BSFA Longlist: All the Abstracts for Ties That Bind: Love in Fantasy and Science Fiction



Our Call for Papers 2019, Ties that Bind: Love in Fantasy and Science Fiction, has made the #BSFA Longlist! Congratulations to all our authors!


To explore the content of this brilliant #AcademiaLunare release, in an easier way, I am collating all the abstracts in this post. You can also click on the author's name to see the original post with more information. Here we go!


Ties That Bind: Love in Fantasy and Science Fiction is the fourth Call for Papers of Academia Lunare, the non-fiction arm of Luna Press Publishing.
 
The papers focus on the theme of love and relationships in fantasy and science fiction, in all their forms, in different media.
 
Featuring papers from Josephine Maria Yanasak- Leszczynski, Chey Wollner, Cheryl Morgan, AJ Dalton, Tatiana Fajardo, Christina Lake, Lynn O’Connacht, Steph P. Bianchini, Ezeiyoke Chukwunonso, Barbara Stevenson, Dr. Ester Torredelforth.


Steph P Bianchini (Italy), Academic and social scientist based in Scotland.

Presenting the paper: "Shades of Unrequited Love. Broken hearts and amour de loin in Japanese manga and anime"

Abstract:

The trope of unrequited love in its many declinations has crossed centuries, literatures and genres; it is therefore not surprising to find it well represented in the Japanese manga and anime popular culture. Unrequired love with demonic traits is at the very centre of Devilman [デビルマン], one of the most iconic manga /anime ever (both in its original manga version 1970s by Go Nagai and more recently as the Netflix reboot #Devilman Crybaby), which offers also an example of queer love surprisingly modern for the times of its original creation. This subtrope would remain in the manga tradition to resurface with similar relationship traits but more complex dynamics and even darker tones in another (still ongoing) manga/anime blockbuster of the 1990s: Kentaro Miura’s #Berserk [ ベルセルク], to which the last section of this study is devoted. Different in content and tones but otherwise related is Riyoko Ikeda’s most notable creation, the historical manga /anime Versailles no Bara [ベルサイユのばら], also known as #LadyOscar or La Rose de Versailles. One of the bestselling shojo manga of all time, Versailles no Bara is tragic love Japanese-style at its purest definition, which has made generations of fans, young and adult, cry. It also reflects, in its featured relationships, aspects of the troubadours’ amour de loin, where the sentiment of love becomes an impossible dream worth dying for.


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Ezeiyoke Chukwunonso (Nigeria). MA at Swansea University in Creative Writing; writer of fiction and non-fiction, editorial member at Internation Authors.

Presenting the paper: "Tragic Lovers and the Question of Choice and Fatalism in #ElechiAmadi’s ‘Concubine’ and the ‘Orchestra of Minorities’ by #ChigozieObioma"


Abstract:

Speculative literature is full of tragic lovers. In Greek mythology, we read about Orpheus and Eurydice. Orpheus, whose wife died on their wedding night, travelled to the underworld to rescue her. Alas, his triumphant story of rescuing her from Hades ended tragically when he failed the bailing condition Hades gave him. The doomed love between Winston and Julia, in George Orwell’s 1984, was of a different nature. It showed how one’s humanity could erode little by little when subjected to tortuous tyranny. And it raises the question of which one succeeds: love or self-preservation? #TheConcubine by Amadi followed a similar path to Orpheus and Eurydice, of men trying to save a doomed love. #AnOrchestraofMinorities, by Obioma however, was different. It followed the story of a man who falls in love with a woman who later falls out of love with him; the man by then had become obsessed with her, and that was a recipe for disaster. But there is a close link between the tragic love in Concubine and that in the Orchestra of Minorities, in the sense that both lovers were doomed to tragic ends by circumstances surrounding them and by mechanisms beyond their control. These two novels raise a pertinent question: do lovers who think themselves in charge of the direction of their love really have a choice, or are they either doomed or fated for blissfulness by sheer forces beyond them? This essay, while exploring the worldview and the cosmology found in Igbo Metaphysics upon which the novels were based, will critically examine the roles of freedom and determinism in regard to who, and how, one gets bonded to as a lover, even when the road is a tragic one.


