Friday, October 16, 2020

Ray Bradbury Experience Museum talk

Last week I got to participate in a panel on "Optimism in Dystopian Futures". It was hosted by the Ray Bradbury Experience Museum in Waukegon, and included some great folks:
  • Moderated by Dominic Loise. Recently of Open Books (and organizer/contact person for many SFF events there), Dominic is still in the Chicagoland bookscene, now at Half Price Books in Niles.
  • Marissa Lingen, SF writer who I've enjoyed hearing on panels before (notably ConFusion).  This panel used Marissa's article "The Roots of Hope" in Uncanny as a jumping-off point.
  • Keisha Howard, the Chicago-based founder of Sugar Gamers and an innovator/organizer/speaker in the gaming world.
  • Alec Nevala-Lee, an SF and non-fiction writer also in Chicagoland. Alec's book Astounding is a major work (an insightful and unflinching group biography of Campbell, Asimov, Heinlein, and Hubbard) that has sparked a lot of conversations about the "Golden Age".
  • Jake Casella Brookins, that's me!

An interesting conversation; I think a lot of us are struggling with how to think about hopefulness that isn't wish fulfillment in near-future SF, given the realities of the present. Lots of SF writers putting optimistic stories, but often they're not particularly rosy on the surface. We also struggled to fit Bradbury into a discussion of future-facing optimism; my hot take is that 1.) Bradbury generally feels powered by nostalgia, which doesn't quite click with futurity, and 2.) he's really at his best where he's at his weirdest, which is just kind of sideways to the question.

You can check out more videos on the RBEM Youtube channel, and you may want to check out their virtual comic convention, WaukeCon, this weekend.

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