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WFC 2015 Prelim Program

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Nov 10th, 2015
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  1. Dear WFC 2015 participant:
  2. Please pardon the mass emailing; I wish we had the time to correspond with everyone on a one-to-one basis
  3. but this is the next best thing.
  4. Many of you have already let us know whether or not you wish to take part in programming or give a reading.
  5. Unfortunately for the programming committee, many have not.
  6. So, in order to do the best we possibly can please find, both attached and pasted below, the near final
  7. panel list for WFC 2015.
  8. Please let us know, by panel number, no more than 4 of your top choices for panels and/or let us know if
  9. you'd like to do a reading. Also important is to tell us when you plan to arrive in Saratoga and when you
  10. plan to leave. And, please respond to program@wfc2015.org by no later than Wednesday September 23.
  11. Of course, the earlier you respond the better for us all.
  12. As always, the usual caveats apply. We have a limited number of slots and they will be allocated to the best
  13. of our ability; nothing is guaranteed. On the other hand I know that we will be very unhappy if we are unable
  14. to accommodate most everyone.
  15. Looking forward to seeing you in Saratoga!
  16. Peter Halasz
  17. WFC 2015 Program Head
  18. WFC 2015 Panels
  19. 1. What is ‘Epic’ about Epic Fantasy?
  20. We all know what we mean by Epic Fantasy, but definitions are slippery things. Scale, length, story type, setting and more figure in the various definitions. Our panel of experts will discuss the quintessential elements of Epic Fantasy in a quest to settle the matter once and for all.
  21. 2. Scale in Epic Fantasy – Tensions between the epic and the intimate.
  22. Epics are all about grand sweeping adventures, world shaping events, and heroes larger than life... or are they? Don’t good stories need intimate moments? The panel will discuss the tensions between the epic and the intimate, and those stories that do both.
  23. 3. Magic is the essential ingredient of Epic Fantasy... except when it isn’t.
  24. Can a story be Epic Fantasy if there isn’t a spell hurling mage? Do all quests need a wizard? The panel will discuss how magic is used in Epic Fantasy and some of the texts that do things a little differently.
  25. 4. Epic Fantasies – Trilogies, Series... Stand-alones?
  26. Epic Fantasy has become almost synonymous with Door Stop novels, trilogies and series, but can Epic Fantasy be done as a short story, a novella, or even a slim stand alone? Our intrepid panel will discuss the often overlooked stories and texts that are Epic in every way but size.
  27. 5. What Does Epic Fantasy Owe The Literary Epic Tradition?
  28. Gilgamesh, The Iliad, The Aeneid, Beowulf... Is there really a straight lineage between epic poetry and the modern genre of Fantasy? The panel will discuss how the ancient epics have shaped and influenced modern fantasy storytelling and how they haven’t. Not everything is as cut and dried as we think.
  29. 6. Ur Fantasies... It all started with...
  30. What was the first fantasy story Is there a difference between myth, legend and fantasy? Can we actually locate the first true examples of fantasy storytelling?
  31. The panel will discuss the fantasy tradition and what they think the first true examples of fantasy storytelling are, and how they relate to the modern genre.
  32. 7. The Forgotten Founders of Fantasy
  33. When we discuss the tradition of Epic Fantasy one name has come to rule them all and in the darkness bind them... but we know that the Epic Fantasy tradition owes its heritage to more than just Tolkien. The panelists will discuss some of the other great influences on Fantasy from early fantasists who have helped shaped the genre.
  34. 8. Creating the Fantasy Canon
  35. There are some books we all agree on as fundamental to the genre, but can we agree on a canon of twenty stories? Our panelists will discuss which twenty books are essential reading for understanding the genre and how this list has changed over time.
  36. 9. Epic Fantasy and the Roleplaying Game
  37. Readers of Epic Fantasy have known for a long time that Roleplaying Games and D&D in particular have played a large part in shaping what we read and how we read. Gaming is no longer a dirty word and our panelists will discuss the impact of Roleplaying Games, Computer Games and other gaming narratives on Epic Fantasy.
