From the Vice President

SFRA Review, vol. 50, no. 4

From the SFRA Executive Committee

From the Vice President

Sonja Fritzsche
Michigan State University

The SFRA Support a New Scholar Grant deadline has just closed on November 15, 2020 for the graduate student competition. For those interested in the non-tenure track scholar competition look for that call in the early fall of 2021. Since we weren’t able to host a conference, the Student Paper Award has been suspended for this year. But graduate students who present at our conference in summer 2021 – make sure to submit your paper for consideration for this award in in response to the e-mail call that will go out in fall 2021.

We are excited to be discussing plans for an all virtual conference 2021 hosted by Graham Murphy and Seneca College in Toronto. Dates will be announced soon so keep a look out! This will no doubt be one of our most international conferences yet due to the virtual format.

The SFRA Country Representatives have met twice now since the beginning of the fall and are busy sharing information, ideas, and expanding the global network of scholars working on science fiction. We are still looking for representatives as many countries have yet to be represented so don’t be shy and please e-mail me if you are interest ( The current rep list is: The job description is as follows:

A SFRA Country Representative facilitates academic communication on science fiction for their specific country to SFRA members, and also passes on SFRA news/events to their own colleagues in country.  Such activities include taking flyers to conferences, posting on SFRA social media (Facebook, Twitter, or Listserve) about conferences, symposia, publishing opportunties, etc. The SFRA News will include a column that will be written by country representatives on rotation. Must be a member of the SFRA.

Look for the information that these country representatives will be sharing so that you can become aware of opportunities near you or on the other side of the globe. The virtual spaces that we occupy now make this type of sharing possible in ways that we could only have imagined just 6 months ago. Our next meeting is in early January 2021. Country representatives will also be writing a contribution for the SFRA Review so look for this new addition to find out a more detailed account of work going on in a particular country. Also don’t forget to pass on information to me if you want me to post an event or cfp for you on Facebook and Twitter. I’m always open to other suggestions and ideas as to how we can help to promote the work of our colleagues in the SFRA.

Namárië (From the Editor)


Sean Guynes
Editor, SFRA Review

As the Fellowship departed Lothlórien, Galadriel recited a poem, a song of longing for the home she cannot return to. That poem is “Namárië,” the longest text in The Lord of the Rings written in Tolkien’s Elvish language Quenya. The title comes from a shortening of the Quenya phrase á na márië, or “be well,” a common Elvish greeting and farewell. I invoke it here, now, as farewell to you and the SFRA Review, just as I invoked Klingon in greeting nearly three years ago. Namárië, friends.

Over the past few years, since my first issue in the summer of 2018, things have changed quite a lot—in our geopolitical lives, in my personal life, and here at SFRA Review. New editors have come on and old editors have left. The Review changed format, leveled-up in terms of professional visibility, to look like a real journal: and damn straight, it’s been here for 50 years with scholars young and old contributing reviews, essays, and more. Why not treat it with the respect it deserves? If anything, the authors publishing here deserve to be contributing to a publication that takes itself seriously, I thought. And so I worked hard to professionalize the look of the journal and how things work behind the scenes. Moreover, we transitioned to a more secure digital home, bringing the journal to readers in a way that meets the basic standards of digital distribution for academic scholarship. No longer do Review articles linger in a PDF downloadable from an obscure SFRA webpage. Now, each article has a link, its own home on the web, and is fully text-searchable by search engines, optimizing the work our contributors have done for greater discoverability. Boring, time-consuming, subservient to neoliberal academia’s demands for digital presence? Yes, yes, yes, but necessary. Fight me or sue me, I’m right.

My editors have worked hard and now it’s time for me to move on. I have no doubt that the next editor (not yet chosen) will continue the work we’ve done, and then some. (I’ll be watching you, so don’t screw it up!)

Thanks for all your labor, editors, and for your words, contributors. And, if anyone reads this, thanks for doing so, but surely you’ve got something better to do! In the meantime, you can find me on Twitter (@saguynes) and at my website ( Take care of yourselves, gentlefolk.

Be seeing you! / Namárië!

SFRA Innovative Research Award 2019

SFRA Innovative Research Award 2019

Susan Ang

The SFRA Innovative Research Award (formerly the Pioneer Award) is given to the writer or writers of the best critical essay-length work of the year.

This year’s awardee is Susan Ang for her essay “Triangulating the Dyad: Seen (Orciny) Unseen,” Foundation, vol. 48, no. 132.

Raino Isto received an honorable mention for his essay “‘I Will Speak in Their Own Language’: Yugoslav Socialist Monuments and Science Fiction,” Extrapolation, vol. 60, no. 3.

Committee Statement

Joan Haran (chair), Stefan Rabitsch, Ben Robertson.

