Keynote: Kameron Hurley

Khurley Author PhotoOn Saturday evening we will welcome acclaimed science fiction writer Kameron Hurley to deliver the final keynote speech at ESSFIC. Hurley is the Hugo, Locus, and British Science Fiction Award winning author of The Stars are Legion, The Worldbreaker Saga series, and the Bel Dame Apocrypha series.

Informed by a Master’s in History from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, specializing in the history of South African resistance movements, Hurley’s works are rife with characters both fighting against violent systems and acting in complicity with them. Both her novels and short stories feature women engaged in brutal violence, speaking to the fact that women have always participated fully in their various societies regardless of how they are depicted afterward. These depictions are part of what makes Hurley’s work so engaging; with each character fully immersed in each outlandish scenario, Kameron Hurley is helping to change the stories told about non-male or otherwise non-normative bodies. In her essay “We Have Always Fought,” Hurley writes,

Stories tell us who we are. What we’re capable of. When we go out looking for stories we are, I think, in many ways going in search of ourselves, trying to find understanding of our lives, and the people around us. Stories, and language tell us what’s important.

Small-size-coverNot only does Hurley continue to gift the world with her raw and fundamentally true stories, she remains open to her readers through her blog in which she describes her struggles with writing and politics.

At ESFFIC, Hurley will give a talk entitled “We Are Made of Meat: Imagining an Embodied Future,” about which she writes:

Many futurists await the coming singularity – the moment in which humanity as we know it becomes unrecognizable to us – with the fevered excitement of doomsday preppers anticipating the apocalypse. This moment is heralded as a semi-religious, inevitable event grounded in absolute faith. Humanity is expected to circumvent and transcend its bodily limitations to become something… else. And soon! Some transhumanist enthusiasts posit that future humans will only exist as pure consciousness uploaded into the cloud, or swapped among robotic or cybernetic bodies. We have taken for granted this idea of a disembodied future. But what if humanity cannot transcend its organic limitations? What does our future look like if consciousness cannot exist outside of a meaty organism? This talk will explore how future humans may be more like us than we care to admit, framing the human experience as one universally bound to the bodies we inhabit. The future explored here relies not on our physical tools, but in our ability to undertake our own bodily revolution (for better or worse) and the social, moral, political, economic, and cultural consequences that lie ahead.

Keynote: Veronica Hollinger

CoverphotoParabolasOur first keynote speaker for ESFFIC is Veronica Hollinger, professor emerita at Trent University, where she served as a chair of the Cultural Studies Program and Director of Trent’s MA Program in Theory, Culture and Politics. She is currently a member of Trent’s graduate faculty in the Cultural Studies PhD Program.

Hollinger’s background in theatre arts, and her work on theories of performance and spectacle, have influenced her approach to gender issues in speculative fiction. She is interested in the theoretical and imaginative constructions of hybrid and artificial subjects in technoculture, and in how such theories and fictions are influencing developments in artificial intelligence and robotics.  Her work has focused on feminist, queer, and cyberpunk science fiction, on the theoretical implications of postmodernism and posthumanism for sf as a popular genre, and on developments in sf theory and criticism. More recently she has published on Derrida’s archive theory and on Morton’s speculative realism.

clip_image002As a long-time co-editor of the journal Science Fiction Studies, Hollinger has been well situated to track developments in both Anglo-American and international sf studies. As past vice-president of the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts and as the author of many articles, she has an international reputation in the field of sf studies. She is the co-editor of five scholarly collections: On Philip K. Dick: 40 Articles from Science Fiction Studies (SF-TH, 1992; Blood Read: The Vampire as Metaphor in Contemporary Culture (U of Pennsylvania P, 1997); Edging into the Future: Science Fiction and Contemporary Cultural Transformation (U of Pennsylvania P, 2002); Queer Universes: Sexualities in Science Fiction(Liverpool UP, 2008); and Parabolas of Science Fiction (Wesleyan UP, 2013). She is also co-editor of The Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction (2010).

