New version of “The Demon” (retrospectives, pt. 1)

Louis (Brad Pitt) destroying the Theatre of the Vampires in Interview with the Vampire
(dir. Neil Jordan). © Warner Bros., 1994.

My first book published in English was outcome of my PhD work conducted in late 1990s – The Demonic Texts and Textual Demons (Tampere University Press, 1999). As the subtitle hints (“The Demonic Tradition, the Self, and Popular Fiction”), this work was both a historically oriented inquiry into the demonic tradition across centuries, and an attempt to recast certain poststructuralist questions about textuality in terms of agency, or “Self”.

The methodological and theoretical subtext of this book was focused on politically-committed cultural studies on the one hand: I was reading texts like horror movies, classical tragedies, science fiction, The Bible, and Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses from perspectives opened up by our bodily and situated existence, suffering, and possibilities for empowerment. On the other hand, I was also interested in both participating and ‘deconstructing’ some of the theoretical contributions that the humanities – literary and art studies particularly – had made to scholarship during the 20th century. In a manner, I was turning “demonic possession” as a self-contradictory and polyphonic image of poststructuralism itself: the pursuit of overtly convoluted theoretical discourses (that both reveal and hide the actual intellectual contributions at the same time) particularly both fascinated and irritated me. The vampires, zombies and cyborgs were my tools for opening the black boxes in the charnel houses of twisted “high theory” (afflicted by a syndrome that I called ‘cognitocentrism’ – the desire to hide the desiring body and situatedness of the theorizing self from true commitment and responsibility in the actual world of people).

I have now produced a new version of this book online, as Open Access. After the recent merger of universities, the Tampere University Press (TUP) books are no longer available as physical copies, and all rights of the works have returned to the authors (see this notice). Since I also undertook considerable detective work at the time to secure the image rights (e.g. by writing to Vatican Libraries, and Warner Brothers), I have now also restored all images – or as close versions of the originals as I could find.

The illustrated, free (Creative Commons) version can be found from this address: https://people.uta.fi/~tlilma/Demon_2005/.

I hope that the new version will find a few new readers to this early work. Here are a couple of words from my Lectio Praecursoria, delivered in the doctoral defense at 29th March, 1999:

… It is my view, that the vast majority of contemporary demonic texts are created and consumed because of the anxiety evoked by such flattening and gradual loss of meaningful differences. When everything is the same, nothing really matters. Demons face us with visions which make indifference impossible.
A cultural critic should also be able to make distinctions. The ability to distinguish different audiences is important as it makes us aware how radically polyphonic people’s interpretations really can be. We may live in the same world, but we do not necessarily share the same reality. As the demonic texts strain the most sensitive of cultural division lines, they highlight and emphasise such differences. Two extreme forms of reactions appear as particularly problematic in this context: the univocal and one-dimensional rejection or denial of the demonic mode of expression, and, on the other hand, the univocal and uncritical endorsement of this area. If a critical voice has a task to do here, it is in creating dialogue, in unlocking the black-and-white positions, and in pointing out that the demonic, if properly understood, is never any single thing, but a dynamic and polyphonic field of both destructive and creative impulses.

Frans Ilkka Mäyrä (1999)

The Expanse, and renaissance of space operas

The Expanse, poster
The Expanse, poster.

There is currently clear need for some escapism, the would help to overcome the lack of vision and hope in today’s political arenas, and provide energy to keep on doing something to keep this planet of ours as humane and sustainable living environment as possible. In domain of entertainment, space operas have held one specific place for visions of future, and for hope. Star Trek television series is a good reminder of this. I started recently watching a new, streaming video series The Expanse, that I knew nothing about beforehand. Soon, I found myself spellbound, and had to spend most of Finnish Father’s Day glued to binge watching the entire first season.

Without providing too many spoilers, this is a (semi-)hard science fiction television series (based on a book series of same name) that is taking place in the future of our Solar System, where humans have colonized Moon, Mars, and several major asteroids in the “Belt”. There is a mystery, and threat of interplanetary war, that sets events into motion, but most drama is taking place at the level of single individuals, representing different factions, sets of motivations, and life stories.