  38. 10. We’ve imitated Tolkien... Who else?
  39. The fantasy tradition is full of important works that did something different, something new, something original and that have inspired, but sometimes homage turns into outright imitation. Who are the next authors whose original takes will soon be copied to cliché?
  40. 12. Arthurian Fantasy, from Parzifal to Marie Phillips to T.H. White (with various stops between)
  41. The story of Arthur has long been one of the corner stones of Fantasy. But what makes the story so special and how have the various authors made it new and engaging?
  42. 13. The Overlooked Books of the Fantasy Tradition
  43. Ballantine Fantasy Series begat Newcastle Forgotten Fantasy, but what about the books they never got 'round to? And are any of those worth recovering? The panelists will discuss overlooked gems in the history of the genre. Jewels such as Voltaire's Zadig, Anatole France's the Revolt of the Angels , William Morris' work, Fiona MacLeod's The Sin Eater and Others, and Return of the Hero by Darrell Figgis.
  44. 14. Postmodern Fantasy Experiments in Fantasy Literature
  45. It is not all about quests, magic rings and dragons, the panel will discuss some of the less well known texts that stretch the limits and strengths of fantasy as an experimental form of storytelling. John Barth's The Sotweed Factor, Octavia Butler's Kindred, Angela Carter's Nights at the Circus and Beloved by Tomy Morrison come to mind.
  46. 15. Post-Industrial Fantasy and the Dystopian Fantasy
  47. Fantasy isn’t just about long forgotten worlds or the ancient past, sometimes it looks to the future. The panel discusses some of the great and terrible works of the far future fantasy and the dystopian fantastic. Some of the most iconic examples written by William Hope Hodgson, Jack Vance and Gene Wolfe.
  48. 16 Extracting Fantasy from the Pulp
  49. The relationship between Fantasy and the pulps is an interesting one. From Haggard and Hodgson through Smith and Howard to Unknown and DeCamp et al. the panellists will discuss the impact and influence of the pulp magazines and authors on fantasy writing and how this changed the genre.
  50. 17. Mythic Gravitas in Epic Fantasy and in Mainstream work post-1920 The best of epic fantasies read as if they were actual myth or saga. Does modern fiction have the same ability? Does Joyce's Ulysses or Michener's Hawaii meet the test? Why? Or why not?
  51. 18. Epic Fantasy is all about the European Middle Ages... Except when it isn’t
  52. A certain TV adaptation of a very popular Epic Fantasy series has captured the public imagination, but we know that Epic Fantasy has greater scope than this. Fantasies such as Wu Cheng En's Journey to the West, Guy Gavriel Kay's Under Heaven and River of Stars as well as Ernest Bramah's oriental tales. and so our panelists will discuss great Fantasy Epics that go further than a Medieval Setting and which range further afield than Agincourt.
  53. 19. But it is historically accurate...’
  54. Fantasy authors often borrow from history to create their secondary worlds, but is historical accuracy ever a defense to criticisms of problematic content in Epic Fantasy? The thorny issue of authorial intent, historical context, cultural appropriation and the freedoms of creation. The panel will discuss the various approaches taken to incorporate historical context, cultures and world views into secondary world fantasy, and the pit falls that might appear.
  55. 20. Real World Nomenclature, Taboos, and Cultural Meaning
  56. The thorny issue of real world terms that often bear loaded meanings and concepts being transported wholesale into fantasy worlds. Swearing, cursing, and racial epithets can cause controversy and out-cry. Commonly accepted terms change meaning over time and become taboo.
  57. As the politics of the real world change, is there a concurrent transposition into fantasy worlds?
  58. 21. Politics, Economics and Power in Fantasy worlds
  59. Some fantasy authors give little thought to the underlying notions of power and politics that underpin the nations of their fantasy realms, while others are only too aware of what they borrow from the world. The panel discusses the issues of politics and power dynamics in works of fantasy that explore, explode, or subvert the norms.
  60. 22. What is a Dragon?
  61. Western Dragons, Eastern Dragons, Feathered Serpents and Great Worms... few things are as iconic as the dragon, but what are the differences between them all? Are they roughly the same or do they symbolically represent very different things?
  62. 23.
  63. 24. The European Fantasy Tradition
  64. When discussing Epic Fantasy it is easy to assume an Anglo-American perspective of the genre, but the Epic is thriving in other areas of the world. The panel will discuss some of the great Fantasy writing that is coming out of Europe and what sets it apart from its Anglo- American counterparts.
  65. 25.
  66. 26. Tropes that will not die!!!
  67. Our distinguished panel of experts will discuss those elements of fantasy so over-used that they need to be consigned to the deepest, darkest pit we can find to never see the light of a publishing house again Each panelist will be given the opportunity to nominate a trope or cliché of fantasy, argue for its demise, and put it to the rest of the panel for sentencing.
  68. 27. Going on a Quest? You will need this...
  69. In every fantasy world the characters always seem to be able to survive. What are the travel essentials necessary to survive a heroic quest?
  70. 28. The Quest is Dead, Long Live the Quest?
  71. Sometimes there are narrative arcs and techniques that just fall out of favour, but is the quest one of them? The panel will discuss the great quest narrative and how new stories are finding ways to make quests interesting again.
  72. 29. Is Epic Fantasy Doomed to Feudalism?
  73. The idea of Feudalism in Epic Fantasy is nothing new, but Epic Fantasy contains ever greater numbers of texts and narratives that eschew a simple patriarchal feudalism for smart and pointed political stories set in fantasy worlds that explode the myth that the Epic needs Kings and princes. The panel will discuss some of the Epic Fantasies that have played with politics and that have refused to perpetuate the stereotype of the male heir apparent.
  74. 30. Epic Fantasy and the Uses of Weapons
  75. If you had to pick one item that was truly ubiquitous to Epic Fantasy the humble sword probably fits the bill. But there is much more to weaponry in history and Fantasy than the sword. The panel will discuss the use of weapons in Fantasy writing and how they shape the perceptions of warfare and combat.
  76. 31. Violence and the Epic
  77. There has been great debate about the rise of Grimdark and of gratuitous violence in Fantasy writing, but let’s face it, Epic Fantasy has always been violent. So what has changed? Our panelists will discuss violence in Fantasy writing, and the issues of depicting certain types of violence on the page.
  78. 32.
  79. 33. When Magic Meets Science.
  80. Fantasy, and the Epic in particular, have a tendency to ignore the progress of the sciences, but there are some great stories out there that tackle the issue of technological advancement in a Fantasy world. Our panel discuss the tension between science, technology and magic, and some of the narratives that play with our notions of technological progress in a fantasy world, from the Discworld to Malazan and to Flintlock Fantasies.
  81. 34. The Fantastic Cities of Monstrous Magnitude
  82. Epic Fantasy has created some of the most arresting and wondrous architecture ever dreamed of. The panel will discuss some of their favourite settings in Epic Fantasy and why those cities and buildings evoke such wonder.
  83. 35. Whatever happened to the Cursed Wanderer?
  84. The tragic figure of the doomed explorer wandering the land eternally has seemingly vanished from the face of Fantasy, or has it? The panel will discuss some of the great examples of this trope, why it has dropped out of favour, and, perhaps, how it has been adapted.
  85. 36. Healing in Fantasy
  86. Sometimes you just need a doctor, but in fantasyland you are usually stuck with a healer. Magical healing is a surprisingly common and yet complex issue. The panel will discuss the ramifications of magical healing and which texts they feel illustrate some of the more nuanced approaches to getting your fighters back on their feet.
  87. 37. The Rogue
  88. Assassins, thieves, rogues of all stripes, it seems that no quest partyTM is complete without a
  89. wisecracking roguish sidekick. But is there more to the Rogue in fantasy than that?
