Recipient’s Statement for the Speculative Fictions and Cultures of Science Book Award 2020

SFRA Review, vol. 51, no. 3

From the SFRA 2021 Conference

Recipient’s Statement for the Speculative Fictions and Cultures of Science Book Award 2020

Melody Jue

It is an incredible honor to have Wild Blue Media receive the Speculative Futures and Cultures of Science Award. I am grateful to the awards committee, Paweł, Amy, Lisa, and Sherryl, for their hard work and careful attention to all of the book nominations, especially on top of their extra responsibilities this particular year. In many ways, Wild Blue Media marks a pre-pandemic moment for me of thinking about the ocean as a science fictional milieu that one can physically or imaginatively immerse in. While this past year has leaned more on the imaginative side, I hope that Wild Blue Media encourages an expansive sense of science-fictionality across a variety of sensory environments. I would also like to thank Colin Milburn, Kate Hayles, Priscilla Wald, and Gerry Canavan for helping shape and stretch my own science fictional imagination in Wild Blue Media and beyond.

Recipient’s Statement for the Support a New Scholar Award 2020

SFRA Review, vol. 51, no. 3

From the SFRA 2021 Conference

Recipient’s Statement for the Support a New Scholar Award 2020

Guangzhao Lyu

“Unity in wisdom; none shall separate.” This is the motto of the Goodenough College in central London, a student residential college where I have been staying for the past a few years of my PhD. (I know its name sounds unusual, as it is inherited from its founder, the Goodenough family.) People from across the world, regardless of their culture, race, belief, nationality, and academic expertise, are united in this place, all included and welcomed in the same community. Ideas clashing, passions growing, there comes the true wisdom out of an atmosphere of diversity, conviviality, and heteroglossia, where one is all, and all is one.

This is why I feel so delighted, so honoured, and so flattered to be this year’s awardee of the “Support a New Scholar” scheme, to be welcomed into such a fabulous community of science fiction studies, and even more gloriously, to be trusted to make recognised contributions to SFRA. Here I would like to take this chance to thank my supervisors Dr. James Kneale and Dr. LU Xiaoning for their consistent and painstaking academic guidance. They enlightened me not only with the nuances within the domain of science fiction, but also the profound reference to politics, history, economy, and society in these narratives. Science fiction can be politicised, historicised, serving as a line of flight towards alternatives, towards the hope that has not yet to come. This is how I read science fiction in my PhD thesis “The Boom and The Boom: Historical Rupture and Political Economy in Contemporary Chinese and British Science Fiction”, juxtaposing the latest renaissance of science fiction in the two countries—the British SF Boom and the Chinese New Wave. I put these two movements under the broader social-cultural transitions in the post-Thatcher Britain and the post-socialist China, interrogating and amplifying the transgressive nature of science fiction.

I would also like to thank everyone who support me along the way: people of the London Chinese Science Fiction Group which I co-founded with Angela Chan, people of the London Science Fiction Research Community who welcomed me as a co-director, and people of the Science Fiction Research Association who nominated me for this award, who invited me to another wonderful community where I could join the unity of all science fiction scholars, writers, readers, and publishers. Unity in wisdom; none shall separate. I will keep this in mind and stand with all my fellow colleagues in exploring the unlimited line of flight connoted in science fiction, with the broadest definition.

Recipient’s Statement for the SFRA Book Award 2020

SFRA Review, vol. 51, no. 3

From the SFRA 2021 Conference

Recipient’s Statement for the SFRA Book Award 2020

Upamanyu Pablo Mukherjee

Thank you very much for this entirely unexpected and extraordinary honour. I wanted to quickly mention three groups of peoples and places in gratitude. First, SFRA and especially, the juries, who have been the keepers of the flame in more ways than one during these dark times. The thought of attempting a book like this would not have crossed my mind had it not been for many of you in this (virtual) gathering. Second, Warwick University and Liverpool University Press for being homes to some remarkable colleagues, students, editors, and publishers. Finally, the friends and family who did not survive the pandemic and are no longer here to share the world with me. This is a small and necessarily inadequate way of honouring you.

Recipient’s Statement for the Thomas D. Clareson Award for Distinguished Service 2020

SFRA Review, vol. 51, no. 3

From the SFRA 2021 Conference

Recipient’s Statement for the Thomas D. Clareson Award for Distinguished Service 2020

Grace Dillon

It is a great honor to receive the Clareson Award for professional service. Looking over the list of previous recipients, I feel deeply humbled. You probably know Mahatma Gandhi’s famous observation that “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” I think that ethos explains why we serve—whether it’s professional service or community service—and why we often understand the potential impact of our own scholarship in terms of service, as the manifestation of a broader mandate involving social justice praxis.

