Seattle Rocks

Day Three

Today was focused around the ‘Seattle Centre’. This is the park area around the iconic Space Needle (relic of the 1962 Worlds fair and something that always reminds me of ‘Men in Black’). We spent the morning in the somewhat confused and disorientating Science Park. Although the content was okay the layout was appaling. Exhibits didn’t seem to flow well into each other and at times they were all jumbled up with no obvious pattern or progression!
The afternoon marked the beginning of the 26th Eaton Conference with initial registration and a meet and greet. There strode Greg Bear resplendent in a bright yellow shirt, over there was Greg Benford talking seriously about SF and airports. Ricocheting herself through it all was Leslie of the SFM busy organising people. She introduced us to Ria Cheyne of UCL who was giving a paper on SF and Alien Linguistics, Ria Scottish by birth and on staff at UCL was spending a year completing her doctorate under George Slusser here in the States.
The opening talk was by David G Hartwell who is not only SF’s most prolific anthologist, but also senior editor at Tor books (he was P K Dicks Editor) and produces the ‘Years Best SF’ series. His fascinating keynote talk dealt with the 10 most recent controversies in SF (The New Wierd Aesthetic was there as was the even newer ‘Mundane Manifesto’!). This really set the tone for the rest of the conference and made you feel that you were on the cutting edge of SF criticism and research.
David’s talk was followed by a personally guided tour of the SFM and OH MY GOD it was like being on cloud nine, I tell you. Words cannot express the depth of fanboy geekiness to which Naomi and Neil descended. So many original artifacts, so many iconic images. The hour which we had was not enough! And so to bed and dream … of Gort flying the millenium falcon through Abbotts ‘Flatland’ closely pursued by Gigers Alien Queen.

Day Four

The conference started this morning proper with the papers being presented. Ria’s paper on Alien Linguistics set out some interesting points particularly for those intersted in Astro/Xeno biology. Papers on SF and Brane Theory provided challenges and there was a very interesting discussion of the Frankenstein Paradigm. Each session finished with a panel discussion.
After lunch the pm session had as its theme fanzines and the ‘Golden Age of SF’ (not 13 as Arthur C Clarke would have it). In particular Rob Latham (who we had met at the SFF Conference in Liverpool last year) gave an excellent paper discussing Gernsback’s influence. George Slusser the curator of the Eaton Collection talked about the archiving and cataloguing problems with fanzines.
The evening featured the SFM’s 2005 inductions into their Hall of Fame. For the first time non literary figures were inducted. This years roll call was Chelsey Bonesteller (SF Artist), Ray Harryhausen (SF Animator), Philip K Dick (Author) and Steven Spielberg (Director).
At the awards dinner Naomi and Neil were sandwiched between SF fans and the SFM’s director of special projects. Our MC was Robert Picardo who was witty and very bald! The highlights were Speilberg accepting via Videolink but in particular PKD’s daughters accepting the award and taling about their father at length (this is the first time in 15 years that they have appeared in public talking about him!). After the meal we had the opportunity to tour the museum once again, to spend lots of money in the gift shop and mingle and mix with the great and the good. Tomorrow we both give our papers … gulp.



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