2023 Sturgeon Symposium Call for Papers

The J. Wayne and Elsie M. Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction will hold the 2nd Annual Sturgeon Symposium from September 28-30, celebrating the 30th anniversary of Octavia Butler’s groundbreaking novel, The Parable of the Sower. As University of Kansas’s choice for the 2023 Common Book program, her novel provides a powerful inspiration for the Symposium’s theme, “Fantastic Worlds, Fraught Futures.”   

The Symposium will feature Noël Sturgeon’s presentation of the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for best science fiction short story and a reading from this year’s winner. This year, the Symposium will include all-virtual sessions scheduled for Wednesday and in-person sessions on Thursday and Friday. The presentation of the Award and the reading by the winner will be a hybrid in-person/online event, available by broadcast for those who register and cannot be at the Symposium in person.

The CSSF celebrates the diverse community of students, scholars, creators, and fans who engage with speculative modes, challenging our conceptions of what is possible.  As Octavia Butler writes in Parable of the Sower, “All that you touch, / You Change. / All that you Change / Changes you.” Butler’s work reminds us of the transformative power of speculative fiction and its ability to inspire change and community in the face of the unknown. 

Individual papers, fully formed panels, and roundtables exploring “Fantastic Worlds, Fraught Futures” are welcome, particularly those prioritizing collaboration and dialogue across communities, and creative work from Indian Nations, such as the Kaw, Osage, and others whose homelands KU stands.

While they plan to make the Symposium available virtually, virtual presenters will be grouped together; unlike 2022, they will not be organizing panels that mix virtual and in-person presentations.   

Some possible topics for exploration include:   

  • SF pedagogy 
  • Climate fiction 
  • SF and revolution 
  • Maternity 
  • Artificial intelligence 
  • Machines in fiction 
  • Digital SF 
  • Virtual realities 
  • Music and SF
  • Weird fiction 
  • Post-human futures 
  • SF and narratives of escape/resistance  
  • Emerging technologies 
  • SF and war
  • Animals and SF

In addition to the award presentation and programming developed from submissions, the Symposium will include a roundtable discussion on the present and future of SF, a pedagogy panel on how SF is being taught, and a creative writing workshop.    

Email proposals to the Gunn Center, [email protected], by April 17, 2023. Notifications will be sent out in late May. 

For more detailed information about the symposium, including travel information and lodging options, please visit the CSSF website.

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