In March 2013, Hollinger co-edited a landmark special issue of SFS on Chinese science fiction and, with Brent Ryan Bellamy, she is currently working on a special issue of SFS on the climate crisis (forthcoming November 2018). She is the 2018 recipient of the Science Fiction Research Association’s Thomas D. Clareson Award for Distinguished Service.

For her ESFFIC talk, “‘Corpo-reality’ and the Non-Human Supplement,” Dr. Hollinger will explore her interest in how bodies and worlds are correlated in some recent hi-tech science fiction, for instance in Anne Leckie’s Ancillary Justicetrilogy, Becky Chambers’s space opera The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (2014), and Annalee Newitz’s biopunk thriller Autonomous (2017). Her research interests at the moment are focused on science-fictional responses to the climate crisis, especially as framed by Timothy Morton’s version of speculative realism. Also of interest is recent scholarship on reproductive futurism in the context of queer futurities.


Epic Books: Our ESFFIC Bookseller

We are happy to announce that Epic Books has agreed to be our Conference Bookseller! Epic Books is an independent bookstore located on Locke Street South, and a dedicated membe622216_372728439474431_2091389224_or of Hamilton’s literary community: the bookstore works hard to promote local writers and literary events such as gritLIT, and it also hosts various book clubs in the hope of connecting the city’s avid readers. ‘The Epic Monthly Book Club’ takes place every second Tuesday of the month in-store; ‘Talking about Comics: a Graphic Novel Book Club’ takes place on an active, but slightly less regular basis. If you wish to learn more about these events, please visit, or follow Epic Books on Twitter or Facebook!

Epic Books will have a table at our conference, where they will showcase some SFF and SFF-related new releases and Canadian titles in addition to many of the texts discussed by our presenters. A variety of Kameron Hurley’s books will be available for purchase before and after our final Keynote speech for those who would like to get a book signed by Hurley herself.


Staircase Reading: Petra Kuppers

icebar-coverOn May 18, conference attendees and guests from the community will gather at The Staircase Theatre for an evening of SFF-themed literary readings. The headlining author for this event is Petra Kuppers, whose short story collection, Ice Bar, will be released in April from Spuyten Duyvil Press.

Petra is a disability activist, performance artist and a professor of English and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan. Her work, both academic and creative, engages readers and audiences with questions of change toward futures which are both socially just and enjoyable.

In addition to Ice Bar, Kuppers has published a collection of poetry, PearlStitch, also with Spuyten Duyvil Press. A chapbook of speculative poems, Green Orion Woman, will appear in 2018 from Dancing Girls.

petrakuppers2Her poems and short stories have appeared in Anomaly, PANK, Adrienne, Accessing the Future, The Future Fire, The Sycamore Review, Visionary Tongue, Wordgathering, Poets for Living Waters, Disability Studies Quarterly, Beauty is a Verb: New Poetics of Disability, textsound, Streetnotes, About Place, and QDA: A Queer Disabled Anthology.

To read more about Petra’s work, please visit her website.

Petra will be joined by local speculative fiction writer Eileen Gunnell Lee, whose work has appeared in Escape Pod’s Artemis 3 series, and in 49th Parallels: Alternative Canadian Histories and Futures from Bundoran Press. This event will finish with an open mic—come and share your worlds with us!

Hamilton: ‘full of promise and surprises’

For those who are visiting Hamilton for the first time, we hope you will have the opportunity to check out some of the city’s unique features. As a former steel mill city, Hamilton has a strong independent spirit and is home to a diverse population which supports a vibrant creative scene. We have an abundance of incredible restaurants, cafes, and even unique food trucks.

Hamilton is a beloved film location of acclaimed director Guillermo del Toro. Del Toro has filmed four films (most recently The Shape of Water) in or around Hamilton and has enjoyed many of the city’s amenities.


