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2017: A Clarke Odyssey
A Conference Marking the Centenary of Sir Arthur C. Clarke
Canterbury Christ Church University, Canterbury, UK
Saturday 9 December 2017

Keynote Speakers:
Stephen Baxter
Professor Charlotte Sleigh (University of Kent)

Sir Arthur C. Clarke is one of the most important British sf writers of the twentieth century – novelist, short-story writer, scriptwriter, science populariser, fan, presenter of documentaries on the paranormal, proposer of the uses of the geosynchronous orbit and philanthropist.

We want to celebrate his life, work and influence on science fiction, science and beyond.

Professor Charlotte Sleigh will open proceedings by looking at Clarke as an sf fan in the interwar years in London and how this intersected with his interest in science and its communication. Award-winning author Stephen Baxter will round out the event with an examination of Clarke’s non-fiction and how this positioned him as a significant public figure.

Our international conference speakers will address novels such as Childhood’s End, 2001: A Space Odyssey (book and film) and Imperial Earth, looking as issues such as transhumanism, Buddhism, terraforming and sexual politics. They will make connections to sf writers including Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, Olaf Stapledon and Liu Cixin, plus Star Trek. We will also discuss the Arthur C. Clarke Award.

Cost: Waged: £65
Unwaged and students £50
(Including lunch and refreshments)

We would like to acknowledge the support of Serendip (https://www.clarkeaward.com/).

This is a set of links to the various useful pages on the blog.

  • The conference is organised by Dr Andrew M. Butler and Dr Paul March-Russell.
  • Please email us with any queries: Dr Andrew M. Butler and Dr Paul March-Russell

  • The original call for papers is here.
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Who’s There?: Registration

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To register for the conference, please use the following form to do so. Make sure you give us the name that you want on your badge when filling in the name fields (although we will likely email to confirm — feel free to contact us if you wish to check).

http://www.canterbury.ac.uk/event-booking/book.aspx?event=142004

Registration is:
Waged: £65
Unwaged and students £50
(Including lunch and refreshments)

Conference organisers: Dr Andrew M. Butler (andrewmbutler42@gmail.com) and Dr Paul March-Russell (P.A.March-Russell@kent.ac.uk).

Moving Spirit: Travel Advice

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Travel Advice

The conference will be held at Canterbury Christ Church University in Canterbury, just to the east of the city wall. The event is in the Powell Building, best accessed from the foot entrance from the miniroundabout at Lady Wootton’s Green.

Canterbury map: http://www.canterbury.ac.uk/about-us/find-us/canterbury.aspx

http://www.canterbury.ac.uk/about-us/docs/maps/canterbury-university-buildings-map.pdf

Campus map: http://www.canterbury.ac.uk/about-us/docs/maps/canterbury-campus-map.pdf

Getting to the Campus
By car:
Canterbury is accessible from London via the M2/A2. Campus parking is more or less impossible. There are various Park and Rides, but the most convenient for travel from London is in Wincheap, which inexplicably is only reachable by driving up to the city walls and going down Wincheap again. Instead, we would recommend the car park Holmans Meadow (CT1 3JB; £1.70, about ten minutes’ walk to campus; turn right onto Old Dover Road at the roundabout from the inner ring road after the police station and then sharp left) or Longport (CT1 1DU; £1.50 per hour, about five minutes’ walk from the campus, turn right onto St George’s Place at the roundabout after the Odeon, left at the traffic lights after Waitrose, and left again). Car park details at: https://www.canterbury.gov.uk/parking-travel-roads/where-to-park/canterbury-parking/

By Bus:

National Express have a service from London Victoria, which takes around two hours. It is sometimes the 007 and local lore suggests it was the inspiration for James Bond. Canterbury bus station is about ten minutes’ walk from the campus.

By Train:

There are three basic routes to Canterbury by train from London: two go to Canterbury West, fifteen-twenty minutes around the town or through the high street, and one to Canterbury East, around fifteen minutes around the wall to campus. (SouthEastern does everything in threes.)

A Network SouthEast Travelcard gets a third off travel for a year and is valid before ten on a weekend. Advance tickets are rarely cheaper; if you are travelling from outside of London, you may find it cheaper to do the return legs of your journey individually. You can get a day return or a period return if you are overnighting.

There is sometimes engineering at weekends and this may involve a bus replacement service. In this case, allow extra time. We will post details if we hear of this: see https://www.southeasternrailway.co.uk/travel-information/live-travel-information/planned-engineering-work

The quickest and most expensive route is from London St Pancras on HS1 and is under an hour. These depart from Platforms 11-13, situated at the King’s Cross side of the building. You may also join the train at Stratford International. If you are on a six car train, all of these will stop at Canterbury West; twelve car trains are too long for the platform at Canterbury West, so you need to be in one of the front eight (the front of two linked trains is safest). This arrives at Platform 2 and you can cross by tunnel, bridge or lift to the exit. To return to London, you will need Platform 1 and the train is quieter at front or rear. Make sure your ticket is valid for HS1 to use it or you will be charged extra between Ashford and London.