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AJ Dalton (UK) PhD Creative Writing. Fantasy author with Gollancz

Presenting the paper: “The Decline of the Bromance and the Rise of Human-A.I. relationships in Science Fiction TV and film”


Abstract:

This article considers how Western heteronormative patriarchy defined and desexualised the bromance in science fiction TV and film from the mid- to late twentieth century. The archetypal #bromance of ancient Greece, by contrast, had always recognised the homoerotic and/or homosexual capacity of the bromance. Audiences today, looking back at science fiction of the mid- to late twentieth century, often perceive the repressive and repressed (‘camp’) nature of the male-male relationships (for example Kirk/Spock) represented. With the #LGBTQ community discovering new rights, freedoms and representation within society, the bromance of the mid- to late twentieth century in science fiction TV and film has been replaced, to a certain extent, by openly gay relationships. However, with the decline of the non-sexual bromance in science fiction TV and film, there has been an increase in the representation of exploitative human- A.I. relationships, particularly when the A.I. is fetishized/sexually- objectified as ‘other’ or ‘female’. The article ends by identifying and exemplifying how society still has a long way to go if it is ever to realise genuine equality and tolerance in terms of social and personal relationships.


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Tatiana Fajardo Domench (Spain) MLitt in the Gothic Imagination at the University of Stirling. Researcher and Writer.

Presenting the paper: “Falling in Love with an Artificial Being: E. T. A Hoffmann’s “The Sandman” in Philip K. #Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and the Blade Runner film series”

Abstract:

The influence of E.T. A #Hoffmann’s The Sandman on Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? has not been given enough relevance to date. Both authors depict the attraction their main characters Nathanael and Rick Deckard feel towards an automaton, Olympia, and an android, Luba Luft, respectively. In the cinematic adaptation of Dick’s text, #BladeRunner, the relationship between Deckard and the replicant Rachael questions the extent to which feelings can be considered human, as does its sequel #BladeRunner2049 with the inclusion of characters K and Joi as sentient artificial beings. Consequently, depictions of love involving artificial beings generate doubt as to who is human and who is a machine. This chapter aims to research Hoffmann’s impact on the abovementioned science-fiction narratives. A Freudian approach will be developed to examine the “uncanny” elements in the diverse works. Furthermore, #Baudrillard’s concepts of “simulacra” and “simulation” will be considered in order to amplify the analysis.


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Christina Lake (UK). PhD in Literature from University of Exeter. Librarian and Science Fiction Fan.

Presenting the paper: “Barriers, boundaries and banners: the human costs of better breeding”

Abstract:

What happens when love becomes subservient to state policy? Does control over reproductive freedom necessarily involve a negative impact on the right to love? And is there ever a sufficiently compelling reason to regulate who is allowed to have children? I explore these questions through a comparison of two satirical dystopian works written in the inter-war years, Rose #Macaulay’s What Not and Aldous #Huxley’s Brave New World, set against two recent works of science fiction that share some of the same concerns, Carrie Vaughn’s Bannerless and #AnneCharnock’s Dreams Before the Start of Time. Whereas the earlier works reflect and satirise the early twentieth century’s obsession with eugenics and measuring intelligence, the later works focus more on fears of overpopulation and the dehumanising effects of rapidly developing reproductive technologies. However, in all four works love becomes a way of assessing the emotional impact of the changes explored, and offers a focus for resistance to ideas of rational reproduction. There are also strong links between the works in terms of their ambivalence over the benefits of controlling reproduction, the importance of personal choice and fears of where rapid changes to technology might lead. I argue that in all of these, love is represented as a disruptive element, stronger than scientific hopes for a more sustainable way of planning for future generations.


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Cheryl Morgan (Wales) SF critic and publisher, owner of Wizard’s Tower Press and Hugo Award winner. Researcher.

