Statements from Candidates for SFRA Offices


SFRA Review, vol. 51, no. 3

From the SFRA Executive Committee


Statements from Candidates for SFRA Offices

Keren Omry
University of Haifa


Below, please find the statements from the candidates for two Executive Committee positions that are open this year: Vice President and Treasurer. Each successful candidate is expected to serve for a three-year term. Please read and consider the candidates’ statements and, when we open our online voting page in early October, cast your vote.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to everyone for their willingness to run for office. Like all volunteer organizations, we depend entirely on our members’ efforts. While being an SFRA officer may look glamorous on paper, it is also a commitment of time and attention in the service of others. We should always remember this and acknowledge their participation – thank you Ida, Jessica, Lars, and Tim!

VICE-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES

Ida Yoshinaga

I am a non-traditional scholar and producer who works between the fields of transmedia narrative theory and production studies. I got my Ph.D. from the University of Hawai’i Department of English’s Creative Writing Program, after decades of being in and out of graduate school across several disciplines. In that time, I had helped mainstream scholars become effective classroom instructors from my staff labor at college teaching centers, and also served as an adjunct instructor in diverse higher-education institutions (teaching, among other subjects, race/class/gender in popular culture, women and work, screenwriting, sf/f short fiction writing, and the history of the Hollywood screenplay). As a researcher, I have been writing about the management-labor relations that create politically fruitful dynamics between corporate professionals and Indigenous (usually diasporic) workers as members of the latter class deploy cultural forms of sf/f as an expression of their labor value. For instance, between show creator Ray Bradbury and Maori director Lee Tamahori on The Ray Bradbury Theater series of the early cable era; between the Walt Disney Company’s Moana story trust of largely U.S.-raised animation managers and the Oceanic Story Trust of Indigenous Pacific Islander and Native Hawaiian cultural consultants; between indie darling writer-director Cameron Crowe and Kanaka Maoli sovereignty activist Bumpy Kanahele during the production of the film Aloha; and between Iranian American showrunner Nahnatchka Khan and her team of mostly East Asian American and European American writer-producers and the Pacific Islander and Black cast on the prime-time network series Young Rock. In these case studies, science fictionality becomes a hybrid modality, a sign of creative innovation, a momentary way to signal one’s imagination and talents. Not a reified genre (as in the “Science! Fiction!” which we have all definitionally debated over), nor approached with a whole-text sensibility. As an alternative and ethnic media scholar interested in DEIB issues during the development of sf film, TV and transmedia narrative, I research the use of this genre as a business practice, viewing science fiction as an orientation, a cultural form of media expression and a praxis involving workplace agency (or resistance) and individual creative labor.

I regard the SFRA as an intellectually excellent North American scholarly organization for sf studies which aims to be global, innovative and diverse at this point in its history.  As such, I am interested in experimental recruitment strategies that make us appear welcoming to minority groups. Such as (for example): a 2-year free trial memberships for BIPOC or Indigenous scholars; immediate commitment to sponsoring events that center around non-binary and genderfluid (etc.) topics (perhaps beginning with a much-needed LGBTQ+ themed national conference); and outside-the-box, digitally powered, sustained tactics to help our ABDs, recent Ph.D.s and adjuncts find meaningful employment worthy of their intellect and academic training. The COVID-19 era has gotten academia to rely upon live digital communication to run its professional meetings; we can take that one step further and ask how such technologies might help us overcome longstanding class barriers, disability issues and other unequal byproducts of the creaky outdated conference system, as we reboot for the new era.  Finally, how do we reinject our field, riven with a perhaps too-aware sense of the climate apocalypse and other ongoing neoliberal crises, with a sense of wonder and refresh our imaginaries so as to continue to help students and colleagues make their way into the future with resilient hope and resistant grit?

Excited about starting these types of conversations with everyone!

Lars Schmeink

I wanted to start this message with a snappy quote, a motto, or a quip. Thinking about my time with the SFRA, my scholarship (and career) over the last few years and maybe even the very strange corona-times that we are living in, I think William Gibson’s “the street finds its own use for things” or maybe his “the future is already here, it is just not evenly distributed” might work. Life, career, and certainly research never go quite as planned and I think my biggest take-away from last year is that you must take things the way they come and change plans and traditions to adapt to new challenges … and organizing the Cyberpunk Culture Conference and the Cyberpunk Research Network were a few of the many things that came out of that year.

When I started my career and my membership in SFRA, something like 2007 or 2008 (not quite sure anymore), I was a PhD student in Germany – not the most likely of places to work in SF (though we did get better, see the German Country Representative report in this issue). When looking for a “home” for myself and my research interests, the SFRA really did shine like the proverbial city upon the hill, even though it was usually an ocean away. So, for better or worse, I organized my own network, the Association for Research in the Fantastic (GFF, see http://www.fantastikforschung.de) in Germany and started building bridges to international organizations such as SFRA and IAFA. I was pretty preoccupied there for a long time, but kept up contact with SFRA—I was Managing Editor of the SFRA Review for a while, I attended the wonderful SFRA conference in Lublin, Poland and I started to write articles and reviews mainly on posthuman SF, especially cyberpunk and biopunk. Many of you will know me from my ongoing editorial work for Cyberpunk and Visual Culture (2018) and the Routledge Companion to Cyberpunk Culture (2020) and now Fifty Key Figures in Cyberpunk Culture (2022) and New Perspective in Contemporary German Science Fiction (2021).

But since stepping down from the GFF presidency and looking for more international connections and projects, I have been wanting to engage with the SFRA more deeply. I believe, that as a Vice President of the SFRA I could continue the amazing work at internationalization and diversity that Sonja has started, that presidents Pawel, Keren or Gerry have made a central thrust of the development of the SFRA. I have been the German Country Representative since the inauguration of the Country Reps and would like to further develop this group. I would like to help address issues of diversity, make SFRA more accessible to BIPoC, LGBTQ+, people with dis/ability and specifically scholars with less access to financial support. As an association of scholars these are the key issues we will need to address, to allow everyone in our community to participate, to broaden the horizon and the choir of voices that get to do research in SF. My hope is that I can be there to help SFRA distribute “the future” a bit more evenly, that I can help tinker with what we got to get the best and most surprising uses out of things. I hope for your vote and would love a chance to serve in the SFRA. Thank you.