The Expanse could not be possible without many “adult” science fiction series that have come before it, Babylon 5 in particular comes to mind. There is gritty, even dystopian feel of unfair and unfinished world in The Expanse, and it is made clear that children and other innocents are always suffering from the fundamental struggle for power and wealth, that is not going away at least in those 200 years that this series takes place in the future. Yet, none of the people are completely evil nor totally good, rather depicting how certain idealism and self-sacrifice is also an inalienable strain of humanity. Saying that, the end of season one was rather heavy going, bringing up memories of holocaust and military-scientific evils of the worst kind of our history. I would very much welcome the season two as soon as possible, to see how all of this is going to evolve further. Or, I just need to get my hands to some of those books. It is great to see that there is again faith in science fiction that can take also political and existential questions into agenda, yet also firmly keep true to its entertainment roots.

Call for applications: Editor-in-Chief, Fafnir – Nordic Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy Research

Apply Now for the Editor-in-Chief of Fafnir – Nordic Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy Research

The position of the editor-in-chief in Fafnir – Nordic Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy Research is now open from 1 January 2017. Currently, the journal has two editors-in-chief who will continue in their posts in 2017.

The journal

Fafnir – Nordic Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy Research is a peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary academic journal published by the Finnish Society of Science Fiction and Fantasy Research (Suomen science fiction- ja fantasiatutkimuksen seura ry, http://finfar.org) from 2014 onwards. The journal is published in electronic format four times a year.
Fafnir aims at serving as an international forum for scholarly exchange on science fiction and fantasy and for discussion on current issues on the field. In order to achieve this, the journal introduces and develops research focusing on science fiction and fantasy literature, audiovisual art and media, games, and fan culture by providing an interdisciplinary perspective into the research within these genres. Fafnir publishes various texts ranging from peer-reviewed research articles to short overviews, essays, interviews, opinion pieces and academic book reviews on any subject suited to the paper. The main language of the journal is English, but articles are also published in Finnish or in the Scandinavian languages.

Publication Forum for the Federation of Finnish Learned Societies has given Fafnir Level 1 Classification as an academic publication channel important in Finnish research perspective. Fafnir is indexed in MLA International Bibliography and international The Science Fiction and Fantasy Research Database (SFFRD).

Read more about the journal at journal.finfar.org.

The editor-in-chief

Fafnir now seeks an editor-in-chief who is familiar with the field of speculative fiction. Experience working with the publishing process of an academic journal and with electronic journals is desirable but not essential.

The post as an editor-in-chief of Fafnir offers an excellent vantage point to the field of speculative fiction and an opportunity for the international scholarly exchange. As an editor-in-chief, you get an opportunity to develop the journal and to promote the visibility of the science fiction and fantasy research.

The three editors-in-chief are in charge of the general academic emphasis of the journal and of the content of individual issues in co-operation with the advisory board. The editors-in-chief also usually author the editorial of each issue.

The editors-in-chief work closely with the 16-membered advisory board and the sub-editor, whose main responsibility is the visual editing of the journal and publishing it online.

The editors-in-chief are not paid any money.

The Application

Please write a short (maximum one page in length) description of yourself and your reasons for applying the post as the editor-in-chief of Fafnir.
Send your application at the latest 30 November 2016 either by email to submissions@finfar.org OR by mail to the address Finfar c/o Jyrki Korpua, Teljotie 12, 90560 Oulu, FINLAND.

The board of the Finnish Society of Science Fiction and Fantasy Researchers will choose the new editor-in-chief in 5 December 2016 and the applicants are informed of the decision by 7 December 2016.

For more information on the application process, please contact
Aino-Kaisa Koistinen, aino-kaisa.koistinen@jyu.fi
Jyrki Korpua, jyrki.korpua@oulu.fi
Hanna-Riikka Roine, hanna.roine@uta.fi

CFP: Academic Track at the 75th World Science Fiction Convention

Spreading the Call for Papers, Academic Track at the 75th World Science Fiction Convention – “100 Years of Estrangement”

9–13 August, 2017

Messukeskus, the Helsinki Expo and Convention Centre, Helsinki, Finland

Estrangement, or defamiliarization (ostranenie), has long been a crucial concept in our understanding of speculative fiction. Since its first appearance in Viktor Shklovsky’s essay “Art as Technique” (or “Art as Device”) in 1917, estrangement has made its way into the theories of prose fiction, of theatre, and of film, and it forms the core of some of the foundational works in the theory of science fiction, such as Darko Suvin’s definition of SF as cognitive estrangement.

To celebrate the centenary of Shklovsky’s essay, the Worldcon 75 Academic Track calls for proposals for scholarly presentations from any academic discipline to examine, interrogate, and expand research related to the concept of estrangement, to related terms such as cognitive estrangement, the uncanny, the unnatural, Brecht’s Verfremdungseffekt or Derrida’s différance, and to their role in the analysis of speculative fiction in any medium. We hope for a broad, interdisciplinary discussion on the many ways in which estrangement  or defamiliarization relates to the genres of science fiction, fantasy and horror, and on how those genres form a particularly fertile ground for extending our understanding of how the familiar is made new, or the strange comprehensible.

To examine these phenomena, we invite proposals addressing e.g. the following questions:

  • What is the status of Shklovsky’s original ostranenie in contemporary theories of speculative fiction (widely understood)?
  • How does defamiliarization or estrangement function in different fantastic (sub)genres?
  • What are the differences and similarities between the techniques or strategies of defamiliarization in different media (e.g. prose fiction, graphic narratives, theatre, films, games)? How does defamiliarization relate to inter- or transmedial storytelling?
  • What is the dynamic between defamiliarization, mental transportation and identification? How do estranging and fantastical effects impact the reader’s perception of the storyworld or sympathy towards the characters?
  • How do works of speculative fiction balance estranging or defamiliarizing techniques and the naturalizing effects inherent to its worldbuilding and characterization? How does defamiliarization relate to the realistic illusions created by speculative fiction?
  • How does estrangement help us to describe metafiction and formal self-reflection in speculative fiction?
  • Are there different scholarly traditions around estrangement in different academic fields (e.g. literary studies, aesthetics, film theory) and in different language areas (e.g. Anglo-American, Russian, German, French)?
  • Arising from Russian formalism and the avant-garde, estrangement has strongly political roots that have to do with the freedom of art within society. How does this political aspect of estrangement fare today?
  • How is defamiliarization used in fantastic genres to question or critique societal issues and/or social identity categories (e.g. gender, sexuality, ethnicity, age, social class)?
  • What can the study of defamiliarizing techniques offer to the posthumanist line of interdisciplinary research and its interest in the relations between humans and nonhumans?
  • What commercial functions does estrangement have, and how do those interact with its aesthetic and ideological functions in speculative fiction?

In addition to these theoretical questions, we call for analyses of the effects of estrangement in specific works of speculative fiction in any medium. Beyond the specific conference theme of defamiliarization, proposals on all other topics to do with speculative fiction are also welcome.

Submission guidelines:

Papers will be allowed a maximum presentation time of 20 minutes, with 10 minutes for discussion. All presentations will be given in English.

  • For an individual paper, please submit

–  a max. 500-word abstract, outlining your argument and the grounding of your scholarly approach

–  a max. 100-word description of your academic affiliation(s) and publications (i.e. a ‘bio note’).

  • For a pre-arranged session of three or four presentations (3×20 minutes or 4×15 minutes), please submit a proposal including

–   a summary paragraph of the central purpose of the session

–   the name of the session chair

–   the individual abstracts of all speakers

–   bio notes of all speakers.

Please note that we will accept only one presentation per scholar, but you can submit both an individual abstract and a full session proposal, if you wish.

All proposals should be sent as e-mail attachments (Word or PDF) to merja.polvinen@worldcon.fi by October 31st, 2016.

We hope to announce the selections to the programme by 30th November, 2016. All selected speakers will be responsible for their own travel and accommodation. There is no separate conference fee, but all speakers in the Academic Track must join Worldcon 75 as attending members. For more information on purchasing memberships, please see the convention website at http://www.worldcon.fi/memberships/.

About the event:

Worldcon, or the World Science Fiction Convention is the annual convention of the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS). The first Worldcon was held in 1939 and, after a hiatus during WWII, has been held continuously since 1946. The convention brings together thousands of science fiction and fantasy aficionados from all around the world, and the programming includes five multi-track days of panel discussions, presentations, workshops and art exhibitions, as well as the annual Hugo Awards ceremony. For more information on Worldcon75 and on the venue in Helsinki, please see http://www.worldcon.fi/.

The Academic Track is organised by Worldcon 75 in cooperation with FINFAR, The Finnish Society for Science Fiction and Fantasy Research. For more information on submissions, or any other aspect of the Academic Track, please contact merja.polvinen@worldcon.fi.

Looking forward to welcoming you to Helsinki!

Dr Merja Polvinen

Chair of the Academic Track committee
Department of Modern Languages, University of Helsinki
https://tuhat.halvi.helsinki.fi/portal/en/person/mpolvine

in cooperation with

FINFAR, The Finnish Society for Science Fiction and Fantasy Research, http://finfar.org/en/

Fafnir 4/2016 CFP

(Please spread the word) Call for Papers:

FAFNIR 4/2016: SPECULATIVE FICTION IN COMICS AND GRAPHIC NOVELS

Fafnir – Nordic Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy Research invites authors to submit papers for the upcoming edition 4/2016. Theme for the edition is “Speculative Fiction in Comics and Graphic Novels”. We invite papers that focus on speculative fiction in, for example, genres of comics, graphic novels and graphic narratives, cartoons, animations, anime or manga.

Fafnir – Nordic Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy Research is a peer-reviewed academic journal which is published in electronic format four times a year. Fafnir is published by FINFAR Society (The Finnish Society for Science Fiction and Fantasy Research) from 2013 onwards.Fafnir publishes various texts ranging from peer-reviewed research articles to short overviews and book reviews in the field of science fiction and fantasy research.

The submissions for the edition 4/2016 must be original work, and written in English, Finnish or in Scandinavian languages. Manuscripts of research articles should be between 20,000 and 40,000 characters in length. The journal uses the most recent edition of the MLA Style Manual. The manuscripts of research articles will be peer-reviewed.

Please note that as Fafnir is designed to be of interest to readers with varying backgrounds, essays and other texts should beas accessibly written as possible. Also, if you are writing in English, and English is not your first language, please have your article reviewed or edited by an English language editor.

In addition to research articles, Fafnir constantly welcomes text proposals such as essays, interviews, overviews and book reviews on any subject suited for the journal.

The deadline for research articles is August 15, 2016and for other submissions November 15, 2016.

Please send your electronic submission (saved as RTF-file) to the following address: submissions(at)finfar.org. For further information, please contact the editors: jyrki.korpua(at)oulu.fi, hanna.roine(at)uta.fi and aino-kaisa.koistinen(at)jyu.fi.

More detailed information about Fafnir and the submission guidelines is available at our webpage journal.finfar.org.

This edition is scheduled for December 2016.

Best regards,
Aino-Kaisa Koistinen, Jyrki Korpua and Hanna-Riikka Roine
Editors, Fafnir – Nordic Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy Research

CFP: Finncon 2016 Academic Track

Call for Papers for the Academic Track at FINNCON 2016

Fantastic Visions from Faerie to Dystopia

July 1–3, 2016, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland

Finncon 2016 is one of the largest events in Europe for anyone interested in science fiction and fantasy. By tradition, it is free of membership fee, and offers you several programme tracks with presentations, panels and lectures on all aspects of science fiction and fantasy. The main language will be Finnish, but there are programme tracks also in English and Swedish. For more information, see http://2016.finncon.org/en/what-is-finncon/.

Finncon 2016 includes an academic track, organised in cooperation with the University of Tampere research project Darkening visions: dystopian fiction in contemporary Finnish literature and the Finnish Society for Science Fiction and Fantasy Research (FINFAR, http://finfar.org/en).

