From the Vice President


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

From the SFRA Executive Committee


From the Vice President

Sonja Fritzsche
Michigan State University


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

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

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

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

Review of Banerjee and Fritzsche’s Science Fiction Circuits of the South and East



Review of Science Fiction Circuits of the South and East edited by Anindita Banerjee and Sonja Fritzsche

Virginia L. Conn

Anindita Banerjee and Sonja Fritzsche, editors. Science Fiction Circuits of the South and East. Peter Lang, 2018. World Science Fiction Studies 2. Paperback, 258 pages, $67.95. ISBN 9781787075931.


Situating this project in the trajectories and “dizzying arcs of migration” (2) that have co-constituted the vast constellation of science fiction produced across the world—as numerous as stars in the sky and much of it equally unexplored—Science Fiction Circuits of the South and East opens with a beautiful personal account of the trajectories that brought the editors to their respective orientations to and within science fiction. As Banerjee points out, within her real lived experience, much of science fiction was more familiar to her, more comprehensible and close, than stories from the English canon. Using the daffodil as an image of alienation, for example, ties this collection to many other notable authors—Chinua Achebe, Jamaica Kincaid, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie—who have similarly staked their work in a recognition of the inapplicability of writing imposed from outside their lived experiences. Despite its radical recontextualizing of translation and transmission, however, this collection does not strike an essentialist argument; rather, it recognizes that the intertextuality of much “semi-peripher[al] and peripher[al]” (6) SF has been shaped by and often in response to stories already received as deeply alien. At the same time, it recognizes that the dual impulses at work in much contemporary SF theorizing—to historicize traditions outside of the historical centers of Western power while simultaneously seeking to deconstruct the center/periphery binary—tend to not be in dialogue with each other. This anthology, then, offers a unique contribution to contemporary SF studies by focusing on circulation, through which literature transforms and is transformed.

The collection traces the circulations of socialist and postsocialist SF in Europe and Asia alongside examinations of the materio-cultural productions of the global South in Asia and the Americas, a shift in contextual perspective that is mirrored in the collection’s layout. Shifting the impetus from space and location to movement and adaptation allows for fascinating juxtapositions, such as the association in the first section, “An Other Transatlantic,” of Transatlantic writings and their receptions and adaptations across socialist Russia, 1919 Mexico, and through the Soviet-Cuban imaginary of the Cold War period. Race and socialist revolution are the hallmarks of these essays, which uniformly offer unorthodox and exciting new ways of reading. The very first chapter, for example, analyzes Zemyatin’s seminal We (1924) as a radical Afrofuturist text—an unconventional reading that is meticulously researched, elegantly argued, and works specifically because of its unique perspective.

Part two, “Transnationalism behind the Iron Curtain,” focuses on East-East circulations between the Soviet Union and associated satellite states. The focus here is on the shared ethos of communist science pedagogy and humanistic grappling with what it means to confront the Other and, in doing so, how we establish our place in the universe. These essays, too, tackle who “we” are, primarily in the context of displaced contemporary anxieties mapped onto a future that has become largely homogeneous under socialism. While all the essays contained herein are geographically situated in Eastern Europe, the content they address is very different—from the dialectical materialism of Carl Gelderloos’ approach to Eastern European science fiction texts to Sonja Fritzsche’s East German cinema to Sibelan Forrester’s “elite literary science fiction” (165) and its translations. 

The final section, “Asymptotic Easts and Subterranean Souths,” deals with East-South and East-East circulations. Unlike the first two sections, which each contained three essays, this segment includes only two—a real pity, given the potential richness of the umbrella topic. As it stands, it’s perhaps not surprising that for a collection so focused on the workings of comparative literary studies outside of the imperialist center, a member of the Warwick Research Collective, Pablo Mukherjee, would be included here with an essay on race, science, and the spirit of Bandung. A wonderful distinction about this essay in particular is that it privileges the role of science in science fiction and what that means when “science” is removed from its Western epistemological dialectics and considered in a specific and localized spatio-temporal register for assessing lived, material conditions, rather than as a “mere” narrative device. This discussion of “non-aligned science” (193) and local adaptation leads seamlessly to the next essay, which focuses on the reception of a Russian writer in China and the impact his work had on reassessing the memory of revolution through non-state-sanctioned mediations. 

This collection offers a meticulously-researched, compelling approach to an aspect of global science fiction that is at once constantly mutable and yet tied to specific sites of production. Both Fritzsche and Banerjee are renowned scholars in their own areas of expertise, and together they make a formidable pair of editors. The essays collected here are significantly more polished and subtle than many similar attempts at anthologies, in no small part—as many of the authors explicitly acknowledge—thanks to the incisive eye for detail Banerjee and Fritzsche have brought as editors. 

Not only are the essays excellent taken individually—each one deserves its own response essay—but the collection as a whole works beautifully to illustrate its overall theme of transmission and adaptation. The rhizomatic scaling of topics contained in this collection illustrates the complexity of working with multiples sites of production as located in specific geographic milieus while simultaneously connecting and branching to numerous other material productions; there is no one canon of “world SF” in much the same way that we cannot speak of one internet. This rhizomatic internet analogy is made explicitly at the conclusion of the introduction and finds a fascinating mirror complement in the final essay by Jinyi Chu, which touches on unofficial internet translations and their role in shaping and disseminating information. So, then, even in layout and flow the collection serves to illustrate its own theme. Ultimately, while this groundbreaking anthology might be most warmly received by those working outside the Western Anglophone canon, its unique approach to the assessment of literature in circulation makes it a critical addition to any SF scholar’s library.

From the Vice President


SFRA Review, vol. 50, no. 1

From the SFRA Executive Committee


From the Vice President

Sonja Fritzsche
Michigan State University


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

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

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

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