TREASURER CANDIDATES

Jessica FitzPatrick

I am excited to stand as a candidate for the position of SFRA Treasurer. I have been a member of the SFRA since 2015, when my graduate work on world literature shifted into the realm of science fiction studies. Since then, the SFRA has been my intellectual home and model for joyful critical discourse and steadfast community. I’ve had the pleasure of serving on the Mary Kay Bray Award committee for the past two years, and I look forward to taking the reins as committee leader this year. The SFRA’s dedication to access—conferences where established and early scholars mingle, opportunities for publication circulate, and convivial inclusive networks flourish—are dear to me. Like Tom Moylan’s understanding of utopia, I believe that community requires ongoing effort. As a member of the board I will work to keep making the SFRA as welcoming, exciting, and productive as possible. Outside the SFRA I am a Lecturer at the University of Pittsburgh (PA, USA), where I teach interdisciplinary approaches to SF in courses like Science Fiction and Narrative and Technology. I also direct Pitt’s Digital Narrative and Interactive Design program, which combines the fields of English and Computing and Information to analyze, code, and wire story. Thanks to this position, I have experience in interdisciplinary approaches to SF, budgeting, and balancing evolving organization needs. I would be honored to serve as SFRA Treasurer, keeping us in financial health and supporting vital operations as we continue towards an ever more equitable and accessible future.

Tim Murphy

My main qualification for the post of SFRA treasurer lies in the fact that, nearly 40 years ago, I failed calculus as an undergraduate. That failure forced me to change my major from physics to literature, and transformed my lifelong affection for fantastic fiction—science fiction, fantasy, horror, weird fiction—from a hobby into a constant element of my teaching, and ultimately, over the past decade, into a main focus of my scholarship. Had that not happened, I probably wouldn’t be a member of the SFRA today. That failure is also pertinent to the treasurer’s job because it means I lack the mathematical skills to perpetrate an effective embezzlement scheme or other fraud, so SFRA members can rest assured that their dues will be going where they’re supposed to go, and not into my pockets. I promise to be a trustworthy steward of the Association’s resources, though I cannot promise that I will be the best possible counselor for the Association’s planned investment portfolio, as that would once again require mathematical acumen far exceeding my own. Thank you for your attention. 

SFRA Bylaws with Amendments Added


SFRA Review, vol. 51, no. 3

From the SFRA Executive Committee


SFRA Bylaws with Amendments Added

Gerry Canavan
Marquette University


Editor’s Note: The PDF available through the Download button above has the proposed changes marked.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

ARTICLE I Name and Purpose

Section 1

The organization shall be named, known, and styled as the Science Fiction Research Association. It is incorporated in the state of Ohio as a non-profit organization.

Section 2

SFRA is irrevocably dedicated to educational and beneficial purposes, fostering the common interests of its members in the field of science fiction and fantasy by encouraging new and diverse scholarship, furthering excellence in teaching at all levels of instruction, exchanging information among students and scholars throughout the world, improving access to published and unpublished materials, aiding in building library research collections, and promoting the publication of scholarly books and works pertinent to the fields of science fiction and fantasy. SFRA also promotes the advancement of this field of study by providing financial assistance or by conferring appropriate honors upon worthy writers, students, or scholars.

Section 3

In furtherance of the purposes described above, but not in limitation thereof, SFRA shall have power to engage in appropriate fundraising activities; to hold such property as is necessary to accomplish its purposes; and to conduct promotional activities, including advertising and publicity, in or by any suitable manner of media. This chapter is organized and operated for the above stated purposes, and for other nonprofit purposes related to the field of science fiction and fantasy. No part of its assets, income, or profits shall be distributable to, or inure to the benefit of, any individual, except in consideration of services rendered.

ARTICLE II Membership

Section 1

There shall be four classes of membership: active, honorary, institutional, and subsidized.

Section 2

(a) Active members: Individuals paying annual dues to the association (or pairs sharing a residence paying joint annual dues) thereby become active members of SFRA. They shall receive publications as designated in ARTICLE VIII sections 1 and 2, have the right to vote on all issues presented to the membership, and be eligible to hold office and serve on committees.

(b) Honorary Members: Recipients of the SFRA Award for Lifetime Contributions to SF Scholarship shall be honorary members. They shall pay no dues but shall receive all of the rights and benefits designated for active members in part a, above.

(c) Institutional Members: Certain appropriate academic or educational organizations may hold membership in SFRA. Such organizations may designate appropriate individuals to represent them in the association and, upon payment of annual dues, shall receive publications as designated in ARTICLE VIII.

(d) Subsidized Members: Certain members as described below shall be eligible to pay annual dues to the association at a reduced rate. Subsidized members shall receive all of the rights and benefits designated for active members in part a, above.

(i) Persons enrolled in accredited institutions shall qualify to enroll as subsidized members. Ordinarily, student memberships may be used no more than five times. A student may petition the Executive Committee for an extension of this period if special circumstances apply whereby they are a full-time student for a longer time.

(ii) Persons employed less than full-time (nine-month) in academic positions, including adjunct teachers, contract workers, and independent scholars shall qualify to enroll as subsidized members.

(iii) Retired persons (and persons over age 65) who have been active members for a period of at least five years shall qualify to enroll as subsidized members.

Section 3

The membership of any person or institution will be terminated if delinquent in payment of dues. Delinquent members will be notified by the Treasurer.

ARTICLE III Meetings of Members

Section 1

An annual conference open to all members of the association and such guests as may be determined by the Executive Committee shall be scheduled at least once during each calendar year. The president and members of the committee of the host institution shall decide upon the time of the meeting subject to ratification by a majority vote of the Executive Committee.

Section 2

A business meeting shall be held at some time during the annual conference. The time and place of the business meeting shall be clearly indicated on the SFRA website at least 21 days prior to the convening of the annual conference.

(a) An agenda shall be provided to those members present at the conference. The business of the meeting shall not be limited to the agenda. Any member may propose additional business from the floor.

(b) The voting membership present at the meeting shall constitute the quorum needed to carry on business matters. A simple majority of those present shall decide an issue. Within a period of sixty days either any five members or the president in consultation with the Executive Committee may ask that a given action be confirmed or ratified by a vote of the entire SFRA membership. General membership participation shall be obtained in the same manner as described in section “e” below.

(c) The business meeting shall be conducted under the current edition of Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised.

(d) Proceedings of business meetings and Executive Committee meetings shall be reported promptly to the general membership through the SFRA Review.

(e) Such items of business as cannot be delayed until the next annual meeting shall be conducted by the Executive Committee which may, where it deems appropriate, request the membership deal with the issue by means of a vote conducted through such electronic means as the Executive Committee deems appropriate. In such a case, a fair time limit shall be set, and such issues shall be decided by a plurality of the votes cast. The results of such ballots will be reported to the membership at the earliest possible time through the SFRA Review, and time shall be made available for discussion of these matters at the next annual meeting.

Section 3

Other meetings and conferences of members may use the name SFRA only upon prior approval of the Executive Committee.

ARTICLE IV Executive Committee

Section 1

The function of the Executive Committee shall be to serve as the corporation and to conduct the business of the association in such a manner as to promote the aims of SFRA as outlined in the Articles of Incorporation.

Section 2

The Executive Committee shall be composed of the president, the vice president, the immediate past president, the secretary, the treasurer, and at least two representatives elected at-large: to the extent possible, at least one apiece from graduate students and NTT faculty, and one currently living outside the United States or Canada. The immediate past president and the executive committee, while recruiting candidates for elections, will also make every effort to ensure that the executive committee composition is sufficiently representative of the full diversity of the science fiction community with respect to race, gender, sexuality, and (dis)ability.