I thought that I would use this opportunity to confess my guiltiest pleasure in attempting to enact the ethos of service.

I started and continue to sponsor and coordinate a writing contest that both empowers emerging authors while bringing them into the fold of Indigenous Futurisms, an SF genre that promotes thought experiments about how various futures might look through the lens of Indigenous perspectives that have become accustomed to mitigating the historical effects of colonialism and decolonization on their communities. Standing squarely in the present, Indigenous Futurisms storytellers explore the past in order to inform ameliorated visions of future possibilities. Now in its 12th year, our “Imagining Indigenous Futurisms” annual writing contest awards one thousand dollars to the winning entrant, and it’s not too late to apply. Our application deadline is always November First. This year’s 2021 contest will be judged by my dear friend and colleague Andrea Hairston. You will recognize Andrea from her robust participation across SF venues and from her many works including MASTER OF POISONS, her most recent offering in a long line of wonderful novels.

I think of my Imagining Indigenous Futurisms Writing Contest as the combination I spoke of earlier: as service to the profession because it invites storytellers to self-identify as SF artists and scholars, and as service to communities because it brings Indigenous perspectives into mainstream contexts, just as I am attempting now. So, I’ll close by asking you to help spread good words about Indigenous Futurisms—ab0ut its potential to shape our thinking about the SF canon, and to expand our appreciation for SF’s potential to shape social change. Please consider joining our community via our Facebook page. Simply search Facebook for “Imagining Indigenous Futurisms.” You will discover how storytellers—artists, craftspeople, fiction writers, poets, playwrights, academics, and others—now live Indigenous Futurisms in ways that I never anticipated when I first introduced the term and began promoting its healing potential so many years ago. Let your students and your colleagues know about Imagining Indigenous Futurisms, both the writing contest that incentivizes it but, more importantly, as a social justice movement that gifts us with opportunities to find ourselves by losing ourselves in the service of others.

Thank you, again, to the Clareson Committee, to my SFRA friends and colleagues, and to you. I am deeply grateful.

Recipients’ Statement for the Mary Kay Bray Award 2020

SFRA Review, vol. 51, no. 3

From the SFRA 2021 Conference

Recipient’s Statement for the Mary Kay Bray Award 2020

Virginia L. Conn and Andy Duncan

Virginia L. Conn:

Thank you so much to the SFRA committee for recognizing my work. Contributing to the transnational, complex, and innovative community of global science fiction scholars is more important now than ever, and I appreciate the opportunity to be part of it. Even as the last year of the pandemic has physically isolated most of us, it’s gratifying to know that our science fiction community has continued to develop new ways of connecting people and concepts.

Andy Duncan:

Greetings from Week One of Clarion West 2021, on behalf of a number of new writers SFRA will be discussing soon enough. I am honored to share the Mary Kay Bray Award with Virginia Conn. I thank the SFRA and the awards committee. I thank Alec Nevala-Lee, whose ambitious and fascinating book gave me something to write about. I thank Dominic Grace, who commissioned, edited and published my piece. And I thank Jeannette Ng, whose August 2019 speech at the Dublin Worldcon, while my piece was still in press, was a watershed moment in the field’s reckoning with John W. Campbell Jr.

Recipient’s Statement for the Lifetime Contributions to SF Scholarship Award 2020

SFRA Review, vol. 51, no. 3

From the SFRA 2021 Conference

Recipient’s Statement for the Lifetime Contributions to SF Scholarship Award 2020

Veronica Hollinger

My thanks to the SFRA for this honour. Special thanks to the members of the Award committee—my esteemed colleagues Amy Ransom, Art Evans, and Isiah Lavender. I’m deeply grateful for the support of the SFRA Executive—Gerry Canavan, Sonja Fritzsche, Hugh O’Connell, Keren Omry, and Sean Guynes—and of our host for this year’s conference, my good friend Graham Murphy. I’m so sorry not to see you all in person. It’s been a brilliant conference.

My very first conference where I presented my very first paper was the 1985 SFRA. Although I’ve strayed from SFRA from time to time over the years, my alter ego and ex-SFRA president, Joan Gordon, has always lured me back. SFRA’s recognition of my scholarship is particularly gratifying, as I consider it to be my academic home.

I’ve always been attracted by the bright shiny concepts of contemporary cultural theory. Over the years I’ve written about Derridean archive fever, cyborg theory, postmodernism, performance theory, Chinese science fiction, cyberculture, critical posthumanism, the climate crisis, plant studies, and lotsabout queer-feminist gender and sexuality. Right now, I’m thinking about artificial intelligence. I’m pleased to report that there’s just no end to it…

The one thing that all this research has in common is science fiction, which has always been my “object of study” (as we say in my Cultural Studies Department).