From an apparently simple starting point—the ampersand that joins the two cities in the title of China Miéville’s The City & the City—Susan Ang raises questions of profound complexity. These questions not only bear upon the novel in question but also the hidden histories of language and the fraught relationship between epistemology and ontology in weird fiction and the wider literary landscape. As Ang writes, “The City & The City, viewed through the metaphor of the ampersand, becomes readable as an enquiry into the epistemological workings of metaphor as a mechanism or model of productive thought.” As Ang makes clear, this sort of productivity characterizes The City & the City and much of Miéville’s fiction (including Kraken and Embassytown). More importantly, Ang’s essay continues the scholarly inquiry into the larger generic ramifications of Miéville’s work, in which the ampersand and related “meta-metaphors” both create and maintain, on one hand, and undermine and destroy, on the other, the boundaries among science fiction, fantasy, and other generic categories that subtend all such scholarly discussions. In Ang’s words, in both Miéville’s position as a writer and theorist of science fiction, fantasy, and the weird and Tyador Borlu’s position as a member of Breach at the conclusion of The City & the City, “there is an implied need to bide one’s time and maintain the boundaries in order that the boundaries might eventually be worn down.”

For her attention to a seemingly small, perhaps even insignificant detail of this novel and insofar as she demonstrates the importance of that detail to this novel as well as to the scholarly conversations that SFRA cultivates, Susan Ang is well-deserving of this award.

Awardee Statement

Susan Ang
National University of Singapore / Singapore

When I received the email from Gerry Canavan telling me I was the recipient of this year’s SFRA innovative research award, my first instinct was that I must be dreaming. That’s not quite the cliché it sounds like; the email came in about 3 or 4 am Singapore time and the “bing” from my ipad woke me up. I read it, didn’t take it in, and went back to sleep. When I woke up properly, I was sure I must have dreamt it, except that the email was actually in my inbox.

My surprise was mostly because while I quite like the article which the SFRA has so kindly and generously selected for the award, it has a modest history, starting out life as an undergraduate lecture on Mieville’s City & The City for a module on sf, which I then tidied and wondered what to do with. I should explain that I’m terrified of sending off work to journals, and that my work tends to go way over the word limit decreed by most journals which makes the matter all the more difficult. I looked at Foundation, which, if I recall, wanted work no longer than 6000 words; my article at that point weighed in at about 10,000. I apologetically (and somewhat dismally) emailed Paul March-Russell, asking whether he would even be willing to read it at that length, and was resigned to the prospect of being sent off with the proverbial flea in my ear. Paul, however, is the kindest and most generous editor I’ve ever met, and he said “send it on,” and to my surprise, took it, although not without chops and edits. 

My most grateful thanks, therefore, go first to Paul, for that generosity of spirit, and for all his editorial guidance. My thanks also to Gerry Canavan for that lovely shocked moment when I realized his kind email wasn’t a dream. I am also tremendously grateful to the judges—not for the award per se—but for the enormous investment of their time and care given to reading through a year’s worth of publications before somehow deciding on mine. I am immensely humbled to have been given this award—with so much being published in the field that is brilliant and incisive, I would never have expected to be in the running at all. This is not rhetoric but fact. I’m just secretly thrilled that people liked the piece. And last but not least, I’d like to thank my students—who inspired the lecture and responded to it; there are some students who spur one on to write lectures that hope not to disappoint, and those, too, whose rigorous arguments which run counter to sections of my own reading push one to find what one hopes will be satisfactory rebuttals. I’d therefore like to add my ex-students Lim Zhan Yi and Shawn Lim to the list of those without whom this article would not have seen the light of day.

In the current situation it seems hubristic to plan any kind of travel. But if COVID is under control, I hope to be able to offer my thanks for this award in person next year. Till then, please keep safe and well.

Mary Kay Bray Award 2019

Mary Kay Bray Award 2019

Erin Horáková and Rich Horton

The Mary Kay Bray Award is given for the best essay, interview, or extended review to appear in the SFRA Review in a given year.

This year’s awardees are Erin Horáková and Rich Horton for their essays “Trekonomics” and “Gene Wolfe,” respectively, both from issue #327.

Committee Statement

Katherine Bishop (chair), Agnieszka Kotwasińska, Jessica FitzPatrick

The Mary Kay Bray Award is given to any interview, essay, or extended review published in the SFRA Review in 2019. We chose from fiction, non-fiction, and media reviews as well as Feature pieces, roundtable submissions, and SF Retrospectives. Given the increasingly wide range of items featured in the Review, we agreed that awarding just one piece would be unfair.Therefore, we chose two winners of merit, ex æquo, in alphabetical order:

Erin Horáková, “Trekonomics,” SFRA Review, no. 327, pp. 69-71.

Horáková employs an engaging and distinct voice as well as very clear organization in this lovely-in-execution negative review. She is respectful, but not overindulgent of, the reviewed text. Attending to matters of race, global economics, and cultural production while drawing upon her wide-ranging acumen to comment upon the matter at hand, Horáková fearlessly takes the author of Trekonomics to task with humor and sensitivity in a review that feels refreshingly honest, bold, bright, and necessary.

Rich Horton, “Gene Wolfe,” SFRA Review, no. 328, pp. 5-7.