Trains from Charing Cross/Waterloo East/London Bridge take up to two hours to Canterbury West and are cheaper than HS1. The train may divide at Ashford (this ought to be clear at departure), so make sure you are in the right section. You can usually walk through the whole train until shortly before Ashford. There will be time to change sections at Ashford via the platform. You will arrive at Platform 2 and you can cross by tunnel, bridge or lift to the exit. To return to London, you will need Platform 1.

Trains from London Victoria will depart from Platforms 1-7 and take around 100 minutes. The train sometimes divides at Faversham and the rear section usually goes to Canterbury East/Dover Priory. This should be clear at Victoria. You can usually walk through the whole train until shortly before Faversham. There will be time to change sections at Faversham via the platform (the onboard information system can be misleading — a station attendant is usually standing at the division point). The train arrives at the platform adjacent to the exit; to depart you will need to use the underpass in the station (disabled access is inconvenient to say the least).

If you are coming from Brighton/Eastbourne/Hastings the Marshlink route to Ashford will be cheaper than going via London. This arrives at Ashford International Platform 1C. Trains for Canterbury West almost always depart from Platforms 5/6 and you may use the HS1 Javelins with your ticket. Beware that trains may split at Ashford and the HS1 may be too long if it is a twelve car train so use one of the front six carriages.

You can also get to Canterbury West by changing at Tonbridge, which is a cheaper route from Gatwick Airport via Redhill or East Croydon. This is recommended for advanced rail users though and involves you with Southern Railways.

By Stargate:

Enter via the Black Monolith. Warning: this may be full of stars. You will need to depart at the neoclassical bedroom if you wish to become a starchild.

 

 

 

Tales from the White Hart: Charlotte Sleigh’s Keynote

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One of our keynote papers will be by Professor Charlotte Sleigh (University of Kent).

Science and the Ancient Geeks: Fiction and Fandom in Interwar Britain

This lecture examines the first generation of self-identified science fiction fans in Britain, of which Arthur C. Clarke was a prominent member. Charlotte Sleigh introduces her research on the fans’ fictional worlds, and how their reading influenced their understanding of science and their dreams of participating in it. Thinking of science participation as fandom recasts current debates about access to science in provocative ways.

The Star: Charlotte Sleigh

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Charlotte Sleigh is Professor of Science Humanities, University of Kent. Her research concerns the sciences where they intersect with the humanities, including history, literature, art and communication. Her original training was in the history of science at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge. She is the author and editor of numerous books, as well as current editor of the British Journal for the History of Science.

Her first book on the historical and textual relationships between science and writing, Literature and Science, was published by Palgrave in 2010, and she is currently working on another, Engineering Fiction, about science fiction and its fans in interwar Britain.

Another major area of Charlotte’s research interests encompasses the history of natural history and animal studies, with an on-going emphasis on the interrelationship between culture and science. Her books on this topic include Ant (Reaktion, 2003), Six Legs Better (Johns Hopkins, 2007), Frog (Reaktion, 2010); Cosmopolitan Animals (Palgrave, 2015) and The Paper Zoo (British Library/Chicago, 2016).

In more recent years Charlotte has developed her interest in art and science, collaborating with a number of artists to produce shows including Chain Reaction! (Sidney Cooper Gallery, Canterbury, 2013) and Biological Hermeneutics (Chetham’s Library, Manchester, 2017).

Voices from the Sky: Stephen Baxter’s Keynote

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One of our keynote papers will be by sf novelist (and collaborator with Clarke), Stephen Baxter.

“A Voice from the Sky: The Essays of Arthur C. Clarke”

img_2650It is a paradox that Clarke’s Three Laws are perhaps the most memorable quotations from this great science fiction writer, and yet these are usually cited from a book of non-fiction essays. In fact Clarke published some enduring non-fiction before his first professionally published short story appeared. This survey of Clarke’s short non-fiction will illuminate a side of Clarke, as a fine science communicator and significant public figure for half a century, that is in danger of fading into history.

Publicity Campaign: Accepted Papers

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The following are the papers that we have accepted for the conference. We hope to publish details of how to register in the next week.

