Saturday, May 12, 2018

Otherworld's "Down the Rocky Road and All the Way to Bedlam"

Hey readers, you may have noticed that Positron has been pretty quiet lately—moving offices and lots of disruptions in my normal routine. But! There's lots of good stuff going on in Chicago, and I would be remiss not to direct you to go check out Otherworld Theatre's Down the Rocky Road and all the Way to Bedlam in its final weekend.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018


Hey readers! It's been a minute! I AM SO SORRY.

Silence here notwithstanding, there's been lots of great stuff going on in Chicago, and more on the way. Couple things coming up to have on your radar:
  • Lecture by Emily Maguire this Wednesday, 2/28, at the Evanston Public Library: "Cyborgs, Zombies, and Planets for Rent: Science Fiction in Contemporary Caribbean Literature". Looks really fantastic.
  • Deep Dish returns to Volumes Thursday, 3/1. Chicago's premiere quarterly SFF reading event, hosted by Mary Anne Mohanraj, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Michi Trota. This is one of the most exciting things going on in the SF scene hereabouts, lots of fun, check it out.
  • The Chicago Feminist Film Festival is hosting a science fiction track on Wednesday, March 7: Philip K. Vagina. Free and open to the public, featuring 6 short films.
  • A great chance to hang out with other Chicago Nerds is the illustrious Almost Pi(e) Day, a pie-making, book-donating, math-celebrating party at Open Books. March 10th!
  • Bucket O'Blood and DMen Tap are once again hosting An Unnameable Night of Lovecraftian Delights, celebrating the day ol' Howard died, March 15th. Readings, drinks, generally a delightful time. Details here.
  • Book launch party for Audrey Niffenegger & Eddie Campbell's Bizarre Romance! March 20th at Women & Children First.
  • Ytasha Womack, author of Afrofuturism, will be giving a talk at Bucket O'Blood on March 25. Not to be missed!
A little further down the line, we've got C2E2 coming up (April 6-8), looking to feature a bit more bookish material than usual this year (I spot Nnedi Okorafor and Ada Palmer on the roster, for instance).  DuPaul's annual and always-awesome Pop Culture Conference is, this year, A Celebration of Slashers, April 28.

Our friends at Otherworld Theatre have a number of readings coming up (including a play based on Forster's The Machine Stops, March 19). They're also fundraising to take over the Public House Theatre as a permanent space, which would do amazing things for SFF performance arts in Chicago.

Speaking of fundraisers, please check out Volumes Bookcafe's Indiegogo, which is aiming to pay off some unexpected costs from their initial opening, so they can continue to thrive. Volumes has quickly become one of the main driving forces in the Chicago literary scene, hosting hundreds of events, author talks, book clubs, and more, and it would be a real tragedy to seem them go. Authors and organizations have chipped in a slew of rewards for supporters, consider helping out.

As always, check our Upcoming Events Page and Facebook Events for tons of book clubs and many more miscellaneous events.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Casella's 2017 SFF reflections

This past year has been like...submarines below their depth, and sinking further. Pressure creaking, unsure what hatches are safe to open, long tense moments listening, wondering what's next. I can't believe the piece I wrote after the election is over a year old—it feels like yesterday, and it feels like decades ago.

The political reality has had me one moment ready to write off all this genre fascination as escapism & trivialities, and then the next I'm convinced that it's exactly what we need right now: this cocktail of imagination, empathy, curiosity, silliness, willingness to dream but also to care deeply about reality, about the world and each other.

Also, as you may have seen from my reduced output here: I got busy otherwise, day job taking up a bit more time than previously, so I haven't had as much energy for Positron as I'd like.

But the books have been good. The discussions, the friends and fen, have been a bright spot.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Think Galactic- Iraq +100

For the December meeting of Think Galactic, we discussed Iraq+100, edited by Hassan Blasim.

The aim of this project was to get Iraqi writers—not necessarily science fiction writers—to set stories 100 years after the American invasion. The result is an interesting spread of stories.

As usual with our anthology discussions, we focused our conversation on a few pre-selected stories. At this meeting, we also picked our next 6 books for 2018. Brief notes and possible spoilers below:

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Chicago Nerds- Lovecraft Country

For the December meeting of the Chicago Nerd Social Club, we discussed Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff.

Set in the 1950s, Lovecraft Country follows a cast of connected characters from Chicago, all black, who become entangled in a number of supernatural adventures connected to a secret occult organization.

Generally quite liked, and we spent most of our conversation talking about how the novel sets actual Jim Crow evil up against a more pulp-SF, Lovecrafty kind. Notes and possible spoilers below!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Weird & Wonderful- White Noise

For the November meeting of City Lit's Weird & Wonderful book club, we discussed White Noise by Don DeLillo.

Described by DeLillo as a comedy about "technology, fear, and death", White Noise follows Jack Gladney, the head of the "Hitler Studies" department at a small university. Along with his fourth wife, Babette, and their gang of children from previous marriages, Jack must unexpectedly flee from an airborne toxic event that threatens their town; the cloud only heightens their vague but powerful fears of death, and even after returning home things are pretty weird.

Pretty weird, variously surreal and comic: we had a good discussion of this, with a big group. Notes and possible spoilers below: