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Today at Confluence:
Where To Next? Trends in Science Fiction

July 30th, 2022

Writing horror in the days of covid is a bit like living in a science fiction novel. Not the Michael Crichton variety, where things pretty much go back to normal after humankind deals with the inciting incident, but the Richard Matheson kind (think I am Legend) where things change and those of us who get through it learn to adjust. (I addressed the same topic in an earlier post. You can read it here.)

Such changes were at the center of yesterday’s discussion of The Pandemic’s Impact on Horror Fiction on the opening day of Confluence, Pittsburgh’s long-running science fiction convention. You can read my preview of that panel here, and I’m going to try posting a summary of the conversation soon. For now, it’s on to today’s discussion: Where To Next? Trends in Recent Science Fiction and Fantasy.

To address that topic, I’ll be joined by Neil Clarke, Marie Vibbert, and Michael Mammay.

Here’s a little more about them:

Neil Clarke is the editor of the Hugo and World Fantasy Award-winning Clarkesworld Magazine and several anthologies, including the Best Science Fiction of the Year series. He has been a finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Editor (Short Form) ten times, won the Chesley Award for Best Art Director three times, and received the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award from SFWA in 2019.

Marie Vibbert is the author of numerous short stories, poems and comics. Her novel Galactic Hellcats, “about a female biker gang in outer space rescuing a gay prince” was released in 2021. Fortcoming works include The Gods Awoke, coming this September from Journey Press. Her novelette “We Built This City” is available in the June issue of Clarkesworld.

Michael Mammy’s books include the military sf mystery Planetside and its sequels Spaceside and Colonyside. His latest, The Weight of Command, has just been released as an Audible Original, with print and e-book editions to follow in early 2023.

And here’s the description of our panel from the Confluence program book:

In every period, SF has had trends — key ideas, concepts, or styles that a number of authors used. What are the current trends, and where do we see this going?

Along the way, I’m hoping today’s panel might touch on things mentioned in yesterday’s pandemic discussion. In particular, I’ll be interested in hearing if events of the past three years have significantly affected what and how people are writing.

If you’re planning to attend Confluence today, consider joining our discussion at 5:00. Either way, be sure to check back here soon, as I hope to post a panel recap in the days ahead.

This Friday at Confluence:
The Pandemic’s Impact on Horror Fiction

July 28th, 2022

I’ve been doing my best to learn from the examples set by writers who lived through past epidemics – Sherwood Anderson, Beatrix Potter, and W.E.B. Du Bois (all of whom wrote during the 1918 flu outbreak); and Francesco Petrarca, Thomas Nash, and William Shakespeare (who penned some of their greatest works during Europe’s deadliest plagues).

The above excerpt is from a piece I posted here in September 2020.

As far as I know, none of those plays or novels were about influenza or plague, but today it seems some writers are indeed writing about covid. One of them is Anne Tyler, whose novel French Bread deals with a retired couple whose adult son and grandson move in with them during the pandemic; and Sigrid Nunez (author of a 2010 novel Salvation City that dealt with the 1918 flue epidemic) who is reportedly working on a new book about the early days of the pandemic.

But what about horror writers?

To find out, I’ll be dropping by Confluence this weekend to moderate a panel titled The Pandemic’s Impact on Horror Fiction. Here’s the description from the convention’s program book:

Horror fiction about pandemics has been popular for a long time, and includes classic works such as I Am Legend and The Stand. But how has the recent pandemic impacted horror fiction and how it deals with pandemics?

On hand to help consider that question will be fellow panelists Frederic Durbin, S. A. Bradley, and Brandon McNulty.

I’ll endeavor to report some of their comments in a future post, but for my part, I’d like to add Mary Shelley’s novel The Last Man to the panel’s description. Perhaps not as widely known as I am Legend or The Stand (both of which have benefited from being adapted to the big and small screens), Shelley’s novel is prescient in its consideration of commercial air travel, war in the Middle East, and a 21st-century pandemic.

If there are recent works of horror and science fiction that deal with the current pandemic, I trust the panelists will know about them. So … if you’re planning to attend Confluence this weekend, consider joining the discussion at 6:00 on Friday. Otherwise, I’ll hope to include some of the panel’s recommendations in a future post.

The image at the top of this page is from the article Shakespeare and the Plague,” which appeared in The Sunday Times, 19 April 2020.