Section 3

The president shall preside at all meetings of the Executive Committee unless they are unable to do so, in which case the succession shall be the same as the succession of the officers.

Section 4

The Executive Committee shall meet upon call of the president or upon call of one-third of the membership of the Executive Committee to consider such matters as may be pertinent to the association. In the event of inability to convene the meeting of the Executive Committee, the president is authorized to conduct the business of the committee by mail, telephone, or any other appropriate means of communication. All actions of the Executive Committee shall be reported to the membership at the earliest possible time following such actions by means of the SFRA Review.

ARTICLE V Officers and At-Large Members

Section 1

The officers of the association shall be chosen by the membership. There shall be a president, a vice president, a secretary, and a treasurer. They shall take office on January 1 of the year succeeding their election. The terms of office shall be staggered, such that in any given year up to two officers may be newly elected to their positions.

Section 2

The president shall be chief executive of the association; they shall preside at all meetings of the membership and the Executive Committee, have general and active management of the business of the association, and see that all orders and resolutions of the Executive Committee are carried out; the president shall have general superintendence and direction of all other officers of the association and shall see that their duties are properly performed; the president shall submit a report of the operations of the association for the fiscal year to the Executive Committee and to the membership at the annual meeting, and from time to time shall report to the Executive Committee on matters within the president’s knowledge that may affect the association; the president shall be ex officio member of all standing committees and shall have the powers and duties in management usually vested in the office of president of a corporation; the president shall appoint all committees herein unless otherwise provided.

Section 3

The vice president shall be vested with all the powers and shall perform all the duties of the president during the absence of the latter and shall have such other duties as may, from time to time, be determined by the Executive Committee. At any meeting at which the president is to preside, but is unable, the vice president shall preside. The vice president shall have special responsibility for membership recruitment for SFRA (working along with the secretary, the web director, and the outreach officer).

Section 4

The secretary shall attend all sessions of the Executive Committee and all meetings of the membership and record all the votes of the association and minutes of the meetings and shall perform like duties for the Executive Committee and other committees when required. At any meeting at which the president is to preside, but is unable, and for which the vice president is unable to preside, the secretary shall preside. The secretary shall give notice of all meetings of the membership and special meetings of the Executive Committee and shall perform such other duties as may be prescribed by the Executive Committee or the president. In the event the secretary is unable to attend such meetings as may be expected, the Executive Committee may designate some other member of the association to serve as secretary pro tem.

Section 5

The treasurer shall be the chief financial officer of the association and have charge of all receipts and disbursements of the association and shall be the custodian of the association’s funds. The treasurer shall have full authority to receive and give receipts for all monies due and payable to the association and to sign and endorse checks and drafts in its name and on its behalf. The treasurer shall deposit funds of the association in its name and such depositories as may be designated by the Executive Committee. The treasurer shall furnish the Executive Committee an annual financial report within 60 days of the fiscal year; the fiscal year shall end on December 31. At any meeting at which the president is to preside, but is unable, and for which the vice president and secretary are unable to preside, the treasurer shall preside.

Section 6

The term of office for the president and vice president shall be three years. The president and vice president shall not succeed themselves in office.

Section 7

The term of office for the secretary and treasurer shall be three years. Secretaries may succeed themselves in office for a second successive term but shall serve for no more than two successive terms. Treasurers may succeed themselves in office for a second successive term but shall serve for no more than two successive terms.

Section 8

The order of succession in the event of death or resignation of the president shall be first the vice president, then the secretary, and then the treasurer.

Section 9

When the position of an officer other than the president shall become vacant due to death or resignation or for any other reason, the Executive Committee shall choose from the membership to fill the unexpired term of the position.


Section 10

The representatives at-large shall be elected by the membership. The term of office shall be three years; representatives may succeed themselves in office for a second successive term but shall serve for no more than two successive terms. The at-large members shall represent the interests of the membership at large to the executive committee. The representatives at-large will be voting members of the Executive Committee.

Section 11    

Officers, members of the Executive Committee, and members of the association shall not be entitled to any compensation for their service but shall be entitled to reimbursement for their expenses in carrying out such duties as may be designated to them.

Section 12    

The office of the web director shall be responsible for the maintenance of the SFRA website. The web director will report to the Executive Committee and will update the contents and format of the website as deemed appropriate by the Executive Committee. The web director will be appointed by the Executive Committee, and will serve an open-ended term, which can be terminated by either the web director or the Executive Committee. The web director shall not be a member of the Executive Committee.

Section 13    

The outreach officer will organize, in coordination with the vice president, the various internet and social media outlets, in order to publicize and further the goals and mission of the organization. They will also be responsible for seeking opportunities for collaboration and outreach with other scholarly organizations, especially organizations that serve populations that have historically been underrepresented in SFRA. The outreach officer will be appointed by the Executive Committee and will serve a three-year term, which can be terminated by either the outreach officer or the Executive Committee. The outreach officer shall not be a member of the Executive Committee.

Section 14    

The SFRA Review editor(s) shall be appointed by the president and confirmed by the Executive Committee; editor(s) shall serve for a three-year period with the first year to be probationary. Editor(s) shall be responsible for electronic preparation of the SFRA Review, for obtaining and maintaining advertising, for coordinating print-on-demand requests, for coordinating other electronic sales mechanisms (such as links to online stores), and for fulfilling back issue requests.

Section 15

A development officer shall be appointed by the president and confirmed by the Executive Committee. The development officer shall work with the president and the treasurer to invest SFRA’s assets, as well as seek grants and other sources of significant institutional funding for the organization and coordinate bequeathments and donations. The development officer will be appointed by the Executive Committee and will serve an open-ended term, which can be terminated by either the development officer or the Executive Committee. The development officer shall not be a member of the Executive Committee.

Section 16

A standing conference committee shall be appointed by the president and confirmed by the Executive Committee. The purpose of this committee is to select the host of future annual conferences, as well as to assist the host with the selection of a theme, keynote speakers, and programming. This committee will understand that its goal is to ensure that annual meetings of the SFRA reflect the full diversity of the membership at all levels. This committee shall consist of at least three members, including (1) a chair; (2) the host of the most recently held conference; and (3) the host of the next upcoming conference. Additional members may be appointed by the president with the approval of the executive committee. Non-host members, including the chair, will serve three-year terms.

ARTICLE VI Elections

Section 1

Elections shall be held for three-year terms. The president and secretary will be elected in 2019 (to serve from January 2020 through December 2022) and every three years thereafter. The vice president and treasurer will be elected 2018 (to serve from January 2019 through December 2021) and every three years thereafter. The at-large members will be elected in 2023 and every three years thereafter.

Section 2

The general membership shall elect the president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, and representatives at-large as set forth in ARTICLE V.

Section 3

In each year in which elections are required, the Executive Committee shall establish a time and date by which ballots for the election of officers must be received, which date shall be known as the election date.