The best thing an obituary can do is to bring a glimmer of the deceased back into the world. Horton does this. He celebrates Gene Wolfe’s life without venerating him, deftly reminding the audience of Wolfe’s humor, brilliance, and humanity. Along the way, he adds colorful details such as Wolfe’s part in making Pringles and an anecdote about finding the author paused in humble gratitude in front of his book on a shelf in a mall bookstore.

Thank you to all who contributed to the SFRA Review over the year! Your scholarship is greatly appreciated. 

Awardee Statements

Erin Horáková
University of Glasgow / Scotland

Thank you to Sean Guynes for telling me to write the review for which I’m being recognized rather than simply stew in annoyance on a locked Twitter account for an improbable amount of time, like a boeuf bourguignon of regret. Thanks also to the award committee and to SFRA.

Rich Horton
Science Fiction Critic / USA

I cannot readily express the surprise and joy I felt to learn that I had been awarded the 2020 Mary Kay Bray Award. I am humbled to share this award with Erin Horáková, whose essay “Treknomics” is something I can only admire. I wish I could be standing in front of all of you to say this—and I am sure that, leaving aside any consideration of the value of what I might say, all my readers wish that it had been possible for any of us to go to conventions in July!

Finally, on rereading my piece on Gene Wolfe, I realize that the man I really must thank is Gene himself. I feel this way any time someone thanks me for a review of their work—all thanks are due to the writer who inspired me to write a nice review. And doubly, triply, infinitely are thanks due to Gene Wolfe. His writing inspired me to believe that there was value in writing about this science fiction that I love so much. Without writers like Wolfe (and Le Guin, and others) I would not have this avocation—criticism—that is so enjoyable. Do I think my award-winning essay is good? Yes, I do, I admit. But it is good because of its subject—it is good because I had such wonderful work to write about, from a writer who was a model for any writer. I hope only that what I have written might lead to those who loved Gene’s work remembering it the more after his death; and to those who haven’t discovered him yet to discover him now.

In close, I’ll quote the closing words of Gene’s great story “Forlesen” once more, changed a bit: “I want to know if it’s meant anything . . . if it’s been worth it? ‘Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.’”

SFRA Award for Lifetime Contributions to SF Scholarship 2019

SFRA Award for Lifetime Contributions to SF Scholarship 2019

Sherryl Vint

Originally the Pilgrim Award, the SFRA Award for Lifetime Contributions to SF Scholarship was created in 1970 by the SFRA to honor lifetime contributions to SF and fantasy scholarship. The award was first named for J. O. Bailey’s book, Pilgrims through Space and Time and altered in 2019.

This year’s awardee is Sherryl Vint of the University of California, Riverside.

Committee Statement

Joan Gordon (chair), Amy Ransom, Art Evans

Sherryl Vint is one of the hardest working and most modest scholars now working in science fiction. She is also certainly one of the best. I have found her scholarship invaluable ever since her first book, Bodies of Tomorrow: Technology, Subjectivity, Science Fiction (2007). Her second, Animal Alterity: Science Fiction and the Question of the Animal (2010), is very important to my own work in animal studies and science fiction. She has published two other books and co-edited four more, all vital to any decent collection of sf scholarship. All these books are widely read and cited in sf scholarship.

But wait, that’s the least of it in some ways. As Professor of Science Fiction Media Studies at the University of California, Riverside, she has made Riverside a mecca for sf study, growing a strong department, nurturing graduate students and launching them into the academic world. She has hosted wonderful conferences there, wrangled the International Association of the Fantastic in the Arts as their president, been a keynote speaker on sf all over the world, and written many fine articles. In between all this work she managed to found, with Mark Bould, the journal Science Fiction Film and Television.

Most importantly of all in my universe, she is a co-editor of Science Fiction Studies, where I and five others share editorship. I know for sure how much work that involves–I only feel vaguely on top of things now that I’m retired but she’s doing it along with teaching, administrating, writing, speaking, etc., etc., etc. And doing it as meticulously and thoroughly as she approaches all those other things. She is a wonderful scholar, a wonderful colleague, and a wonderful companion. That’s just my opinion (one shared with the other editors at SFS). Our committee took about five minutes to decide that the Award for Lifetime Achievement in Science Fiction Scholarship should go to Sherryl because my opinion is also that of the award committee as a whole, and I feel confident it is an opinion that the members of SFRA share. 

Awardee Statement

Sherryl Vint
University of California, Riverside / USA

I am honoured and humbled to be selected to receive this award, joining so many scholars I admire. I am tremendously grateful to this field for welcoming me into your conversations and giving me an academic home that has not only inspired my scholarship, but also enabled me to meet people whom I consider among my closest friends. I believe that such generosity is a significant part of why the sf research community produces important and relevant scholarship that strives to make a difference in the world.

Thank you to the SFRA Executive and those who work on committees for your role in fostering this field of study, and especially for your role in preserving this space for younger scholars to continue to expand and improve.