Below are some of the restaurants recommended by del Toro:


The Burnt Tongue  – two locations at 10 Cannon St East and 182 Locke St South. Great for hearty soups, sandwiches, burgers, and fries.

papa leoPapa Leo’s Restaurant – located at 638 Concession Street (up the mountain). Serves delicious fresh brunch options, including homemade biscuits.

rapscallionRapscallion Rogue Eatery – located at 61 Young Street. Offering a rich, meat-based menu that includes incredible vegetarian options.

ss-logo2Southern Smoke Barbeque  – restaurant at 201 Ottawa Street N. Both a restaurant and a popular food truck, Southern Smoke is the barbeque-lover’s natural choice.

CannonCoffeeCannon Coffee Co. – located at 179 Ottawa Street N. Cannon serves great coffee, waffles, and fabulous donuts.


Other Recommendations close to downtown/Sheraton hotel:

Nique Restaurant – located at 30 Vine Street. Offering a menu that is a “cultural mosaic” and working with local breweries and wineries.

The French – located at 37 King William Street. A cosmopolitan restaurant focused on French cuisine

Berkeley North – located at 31 King William Street. West-coast inspired seasonal fare.

The Mule – located at 41 King William Street. Unconventional tacos and a great place for a late-night snack and drinks.

Surrounding any of these recommended restaurants is a wealth of shops and other entertainments. If you stay in the city, be sure to check out Ottawa Street North, James Street North, King William Street, and Locke Street South, the home of our conference’s bookseller, Epic Books.

Welcome to McMaster University

mcmaster-universityWe look forward to welcoming you to McMaster University! We hope that you will enjoy our conference, as well as any excursion you may make around Hamilton during your stay.

A few words about our host: the Department of English and Cultural Studies uniquely straddles two academic disciplines; members of the Department have conducted research in fields as wide-ranging as Speculative Fiction, Postcolonial literature, Gender Studies, Eco-criticism, and Disability Studies. The Department is also home to two prestigious journals: Early Theatre and Eighteenth-Century Fiction.

Science Fiction has long captivated not only those of us in the Department, but members of the wider McMaster community as well. In 2013, the University organized a three-day conference to celebrate Science Fiction as a field that puts literature, science, and the social sciences in conversation. The 2013 conference marked the occasion of acclaimed Canadian sci-fi writer Robert J. Sawyer donating his manuscripts to the McMaster library archives, making McMaster the permanent home of his literary legacy – alongside those of Pierre Breton, Farley Mowat, John Robert Colombo, Jack McClelland, and Anthony Burgess, among others.

cootesThe McMaster campus is located on the traditional territories of the Mississauga and Haudenosaunee nations, and within the lands protected by the “Dish With One Spoon” Wampum agreement. As part of the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Reserve, McMaster is nestled in the midst of wetlands, forests, waterfalls, valleys, and meadows. We suggest that you visit the nearby Cootes Paradise when you are not occupied at the conference. Westdale Village – which is within walking distance – offers coffee, fine dining, and speciality shops. Alternatively, you could hold post-conference fêtes on campus at the Phoenix, a pub run by the Graduate Student Association.

We wish you a fun, enriching conference experience!

ESFFIC News and Updates

Thanks for joining us for the Department of English and Cultural Studies 2018 John Douglas Taylor Conference—the Embodiment in Science Fiction and Fantasy Interdisciplinary Conference!

Still in the early days of planning, we recently closed our CFP portal after receiving almost 80 excellent proposals. Letters of acceptance have gone out to those invited to present papers and panels. We are very excited to welcome you all.

Over the next few months we will be using this space to highlight some of the exciting features of our conference, our university, and our community. Check back soon and often!

Collage_of_Tourist_Spots_in_Hamilton,_Ontario,_Canada[Photo collage of Hamilton’s tourist highlights shared via Creative Commons from Lucasmascotto on Wikipedia.]