Section 4

The immediate past president, in consultation with the Executive Committee, shall submit a slate of candidates for each position to be filled at least 60 days prior to the election day. These candidates will be nominated by current members (self-nominations and nomination by current members of the Executive Committee will be allowed). The immediate past president shall notify the membership in the SFRA Review, and all other appropriate and available electronic and social outlets, of this slate of candidates. Within 30 days of the publication of this slate of candidates in the SFRA Review, additional candidates may be nominated by submission of a petition signed by at least five persons of the membership in good standing entitled to vote in the election to the secretary of the association. At the end of this 30-day period nominations shall be closed and the ballot shall be prepared.

Section 5

Not later than October 1 of the election year, a ballot containing the names of the nominees shall be made available to the membership via a secure electronic, online voting format. The voting process will remain open for a four-week period.

Section 6

Except as provided in these Bylaws, the Executive Committee shall provide for administrative workings of the elections and the method of return and receipt of ballots cast by the membership. Except as otherwise specified herein, the immediate past president shall be responsible for conducting the election including the preparation and counting of ballots.

Section 7

Those candidates receiving a plurality of the votes cast shall be elected.

Section 8

The Executive Committee may fix a time not more than 60 days prior to the date of any meeting of the membership or date of election as a record date for the determination of the persons holding membership entitled to notice and to vote at such meetings or election.

ARTICLE VII Dues

Section 1

The annual dues shall be set annually by the Executive Committee.

ARTICLE VIII Publications

Section 1

All members of the SFRA will automatically receive the publications which are recognized as official publications of the SFRA, which are listed in section 2, below.

Section 2

The SFRA Review is an official publication of the SFRA and shall be published four times per year or as directed by the Executive Committee. The expenses of the SFRA Review shall be paid from the association’s general fund.

Section 3

SFRA will continue to explore ways in which to sponsor and promote future publication of material valuable to the study of science fiction in the various media.

Section 4

Arrangements involving publications will be made by the president of the association with advice and consent of the Executive Committee, and such arrangements shall be reported to the general membership at the earliest time after completion through the medium of the SFRA Review.

ARTICLE IX Affiliate Organizations

Section 1

Appropriate regional, subject matter, and other special interest groups may seek affiliation with the Science Fiction Research Association. Such affiliation must be approved by the general membership upon recommendation of the Executive Committee. Such recommendation shall be made only following approval by the committee of the group’s constitution, Bylaws, and fiscal procedures.

ARTICLE X Assignment of Assets

Section 1

Should SFRA cease to be a viable organization, dissolution shall be effected in the same manner as amending the Bylaws described in Article XI.

Section 2

In the case of a dissolution, the Executive Committee shall determine at that time to which qualified tax exempt fund, foundation, and/or corporation organized or operating for charitable or educational purposes any SFRA assets remaining after payment of debts or provisions shall be distributed and paid.

ARTICLE XI Amendments

Section 1

Amendments to these Bylaws shall be proposed by the Executive Committee or by petition to the committee by no fewer than five percent of the persons holding membership in the association at the time of presentation of the petition to the Executive Committee.

Section 2

The proposed amendments shall be distributed by appropriate electronic and social media 60 days prior to the meeting or the voting process.

Section 3

The membership may by a majority vote of the membership present and voting at a meeting or by a majority of votes cast in electronic voting pass such an amendment.

* * *

The following sections were changed as a result of a vote of the membership of the SFRA in October 1992: Article I:1, 2; II:b; III:2, 2.d, 2.e; IV:2, 4; VI:5; VIII:2,a,4. A new Article X: Assignment of Assets was created; old Article X became Article XI: Amendments.

The following sections were changed as a result of the vote of the membership of the SFRA in June 2004: Article III:2a; V:3, 7; VIII:2a.

The following sections are proposed for change/addition by vote of the membership of the SFRA in June 2015: Article II:1,2; III:1, 2; IV: 2, 4; V: 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 11, 12, 13; VI; VII; VIII: 1, 2; XI.

The following sections were changed as a result of a vote of the membership of the SFRA in October 2017: Article V:1; Article VI:1, 3.

SFRA Proposed Bylaw Amendments 2021


SFRA Review, vol. 51, no. 3

From the SFRA Executive Committee


SFRA Proposed Bylaw Amendments 2021

Gerry Canavan
Marquette University


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Coming out of our collective discussions at the business meeting at our 2021 annual meeting, the executive committee of the Science Fiction Research Association would like to propose a number of amendments to our existing organizational bylaws. These amendments are intended are oriented around the following general goals:

  • Explain and clarify existing procedures of the SFRA, as well as update terminology that has changed since the last round of bylaw revisions.
  • Expand representation on the executive committee through the creation of at-large positions, including a standing “representative at-large” position intended to increase structural representation of graduate student and NTT members and another intended to increase structural representation of international members.
  • Formalize the organization’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, including in the composition its executive committee.
  • Create a standing conference committee to ensure continuity and best practices across annual conferences.
  • Create a development officer intended to pursue growth of the organization, including grant support, bequeathments, and investment of our savings in a traditional index fund.
  • Create a two-stage public “nomination” process for positions on the executive committee and eliminate the requirement that elections be competitive.

The executive committee, with the assistance of an ad-hoc bylaw amendment committee, discussed the creation of a formal diversity, equity, and inclusion committee, including the establishment of a formal DEIB officer on the executive committee. This was determined by the group to be a potentially unwieldy and potentially problematic solution, and we elected instead to infuse a commitment to the diversity through the SFRA’s existing structures and task them with implementing concrete DEIB goals. The idea is that the organization should dedicate itself as a whole to DEIB by committing resources to diversity, equity, and inclusion through our existing institutional practices, rather than locating this work in a single committee or individual that can too easily be scapegoated or ignored.

The group has proposed that we set a goal of 50% self-identified DEIB minority-status members and 40% elected/appointed leaders of minority-DEIB status by the end of the next cycle of elections in 2026.

The executive committee would like to thank the ad-hoc bylaw amendment committee (De Witt Douglas Kilgore, Selena Middleton, Taryne Taylor, Christy Tidwell, Dagmar Van Engen, Lisa Yaszek, and Ida Yoshinaga) for their assistance in drafting these amendments.

This is intended to be as public and transparent a process as possible. If there are questions or concerns about any of the proposed amendments, please post them to the SFRA-L list and they can be discussed; concerns can also be raised privately to Gerry Canavan at gerry.canavan@marquette.edu or to any other member of the executive committee.