I’ve been blessed by the science-fiction universe, in my academic job, for instance, in the Cultural Studies Department at Trent University. For most of the last two decades that I worked there, I taught an average of two full-year courses on science fiction every year, including a fourth-year honours seminar that was absolutely mine to do with as I pleased. I’ve had many opportunities to introduce younger students to the amazements of science fiction and many opportunities to talk about science fiction with smart and interested more experienced students. It’s been a great gift to have a job where my teaching and my research have so often intersected.

In the same year that I began at Trent—1990—I began my stint as co-editor of Science Fiction Studies and, although I’ve retired from Trent, I am still deeply engaged with that wonderful project. It has situated me at one of the key sites of sf scholarship in English for all of my academic life and helped me to keep up to date on work by a diversity of scholars, all of whom are deeply engaged with their own bright shiny objects, concepts, texts, histories, politics, and cultures. SFS has also given me an academic family of co-editors beyond compare: Art Evans, Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, Joan Gordon, Carol McGuirk, Lisa Swanstrom, and Sherryl Vint, and past co-editor Rob Latham. I owe them more than I can ever repay for their years of friendship, hard work, and general all-around brilliance. I also want to give a shout-out to two newer colleagues, Moritz Ingwersen and Brent Ryan Bellamy, whose work has had such a positive impact on my own in the past few years. Given that we’re all posthuman now and we know there’s really no such thing as an individual, my achievements, such as they are, are far from being down to me. So many wonderful people have influenced, supported, and co-created my work, including so many of you in SFRA. I thank you very much for this honour, and I hope that you will all agree to share it with me. Thank you.

Remarks on the SFRA Book Award 2020

SFRA Review, vol. 51, no. 3

From the SFRA 2021 Conference

Remarks on the SFRA Book Award 2020

Keren Omry

I’m particularly excited to be presenting this award this year since it’s only the second year in existence and we all know that last year we weren’t able to properly present the award (again my regrets to last year’s recipients).

I want to start by extending my huge appreciation and gratitude to my fellow jurors on the committee: Graham Murphy, Ida Yoshinaga, and Pawel Frelik. This has been an incredibly complicated year for each of us for professional and/or personal reasons and yet we managed to pull together and select what I feel is a very worthy winner for the prize.

The SFRA Book Award is given to the author of the best first scholarly monograph in SF, in each calendar year (had some very impressive candidates, each good for different reasons, so we end up having to compare the apples to the oranges. And yet, above these stood one text that managed to both push our understanding of the familiar and to introduce us to realms of speculation that many of us knew less about.

Upamanyu Pablo Mukherjee’s Final Frontiers: Science Fiction and Techno-Science in Non-Aligned India (studies the relationship between science fiction, the techno-scientific policies of independent India, and the global non-aligned movement that emerged as a response to the Cold War and decolonization. 

The book is a major contribution to world sf studies that intervenes in current discussions on postcolonial science fiction and on the emergence of sf as a global genre and in this way it is part of a larger engine of creation evident in the expansion of contemporary critical interest in Indigenous futurisms, alternate futurisms, and a general pushback at ideas on canonicity and what that means today. What is especially remarkable about Final Frontiers, however, is that in its perambulations through a variety of localized media it remains in steadfast dialogue with the kind of sf material and scholarship many of us will be more familiar with. In this way, Mukherjee’s book not only shifts our attention on what we read but shows us fundamentally new ways of reading science fiction in the world, that will likely shape the very future of science fiction studies.

Remarks on the Lifetime Contributions to SF Scholarship Award 2020

SFRA Review, vol. 51, no. 3

From the SFRA 2021 Conference

Remarks on the Lifetime Contributions to SF Scholarship Award 2020

Amy J. Ransom

It has been an honor to serve on this committee for the past three years, especially chairing it this year and working with committee members Arthur B. Evans, Professor Emeritus of DePauw University and eminent editor of Science Fiction Studies, and Isiah Lavender, III, Sterling Goodman Professor of English at the University of Georgia.So frequently, as attested to by other presenters here, award committee service involves anguishing deliberation over a number of extremely and equally qualified candidates. This year, as Art, Isiah and I looked over the list of past recipients of the award formerly known as the Pilgrim, we noted a glaring absence! Our decision to add Veronica Hollinger, Professor Emerita of Trent University, to the list of individuals recognized for Lifetime Contributions to SF Scholarship, as the award has been renamed, for 2021, was quick, easy, and inevitable.