“Robot Love is Queer”


Abstract:

In an interview for The Guardian, Ian #McEwan suggested that his latest novel, Machines Like Me, would be innovative in treating the issue of relationships between humans and robots, because most science fiction is about “travelling at 10 times the speed of light in anti-gravity boots”. While McEwan has since been at pains to point out that he doesn’t hate science fiction, and has even read some of it, his knowledge of the genre still seems lacking. Romantic liaisons between humans and artificial beings can be traced back at least as far as the ancient Greek story of the #Pandora, who was created by the Smith God Hēphaistos specifically to seduce mortal men.

There is so much robot love in the history of science fiction that any attempt to examine it in a mere essay would end up more like a catalogue of stories. For this essay, therefore, I propose to concentrate on how science fiction writers use human-robot relations as a means of talking about forbidden love, and in particular diverse sexualities. Loving a robot is loving The Other. The title of the essay is a quote from Janelle #Monáe’s album, Electric Lady. The future history tale that Monáe tells in Metropolis, The Archandroid and Electric Lady is centred on the illegal love affair between the android rights activist, Cindi Mayweather, and her human beau, Anthony Greendown. Other works I will be mentioning will include the Imperial Radch Trilogy by #AnneLeckie, Autonomous by Analee Newitz and Rosewater Insurrection by #TadeThompson.


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Lynn O’Connacht (Europe). Independent researcher of aromantic and asexuality studies and SFF author.

Presenting the paper: “Aromanticism, Asexuality, and the Illusion of New Narratives”

Abstract:

In recent years, SFF has made some powerful leaps when it comes to publishing and celebrating diversity, notably in its inclusion of queer characters. While SFF authors have always written such, it is only within the past decade or so that traditional publishing has started to make a concentrated effort to be more deliberately inclusive and diverse. When it comes to the inclusion of queer characters, however, publishing often seems to focus on queer romance (and implied sexual relationships), leaving other types of relationship behind. Nowhere is this more visible than with asexual or aromantic characters, whose experiences often differ. Collectively, #aromantic and/or #asexual characters frequently end the story alone, whereas a demisexual character is almost guaranteed to develop a romantic and sexual relationship. As such, broader trends in the depiction of asexual and aromantic characters in traditional publishing support and maintain the status quo suggesting that romantic (and to a lesser extent sexual) attraction is what makes us human and that non-romantic love continue to be seen as ‘lesser’ even in contexts that would seem to place it at its highest point. Yet asexual and especially aromantic narratives offer up a far more nuanced and grander exploration of what it means to be human. The success of Kickstarters focusing on asexual or aromantic relationships shows that the SFF community clearly sees value in the perspectives of these orientations. The purpose of this essay, then, is to explore the way these broader trends about asexuality and aromanticism in SFF inform our understanding of love in general. It is hoped that this paper will encourage people to think about the way aromantic and asexual representation allows us to expand our ideas of what humanity is and how to value love in all its forms.


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Ester Torredelforth (Spain) PhD in Medieval Art and illustrator.

“Clothing as a Reflection of Love in Chivalric Novels in 15th Century Catalonia”

Abstract:

Fashion has always been established as a semiotic tool in which both the personality and the emotional state of the person are expressed. Nowadays, and practically since the origins of humanity, it has been possible to show, through dressing, the state of loving and belonging to another human being. Chivalric novels of the fifteenth century provide a wide sample of how, in medieval society, lovers used their clothes and garments to give signs and encoded messages of their love, show the inclinations of their hearts, or the possession of the affection of another person, be it in secret or public. These aspects will be analysed through the central novels of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, as well as contrasted with our knowledge of colour symbologies in #medieval #clothing, gifted garments, the seduction games and the limits imposed by the morality of the moment. All this can show us that, deep down, things may not have changed that much in society since then.


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Barbara Stevenson (Scotland) BVMS and BA (Open University) creative writing and German. Fiction writer and veterinary surgeon.