SECTION-BY-SECTION SUMMARY OF PROPOSED AMENDMENTS

  • Article I, Section 2 adds the word “diverse” to the overall charge of the organization.
  • Article I, Section 3 is added to state expressly that SFRA possesses resources that it is empowered to use in pursuit of the goals described in I.1 and I.2.
  • Article II, section 2 reflects the new name of the SFRA Award for Lifetime Contributions to SF Scholarship; clarifies that multiple categories of academic workers are eligible for subsidized membership; and changes he/she to they.
  • Article III, section 1 clarifies that sometimes conferences are scheduled but not held.
  • Article IV, section 2 adds at least two at-large members to the executive committee, including a requirement that to the extent possible one be from graduate student and NTT ranks and one be from outside the US/Canada; and tasks the executive committee with recruiting candidates for elections that reflect the diversity of the science fiction community.
  • Article IV, section 3 changes he/she to they.
  • Article V, section 2 changes he/she to they.
  • The new and altered sections of Article V describes the roles of the representatives at-large, development officer, the conference committee, and the outreach officer (formerly the public relations officer).
  • The changes to Article VI explain the nomination process for executive officers and removes the requirement that elections be competitive, replacing it with a process in which members of the organization nominate or self-nominate candidates both before and after the slate of candidates has been announced.

2020 Treasurer’s Report


SFRA Review, vol. 51, no. 3

From the SFRA Executive Committee


2020 Treasurer’s Report

Hugh C. OConnell


2020 Final Account Balances

  • Checking                     $66,897.90
  • Savings                       $20,466.82

2020 Income (Journal Subscriptions, Memberships, Donations, Savings Account Interest, Etc.)

  • Total Income               $15888.57

2020 Expenditures

  • Journal Subscriptions $14,727.26
  • Wild Apricot $1,001.16
  • Check Order Fee $45.2
  • Adobe Creative Cloud $254.27
  • 2020 Conference Costs $0
  • Conference Travel Grants $0
  • Postage $1.15
  • Accountants $635
  • WordPress/SFRA Review $96
  • Book Award $500

Total Expenditures   $17,260.09

Difference of Income to Expenditures        (- $1371.52)

Post-SFRA Executive Committee Meeting Notes


SFRA Review, vol. 51, no. 3

From the SFRA Executive Committee


Post-SFRA Executive Committee Meeting Notes

Sean Guynes
06 July 2021


Attendees: Gerry Canavan (president), Sonja Fritzsche (vice president), Sean Guynes (secretary), Hugh O’Connell (treasurer), Keren Omry (immediate past president)

  1. New Exec Composition: Development, DEI Officer, “At-Large” Membership
    a. We will need to rewrite bylaws and poll membership
    b. DEI Officer
    i. Someone in charge of making sure EC has a “diverse” perspective and who is in charge of a DEI committee that makes decisions and suggestions
    ii. Verdict: a good idea to add to EC, will explore specifics in a follow-up meeting
    c. Development Officer
    i. Someone in charge of bringing in money for SFRA
    ii. Keren suggests it’s difficult to see how “feasible” it is, esp. given how difficult it is to find people to take on positions like the Treasurer
    iii. Hugh suggests making this a “board-appointed” position, rather than an EC position, someone who could work on this for more than just a short term
    iv. Verdict: not to be added to EC but will begin looking for someone to appoint
    d. At-Large Members
    i. Voting members who represent some portion of the SFRA community, but don’t serve a more specific role, e.g. Treasurer
    ii. Keren suggests that our organization is quite small and there might be enough voices already on EC; we have business meetings to get people involved; and we are generally transparent as an organization
    iii. Verdict: Will discuss more with a stakeholder group
  2. Conference Standing Committee
    a. This is a great idea as one of several committees that work in tandem with the EC
  3. Next Steps
    a. For a soon-to-happen discussion with a stakeholder group:
    i. DEI officer
    ii. At-Large Members of EC
    iii. What committees would be worthwhile to get membership involved and feeling like they have a stake in SFRA?
  4. Polling the Membership?
    a. A Google form or Google doc (or both) that allows people to comment on our plan, and then propose a final decision and put forward a vote on any by-law changes.
  5. Shorter stuff:
    a. Elections
    i. Keren is having difficulty finding volunteers to be voted on for the treasurer position; she has reached out to several candidates
    ii. For VP, one candidate has come forward, and Keren has considered others
    iii. Several names were discussed and suggested by the EC
    b. Award Committees
    i. An email will go out soliciting volunteers for award committees
    c. SFRA Review
    i. Ian is gathering materials to present to us on peer review and a journals platform hosting solution
    ii. It was suggested that a stronger embrace of SFRA Review’s role in the organization would lead to greater feeling of participation from the membership, since the Review works with dozens of scholars each year
    d. Website Migration
    i. This will be happening at the end of 2021, as we transition away from Wild Apricot and to a new TBD web hosting platform

From the Vice President


SFRA Review, vol. 51, no. 3

From the SFRA Executive Committee


From the Vice President

Sonja Fritzsche
Michigan State University


Our first virtual conference was a success and attracted a greater number of participants than usual including more international representation!! Many thanks to the virtual conference host Graham Murphy and his institution Seneca College in Toronto, Canada!! Thank you too to Keren Omry who put the program together as well as Gerry Canavan, Sean Guynes, Hugh O’Connell who helped to run the conference and Carma Spence for the program art. The keynote speakers, many high-quality presentations, discussions, and hang-outs prompted by the conference theme—“The Future As/In Inequality”—made it especially memorable. Thank you to everyone who patiently navigated the technology as the conference progressed. Congratulations to all of the winners of the 2020 and the 2021 Awards!! We were finally able to congratulate both years. We especially want to thank the guests and participants who engaged with intentionality and candor in the special events surrounding race, bias, equity, and belonging both in the organization and in the broader academy. The Executive Committee has already engaged in meetings to follow-up on some of the resulting ideas from these sessions. More information will be forthcoming soon.  The next conference in summer 2022 will be hosted by Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay of the Blindern Campus at the University of Oslo in Oslo, Norway. This will most likely also be a virtual conference given the continued challenges across the globe as a result of the pandemic. It should be a very compelling event, so look for more information as it comes available.

The SFRA Country Representatives have met twice this year and are planning the next virtual meeting in early September. This initiative was organized in an effort to encourage support for the study of science fiction globally and also to help these scholars network with each other. Responsibilities include acting as an informational liaison between the SFRA and the country’s science fiction scholarly community through the promotion of events, new membership outreach, and otherwise helping to connect in the spirit of international communication and collaboration. It is possible for a country to have more than one liaison. All country representatives must be current members of the SFRA. If you would like to contact your representative with ideas or for more information, you can find their name on the website at http://www.sfra.org/Country-Reps. They represent seventeen different countries. Country reps are also contributing to each issue of the SFRA News, so look for that essay in these pages. If you are interested in being a country representative, you can 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 President


SFRA Review, vol. 51, no. 3

From the SFRA Executive Committee


From the President

Gerry Canavan
Marquette University


Thank you, thank you, thank you for a successful and stimulating SFRA21! It was an amazing conference, technical snafus and all, and it made me tremendously grateful to be a part of this community. People attending the business meeting and the banquet have heard my thanks already, possibly twice, but I wanted to extend one more round of appreciation to Graham Murphy for organizing such a terrific event; to Keren Omry for working such magic with the schedule; to everyone on the executive committee who pitched in in so many ways; to Carma Spence for her help with the website and design work; to the three amazing keynotes for their stellar presentations; to Aisha Matthews for her generous help both public-facing and behind-the scenes; to Lisa Yaszek, De Witt Kilgore, Isiah Lavender, and Taryne Taylor for the bracing and honest bias and belonging roundtable; to the panelists on the and to Ida Yoshinaga, Ali Sperling, and Bernie Mendoza for the terrific job workshop. I also wanted to extend some personal thanks to Lisa Yaszek, Isiah Lavender, Ida Yoshinaga, Sonja Fritszsche, Taryne Taylor, Sherryl Vint, and Bodhi Chattopadhyay, among others, for their counsel and good advice.