I must also thank Douglas Barbour, my PhD supervisor, who introduced me to sf as a field of study. Unlike many, I came to sf scholarship not through fandom but through critical theory: sf writers engaged the questions that most excited me in my critical reading, and with Doug’s support I thus transformed my planned area of study. I’ve followed in the footsteps of so many great scholars whose work showed me what was possible in the field, chief among them Veronica Hollinger, whose essays on gender and more showed me a model of the kind of scholar I wished to become. I first met Veronica as the external examiner on my dissertation, and I’m so pleased that today I can call her my colleague and friend.

I feel fortunate to be part of a community that prioritizes thinking about how and why the world might be otherwise. Such thinking is vitally important today, a volatile moment in history in which competing visions of the future—even about the nature of reality—are highly contested topics. In my research, I have aspired to show that sf is a significant site of political engagement that grapples with central theoretical and ethical issues. To me, the struggle over the imagination has never seemed more urgent than it does today, a time that feels on the cusp of momentous cultural change—although whether this will be to reimagine social inclusion and extend measures such as debt relief that have suddenly become “possible” in the wake of the pandemic, or to intensify the racialized inequalities the pandemic has made all-the-more visible in an austerity-driven return to “normal” remains to be seen. In her National Book Foundation Medal acceptance speech in 2014, Ursula K. Le Guin reminded us that sf is the voice of those who can “see alternatives to how we live now,” who recognize that what is described as “inescapable” is, in fact, contingent. I’m privileged to be part of a community that cultivates the imagination of a better world, that takes the struggle to imagine the future as serious political work, and that provides hope and vision to enable us to make as well as to imagine change. Over the past decade, I’ve seen the field grow and change in ways that are consistent with this ethos, led by visionary writers and scholars.

There are so many people to thank who have educated, inspired, and supported me along the way, as scholars and as friends. The list (which inevitably will fall short) includes Jonathan Alexander, Andrew M. Butler, Gerry Canavan, Grace Dillon, Paweł Frelik, David M. Higgins, Roger Luckhurst, Farah Mendlesohn, Colin Milburn, Keren Omry, John Rieder, Steven Shaviro, Rebekah Sheldon, and Taryne Taylor. I’m lucky to be able to call these people friends as well as colleagues. I’ve frequently collaborated with Mark Bould, whose scholarship deserve special acknowledgement in shaping my own. My colleagues on the Science Fiction Studies board—Arthur B. Evans, Joan Gordon, Istvan Csicsery-Ronay Jr., Veronica Hollinger, Carol McGuirk, and Lisa Swanstrom—continually teach me and have become a second family. My sf colleagues at UC Riverside—andré carrington, Nalo Hopkinson, and John Jennings—exemplify all that is best about collegiality in our field and enable me to work in a research culture that epitomizes what I value about this field. Finally, I want to thank my graduate students, whose cutting-edge and politically engaged work shows me that the best is yet to come.

I’m so pleased to accept this award and I thank you for this recognition. 

Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies Book Prize 2019

Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies Book Prize 2019

Natanie Meeker and Antónia Szabari

Awarded by the Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies program at the University of California, Riverside, The Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies Book Prize honors an outstanding scholarly monograph that explores the intersections between popular culture, particularly science fiction, and the discourses and cultures of technoscience. The award is designed to recognize groundbreaking and exceptional contributions to the field.

This year’s awardees are Natania Meeker, Associate Professor of French and Comparative Literature at the University of Southern California, and Antónia Szabari, also Associate Professor of French and Comparative Literature at the University of Southern California, for their Radical Botany: Plants and Speculative Fiction (Fordham University Press, 2019). 

The judges recognize as runners-up Kara Keeling’s Queer Times, Black Futures (New York University Press, 2019) and Xiao Liu’s Information Fantasies: Precarious Mediation in Postsocialist China (University of Minnesota Press, 2019).

Committee Statement

Paweł Frelik (chair), Aimee Bahng, Steven Shaviro, Elizabeth Swanstrom

The Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies Book Prize honors an outstanding scholarly monograph that explores the intersections between popular culture, particularly science fiction, and the discourses and cultures of technoscience. The award is designed to recognize groundbreaking and exceptional contributions to the field. Books published in English between 1 January and 31 December 2019 were eligible for the award. The jury for the prize were Aimee Bahng (Pomona College), Steven Shaviro (Wayne State University), Elizabeth Swanstrom (University of Utah), and Paweł Frelik (University of Warsaw), who served as jury chair. 

After intense deliberations the jury announce that the eighth annual SFTS book award has been won by Natania Meeker, Associate Professor of French and Comparative Literature at the University of Southern California, and Antónia Szabari, also Associate Professor of French and Comparative Literature at the University of Southern California, for Radical Botany: Plants and Speculative Fiction (Fordham UP 2019). From Aristotle’s notion of the vegetal soul to the century’s plant-centered philosophy of Julien Offray de la Mettrie to the 20th-century’s fascination with carnivorous plants and alien pods, the study provides a wide-ranging and stimulating examination of all things vegetal.

