Events

Although the Olaf Stapledon Centre for Speculative Futures only gained official School of the Arts ‘Centre’ status in 2018, it emerged from a series of activities by its directors and members. This page offers a very brief overview of the events members of the Stapledon Centre have organised.

2020

  • That year that happened whilst a lot of other things didn’t…and some things that did, even though they shouldn’t have. As Special Collections & Archives was closed, efforts focused on delivering content, events and services virtually. These included:
    • An online exhibition, “Arthur C Clarke: Architect of tomorrow”, showcasing highlights from Clarke’s personal library, acquired by SCA in 2019: https://clarkesca.omeka.net   
    • The creation of “#Resisting Dystopia” reading lists and videos of science fiction content on the SCA blog, Twitter and YouTube;
    • Presentation at a virtual science fiction convention, “Flights of Foundry,” organized by ‘Dream Foundry’: a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the science fiction and fantasy community. SF Librarian Phoenix Alexander was on a panel on ‘Research Tools for Worldbuilding,’ promoting SCA’s resources. The event had over two hundred virtual attendees;
    • November: Participation in the University’s Literary Festival, with Phoenix Alexander facilitating a talk by SF and fantasy author and critic John Clute on the collections of Brian Aldiss, whose library SCA acquired at the end of 2018.

2019

  • June: The (ninth) Current Research in Speculative Fiction conference, with keynote addresses by Paul-March Russell (Kent) and Nicole Devarenne (Dundee).
  • April: Guest Lecture by Brian Attebery (Idaho State), ‘Science Fictional Parabolas’.
  • October: Phoenix Alexander installed a pop-up Afrofuturism library from the SF collections in the International Slavery Museum on 31stOctober to commemorate Black History month.
  • September: Guest Lecture by Lars Schmeink (HafenCity Universität), ‘From Cyberpunk to Biopunk – On Posthuman Technologies’.

2018

  • October: Poster display and exhibition, ‘A Robot Like You: Gender, Class, and Race in the Representation of Robots in Fiction’, as part of the Ada Lovelace Day Indie Event.
  • June: The (eighth) Current Research in Speculative Fiction conference, with keynote addresses by Tricia Sullivan (author) and Mark Bould (UWE).
  • April: A session for the Society for the Study of Artificial Intelligence and Simulation of Behaviour conference, ‘ARTificial ~ Exploring (with) The Trial of the Superdebthunterbot: Technology, Art, Law and the Posthuman’, including screening Helen Knowles’ short film.

2017

  • More SCA books, by Isaac Asimov, Margaret Atwood, Ray Bradbury, Robert A. Heinlein, Marge Piercy (and more) were loaned to Durham University Library and Culture Durham’s Time Machines exhibition (until 3 September).
  • June: The (seventh) Current Research in Speculative Fiction conference, with keynote addresses by Rob Maslen (Glasgow) and Bernice Murphy (TCD). PGR members of the Centre also organised an AHRC-funded PGR training workshop, ‘Rethinking the Contemporary: The Role of the Fantastic’, alongside it, which also included Brian Baker (Lancaster). Report available in Fantastika 1.2 (2017).
  • June: The opening of the exhibition “Into the Unknown: a journey through Science Fiction” at the Barbican Centre, London, to which SCA was the major lender. Over 100 books and manuscript material from the Olaf Stapledon archive were included. SF Librarian Andy Sawyer wrote the introductory essay for the catalogue. After the exhibition closed in London, a modified 3-year touring exhibition took place, with destinations in Greece and Mexico.
  • Compton Verney Art Gallery in Warwickshire celebrated the sleepy village of Midwich – disrupted by alien infiltration in John Wyndham’s The Midwich Cuckoos – as part of their Creating the Countryside  exhibition (until 18 June). Material from SCA on display included a typescript of the novel and the typewriter on which Wyndham wrote it.
  • May: Two sessions for Liverpool’s Writing on the Wall festival, ‘Your Robots and You’ and ‘Robots in the Future’.
  • January / February: The University of Liverpool’s inaugural Tate Exchange Liverpool event, Visions of the Future: Conversations across Time.

2016

  • November: Schools-focused Being Human 2016 events on Olaf Stapledon’s work and visions of the future, encouraging participants to think about the future, and how attitudes and beliefs about the future reveal a lot about how we understand the present. 
  • June: Science Fiction Research Association conference – which returned to the UK after an absence of 14 years – on the theme of ‘Systems and Knowledge’, with keynote addresses by Joan Haran (Cardiff), Andrew Milner (Monash) and Andy Sawyer (Liverpool).
  • June: The (sixth) Current Research in Speculative Fiction conference, with keynote addresses by Caroline Edwards (Birkbeck) and Patricia Wheeler (Hertfordshire).
  • May: Liverpool Light Night – Something in the Water? Liverpool and the Literary fantastic.  Andy Sawyer curated an exhibition and gave a talk on Liverpool and science fiction as part of Liverpool Light Night, Liverpool’s annual one night arts and culture festival.

2015

  • November: A Being Human 2015 event, ‘Being Posthuman?’, on Artificial Intelligence, including a screening of Alex Garland’s Ex Machina at FACT.
  • June: The (fifth) Current Research in Speculative Fiction conference, with keynote addresses by Andrew Butler (Canterbury Christ Church) and Sarah Dillon (Cambridge).

2014

  • June: The (fourth) Current Research in Speculative Fiction conference, with keynote addresses by Mark Bould (UWE) and Roger Luckhurst (Birkbeck).

2013

  • June: The (third) Current Research in Speculative Fiction conference, with keynote addresses by Pat Cadigan (author) and Peter Wright (Edge Hill).

2012

  • June: The (second) Current Research in Speculative Fiction conference, with keynote addresses by David Seed (Liverpool) and Fred Botting (Kingston).

2011

  • June: The (first) Current Research in Speculative Fiction conference, with keynote addresses by Adam Roberts (Royal Holloway) and Andy Sawyer (Liverpool).