One of the things we’ve learned from this strange year is that some of the structures that govern SFRA are no longer working as well as we’d like them to, especially with regard to representation of its many different stakeholder groups. Following up on our robust conversation at the business meeting, we are exploring some possible changes to the composition of the executive committee that we hope to speak with the membership more about soon. Some of these changes will be customary; others of them would potentially require a vote of the membership to alter the bylaws. But we will have a robust comment period before we do anything; we certainly want anything that happens to reflect the will of the entire group. Our goal is to promote an SFRA that better represents the diversity of its membership, in every sense.

In the meantime, thanks to all those who have stepped up to serve on the awards committees, and to those who will be standing for election to the executive board this fall. We are still looking for help with design work for the new plaques and trophies; if you have experience with this sort of 3D design, or know someone who does, please, reach out to me! We are also still looking for a US-based host for the 2023 conference; if you think your institution might be a good fit for an in-person conference, and think you have the capacity to work with the group to plan one, please, let me know! Thanks again to all those whose labor and generosity help make SFRA work.

From the President


SFRA Review, vol. 51, no. 2

From the SFRA Executive Committee


From the President

Gerry Canavan
Michigan State University


With the May 1 deadline for SFRA21 proposals in the rear view, the next step is putting together the schedule. With more than the usual number of participants across multiple timezones, this is more of a challenge than usual—but we’re hoping to have this information to you very quickly! In the meantime, please pay attention to your email and to the sfra.org website for information on conference registration, access, and other logistics; if you have any questions that aren’t addressed there, please direct them to me at gerry.canavan@marquette.edu or to the organizer, Graham Murphy, at graham.murphy@senecacollege.ca.

We are all very excited about the conference, even as we are filled with nervous energy around the experimental format! We hope the ten-minute “mini-paper” roundtable format we’ve selected will be a success and ask that everyone please try their best to stick within these guidelines as they prepare their papers; I know the temptation to take just an extra couple of minutes will be strong, but we really want to leave as much time for questions and conversation as possible. If you find you have more to say, please take advantage of the opportunity to precirculate your paper. This system worked very well at ICFA and I think it will work well at SFRA too.

After the conference we will be turning our attention to the exec elections; we will be electing a new vice president and new treasurer this fall. If you think you might be willing to serve, please email me for more information! We will also be seeking out new members for the various award committees; if you think you might be willing to serve the organization in this capacity, please contact me as well.

In the meantime, everyone stay well, and power through the end of term as best you can! It’s been a year.

From the Vice President


SFRA Review, vol. 51, no. 2

From the SFRA Executive Committee


From the Vice President

Sonja Fritzsche
Michigan State University


The draft program for the annual conference SFRA 21 will be coming soon; its title “The Future of/as Inequality.” The conference host Graham Murphy at Seneca College in Toronto, Canada has been working hard on organizing the virtual conference and is looking forward to greeting you from Friday, June 18 to Monday, June 21, 2021. Keynotes speakers include Madeline Ashby (author of Company Town, How to Future: Leading and Sensemaking in an Age of Hyperchange, and the Machine Dynasty series), Dr. Joy Sanchez-Taylor (Diverse Futures: Science Fiction and Authors of Color), and Dr. Lars Schmeink (Biopunk Dystopias: Genetic Engineering, Society and Science Fiction; The Routledge Companion to Cyberpunk Culture, Cyberpunk and Visual Culture). Special guest Aisha Matthews (The MOSF Journal of Science Fiction and Director of Literary Programming for the Museum of Science Fiction’s annual Escape Velocity Conference) will speak as well. The virtual conference is expanding opportunities to present more globally and SFRA is no exception! We missed you last year, so we are looking forward to great conversations as we catch up on the most recent debates in science fiction studies. Don’t forget to renew your membership. Conference registration is open now and a low virtual rate!

Look soon too for more information on SFRA 2022, which will be hosted by Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay at the University of Oslo, and also for the location of SFRA 2023. Consider attending the business meeting at the conference to find out ways you can get more involved in the organization or e-mail me if you have questions or an interest for the future. Make sure to check the SFRA Facebook and Twitter pages and the website for recent cfps, events, and other announcements of interest to those who do research on science fiction. If you have a call or an event that you would like to circulate, please send me an e-mail or feel free to post it yourself. If you are looking for a resource, consider contacting the relevant SFRA Country Representative for help.

Borders in Grain and Blade Runner 2049 and Their Relation to Dystopian Fiction


SFRA Review, vol. 51, no. 1

Symposium: Beyond Borders


Borders in Grain and Blade Runner 2049 and Their Relation to Dystopian Fiction

Seyedhamed Moosavi


Dystopian fiction abounds with the subject of borders, posing the question of why rigid borders become significant in some major dystopias or dystopian fiction, and what psychological effects rigid border policies can have on individuals. In this article, I will show that geographical and political borders manifest on different levels in dystopia. Borders within dystopia are a means to achieving certain psychological ends to control the masses. They accordingly manifest themselves on four different levels.

Type 1: Closed Geographical Borders

The first type is the border that divides countries. In Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, for instance, the couple in the story gets caught trying to escape past the border of a dystopian America into Canada. In another example, in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, the apparently civilized world of the novel has been separated from, and is oblivious to, what it calls “the Savage World.” The Swedish author Karin Boye’s novel Kallocain “World State”, too, presents a society that is oblivious to what life is like across its borders, supposing those living across the border to be a different species, while, in fact, we understand they are anything but.

