Ideas for *real* SF writing workshop

gmcmillan at east.pima.edu gmcmillan at east.pima.edu
Sun Nov 5 13:00:10 EST 1995


REQUEST FOR IDEAS:

I am trying to put together a panel for next year's local
Tucson, AZ, science fiction convention.

Tying our science panels together with a follow-up to support
creative activity has been lacking. There is very little to
support young writers who might be more intellectually
challenging than just spinners of Dungeons and Dragons-type
stories.

DO *YOU*HAVE ANY GERM IDEAS FOR SF BASED ON REAL SCIENCE THAT WE
COULD THROW OUT TO A GROUP AND PLAY AROUND WITH? 

Background on the need for such a panel:
----------------------------------------

One of the interesting aspects of the growth of women's participation
in SF and fantasy is that it has been steadily growing in the latter.
The number of women who write stories that take, as their basis,
a scientific, natural, or sociological phenomenon and logically
explore its possibilities has been miniscule compared to the
number of women who have taken up pen and sword to write sword and
sorcery novels. I don't think that it would be over-interpretation
to note that this is probably due to the conditioning that young
girls get in school that steers them away from the sciences.

The large market for space opera and fantasy may reflect the fact that
there is a larger market for relaxation fiction than fiction that
requires close attention and thought as some of the more tightly
plotted hard science SF used to do. [There has always been a
large dose of SF that was neither admirable from the literary
standpoint, nor from the scientific, of course.]

Our convention is niched by the dealers in the huckster room as a
heavily "fantasy" con.  So, little SF--even what there is out there--
shows up at the dealers' tables.

What might help some younger writers to use science in their 
writing is some kind of a workshop during the Con 
where they could experiment with their ideas and beginnings
for stories with a couple of scientists
present along with a couple of writers... We had two panels devoted
to science this time ("Why can't they get the science right?" and
"New frontiers in Astronomy".) But there is no tie-in with writing
when the science panels are held, unlike the mythic and costuming
panels, which just sort of flow over into creative activities. The
science panels seem to sit there, isolated, an obligatory lump,
like wheeling old Aunt Margaret around after church so that she
can nod at folks and they can nod back at her...

Anyone interested in such a cross-cultural workshop: germinating
ideas that could become science-based SF, especially encouraging
young women writers?  If so, I would be interested in hearing
how you could envision some exercises that might act as spark plugs
for this type of writing. I think that if more interest were
shown and more support were given, we might have more activity
on the science fiction front.


Gloria McMillan

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            http://east.pima.edu/ ESSAY COOPERATIVE

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