One of the judges described the monograph as “a lucid and fascinating history of the representation of plant life in speculative fiction and philosophy,” which demonstrates “just how intricately such representations—like clematis on a trellis—are interwoven with the evolution of Modernity.” Another judge, calling the study “totally brilliant,” found it “also quite thought-provoking theoretically, for the way that it forces us to think about vegetative vitality in a somewhat different (and more disturbing way) than much recent neo-vitalism and new materialism has done.”

The judges also decided to recognize, as particularly strong runners-up, Kara Keeling’s Queer Times, Black Futures (New York University Press 2019) and Xiao Liu’s Information Fantasies: Precarious Mediation in Postsocialist China (University of Minnesota Press 2019).

Awardee Statements

Natania Meeker
University of Southern California / USA

I am truly honored to be a recipient of the 2019 SFTS Book Prize, in no small part because writing about science fiction at all meant, for me, taking a risk. As an early modernist, I felt like an interloper in a genre that had long been important to me personally but had never been part of my scholarly profile prior to undertaking work on Radical Botany. If I was able to make this leap into a new field and a new topic of research, it was thanks to my co-author, Antónia Szabari, who convinced me that together we could do (almost) anything. Given my initial hesitation, it is all the more gratifying, then, to have found such a generous reception from the scholars and critics at the SFRA. This award is validating in so many different ways. It inspires me to continue taking risks in my research and thinking; it gives me renewed confidence in the critical generosity and receptivity of my colleagues; and it encourages me to imagine an academy in which collaborative research can be the norm for humanists rather than the exception.

At the same time, this award is meaningful to me in my personal as well as my professional life. I have nurtured a love of fantasy, speculative fiction, and science fiction since I was a little girl. It has been such a pleasure to bring the joy and wonder (to use an early modern category!) that I have long found in this kind of reading into my scholarship, teaching, and writing. Delving into these genres forged by modernity has also given me a renewed sense of the vitality of early modern writing and thought, so often animated by the sheer enjoyment of speculation. Receiving an award for following where my pleasure leads is indeed a dream come true. I will remain grateful to all the colleagues at SFRA—including the members of the prize committee, Aimee Bahng (Pomona College), Steven Shaviro (Wayne State University), Elizabeth Anne Swanstrom (The University of Utah), and Chair Paweł Frelik (University of Warsaw). whose collective hard work and service should be acknowledged—for this incredible honor. Thank you also to Sherryl Vint and Sean Guynes for their graciousness and collegiality. I hope one day to be able to attend the SFRA conference and express my heartfelt thanks to all in person. 

Antónia Szabari
University of Southern California / USA

In Radical Botany, my co-author, Natania Meeker, and I set out to reveal a modern history of botanical research by underscoring the involvement of speculative thinking in this endeavor, which is usually treated within the narrower field of the history of science. With this gesture, we hope that we have not only contributed to the pre-history of science fiction but have also shown the vital role of a speculative tradition which, while existing on the margins of more robust naturalist and empiricist practices, is capable of animating them. It is a special honor to be a recipient of the 2019 SFTS Book Prize because today the role of speculation, imagining novel forms of the social and the political, from gendered and racial justice to new energy futures, is as vital as ever. At the same time, the history of botanical speculation shows us how to care for those distant or unlike us. I am especially excited to be recognized by the Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies Association because our book is joining the work that a large and diverse community is already carrying out in this field.

Last but not least, I thank our colleagues at SFRA, the members of the prize committee, Aimee Bahng (Pomona College), Steven Shaviro (Wayne State University), Elizabeth Anne Swanstrom (The University of Utah), and Chair Paweł Frelik (University of Warsaw) as well as Sherryl Vint and Sean Guynes.

SFRA Book Award 2019

SFRA Book Award 2019

Xiao Liu

The SFRA Book Award is given to the author of the best first scholarly monograph in SF, in each calendar year.

This year’s winner, the inaugural winner of the award, is Xiao Liu of McGill University for her Information Fantasies: Precarious Mediation in Postsocialist China (University of Minnesota Press, 2019).

Committee Statement

Keren Omry (chair), Pawel Frelik, Graham Murphy, Ida Yoshinaga

It has been a particular honor and a unique challenge judging the inaugural 2019 SFRA Book Award for the best first scholarly monograph in SF. On behalf of the award committee, I am delighted to announce that Xiao Liu’s Information Fantasies: Precarious Mediation in Postsocialist China (University of Minnesota Press) has been unanimously selected as this year’s winner.

Information Fantasies locates the origins of contemporary China’s pervasive information economy and digital media in more than the technology itself. Instead, Liu maps out a history of techno-cultural imaginations and practices that develop alongside postsocialism. To do this, she recovers a stunning array of long forgotten, neglected, and/or underexamined science fiction, films, theories, and cultural practices, and brings them to the fore.

While science fiction is only one of several fields to which the book contributes—Liu delves into the emergence of new media, she combines media, politics, philosophy, and textual production as her subject matter, and she offers insights into a much larger socio-historical context—Information Fantasies is remarkable in its relevance to science fiction scholarship. Adding nuance and sophistication to the growing body of work in Chinese SF, the book places science fiction at the center of a rhizomatic system of ideas, technologies, and politics.

Aside from solid scholarship and writing, Liu’s pathbreaking work integrates the SF subject matter into a theoretically challenging framing of an area and an era that is largely unknown to Western readers and academics. Information Fantasies effectively expands the boundaries of what we are increasingly recognizing as the science fictionality of our world.

I’d like to take this opportunity to send warm thanks to my fellows on the committee, Pawel Frelik, Graham Murphy, and Ida Yoshinaga, whose hard work, commitment, and sense of humor, are hard to overstate.

Awardee Statement

Xiao Liu
McGill University / Canada

I’d like to express my deep appreciation to the SFRA book award committee for such a great honor. At a time of unpredictability, nothing stands as a more powerful narrative than science fiction in envisioning possibilities, and offering deep insights on human aspirations and dreams, and ultimately, what makes us human when life per se can no longer be separated from the technical.

I am fortunate to be continuously inspired by the imaginations and the empathy towards human life of the global SF community, whose unfading curiosity towards and genuine respect for unknown others foster a culture of true diversity and open great possibilities for life that is often curtailed and constrained by ignorance and bigotry. I am also grateful to generations of Chinese science fiction writers, as well as scholars, particularly translators, who always stand at the frontier of communicating across borders, and with whose efforts Chinese science fiction has become accessible to global audiences.

Finally, with media and technology having been turned into the machine of disinformation and manipulation, science fiction is more “real” than ever in revealing the powers of control, and the lines of flight.

SFRA Student Paper Award 2019

SFRA Student Paper Award 2019

Conrad Scott

The Student Paper Award is presented to the outstanding scholarly essay read at the annual conference of the SFRA by a student.

This year’s awardee is Conrad Scott for his paper “‘Changing Landscapes’: Ecocritical Dystopianism in Contemporary Indigenous SF Literature.” 

Erin Cheslow received an honorable mention for her paper “The Chow that Can Be Spoken Is Not the True Chow: Relationality and Estrangement in the Animal Gaze.”

Committee Statement

Peter Sands (chair), David Higgins, Kylie Korsnack

The SFRA Student Paper Award Committee is pleased to recognize Conrad Scott’s “‘Changing Landscapes’: Ecocritical Dystopianism in Contemporary Indigenous SF Literature” as the winner of the 2020 SFRA Student Paper Award. We would also like to recognize Erin Cheslow’s “The Chow that Can Be Spoken Is Not the True Chow: Relationality and Estrangement in the Animal Gaze” as honorable mention.

There were a number of exceptional papers submitted for this year’s award, but these two papers immediately caught the attention of the committee. Scott’s paper offers readings of Harold Johnson’s Corvus (2015) and Louis Erdrich’s Future Home of the Living God (2017) through the lens of “ecocritical dystopianism.” The committee found Scott’s readings and especially his articulation of a new form of dystopia to be impressive and persuasive. The committee also wishes to recognize Erin Cheslow for her unexpected and original reading of cognitive estrangement in relation to the animal gaze. The committee found Cheslow’s reading of human and non-human relationships through the Suvinian lens to be a refreshing and creative redeployment of science-fictionality. 

Congratulations to both Conrad and Erin on their exceptional work!

Awardee Statement

Conrad Scott
University of Alberta / Canada

Greetings from Treaty 6 and Métis Territory along the North Saskatchewan River in what is now called Edmonton, Alberta, Canada — the place that the Cree people named Beaver Hills House (ᐊᒥᐢᑿᒌᐚᐢᑲᐦᐃᑲᐣ or Amiskwacîwâskahikan). It was such a pleasure to present my paper, “‘Changing Landscapes’: Ecocritical Dystopianism in Contemporary Indigenous SF Literature,” in the welcoming and thoughtful atmosphere of the 2019 SFRA conference on “Facing the Future, Facing the Past: Colonialism, Indigeneity, and SF” in Honolulu. This timely conference offered valuable perspectives and conversations that continue to resonate strongly in light of ongoing work to advance reconciliation efforts and pursue sovereignty questions in the face of elements like hyper-extractive resource projects and other environmentally-destructive threats to not only traditional ways of life, but also contemporary living for many peoples. My paper focused on parsing such topics as they appear in recent Indigenous SF fiction, and it is such an incredible honour to have then been awarded the SFRA Student Paper Award and follow in the footsteps of previous winners, such as my friends and colleagues Grant Dempsey (2019) and Josh Pearson (2018). Congratulations as well to this year’s honorable mention, Erin Cheslow. Thank you very much to the adjudicators for their time and consideration, and also to my fellow Dystopian Ecologies panelists and the panel audience. I very much look forward to being part of the SFRA community for what I hope are many years to come, and to both learn from others and continue to contribute as we explore vital topics like those we shared at SFRA 2019. 