Veronica’s work has been on the cutting edge of SF scholarship since the beginning of her academic career, legitimating the genre by connecting it to rigorous theoretical turns, such as Baudrillard and postmodernism. As the field evolved, so did her approaches, feminist and queer theory, poststructuralism and the posthuman, and the anthropocene. Her recent review essay of several volumes on the latest thing in SF, plant studies—one of which was last year’s winner of the book award—attests to her consistent ability to identify new theoretical trends. Her several dozens of juried articles and book chapters treat writers and works that span the history of SF from Shelley’s Frankenstein and Wells’s Time Machine through James Tiptree, Jr., cyberpunk and Gibson and Sterling, to Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy. Veronica is an essential contributor to reference works, an incontournable as we say in French, with key articles on feminist theory and sf, genre vs mode, and postmodernism in major scholarly handbooks. Indeed, one of her more recent texts appeared in Science Fiction Criticism: An Anthology of Essential Writings, and the number of her articles that has been reprinted attests to the ongoing relevance of her work. Her writing serves as a model for emulation, combining clarity and accessibility with theoretical rigour, a sense of humour, and the wry turn of phrase. As an editor, she is precise, thorough, insightful, and, again, rigorous.

In addition to the significant body of scholarship she has produced in her own right, Veronica’s roles as an editor—since 1990 a key member of Science Fiction Studies’s editorial team— and dissertation director should also be recognized. She has mentored the next generations of SF scholars, including myself. Her ability to “play well with others” is clear in her many collaborative projects, including the several books and special issues of journals she has co-edited. Veronica’s lifetime contributions to the field transcend the mere scholarly, as she brings humanity—in the best sense of the term—to all she does and to all she meets and works with. Congratulations, Veronica, and from all of us, sincerely, thank you.

Remarks on the Innovative Research Award 2020

SFRA Review, vol. 51, no. 3

From the SFRA 2021 Conference

Remarks on the Innovative Research Award 2020

Stefan “Steve” Rabitsch

Over the past three years, it has been my pleasure to serve on the SFRA Innovative Research Award committee, chairing the committee this past cycle. The current committee consists of Ali Sperling, Gerry Canavan, and myself. I guess nobody needs to be reminded of the fact that our field is vibrant and growing in all longitudes and latitudes; what the increasing number of texts eligible for this award shows is that more and more sf/f studies are happening further afield and beyond more familiar venues such as SFS, Extrapolation, Foundation, and SFFTV.

As the saying goes, these developments might be a sign of the times since we are living in increasingly fantastic, as in strange, estranging, unreal, weird, or outright horrific times. Times where science-fictional, or more broadly perhaps, speculative modes of thinking, telling, showing, and acting are gaining more and more currency. It seems as if the proverbial tools of our trade are the only and most potent tools left to make sense of, and dare I say it, counteract the forces that affect our daily lives—from alternative facts and misinformation to systemic inequality all across the board to the necrotic excesses of late-stage petro-capitalism and the anthropogenetic destruction of our terraqueous globe. It is at this particular juncture that the winner of the 2020 SFRA Innovative Research Award has positioned his excellent and timely work. The goes to Jesse S. Cohn for his article titled “The Fantastic From Counterpublic to Public Imaginary: The Darkest Timeline?,” which appeared in Science Fiction Studies Vol. 47, no. 3.

Jesse S. Cohn’s essay manages brilliantly the handling of contemporaneity without running the risk of becoming dated anytime soon. The essay demonstrates in thorough and far-reaching examples the importance of the fields of the fantastic, of science fiction studies, or of what he calls the “science-fictional” (448) in striking and urgent ways. The science-fictional and the fantastic have indeed “permeated the public imaginary” (452) to a degree that cannot be ignored, and that must be reckoned with both inside and outside of the academy. If we are indeed increasingly estranged from reality, as Cohn explores, this essay points to the way in which the public sphere is also increasingly structured by SF and the fantastic. Jesse Cohn’s essay exhibits this obvious relevance to the contemporary moment and the way it situates the work SFS does as a field as important in a way that we would like more people to see. The article does a terrific job taking a hyper-contemporary issue and read it alongside, as, and through science fiction in a way that is just a great read. Cohn’s article is the kind of work that can and actually should travel far and wide, far beyond the confines of our sf studies community. People should seek it out which is also why we think that is the kind of article that should be made available Open Access. Jesse, congratulations on producing a landmark piece of research!