In Semih Kaplanoğlu’s SF movie Grain, which I am going to discuss, urban life is separated from the multiethnic rural life with dangerous high-voltage electrical poles that immediately incinerate anyone who dares to cross them. Although the urban areas plagued by riots are kept under control by military force and the dominant ideology (which aims to subjugate the population into subservience), they are afforded certain privileges such as better hygiene, housing, technological advantages, and even brothels. On the other hand, the rural areas suffer from a deadly pandemic, are spied upon all the time by drones, and have almost no wildlife left. It is, therefore, important to note that closed borders are used a) to demonstrate that what is across the border is inferior, contemptible, or insignificant (in 1984, for instance, what is across the border is, derogatorily, referred to as “the enemy”, whereas in Brave New World,the people across the border are “savage” and, therefore, inferior and insignificant); b) tight geographical borders also serve the purpose of distorting the reality of life beyond the borders (the borderline between what is real and what is illusory is blurred); and c) they are ultimately used to morally disengage individuals. According to social psychologist Albert Bandura, moral disengagement is a psychological mechanism “at which moral self-censure can be disengaged from reprehensible conduct”. (Bandura 102)

For instance, euphemistic labeling, an effective moral disengagement tactic, is used to give positive names to evil organizations or evil actions. In 1984, the Ministry of Love is actually a horrendous organization that tortures and kills individuals. The Ministry of Truth, another organization in the novel, propagates lies. In Grain, too, despite all the evil in his world, Professor Erol Eron (Jean-Marc Barr), the protagonist and the main geneticist of the food company Novus Vita, prides himself in having a new house in the more privileged urban area. Eren informs Akman (Ermin Bravo), another geneticist, that he was, at least for a while, able to revive the dead soil enough to be cultivated. Akman asks Eren what he received in return. Eren answers that he was “promoted and moved into a better house.” This shows that Eren has limited awareness of the suffering around him and sees no reason to feel guilty about the advantages he reaps, which are ultimately used to protect the privileged urban areas and the profits of his company at the cost of the rest. Eren uses diffusion of responsibility to morally disengage himself: he feels like a cog in a machine who does what he is told, with no personal responsibility for the impact of his actions at all.

Borders can be said to make residents morally disengaged merely by relying on the fact that seeing is a much stronger humanizing factor than hearing. When we hear things, we rely on truth-claims without experiencing things for ourselves. As an instance of the humanizing power of seeing, Albert Bandura cites a Pulitzer Prize winning photograph “that captured the anguished cries of a little girl whose clothes were burned off by the napalm bombing of her village”, believing that “This single humanisation of inflicted destruction probably did more to turn the American public against the war than the countless reports led by journalists. (Bandura 108) In Grain, the fact that Professor Eren sees with his own eyes the realities beyond the borders of the Urban areas (dearth, hunger, epidemic on the one hand, and discovering fertile soil, woods beyond a wall, and an ant carrying grain at the end of the film on the other) that make him hesitate about going to his city. In Dick’s novel, as another instance of the power of seeing over hearing, it is seeing the singer Luba Luft’s reaction to fear at her own death—“her eyes faded and the colour dimmed from her face, leaving it cadaverous” (Dick 130)—that makes the bounty hunter Deckard decide not to kill her.

It seems, however, that the most important function of closed borders is to create a sense of helplessness in individuals. In the late sixties, Martin Seligman conducted a series of experiments on dogs that came to be known as the theory of “Learned Helplessness.” In their experiments, out of three groups of dogs, two groups were administered electric shocks and a third group were put on harnesses and later released. While group two could stop the shock by pressing a lever, group three had no control over the shocks. Later, all the three groups were put inside shuttle boxes with two chambers inside divided by a low barrier. This time, the electric shock administered was on one side and the dogs could avoid it by jumping over the barrier. Interestingly, while the dogs in group one and two jumped over the barrier, the dogs in group three just remained in their place and whimpered. Because they had learned previously that nothing they did could actually stop the shock, they didn’t see a point in trying. (Seligman 407) Tight borders in dystopia can function in the same way. The individual feels helpless, as if they have no control over their lives even if they decide to leave the situation they are in and they give up trying. In the movie Grain, for example, leaving the urban areas either means certain death or is extremely difficult. Such mechanisms, however, are not limited to what goes on across the borders of a country; they can effectively be used inside these borders.

Type 2: Borders within Dystopia

The second type of border exists within the borders of dystopias and divides the minority from the supposedly obedient majority. Perhaps one of the main ways minorities are depicted in the SF genre is as androids, especially in Dick’s fiction. Androids in both Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and its film adaptations Blade Runner (1982) and Blade Runner 2049 (2017) are different from humans and therefore subject to persecution and killing. Social psychology suggests that humans mostly have sympathy for what resembles them, what they are associated with, and what is closer to them in space and time. (Zimbardo 131) What is not associated with us or least resembles us, is not related to us and feels removed from us, arousing little sympathy. When a majority finds a minority least resembling it or associated with it, acts of dehumanization become easier.

In Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, even though Deckard at some point doubts whether he really is human or android, we are made sure that he is a human and not an android.  In Blade Runner the movie, however, deliberately breaks the boundaries between human and android by raising the question whether the blade runner Deckard himself might be an android (called replicants in the movie). In Blade Runner 2049, however, there is proof that androids are closely associated with humans. What differentiates this work from its two predecessors, however, is that Deckard’s replicant lover, Rachael, who is dead, is discovered to have given birth 28 years before, breaking the boundaries between human and android by giving birth to the first half-human, half-android child. Isabel Miller emphasizes that the crux of the last film, unlike both Dick’s novel and Ridley Scott’s adaptation, is less “epistemological” than “psychoanalytic” (emphasizing the father figure and “the primal scene”): androids are manufactured and the initial question is if they were sentient beings in a Cartesian sense, but the question in Blade Runner 2049 has become: are they “born” too? This question sets K (Ryan Gosling), the replicant protagonist, on a quest to find out if he is the first born android. The authorities in this movie do not want this fact to be known however; as Miller emphasizes K’s female boss, Lt. Joshi (Robin Wright) is “intent on creating boundaries and borders”. (Miller 194) Joshi justifies that “The world is built on a wall. It separates kind. Tell either side there’s no wall, you bought a war. Or a slaughter”. (Blade Runner 2049 26:00-27:00)

One of the most significant mechanisms that can divide the members of a society is highlighting or exaggerating the dissimilarities and downsizing the commonalities, especially to make the minority feel that they do not belong in the society that they are actually a part of. Mechanisms of moral disengagement such as de-individuation, demonization, blaming the minority for the problems of a society are also effective tools for creating a border. One of the ways to achieve this is to attach dehumanizing and over-generalizing labels to the minority. In the novel, for instance, the character Phil Resch refers to androids as “murderous illegal aliens.” (Dick 62) In Blade Runner 2049, replicants are still “retired”, not killed. Numbers (or letters, as with Blade Runner 2049’s protagonist K) also serve the purpose of de-individuation. Philip E. Wegner, by drawing a parallel between the US policies under Trump, and, similarly believing that replicants in both movies are symbols of immigrants and outsiders draws our attention to such tactics in hating androids for no apparent reason and calling them “skinners” who might even “eat children”. (Wegner 137) What is anonymous moves further away from us in our minds and becomes less familiar, and is, therefore, more easily treated as an object. In dystopia, usually because of the psychological and regional borders that create a rift between people of different cultural, linguistic, or ethnic backgrounds, the majority in power do not come into direct and first-person contact with those in the minority and instead of experiencing and knowing the minority’s culture for themselves (such as making friends, knowing each other on an individual level, getting to enjoy and celebrate their differences), they rely on false truth claims and distorted representation of the minority that have little if any truth in them and are intended to subjugate and dehumanize them. In Blade Runner 2049, the fact that a baby has been born to an android is not just a possible “a symbol in the struggle” to emancipate replicants, (Wegner 138) but will also prove them to be far more similar to humans than has been shown. Keren Omry considers this birth in the movie to be (at least initially) a significant factor in actuating K to behave responsibly and unite Deckard (Harrison Ford) with his daughter Ana (Carla Juri), who is the real miracle child. (Omry 111) But both Omry and Sean Guynes conclude that it is the fact that K realized that he was not the chosen one that leads him take the right moral stance. While it is K’s mistake in thinking that he himself was the miracle child helped him to fight against his de-individuation and made him empathize more with both humans and other replicants, it was, as Guynes reminds us, K’s realization that he was part of a people, “a beat in the rhythm, a moment in the flow,” irrespective of whether he was the chosen one or not, which ultimately made him act morally. (Guynes 148) 