Thomas D. Clareson Award for Distinguished Service 2019

Thomas D. Clareson Award for Distinguished Service 2019

Wu Yan

The Thomas D. Clareson Award for Distinguished Service is presented for outstanding service activities-promotion of SF teaching and study, editing, reviewing, editorial writing, publishing, organizing meetings, mentoring, and leadership in SF/fantasy organizations.

This year’s awardee is Wu Yan of Southern University of Science and Technology.

Committee Statement

Pawel Frelik (chair), Veronica Hollinger, Sherryl Vint

Wu Yan is professor and director of the Science and Human Imagination Research Center of the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China. He is China’s leading voice in science-fiction theory and criticism, the first scholar in China to introduce courses in science fiction at the university level, and a tireless contributor to China’s participation in the global science fiction community. He has been actively engaged in international collaborations and research projects for decades, including attending several SFRA conferences. He is also an award-winning science-fiction author, winner of both the Chinese Nebula Award and the Galaxy Award. From 2010 to 2017, he served as President of the World Chinese Science Fiction Association. 

Wu Yan was based for many years at Beijing Normal University, where he began offering courses in science fiction in the early 1990s. He established both MA and PhD programs in science fiction before moving, nearly three decades later, to Shenzhen to establish the Science and Human Imagination Research Center.

Wu Yan’s main works of sf theory and criticism include Introduction to Science Fiction Literature (2006), Theory of Science Fiction Literature and Construction of Disciplinary Systems (2008), Science Fiction Literature Outline (2011), How to Read Science Fiction Literature (2012), Six Science Fiction Lectures (2013), and Meditations on Chinese Science Fiction Literature (2020). In the past year alone, he published a new edition of Meditations on Science Fiction Literature: Wu Yan’s Academic Selection; a children’s sf novel called China Orbit; and a new edition of Science Fiction Literature Outline. He is editor-in-chief of The History of Chinese Science Fiction in the 20th Century and of Introduction to Historical Materials of Chinese Science Fiction in the 20th Century. Incredibly, he has also found time to produce sf teaching materials for elementary and middle-school students, launching a program called “Science Fiction: Imagination and Scientific Innovation Training Course for Primary and Secondary School Students.”

Wu Yan’s passion for science fiction has resulted in many generous and productive international collaborations and exchanges. In 2013, for instance, he was the lead editor for a well-received special issue of Science Fiction Studies on Chinese science fiction; in 2016 he organized the “International Conference on Utopian and Science Fiction Studies” in Beijing, a wonderful two-day event that brought together scholars and writers from the US, Canada, China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Over the years, he has generously hosted international scholars in both Beijing and Shenzhen and he has mentored many young writers and academics who continue to extend his work. 

It is impossible to think of anyone who has done more than Wu Yan to promote the field of international science-fiction scholarship. At this moment when the west is finally discovering the science-fiction writing of what he has called (after Brian Aldiss) “the Great Wall planet,” it is more than time to honor a decades-long career that has tirelessly promoted and expanded the reading, writing, teaching, and critical engagement with the field that we all love. We are honored in return to present this year’s Clareson Award for Distinguished Service to Professor Wu Yan.

Awardee Statement

Wu Yan
Southern University of Science and Technology / China

I’d like to thank the SFRA for giving me the Thomas D. Clareson Award in 2020. In July 1983, while I was still in college, I met a delegation of American science-fiction writers in Shanghai. That year, the SFRA President, Elizabeth Anne Hull, visited China with Frederic Pohl, Roger Zelazny, William F. Wu, and Charles N. Brown of Locus Magazine. They were welcomed to Shanghai by the famous writer Ye Yonglie. I went along to listen to their conference, and I was profoundly moved by what I heard. At that time, we did not know that American writers were so interested in science fiction. We tended to associate sf with the French (Jules Verne), the Russians (Alexandr Belyaev), and the British (Arthur Conan Doyle). That there were so many science-fiction writers in the US truly surprised me.

I have been an sf fan since I was very young. This might sound like nothing today, but at that time it was very difficult. I was only four years old when the Cultural Revolution began in 1966. During the next ten years, novels, popular science books, sf books, and even science textbooks were all banned from publication. Revolution was the most important thing. At that time I found old yellowed science-fiction books, some from the closed library where my father worked, others from the houses of my close friends. Secretly, I read these books and I fell in love with science fiction. After the Cultural Revolution, science fiction in China recovered and I was very excited. I wasn’t only looking for books to read, but boldly I was also trying to write. I published my first sf book review in 1978 and my first short story in 1979.

But the development of science fiction in China has been very uneven. When the wave was rising, everyone chased it; but during periods of criticism such books could not be published. It was only in 1991 that my first collection of stories was published. At the same time, at Beijing Normal University I introduced China’s first university-level sf course in Chinese, titled “Science Fiction Review and Research.” During the next 29 years, I developed my undergraduate courses into Masters and PhD programs. In 2017, I left Beijing Normal University and established the Science and Human Imagination Research Center in Shenzhen’s Southern University of Science and Technology; it focuses on the development of imaginative psychology, future exploration, and science-fiction works. This year (2020) my publications have included my collection, Meditations on Science Fiction Literature: Wu Yan’s Academic Selection; a children’s sf novel called China Orbit; and a new edition of Science Fiction Literature Outline. I am also editor-in-chief of The History of Chinese Science Fiction in the 20th Century and of Introduction to Historical Materials of Chinese Science Fiction in the 20th Century. I have also been producing sf teaching materials for elementary and middle-school students. Science-fiction creation, research, and promotion has become my life’s career.

