The Scientific Romance

“Scientific romance” is now commonly used to refer to science fiction of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as in the anthologies Under the Moons of Mars: A History and Anthology of “The Scientific Romance” in the Munsey Magazines, 1912-1920 and Scientific Romance in Britain: 1890-1950. One of the earliest writers to be described in this way was the French astronomer and writer Camille Flammarion, whose Recits de l’infini and La fin du monde have both been described as scientific romances. The term is most widely applied to Jules Verne, and H. G. Wells, whose historical society continues to refer to his work as ‘scientific romances’ today.
Edgar Rice Burroughs’s A Princess of Mars (1912) is also sometimes seen as a major work of scientific romance, and Sam Moskowitz referred to him in 1958 as “the acknowledged master of the scientific romance,” though the scholar E. F. Bleiler views Burroughs as a writer involved in the “new development” of pulp science fiction that arose in the early 20th century. The same year as A Princess of Mars, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle published The Lost World,which is also commonly referred to as a scientific romance.
1902 saw the cinematic release of Georges Méliès’s film Le Voyage dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon); the time period and the fact that it is based partially on works by Verne and Wells has led to its being labelled as a scientific romance as well.

from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_romance

The latest Coode St Podcast, episode 451, has an interesting discussion on the “scientific romance” with John Clute: John Clute and Science Fiction Repeting the Future

Critical Mass Feb 17th: At the Movies

This month’s Crit Mass will be an in person meeting at Kappys!

(You can also join via zoom if you think it’s too soon for public gatherings)
We’re inviting members to pick 5 sf films they’d like to talk about (whether for good or ill is up to them), and to gather at Kappys Tea & Coffee merchants, 22 Compton St Adelaide, from 6:45pm for a 7pm start of the Crit Mass meeting on February 17th. Old or New, Good or Bad, let us know why the film is of interest!
As you might expect, you’ll have to conform to Kappys COVID requirements.
For those who wish to join remotely:
Topic: Crit Mass, Adelaide
Time: Feb 17, 2021 07:00 PM Adelaide, 7:30 Melbourne
Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83772232344?pwd=cDhjVjZNWG5NelhMaEtuWjJaVVdjdz09

Meeting ID: 837 7223 2344
Passcode: CritMass

Crit Mass: Is it time to gather again?

Several members have asked whether it might not be time to meet in person again. If we wished to meet at Kappy’s for the February meeting, they would be willing to host us.

Two questions then, for the members of Critical Mass in Adelaide:
(i) do we want to gather in person in February? or is it too soon?
(ii) who wishes to talk about something this month?

We intend to continue with a zoom component, for those interested who might not be able to meet in person.
Please respond to these questions to either Roman or Adam, so that we might make appropriate action.

Kathleen Jennings on Gothic

Our guest speaker from October has just published an article on tor.com called Six Stories for Fans of Beautiful Australian Gothic:

Like most Gothics, the Australian Gothic has acquired its own distinct aesthetic—most frequently, an abject unpleasantness and atmosphere of sand-scoured horror. Personally, I’d like to blame both Evil Angels (aka A Cry in the Dark) and Gary Crew’s memorably effective Strange Objects (1990) for many of my own nightmares.

It is also, like most Gothics, tangled up with the genre’s own past, and inextricably knotted into colonial and imperial histories as well as the multitude of other mirrored and recurring histories typical of a Gothic plot. And Australia has a bloody history, with terrible things done and still being done. Yet there are also stories which, without shying away from terrors (although not necessarily innately any better at handling the true history than other varieties of Australian Gothic), manage in a variety of fascinating ways to capture a sense of great (even sublime, often terrifying, never false) beauty.

— Kathleen Jennings, “Six Stories for Fans of Beautiful Australian Gothic“, tor.com, Jan 19th

Mass Con Jan 31st

Critical Mass is planning another single day mini convention.
Unlike other years, this one will be online from 12noon til 8pm, Adelaide time on Sunday January 31st.

We’ve organised a reprise of Eugen Bacon’s talk on Afrofuturism, and Adam Jenkins digs deep in history to tell us about A True Story by Lucian of Samosata.