Type 3: Interpersonal and Intrapersonal Borders

The third type of border is both interpersonal and intrapersonal. It is an indispensible corollary of the previous two types of borders. Firstly, it is important that people spy on each other. Although this subject is not a central theme in Blade Runner 2049 and Grain, mistrust between people, as an inevitable consequence, is seen in both. The world of Blade Runner 2049 is similar to Grain’s wasteland; nature and animals are mostly dead; one cannot know whether a person is a replicant, a spy, or a replicant friend belonging to the underground movement. In Grain, too, the existence of riots, prison camps, military rule, and drones all mean that people cannot trust each other. Fear is the psychological mechanism by which dystopias and despotic governments operate: it is the opposite of a feeling of trust. What we fear we cannot trust, and what we do not know arouses suspicion and mistrust. In dystopias, this fear is essential for the ruling power as a tool for controlling the people. One’s spouse can be a spy. That is why family ties and intimacy in relationships are targeted, discouraged, or forbidden by the dystopian regime. The fact that no one is able to trust another person, even those closest to one, means that the totalitarian regime is trying to give its citizens the sense that none of their actions, or what they express as opinions, are, or can be, hidden from them, or remain unknown to the ruling power. This acute sense of being surveilled is, in turn, internalized to the point where one expects to be unable to trust their loved ones and acts accordingly.

Here, we enter the realm of the individual, the secret self that can be hidden from others and is the only safe place for the person. Hence, in dystopian societies, the person creates a border that can widely divide their inner self (the real self that is known to themselves) and a social self (which is in shape the dystopian regime requires of its citizens). Therefore, a border is created within the individual (intra-persona border). But the dystopian ruling power does not want this secret self to exist; it wants to subjugate the totality of the individual, hence the Thought Police, and the spying drones.

In Grain, in the scene where professor Eren and Akman are sitting around a fire, Eren tells Akman the reason he crossed the border was to look for him. Akman tells him that “you’d better look for yourself.” The self in “yourself” can be interpreted as the self that has been taken away by the ruling power. In 1984, the Party is cognizant of the fact that the inner self of the individual must be erased and replaced by the ideal citizen that will ensure its continued survival and domination. The individual who has not completely internalized the teachings of the regime must know that even if they were able to keep their thoughts to themselves, the Party might find ways of accessing their secret thoughts, feelings, and fears.

Type 4: Temporal Borders

In Grain and Blade Runner 2049, too, one would expect “splintered selves”, although other types of borders are marked as stronger themes in the two films. In both films, the past is denied, which is the last of the four major border types in our division, namely “the temporal border.” 

As an example of the temporal border in Grain, the young man who accompanies professor Eren across the border tells him that if he remembers “correctly,” his childhood camp “was right behind” the hills. Grain leaves more questions unanswered. What was Eren’s own past? What exactly went wrong in the film? The movie appears to be more focused on how things have turned out than what went on before. There might be two reasons for this. Firstly, Grain builds upon other major themes in the SF genre by suggesting that the planet was plagued by chemical wars, synthetic products, and authoritarianism; corporate wealth and power took over and the earth became uninhabitable and was subsequently divided into three main parts: “the city”, “the untended nature”, and the supposedly “dead lands.” Its focus on the present might have another, (more significant) reason: the past is supposed to be insignificant in the film: in dystopian fiction and societies, the borders have a cyclical order. It appears, then, that the stronger the geographical borders of a country or society, the stronger the border dividing the present from the past. Just as the reality of what is across the closed geographical borders is either denigrated, distorted, and/or depicted as malevolent, so is the past, in a similar fashion, denigrated, distorted, or considered insignificant.

WORKS CITED

Bandura, Albert. “Selective Moral Disengagement in the Exercise of Moral Agency.” Journal of Moral Education, vol. 31, no. 6, 2002, pp. 102-119. Taylor & Francis Online, https://doi.org/10.1080/0305724022014322.

Dick, Philip K. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Ballantine, 1996.

Guynes, Sean. “Dystopia fatigue doesn’t cut it, or, Blade Runner 2049 ‘s utopian longings.” Science Fiction Film and Television, vol. 13, no. 1, Liverpool University Press, 2020, pp. 143-148. Project Muse, https://muse.jhu.edu/article/750552/pdf.

Grain. Directed by Semih Kaplanoğlu. Performances by Jean-marc Barr and Ermin Bravo, Kaplan Film, Apr 26, 2017.

Omry, Keren. “‘Cells. Interlinked’: Sympathy and obligation in Blade Runner 2049.” Science Fiction Film and Television, vol. 13, no. 1, Liverpool University Press, 2020, pp. 107-112. Project Muse, https://muse.jhu.edu/article/750556/summary.

Millar, Isabel. “‘Before We Even Know What We Are, We Fear to Lose It.’: the Missing Object of the Primal Scene.” Lacanian Perspectives on Blade Runner 2049, edited by Calum Neill, Palgrave Macmillan, 2021, pp. 189-208.    

Blade Runner 2049. Directed by Villeneuve, Denis, performances by Ryan Gosling and Ana de Armas, Columbia pictures, 2017.

Seligman, M. E. P. 1972. ‘Learned Helplessness’. Annual Review of Medicine, 23.1: 407-412. 

Wegner, Philip E. “We, the people of Blade Runner 2049.” Science Fiction Film and Television, vol. 13, no.1, Liverpool University Press, 2020, pp. 135-142. Project Muse, https://muse.jhu.edu/article/750568/pdf.

Zimbardo, Philip G. “Mind Control in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four: Fictional Concepts Become Operational Realities in Jim Jones’s Jungle Experiment.” On Nineteen Eighty-Four Orwell and our Future, edited by Abbott Gleason et al. Princeton UP, 2005, pp. 127–154.


Seyedhamed Moosavi was born in Iran and currently teaches in Istanbul, where he also lives. He has a Master’s in English Literature and has two articles on Philip K. Dick’s work in Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction (#129 and #133). He currently aspires to be a PhD student working on English SF somewhere abroad.