  90. 38. Food Fantasy
  91. Beyond the seemingly ubiquitous quest stew, food plays a major role in fantasy. Our panel discuss food in fantasy, and fantasies that revolve around food. Foodies welcome.
  92. 39. Fantasy landscapes and the limits of imagination
  93. From gloomy Gothic woods, to empty Gothic Mountain fastnesses... is there more to fantasyscapes than the Gothic, or are we stuck in a haunted Gothic rut?
  94. 40. Decadence in Fantasy
  95. From Dunsany and Eddison, through Moorcock and M. John Harrison to Vandermeer and Valente (with a tip of the hat to Vance), the decadent fantastic will be dissected for your delight.
  96. 41. Faerie Courts and Fairy Courts
  97. Faeries, the fey, the Sidhe, Seelie and Unseelie courts... the list of fairy variants in fantasy is both extensive and fascinating. The panel will discuss the various fairy traditions and how they have been used (and sometimes abused) in modern Fantasy writing.
  98. 42. Fantasy and Detective Fiction – A Natural Fit?
  99. The explosion of Urban Fantasy with its plethora of wizarding detectives seems to prove that Fantasy and Mystery go together like swords and scabbards. But what is the allure? Why do they work so well together? The panel will discuss what makes paranormal investigators so popular.
  100. 43. European Epic Fantasy , the modern Tradition (mostly in translation)
  101. Our distinguished panelists will duscuss the similarities and differences of works which t draw upon Continental roots, both mythic and literary while embracing more recent English- language epics.
  102. 44. Old Weird, New Weird, or Just Plain Weird When, and where, do they converge, and converse?
  103. 45.
  104. 46. Darkened Rooms, Newly Tenanted
  105. Over the past decade or so, the ghost novel has returned to the literary mainstream with a vigor not seen in nearly a century. Consider such fine works as Dennis McFarland's A Face at the Window, Helen Oyeyemi's The Icarus Girl, and Arthur Phillips' Angelica, to name
  106. but a few. Is this a passing shadow, or a renewed presence?
  107. 47. Appreciating Tanith Lee
  108. Discussion of her remarkable range, sustained influence, and unique voice.
  109. 48. Purple Cloud, Purple Prose: M.P. Shiel at 150
  110. M.P. Shiel was a great master of the Decadent "decorated" style, a cult author whose legend, and legacy, blaze in obscurity. Can his dead hand mortmain continue to touch readers, and writers, in the minimalist 21st Century?
  111. 49. Inglourious Masters (sic)
  112. Who are the lost masters of fantasy, their songs unsung and unheard save by the few, whose works cry out for recognition? Do M. P. Shiel, E.R. Eddison and james Branch Cabell make the cut?
  113. 50. Children's Fantasy as Parent to Adult Fantasy
  114. There has been at least a hundred year long tradition great children's fantasy. Works such as those by by Lewis Carroll and later such as by Joan Aiken, Alan Garner, and Susan Cooper ahve inspired so many of the subsequent writers of what is now considered Adult Fantasy. Our panel will discuss what makes for great Children's Fantasy.
  115. 51. Monsters as Devourers
  116. Our cherished monsters, be they vampire werewolf or zombie, are driven by an insatiable appetite to devour what they once were, namely us. Discuss either the sacrificial/sacremental aspect of this hunger OR the psycho-sexual roots of this fixation. Even the yearning to recover a lost humanity?
  117. 52. Lord Dunsany & The Oriental Fable
  118. The exotic elements of his early tales, often seeming more Eastern than Celtic begs the question: did he influence orientalism or was he influenced by it?
  119. 53. American Decadent: Robert W. Chambers and Modern Horror
  120. The crucible of Chambers' febrile imagination fused Poe & Bierce with Gautier & Lorrain; his masterpiece, The King in Yellow, is distilled from this infernal alchemy as his legacy to the genre. Is it a lasting legacy?