As was the case last year, we found it incredibly difficult to whittle down the field of contenders to just one. There is another text where we thought that this is a piece that deserves an honorable mention not least because it puts forth a productive challenge to us who work in the field to re-evaluate and indeed soften up the structures and strictures that undergird our work—things that we simply take for granted such as “traditional” text and publication formats. The honorable mention goes to Adriana Knouf for her essay “Xenological Temporalities in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Lovecraft, and Transgender Experiences,” which was published in Studies in the Fantastic no. 9.

By queering the “traditional” essay form and splicing in personal letter writing, Adriana Knouff points the way to all the social justice labor that we as sf studies scholars have yet to perform to make our community even more inclusive, diverse, and equitable. Traditional formats, she argues, can limit access, including some at the cost of excluding others. The shifting between forms and genres—from the epistolary to the highly technical, to literary criticism—enacts a kind of science fiction as itself. It offers the kind of theorical work that many SF scholars have long been discussing. Adriana Knouf’s piece is both personal and experimental; hopefully an inspiring example for more people to work outside the confines of academic prose and explore sf studies in new ways. It is a really fun and inventive piece, alongside being incredibly smart.

Remarks on the Thomas D. Clareson Award for Distinguished Service 2020

⮌ SFRA Review, vol. 51, no. 3

From the SFRA 2021 Conference

Remarks on the Thomas D. Clareson Award for Distinguished Service 2020

Sherryl Vint

The Thomas D. Clareson Award for Distinguished Service recognizes excellence in science-fiction teaching, editing, reviewing, editorial writing, publishing, organizing meetings, mentoring, and leadership in sf organizations. This year’s winner, Grace Dillon (Anishinaabe), is an exemplary model of transformative service. It is no exaggeration to say that her work has established a new area of scholarship within sf studies, that of Indigenous Futurisms.

At Portland State University, Grace is a professor of Indigenous Nations Studies in the School of Gender, Race, and Nations. This school brings together work in Black, Latinx, gender, sexuality, and Indigenous Studies and is a remarkable innovation in academic organization within the US system overall. Grace’s many contributions to the campus played a role in making it possible to establish the school through her pioneering work in bringing together Indigenous theory and science fiction scholarship. As anyone who has the pleasure of meeting Grace’s students at conferences can attest, she is a dedicated and caring mentor who takes seriously the responsibility to nurture the next generation of voices, thus to enable them to build on the solid foundations she has developed. She teaches a wide range of courses, from Native American and Indigenous studies, to science fiction; from Indigenous cinema, popular culture, race and social justice, to early modern literature.

Trained as a Shakespearean scholar, Grace’s scholarship on Indigeneity and sf has built a bridge between the fields of sf studies and Indigenous studies. From this space created by her scholarly, editorial, and pedagogical work has emerged some of the most exciting work in the field. From her early generosity in curating and sharing short films created by Indigenous artists at the annual International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, to her two edited collections—Walking the Clouds: An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction (U of Arizona P, 2012) and Hive of Dreams: Contemporary Science Fiction from the Pacific Northwest (Oregon State UP, 2003)—Grace has introduced the field and the world to previously neglected artists and frameworks. This editorial work is important work of both curation and theorization: it brings into prominence neglected voices and offers a new framework through which to understand how Indigenous cultures and knowledges produce distinctive kinds of science fiction.

Today Grace Dillon is one of the most sought-after keynote speakers for conferences on social justice and activism, futurity and imagination, Indigenous cultures and the arts; these invitations recognize the centrality of her role in creating the conditions for the more diverse field we all benefit from today. With Nalo Hopkinson, Kristine Ong Muslim, Sunil Patel, and Nisi Shawl, she co-edited a special issue of Lightspeed Magazine (June 2016): “People of Colo(u)r Destroy Science Fiction!”—an issue that celebrates the ever-expanding range of voices and experiences finally receiving their due recognition as part of sf. Grace’s pioneering work in bringing recognition to the work of Indigenous authors and filmmakers through her scholarship, her organizing work of discussion panels and screenings, and her mentoring of artists and students was integral to starting this journey toward a more inclusive and politically engaged sf field.

Many of you probably knew about these accomplishments already because Grace is such a shining star in our midst. But she is also the most generous and modest of scholars, promoting others rather than her own work, smoothing the path for others who follow after her rather than seeking simply to rise. The Imagining Indigenous Futurism Award, now in its 11th year, and the annual competitions that have promoted even more work in the field, can be directly traced to her interventions and support. We all—existing scholars, students, and creators, and those yet to come—inhabit a better and more innovative field because of her transformative contributions.

In short, it is difficult to imagine a more deserving recipient of the Distinguished Service Award than Grace Dillon. She embodies the generosity and care that characterize true service and community building. The Clareson Awards Committee takes great pleasure is presenting this much deserved award to the 2021 winner, Grace Dillon.