June 29, 2016;Day two of #SFRA2016 kicking off w/Andrew Milner plenary #clifi #fiction #sf #science pic.twitter.com/TVGNFjb3kh— Unsettling Science (@UnsetSciStories) 2016年6月29日
Keynote: Dr Andrew Milner (Monash University, Australia) – Science Fiction and Climate Change (Cli-Fi)
Day two of #SFRA2016https://twitter.com/hashtag/SFRA2016?src=hash">#SFRA2016
Despite the occasional upsurge of climate change scepticism amongst conservative politicians and journalists, there is a near-consensus amongst scientists that current levels of atmospheric greenhouse gas are sufficient to alter global weather patterns to possibly disastrous effect. Like the hole in the ozone layer as described by Bruno Latour, global warming is a ‘hybrid’ natural-social-discursive phenomenon. And SF seems to occupy a critical location within this nature/culture nexus. This lecture will take as its subject matter what Dan Bloom dubs ‘cli-fi’. It will seek to describe how a genre defined in relation to science finds itself obliged to produce fictional responses to problems actually thrown up by contemporary scientific research. It will argue against the view that ‘catastrophic’ SF is best understood as a variant of the kind of ‘apocalyptic’ fiction inspired by the Christian Book of Revelation, or Apokalypsis, on the grounds that this tends to downplay the historical novelty of SF as a genre defined primarily in relation to modern science and technology. And it will examine the narrative strategies pursued in both print and audio-visual SF texts that deal with anthropogenic climate change
Cli-Fi Panel at the Sci Fi conference
Bunn, Gabrielle (University of Nottingham) – Cosy Catastrophe or Ecological Apocalypse: Science Fiction and Ecocriticism in J. G. Ballard’s The Wind from Nowhere (1962)
This paper demonstrates how an understanding of contemporary science fiction conventions facilitates an ecocritical reading of J. G. Ballard’s first novel, The Wind from Nowhere (1962), by comparing and contrasting Ballard’s use and application of scientific knowledge with John Wyndham’s approach in The Day of the Triffids (1951) and The Kraken Wakes (1953).
The Wind from Nowhere was written by Ballard in a period of just three weeks to fund his subsequent shift to full-time writing and he deliberately utilised all the ‘cliches’ and ‘conventions’ of the disaster story sub-genre which Brian W. Aldiss described as the ‘cosy catastrophe’ in order to expedite this process. The brevity of the text’s construction and Ballard’s own dismissal of it as a piece of ‘hack-work’ has ensured that the novel has remained largely out of print and absent from critical discussion. Nicholas Ruddick and Dominika Oramus, however, have both demonstrated how awareness of Ballard’s deliberate use of genre conventions can be used to situate The Wind from Nowhere within a useful critical framework.
This paper builds upon their work by demonstrating how this approach can be extended to explore the relationship between scientific knowledge and the natural world in this sub-genre by comparing The Wind from Nowhere with The Day of the Triffids and The Kraken Wakes, two well-known disaster novels by John Wyndham, the ‘master of the cosy catastrophe’ according to Aldiss and an acknowledged influence on The Wind from Nowhere. By analysing The Wind from Nowhere alongside these prominent precedents, I expose their similarities and differences, demonstrating how Ballard satirizes earlier narratives of British progress, technological achievement and scientific knowledge through his representation of nature run wild despite superficially conforming to the same expectations. Understanding of nature and knowledge of the natural world is therefore presented and explored very differently by the two authors.
Ultimately, I argue that despite his supposed adherence to the ‘standard narrative conventions’ of the disaster story tradition, the way in which Ballard constructs, conveys and considers scientific knowledge in The Wind from Nowhere is very different from John Wyndham’s approach, which has considerable implications for an ecocritical comparison of their disaster narratives.
Andrew Milner was Guest of Honour at Science Fiction Research Association international conference June 2016
- RT Glyn Morgan: Glorious British summer weather for
#SFRA2016 today. Perfect for Andrew Milner's keynote on "Scien… https://twitter.com/GR_Morgan/status/748079183935512576#labnol …
- Milner's ambitious map of SF world-system.
#SFRA2016 https://twitter.com/unsetscistories/status/748084543006048256 …
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