People’s Vote March Features SFF Iconography

Left: James Bacon. Center: Emma King.

By James Bacon: I attended the People’s Vote March today in central London, which seeks to have a referendum about Brexit and whatever deal the country ends up with. A political matter not normally of interest here to Filers.  

I was expecting to see some interesting placards and posters but was quite astonished to see so many that were literary, media or genre related, and so Emma King and I, took photos to share due to this fascinating connection.  

[This BBC link will take you to an explanation of the march – and itself features some anti-Brexit cosplay.]

Many more photos follow the jump.

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Stargazing In Staffordshire

James Bacon and Dr. Emma J. King

James Bacon and Dr. Emma J. King

James Bacon offers you the stars next summer in Staffordshire, England where he and Dr. Emma J King, an award-winning science communicator with a Ph.D. in cosmology, will inaugurate astro.CAMPhw.uk, an annual astronomy event, August 7-9, 2015.

People of all ages and from all walks of life are invited to enjoy a series of astronomy-related talks, workshops and activities led by experts in the field. Each night there will be star gazing, facilitated by experienced astronomers.

Attendees will camp in Huntley Wood, a 170-acre outdoor event venue in the heart of the Staffordshire moorlands.

Huntley_Wood_2

The date has been picked because it is during the summer holidays, when families can attend together, also because the second weekend of August tends to be near the peak of the Perseid meteor shower, one of the best and brightest meteor showers in the Northern Hemisphere

The programme for the weekend already includes bestselling popular science author Simon Singh giving a talk about his book Big Bang, which tells the story of the Big Bang theory from its birth in the 1920s to the observational evidence that backed it and then clinched it.

There will be a talk from Prof. Paul Roche, Director of the Faulkes Telescopes Project, the UK National Schools’ Astronomer and the Space Ambassador for Wales. He has spent over 20 years researching massive stars, neutron stars and black holes, and working in astronomy education, outreach and science communication.

Also speaking is Dr. Ed Trollope founder of science website Things We Don’t Know

Ed studied at several UK universities before cruelly being exiled to “get a job and a haircut!” After originally studying space physics he turned to the dark side (spacecraft engineering), then realised how poorly structured his code was and opted for software engineering too. Now he works in Germany, where he helps to land robots on other worlds and predict the weather.

There will be workshops by Emma Wride of AstroCymru, plus an undercover 3D Celestia and Stellarium, just in case the weather turns bad.

More items will be added, as well as fun activities suitable for children. No previous experience or knowledge of astronomy is necessary to enjoy astro.CAMPhw. Tickets are already on sale via the website which offers an early booking discount.

Keep up-to-date with the event through its website, http://astro.camphw.uk, Facebook (facebook.com/astrocamphw) and Twitter (twitter.com/astrocamphw).

Journey Planet Tempts Fate

If there were any triskaidekaphobes on the editorial staff of Journey Planet would they have dared fill issue #13 [PDF file] with arguments about sexual politics?

Guest editors Emma King and Helen Montgomery rounded up nearly three dozen fans to discuss gender parity on convention panels, a topical controversy ever since Paul Cornell announced his personal plan to do something about it, and the 2013 Eastercon made it a policy.   

A few writers uphold the 50/50 side of the argument against all comers, and a good thing they’re able to do it because most of the contributors oppose a fixed male-female ratio of panelists.

As Carol Connolly frames the question:

After all, this is the 21st Century! It’s not as if anyone is deliberately keeping women away. Surely as long as the con has a generally welcoming environment towards women, they’ll just turn up on panels. Like mushrooms in a field (translation for city folk: “like Starbucks franchises”).

Except that hasn’t happened, has it? Although women make up over 50% of the population, that fact is not mirrored in panel demographics.

That fundamental disparity is always on my mind as a program organizer, even if I am not a 50/50 advocate.

Opponents of 50/50 make forensic arguments about whether panels should mirror the population when the community of pro writers does not, and logistical arguments about the difficulty of aiming for 50/50 amid all the variables of assembling a convention program. Several women even argue that 50/50 would not advance feminist principles. For example, Emma Jane Davies feels 50/50 might be an impediment to dealing with the genuine issue:

Panel parity effectively makes a genuine problem invisible to fandom and the rest of the world. Are we so ashamed by the paucity of female SFF writers that we must deny the disparity, even to ourselves? Would the truth not act as a better motivation to those who wish to correct the real problem?

Certainly the zine will be must reading for conrunners because so many of their colleagues are in it and it’s a great way to see some of the other players’ cards.

(Full disclosure: I wrote for #13, too. Was that good luck for the editors, or bad?)