  121. 54. The Vampire, Caught in Time
  122. Too few vampires in fiction plausibly convey the burden of their years. Can a mortal writer truly see the passing world through an immortal's eyes, or truly feel that awful weight of time on their shoulders?
  123. 55. Stalking the Golem
  124. Golems have descended from the attic of forklore and film to stride across many contemporary novels and tales; to name but a few, Sean Stewart's Resurrection Man, Michael Chabon's Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, and Helene Wecker's The Golem & the Jinni. What gives this old clay new life?
  125. 56. Onward From Avalon
  126. In Arthurian fantasies from Parzifal to Marie Phillips' The Table of Less Valued Knights by way of Tennyson, and T.H. White, many knights, many quests, many grails, and many Kings returned. What happens to the pawns?
  127. 57. Sleepy Hollow and other Haunts
  128. Irving's Knickerbocker Tales are the ur-texts of American fantasy, wafting down the years upon "the witching influence of the [Hudson Valley] air". So enduring is "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" that the Headless Horseman yet rides, albeit much altered, across film and television into the new century. A discussion of Irving's place, past & present, in American myth, and the myth of America.
  129. 58. Dark Carnivals
  130. The funhouse as a place of illusions, and revelations, is an enduring theme of 20th Century fiction, from Finney and Gresham, through Bradbury and Beagle, to Geek Love an The Night Circus. Behind the tent-flap, a shabby glamour beckons; behind the sideshow, the real tinsel glitters ominously.
  131. 59. Crossing Over, Looking Back
  132. After-life fantasies are a genre staple for well over a century, whether the religious sentiment of Phelps and Oliphant, or Bangsian whimsies, or the old/new cliche of the murdered seeking posthumous justice, culminating in Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones. The form continues to visit many mansions. as diverse as Disch's The Businessman, or Matheson's What Dreams May Co or Eagleman's Sum. Whence the eternal appeal?
  133. 58. After the Laughter
  134. There's a rich vein of sophisticated humor running through fantasy, abundantly displayed by J.K. Bangs, James Branch Cabell and Thorne Smith, among others, carrying on through to Poul Anderson and Randall Garrett. Recently Tom Holt and Terry Pratchett, two UK writers, have upheld the tradition. Where has the rest of the funny gone?
  135. 59. Out of the Ballpark or Over the Cornfield
  136. This close to Cooperstown, let's take a stroll across the field of dreams, a field including such classics as The Natural and Shoeless Joe,and Brittle Innings off into such delightful oddities as Henry Garfield's Tartabull's Throw and Frank King's Southpaw. That's right,
  137. baseball's not just for the preternaturally gifted or revenants, werewolves get to play ball, too.
  138. 62. Tribute Panel: Graham Joyce
  139. 63. WHAT / WHO to Watch for in the coming year(s)
  140. 64. JURY panel
  141. 65. 66.
  142. 67. 68.
  143. 69. Odd Couplings and Their Offspring
  144. The fruits of assorted miscegenation between various open-minded supernatural creatures, all over 18 years of age of course, are often overlooked. Don't they deserve to be recognized as legitimate?
  145. 70. Anthropology and Archeology
  146. Great strides have been made in these fields over the last half century. Has all this new knowledge and speculation about our dim and distant past affected written fantasy?
  147. 71. [Un]natural bedfellows?
  148. Increasingly, fantasy is being written as detective fiction; or the other way around. Mike Carey's Felix Castor novels, John Connolly's Charlie Parker novels and F. Paul Wilson's Repairman Jack novels among others are exemplars of what one might call supernatural noir. Our panelists will opine why the seedy underbelly of society is so appealing.
  149. 72. Collections: Useful Tools, Private Archives, Grendel-like Gloat Hoards or Manifestations of Disease.
  150. Is collecting, especially of genre material, still useful in a digital age?
  151. 73. Where is the Respect?
  152. Epic Fantasies have been the backbone of fantastic writing for well-over over a century. Does it get the respect and attention it deserves?
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