  • Thore Bjørnvig (University of Copenhagen) “Leaving the Cradle: Transcendence and Childhood’s End
  • Dr Boyarkina Iren (University of Rome Tor Vergata) “The Destiny of Life and Mind in the Universe in the Works by Arthur Clarke and Olaf Stapledon”
  • Dr Jim Clarke (Coventry University) “A Space Bodhi Tree: The ‘Crypto-Buddhism’ of Arthur C. Clarke”
  • Thomas Connolly (Maynooth University) “Asimov and Clarke: Two Visions of Human Society”
  • Alexey Dodsworth (Universities of São Paulo and Venice) “‘All These Worlds Are Yours – Except Europa’: On Ethics of Terraforming”
  • Professor Stephen Dougherty (Agder University) “Liu Cixin, Arthur C. Clarke and ‘Repositioning’”
  • Danielle S. Giraud (Lancaster University) “Campaigning for a Fluid Future: Clarke’s Influence on Roddenberry’s Star Trek
  • Dr Nick Hubble (Brunel University London) “The Clarke Award, ‘Literary SF’ and the Role of Criticism: Cultural Value in the 21st Century”
  • Dr Tony Keen (University of Roehampton) “Homer Beyond the Stars: 2001 as a Reception of The Odyssey”
  • Mike Laycock (Birkbeck, University of London) “The Shifting Sexual Politics of Imperial Earth”
  • Lyu Guangzhao (Centre for Multidisciplinary and Intercultural Inquiry, UCL) “The Acceptance of Arthur Clarke in the Trilogy of Remembrance of Earth’s Past by Liu Cixin”
  • Dr Joe Norman “‘call me highway call me conduit call me lightning rod’: ‘Big Dumb Objects’ in Selected Works by Arthur C. Clarke and Iain M. Banks”
  • Professor Patrick Parrinder (University of Reading) “Clarkaeology: Arthur C. Clarke’s Time Capsules”
  • Dr Robert Poole (Uclan) “Prophet in his own Future: Clarke, NASA, and 2001
  • Andy Sawyer (University of Liverpool) “‘It’s just my job five days a week’: ‘Rocket-Men’ of the 1950s”
  • Dr Dani Shalet (University of Kent) “The Divine Human: Clarke and the Transhuman”

The Fires Within: Organisers

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The conference is being organised by Dr Andrew M. Butler (Canterbury Christ Church University) and Dr Paul March-Russell (University of Kent). Please send emails to both AndrewMButler42@gmail.com and P.A.March-Russell@kent.ac.uk where possible.

Paul March-Russell teaches Comparative Literature and Liberal Arts at the University of Kent, Canterbury.  He is the editor of Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction, general editor of the critical studies series SF Storyworlds (Gylphi Press), and a current judge with the Arthur C. Clarke Award.  His most recent book was Modernism and Science Fiction (Palgrave 2015), and he also has forthcoming chapters on sf in The Cambridge History of the English Short Story, The Cambridge History of Science Fiction, and Popular Modernism and Its Legacies (Bloomsbury Academic).

Andrew M. Butler is the non-voting Chair of Judges for the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the author of Solar Flares: A History of Science Fiction in the 1970s (2011), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2014), “Human Subjects/Alien Objects? Abjection and the Constructions of Race and Racism in District 9” in Alien Imaginations (2015), “Sleeping/Waking: Politicizing the Sublime in Science Fiction Film Special Effects” in Endangering Science Fiction Film (2016). He has also written books on Philip K. Dick, Cyberpunk, Terry Pratchett, Postmodernism and Film Studies. He was the coeditor of The Routledge Companion to Science Fiction (2009) and Fifty Key Figures in Science Fiction (2010).

The Star: Stephen Baxter

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The science-fiction writer Stephen Baxter will be one of our plenary speakers at the conference. His novel The Light of Other Days (2000) was based on a synopsis by Arthur C. Clarke in which information may be sent instantaneously between any point in the space-time continuum via wormholes. Stephen later collaborated with Clarke on the Time Odyssey trilogy (Time’s Eye (2003), Sunstorm (2005) and Firstborn (2008)), an orthoquel to the Space Odyssey novels in which godlike aliens are destroying sentient species in order to preserve the universe. More recently The Medusa Chronicle (2016), with Alastair Reynolds, is a sequel to Clarke’s “A Meeting with Medusa” (1971).

Stephen was born in Liverpool, England, 13 November 1957 and now lives in Northumberland. He has degrees in mathematics, from Cambridge University, in engineering, from Southampton University, and in business administration, from Henley Management College. He has taught maths and physics and worked for several years in information technology. He is a Chartered Engineer and Fellow of the British Interplanetary Society.

His professional sf debut was “The Xeelee Flower” in Interzone (Spring 1987) as by S. M. Baxter, a story that was to form part of his Xeelee Sequence of future history (1991-). In 1991 he applied to become a cosmonaut and visit Mir, but lost out to Helen Sharman. He consoled himself with writing an alternate history trilogy about NASA (1996-98); other alternate histories by Stephen include Anti-Ice (1993), his Mammoth trilogy (1999-2001), his Manifold trilogy (1999-2001) and the Northland Trilogy (2010-12).

Baxter has also collaborated on a series with Terry Pratchett, The Long Earth (2012-16) and written two novels for shared world Young Adult series The Web (The Web: Gulliverzone (1997) and The Web: Webcrash (1998)).

Stephen’s The Time Ships (1995) is a sequel to H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine (1895) and his The Massacre of Mankind (2017) is a continuation of The War of the Worlds (1898). He is a Vice-President of the H.G. Wells Society and a director of the BSFA.

In addition to over forty volumes of fiction, he is author of the non-fiction Deep Future (2001) and Omegatropic (2002).