The SFRA is no stranger to me. In 1994, while I was a visiting scholar at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, Elizabeth Hull invited me to attend the SFRA conference in Arlington Heights. In 2001, I participated again at SFRA, this time in Schenectady, New York. I still remember a panel at the 1994 meeting devoted to teaching science fiction. Upon arrival, the host asked everyone to make their syllabi available to everyone else. After I submitted mine, I received dozens of different syllabi from other teachers. The content and methods of the lectures were very inspiring. I have even contributed to the SFRA Newsletter in the past.

For me, the SFRA is not only a source of new ideas, but it is also the home of researchers from all over the world. Through SFRA I have met many colleagues, including Veronica Hollinger, James Gunn, Takayuki Tatsumi, Janice Bogstad, and scholars from Denmark, Russia, Israel, and elsewhere. The SFRA directory is also my important assistant. In December 2016, with the help of the SFRA Directory, I invited international scholars to Beijing to commemorate the 500th anniversary of More’s Utopia at the International Symposium on Utopian and Science Fiction Literature. 

I would like in particular to thank Professor Hull. If it weren’t for our meeting in 1983, my connection with the SFRA would not have happened so early. Since then we have met on many occasions and in many locations around the world. I remember she and Fred Pohl also brought Jack Williamson, David Brin, Suzy McKee Charnas, and other writers to China. I also want to thank the late Charles Brown, founder of Locus magazine. He often invited me to contribute articles to Locus and had always wanted me to visit his Oakland office. I also thank Veronica Hollinger, a long-time friend and my co-editor for the 2013 special issue of Science Fiction Studies on Chinese science fiction. I’d like to thank the writer David Brin as well. Every time he comes to China, I invite him to meet with local writers and to give lectures to my students. It was he who recommended that I meet Sherryl Vint at UC, Riverside and Sheldon Brown at UC, San Diego. Last year, I invited Professor Vint to visit China, not only to give lectures at Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, but also to introduce new developments in science fiction to students of sf writing at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Professor Brown contributed his art to the exhibit I curated for the 2019 Bi-city Biennale of Urbanism and Architecture in Shenzhen. Thanks to his excellent work, and the work of many others from both China and abroad, my exhibit, Nine Cities, Ten Thousand Kinds of Futures, won the biennial jury award. 

It has been an honor to live for the past forty years in an academic world of mutual exchange and cooperation. I am honored to be a member of SFRA, an organization that belongs to the whole world. I believe that my Clareson Award will contribute to the increasing interest in science fiction among writers, researchers, educators, and promoters in China. It will encourage more people to participate in the work and in the spirit of science fiction. 

On the occasion of this award, please allow me to wish all members of the association good health. My very best wishes to the SFRA.

Wu Yan is professor and director of the Science and Human Imagination Research Center of the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China. He began writing science fiction in 1978. His novels include Spiritual Exploration (1994), The Sixth Day of Life and Death (1994), and China Orbit (2020); his short stories include “Iceberg Adventure” (1979), “The Abyss of Gravity” (1981), “The Last Case of the Interstellar Police” (1991) “Mouse Pad” (2001), and “Print a New World” (2013). His main works of science-fiction theory and criticism include Introduction to Science Fiction Literature (2006), Theory of Science Fiction Literature and Construction of Disciplinary Systems (2008), Science Fiction Literature Outline (2011), How to Read Science Fiction Literature (2012), Six Science Fiction Lectures (2013), and Meditations on Chinese Science Fiction Literature (2020). In 2019, Wu Yan was co-curator of the “Science Fiction Ascending City Section” at the 8th Intercity Biennale of Urbanism and Architecture (Shenzhen), with Meng Jianmin and Fabio Cavallucci. With Chen Yu, he co-curated Nine Cities, Ten Thousand Kinds of Futures, which won the biennale jury award (the Organizing Committee Award). As a pioneer of science-fiction education in China, he introduced his first undergraduate sf course at Beijing Normal University in 1991, and the university has offered a PhD program in science fiction since 2015. In 2017, Professor Wu established the Research Center for Science and Human Imagination at Shenzhen’s Southern University of Science and Technology. In 2020, he launched the program, “Science Fiction: Imagination and Scientific Innovation Training Course for Primary and Secondary School Students.” He recently delivered science-fiction courses to more than 10 million elementary and middle-school students simultaneously through the Xueersi Online platform.

From the President

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

From the SFRA Executive Committee

From the President

Gerry Canavan
Marquette University

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay healthy, stay well!