There’s a panel on the New Doctor Who; talks on interesting new SF&F in print and on air; a talk about the Adelaide Uni SF Association, formed fifty years ago in 1971; and an assortment of podcasters to talk about their art. Add a few games, a reading of The Frankenstein Burlesque and time to chat with fellow fans in a virtual bar or two, and it should be an interesting day.

If you are interested in attending, or have an idea for a talk or panel you’d like to see, please contact roman (websmith@internode.on.net), We’re also looking for volunteers to host the zoom and welcome guests (in one hour shifts, training provided).

Login details:

Time: Sunday Jan 31, 2021 12noon Adelaide, 12:30pm Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86013693109?pwd=NEdzZTVMaFlRZlByWmxUZFAxaTNSZz09

Meeting ID: 860 1369 3109
Passcode: MassCon

Draft programme as at wed 27th below: updates posted here.

Time (Adelaide)The FoyerMunden’sCallahan’sSpace barThe PatioThe loungeThe BronzeTaffey’s
12 noonOpening welcome (15mins)       
12:20  New Written SF
Panel
with Kate Treloar, Tony Thomas, Roman Orszanski, ??? (40mins)
     
12:40        
1pm “Afrofuturism, Speculative Fiction, genre boundaries and interfaces”:
Eugen Bacon (30mins)
      
1:20        
1:40   Quiz (movies) (20min)    
2pm  Early days at AUSFA
2021 is the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Adelaide Uni SF Association (AUSFA), we thought it might be interesting to have a panel on the origins of AUSFA.

Alan Sandercock, Jeff Harris, Joy Window??, along with a few fans from later years. 40mins
     
2:20        
2:40   Treasure Hunt (20min)     
3pm From Fan to Pro:John D Berry (30mins)      
3:20        
3:40 A True Tale
Adam tells us about a very old SF story: Widely hailed as the first science fiction story, A True Story, by Lucian of Samosata is a voyage to the edges of the universe and reason. The title is the first clue that this will be a tall tale. 40mins
      
4pm        
4:20   QuizSteampunk tea party/panel 40 mins   
4:40        
5pm  Best new SF on TV
Terry Frost & Roman Orszanski & ??40 mins
     
         
      Charades   
6pm Audio/radio drama
Roman + ?? looks at some of the interesting audio pieces out and about 30mins
      
         
6:40 Jewish SF in Australia
Gillian Polack (30 mins)
     
7pm        
7:30pm  Podcasting
David Grigg [Two Chairs Talking], John Coxon [Octothorpe], Terry Frost [Martian Drive-In/Paleo-Cinema], Christina Lake [This Never Happens] and Roman Orszanski [KRAM-StuFf] talk about how & why they podcast. 40mins
     
         
8pm        
8:20 New Doctor Who Panel:
Chris Pyman, Karen Carlisle ???? 40mins
      
9pm   Frankenstein Burlesque
A reading of the script from 1864 We are looking for volunteers to help with the reading…
    
Draft Program for Mass Con ’21 4:20pm Wed 27th Jan

Crit Mass, Nov 18th: The Mongolian Wizard

Over the past seven years, Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author Michael Swanwick presented a new fiction series at Tor.com, consisting of stand-alone stories all set in the same world—an alternate fin de siècle Europe shot through with magic, mystery, and intrigue.

For this Critical Mass, we’re going to discuss the series to date: please read a few or perhaps all of the stories in the series. They can be found on the Tor.com website, listed in order on this page: Mongolian Wizard

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Zoom details:

Nova Mob, Nov 4th: Ian Mond on the top 11 books of 2020

Guest Speaker & Locus critic Ian Mond on his top 11 books of the 2020 year. Why 11? There’s a tie…

Social distancing arrangements do not allow a full Nova Mob meeting at the Kensington Town Hall, so we will continue with the Zoom video conferencing.

Murray hopes to have the recording of October’s Nova Mob celebration of John Bangsund’s life available early in November.

Congratulations to Bruce Gillespie on his Ditmar win!

