple challenges. I am reminded of Poet Damian Barr’s poem on the COVID-19 crisis that begins: “We are not all in the same boat. We are all in the same storm. Some are on super-yachts. Some have just the one oar.” We all need to consider the disparate impacts the pandemic is having on specific demographics—race, ethnicity, age, gender, disability/medical conditions, and a variety of family configurations. Please think of these as you engage with your colleagues, science fictional and otherwise. Have patience and be patient with yourself and those around you, as we all do not always recognize or acknowledge the stress we are truly under.

Under normal conditions, we would be celebrating now yet another successful conference at Indiana University with Rebekah Sheldon, De Witt Douglas Kilgore, and their colleagues, but this novel virus intervened. We hope that they will volunteer again in the future so that we can visit the beautiful rolling Hoosier hills. I already have the 2021 conference on my calendar, which will take place at Seneca College in Toronto, Canada with generous host Graham Murphy. We are already in talks regarding the potential for in-person and virtual options for the conference, so stay tuned for more information as it comes available. Congratulations to all of the winners of the 2019 Awards! All very well deserved!

So far we have a number of SFRA Country Representatives and you can find their contact information on the SFRA website under that category at the top. Thank you to all who have contacted me so far. It is not too late to volunteer, so please contact me. We will also be having a virtual meeting soon to brainstorm across countries how these representatives would like to be advocating for the study of science fiction in their countries and how the SFRA might help these efforts. Again it is possible for a country to have more than one liaison, so if you are interested, please contact me at fritzsc9@msu.edu.

Please also continue to pass on your announcements and any cfps that you would like to have posted on the SFRA Facebook or Twitter pages.

From the Treasurer


SFRA Review, vol. 50, no. 2-3

From the SFRA Executive Committee


From the Treasurer

Hugh O’Connell
University of Massachusetts Boston


2019 Final Account Balances

Checking$68,269.42
Savings$20,458.40

2019 Income

Journals Subscriptions, Memberships,
Conference Registrations,
Savings Account Interest, and Donations
$30,497.17

2019 Expenditures

Journal Subscriptions$8,952.90
Wild Apricot$1,001.16
Domain Registration$195
Non-Profit Renewal$25
Adobe Creative Cloud$254.27
2019 Conference Costs$12,056.56
Conference Travel Grants$1,550.00
Postage$44.14
Accountants$485
Total Expenditures$24,564.03
Difference from 2018+ $5,933.14

From the Vice President


SFRA Review, vol. 50, no. 1

From the SFRA Executive Committee


From the Vice President

Sonja Fritzsche
Michigan State University


It is out! Check out the call for papers for the SFRA 2020 conference at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. The theme is Forms of Fabulation. Questions and abstract submissions should be sent by March 15, 2020 to SFRA2020IU@gmail.com. See the website for any questions concerning the conference, logistical or otherwise. You can also contact our intrepid conference hosts Rebekah Sheldon rsheldon@indiana.edu and De Witt Kilgore dkilgore@indiana.edu. Consider submitting a paper, or even better, organize a panel or a series of panels! Send in your abstracts!

Yes, IU will give society members a big Hoosier welcome from July 8-11, 2020 this summer! For those of you who have not spent time in this fair city, it is a beautiful drive between Indianapolis and B-town, only 1 hour south. It has developed a wonderful restaurant culture over the past twenty years. For you cycling buffs, the film Breaking Away was filmed here. The Memorial Union building is one of a kind in the center of a wooded campus and a winding river where many superior conversations on science fiction will be had! Make sure you take a walk and explore.

It is also exciting to say that SFRA has committed to a site for the 2021 conference at Seneca College in Toronto, Canada to be hosted by Graham Murphy. SFRA also has a location for the 2022 conference! This will be at the University of Oslo in Oslo, Norway generously to be hosted by Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay. Thanks to everyone who has committed to host in such exciting locations.

We have a growing list of country reps. For more information, select the “country reps” menu on the SFRA website. I’m going to organize a get-together for country reps who are able to attend the conference, so that we can touch base on strategies, initiatives, and other ways that the SFRA can support the reps and they can support each other and the science fiction network in their countries. If you are interested in being a representative, please contact me at sfritzsc9@msu.edu.

From the President


SFRA Review, vol. 50, no. 1

From the SFRA Executive Committee


From the President

Gerry Canavan
Marquette University


It’s my pleasure to write my first SFRA President’s letter in the impossibly distant future of 2020, a number I don’t think I’ll ever get used to seeing as the actual year. I’ve been getting back up to speed on what’s been going on with the organization since my term as VP ended and I am looking forward to some truly great years for SFRA ahead, including our upcoming conferences in Bloomington, Toronto, and Oslo. Before anything else, a few thanks are in order: thanks to Keren Omry for serving as president for the last three years and serving as immediate past president for the next three, and thank you to Jenni Halpin for her absolutely indispensable service as SFRA secretary this last term. Thanks also to Pawel Frelik, whose improbably long term as immediate past president has now finally come to an end, to our great regret! While we’re at it, thanks to Sonja Fritzsche, Hugh Charles O’Connell, Katherine Bishop, and Sean Guynes, who I’m very excited to be working with on the executive committee the next few years.

I’d also like to thank Rebekah Sheldon, Graham Murphy, and Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay for all the work they have done, are doing, and will do over the next few years on behalf of the organization in hosting a conference. Having done it recently, I know it is no small thing! We are all very much in your debt.

Finally, I’d like to note the work done by Sean Guynes, Jeremy Brett, and Hal W. Hall to make the early years of the SFRA Review available digitally. With the help of the Cushing Library at Texas A&M, Hall’s personal collection of the first thirty issues of what was then called SFRA Newsletter is now available at the journal’s website. This is a terrific boon not only to our scholarship but to our organization’s understanding of its own history, so we are incredibly grateful for those who went above and beyond to make this happen.

It’s a very exciting time for SFRA, and I’m looking forward to working with you on our shared projects in the coming year. One thing we’ll be looking to do is continue to grow and internationalize the membership, as well as forge new connections and partnerships with adjacent disciplinary organizations. If you have ideas about ways we might accomplish that, or would be interested in serving as a local country rep, please, contact me! I’m also always open to any ideas that you may have about making SFRA a stronger and better scholarly organization; please, send me an email, anytime… Thanks all! See you in the next Review.