The Finncon 2016 Academic Track aims to bring together a wide range of scholarly perspectives on the speculative and the fantastic. We hope for a broad, interdisciplinary discussion on the many ways in which genres such as fantasy, science fiction and horror take their readers, users, and consumers to strange speculative worlds, from modern dystopias to classic fairylands.

The Academic Track now invites presentations on fairy tales and dystopia. The general theme of Finncon 2016 is fairy tales, and accordingly the Author Guests of Honour are Catherynne M. Valente (USA), Jasper Fforde (UK) and Anne Leinonen (Finland). Fairy tales are a part of the shared human cultural heritage, and each culture has fairy tales of its own. Although fairy tales are often seen as children’s culture, fairy tale tropes and motifs may also belong to a galaxy far, far away, as they have become material for popular culture in many forms.

We also wish to emphasise the fiction of dystopia. One of the most noticeable trends in speculative fiction has been the rise of dystopian themes and visions that expand from undesirable, oppressive societies to apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic scenarios of the future of the mankind and life on earth more generally. What is the attraction of these dark imaginations that also penetrate young adult fiction?

The Guest Scholar will be Raffaella Baccolini (University of Bologna), who will give a plenary lecture and comment on papers.

Proposals for scholarly papers from any academic discipline that seek to examine, interrogate, and expand research related to any aspect of fairy tales or dystopia, for any age group, in any medium are welcome. Papers will be allowed a maximum presentation time of 20 minutes.

Please submit a 500-word proposal describing the content of your proposed paper, and a few words about yourself and your research to either Saija Isomaa (saija.isomaa@uta.fi) or Jyrki Korpua (jyrki.korpua@gmail.com).

The deadline for the proposals is February 29, 2016.

Tampere is easy to get to either directly by air or by train (or car) from Helsinki. The convention location is the University of Tampere which is downtown, near the train station and a short way from several hotels, shops and markets.

If you have any questions about the Finncon 2016 or the Academic Track, please contact Liisa Rantalaiho (liisa.rantalaiho@uta.fi).

CFP: Farnir 3/2015 (Nordic Issue)

Please spread the word:

CALL FOR PAPERS: Fafnir 3/2015 (Nordic issue)

Fafnir – Nordic Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy Research invites you to submit a paper for the upcoming edition 3/2015!

Fafnir – Nordic Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy Research is a peer-reviewed academic journal which is published in electronic format four times a year. Fafnir is published by The Finnish Society of Science Fiction and Fantasy Researchers (Suomen science fiction- ja fantasiatutkimuksen seura ry).

One of the objectives of Fafnir is to join up the Nordic field of science fiction and fantasy research, and the upcoming issue will be dedicated to the history and present state of science fiction and fantasy research in the Nordic countries.

If you would like to submit your text for Fafnir 3/2015, we ask you to take the following into account:

* The main language of the journal is English, but articles are also published in Finnish or in the Scandinavian languages. Please note that if English is not your first language, you should have your text reviewed or edited by an English language editor before submitting it for Fafnir.

* The submissions must be original work.

* Manuscripts of research articles should be between 20,000 and 40,000 characters in length.

* The journal uses the most recent edition of the MLA Style Manual. More information on submission guidelines can be found here: http://journal.finfar.org/for-authors/submission-guidelines.

* The manuscripts of research articles will be peer-reviewed.

In addition to research articles, Fafnir welcomes text submissions such as essays, interviews, overviews and book reviews on any subject suited for the journal.

The deadline for the submissions is 31 May 2015.

Please send your electronic submission (as an RTF-file) to the following address: submissions(at)finfar.org. For further information, please contact the editors: jyrki.korpua(at)oulu.fi, hanna.roine(at)uta.fi and paivi.vaatanen(at)helsinki.fi. More detailed information on our journal is available at http://journal.finfar.org.

The upcoming edition is scheduled for September 2015.

Best regards,

Jyrki Korpua, Hanna-Riikka Roine and Päivi Väätänen

Editors, Fafnir – Nordic Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy Research

e-mail: submissions(at)finfar.org

http://journal.finfar.org

https://www.facebook.com/groups/fafnirjournal