“Gormenghast and the Groans”

Abstract:

Stories need a strong focal point, whether it is an idea, character or place that is able to connect the various threads. In the Titus Groan/#Gormenghast novels by Mervyn Peake it is Gormenghast, the ancestral home of the #Groan family. Gormenghast Castle is surrounded by a forest leading to Gormenghast Mountain, which serves to cut the inhabitants off from reality. The castle is not merely a building: it is the heart of the story. The characters may love it or hate it, but it demands their complete devotion and they cannot ignore it. Neither is it impartial, sometimes helping the inhabitants, sometimes destroying them. It binds the Groan family to its stone walls with ties that are stronger than those of blood. This article considers the impact the castle has on the development of the eponymous hero, Titus Groan, through the influence it exerts over him and his close family members.


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Chey Wollner (USA). MFA candidate in fiction at Florida Atlantic University. Currently, they are writing an alternate history novel about Bess and Harry Houdini.

Presenting the paper:

"Finding the Female Quest in Sarah Monette's Melusine"

Abstract:

In #SarahMonette’s (AKA #KatherineAddison’s) fantasy series, The Doctrine of Labyrinths, she genders her male protagonist – Felix Harrowgate – as female. Though Felix is a cisgender man, Monette genders his character as female because he had been a sex worker, is raped, and is driven insane. Monette’s characters go on a quest – similar to Tolkien-esque fantasy novels – but she diverts the quest narrative away from hero-saves-the-world. Instead of the traditional hero’s journey, Monette writes a rape narrative and propels her novel by gendering Felix’s experience as female. Monette’s subversion of the quest narrative sends Felix on a female quest to find self-love. On this quest toward self-love he regains his sanity, and is able to possess language. Felix is a male character drawing attention to the gendered attributes that seem to strictly divide a woman’s story from a man’s. This gender divide holds special prominence in speculative fiction, where man equals hero and woman equals victim or decoration. By isolating Felix from his masculinity and steeping his experience in the feminine, Monette requires readers to deconstruct the masculine- male, feminine-female binary. In this essay, I analyze #Melusine, the first novel in the series, through feminist and gender criticism. I draw on traditional fantasy sources, such as Tolkien’s The Silmarillion and Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey, to ground my analysis. I supplement this work with studies on female language and female authorship (Madwoman in the Attic; “Laugh of the Medusa”). I tie my analysis together with a study of rape narratives, female language and subjectivity within fantasy.


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Josephine Maria Yanasak-Leszczynski (USA). Science Fiction and Horror Author, museum education curriculum writer, Film Critic.

“Polyamory in Science Fiction Societies”

Abstract:

Modern Terran societies are built on binary relationships, from laws to television shows. While polyamory is on the rise, it will be a long time before we see its effects in our overarching cultural structures. Yet some science fiction works are already doing the work of imagining accepting #polyamory as a normalized relationship structure. When we look toward expansion into space, we see infinite possibilities. We find intersections between already formed alien societies, foreign biology and newly formed social structures to account for the random elements that will decide our fate in the great beyond. Books that explore the possibility of commonplace polyamory in humanity’s futures have developed their approaches to it extremely differently. There is no standard lexicon when discussing polyamorous relationships in the future. For instance, the protean gender and hyper-binary sexuality of Ursula K #LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness clashes with the gendered maturation of the Grum and Aandrisk species in Chambers’ The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, suggesting that when we imagine a binary set of genders fluidly, promiscuity is not always a requirement. In the #Dispossessed, Le Guin suggests a principally nonmonogamous society that only becomes monogamous if both parties accept it and as long as both wished to remain so. Unlike so many current Earth societies, there is no expectation that monogamy is the norm or will be a state that lasts forever: “for better or for worse”, as it were.

Robert #Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land takes us back to earlier days of human exploration, when Mars and Earth were our primary planetary expansion. The polyamory here is imagined on a more personal, human level as we see Earth through the eyes of a Martian-raised earthling returning to the planet of his parentage for the first time. #Dune by Frank #Herbert provides a more traditional view of polyamory, copying traditional models of polygamy toward the purpose of interplanetary empire. Published in the same era as Heinlein’s work, it also shows that authors were both pushing traditional views of polyamory and inventing their own since early days of science fiction as a genre.


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