*****
You are invited to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Mondiale – the 2020 world of books that are terrific sfnal stuff but probably aren’t marketed that way so log in to find the true quill. [Nova Mob Nov 2020] Ian Mond

Time: Nov 4, 2020 08:00 PM to 09:30PM Melbourne time,
7:30 to 9pm Adelaide time

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4177583193?pwd=VjdPL1BhSTBNclN2YnRsejN3Y1hlUT09

Meeting ID: 417 758 3193
Passcode: nova

Nova Mob Aug 5th: Farah Mendlesohn on Robert Heinlein

Nova Mob’s convenor, Murray, writes:
Our guest is Farah Mendlesohn, who is a simply amazing person: BSFA, Clareson and Hugo-award winning academic, critic, author, editor, essayist, historian, reviewer, disability advocate, con organiser and fan. Farah will be videoconferencing to us from London on Zoom, from what could be described as a door into summer. Her topic is: 

Robert Heinlein: 50 years as the SF genre’s pivot point. 

Farah’s latest book is The Pleasant Profession of Robert A Heinlein. In terms suitable for a festschrift’s blurb Paul Kincaid in the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction describes it as “an ambitious and intensive argument for conceiving of Robert A Heinlein‘s long career as a surprisingly integrated whole; it won a BSFA Award for best nonfiction.”
That award was announced on 17 May 2020, and made Farah the only person to have won the BSFA twice for non-fiction; she will be speaking to us with the award newly perched in the trophy cabinet.
Nova Mob is now celebrating 50 years and a sterling examination of such a central author of the genre as RAH is a great way to do so. Twenty years in, this is the most significant critical work on Robert Heinlein of the millennium thus far.

You are invited to a scheduled Zoom meeting:

Topic: Nova Mob Aug 2020 Farah Mendlesohn 

Time: Aug 5, 2020 08:00 PM Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney (7:30 Adelaide)

Join Zoom Meeting

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4177583193?pwd=VjdPL1BhSTBNclN2YnRsejN3Y1hlUT09

Meeting ID: 417 758 3193

Passcode: nova

Please share this invitation to friends of the Nova Mob.

The Pleasant Profession of Robert A Heinlein is widely available in e-book formats. 
Original crowd-funded publication:
https://unbound.com/books/robert-heinlein/

For Australian currency, booktopia has it for just over $10. 
https://www.booktopia.com.au/search.ep?author=Farah%20Mendlesohn

The accompanying bio says Farah Mendlesohn is “the co-editor of the Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction, and the Cambridge Companion to Fantasy and co-wrote A Short History of Fantasy, all with Edward James. Her other work includes Rhetorics of Fantasy and Diana Wynne Jones and the Children’s Fantastical Tradition. She won the Hugo Award with Edward James in 2005, and is currently working on a book about fiction about the English Civil War.”

Crit Mass, Aug 19th: Kraken good reads

In August Kate Treloar will look at the Kraken – the myth, the reality it’s based on, and key inclusions in literature and popular culture.
Krakens are giant squid sea monsters from the ocean’s depths, capable of destroying ships and hurling hapless sailors to watery deaths. Seemingly based on real creatures, the line between reality, myth and imagination easily blurs, providing a fascinating topic to explore.
Before the Kraken catchup, you may be interested in delving into a selection from this list:
NOVELS

  • Kraken by China Mieville (2010)
  • The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham (1953)

SHORT STORY

“Of such great powers or beings there may be conceivably a survival . . . a survival of a hugely remote period when . . . consciousness was manifested, perhaps, in shapes and forms long since withdrawn before the tide of advancing humanity . . . forms of which poetry and legend alone have caught a flying memory and called them gods, monsters, mythical beings of all sorts and kinds. . . .”
—Algernon Blackwood.

MOVIES

  • Clash of the Titans (1981, 2010)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean – Dead Man’s Chest (2006)

MOVIE SCENE

POETRY
“The Kraken” (1830) – Victorian Web
Below the thunders of the upper deep;
Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
About his shadowy sides: above him swell
Huge sponges of millennial growth and height;
And far away into the sickly light,
From many a wondrous grot and secret cell
Unnumbered and enormous polypi
Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green.
There hath he lain for ages and will lie
Battening upon huge sea-worms in his sleep,
Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
Then once by man and angels to be seen,
In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.
“The Kraken”, Poems, Chiefly Lyrical by Alfred Tennyson

Further suggestions welcome!!