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n No. 72 (June, 1979)
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Science Fiction Research Association newsletter
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c June, 1979
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x History and criticism
History and criticism
Science Fiction Research Association.
t SFRA Review
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o fQA Newsletter Number 72 June 1979 The President's Column Last year, the SFRA commissioned Barry McGhan to survey SFRA "dropouts" in an attempt to learn why these people had left our organization. Although SFRA had experienced more or less constant growth in membership, the turn over rate among members was uncomfortably too high. His results are now in and are reported in detail elsewhere in this Newsletter. The reasons given for leaving SFRA are quite varied, and no single generalization seems possible. Certainly, there is no way we can eliminate all turn over, but it does appear that many past members--perhaps a quarter to a half--might have been retained if the organization had been able to provide more services useful to them. I believe we are moving in that direction. Membership now brings Extrapolation, Science-Fiction Studies, the Newsletter, and an annual catalog of the SFRA Archives (the first edition of which will be out soon). Lahna Diskin and her Teaching Resources Committee is making progress (see her report in this Newsletter); she is calling for contributions for a clearing house on teaching aids and needs those of you who teach science fiction and/or fantasy courses, to send the committee your current course syllabi. Meanwhile, your Executive Committee will be exploring new areas of service, and we welcome--indeed we need--your suggestions. A few years ago, SFRA and the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) jointly undertook the production of an
anthology/text for use in science fiction classes. While older members may remember this, you newer members may not know about it. It is Science Fiction: Contemporary Mythology, edited by Patricia Warrick, Martin Harry Greenberg, and Joseph D. Olander, and is available from Harper & Row in both hardcover and paper. Royalties from its sales are divided between SFRA and SFWA. In last month's column I neglected to give the entire membership of this year's Pilgrim Award Committee. In addition to the Chair, Francis Molson, the other members are Douglas Barbour of the University of Alberta and Neil Barron, editor of Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Review. See you at Lake Tahoe. Joe De Bolt 3191 W. Remus Rd. Mt. Pleasant, MI 48858 New Publications Reference Works Holdstock, Robert, ed. Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. New York: Mayflower, 1978. 224pp., index, $16.95. Eleven essays by sf writers -and critics covering a vlide range of themes and motifs, with additional chapters on visual sf, art and artists", and the New Wave. A compact catalog section, which includes collector's items, cults, magazines, film titles, and awards concludes the volume. Levack, Daniel J. H., and Tim Underwood. Fantasms: A Bibliography of the Literature of Jack Vance. San Francisco: Underwood/Miller, 1978. 9lpp., $10.95/6.95. A complete listing of the English language writings of Jack Vance. Includes his science fiction/fantasy and mystery books and a list of all English language periodical, anthology, and collection appearances of Vance's work through early 1978. (Underwood/Miller, 239 North 4th St., Columbia, PA 17512)
EDITED TEXTS 3 Rabkin, Eric, ed. Fantastic Worlds: Myths, Tales, and Stories. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979. 478pp., index, $15.95/5.95. A comprehensive collection of fifty-one selections which survey the full range of the fantastic narrative: myth, folktale, fairy tale, fantasy, horror fiction, ghost stories, heroic fantasy, science fiction, and modern fantasy. Introductory essays provide a forum for the discussion of individual works against a backdrop of illuminating historical and critical commentary. Contains a useful annotated bibliography of primary and secondary sources. Recommended as a text in high school, community college, and university classes in fantasy literature. JOURNALS The Romanticist. Ed. John C. Moran and Don Herron. F. MariQu __ Crawford Memorial Society, 3610 Meadowbrook, Nashville, TN 37305. The intent of this new publication is to provide a forum for the study of the Romanticists "who stressed the Ideal and the Imaginative--mainly authors and artists who are critically neglected or ignored today." Many of the Romanticists who will be studied made their reputations in the realm of fantasy--Clarke Ashton Smith, Arthur Machen, Robert E. Howard, E. Warner Munn, H. P. Lovecraft, Robert W. Chambers, M. P. Shiel, to name a few. The Romanticist will publish critical and biographical essays along with bibliographical researches. Issue number one (1977) is still available.
4 Instructional Aids Lectures on specific SF authors and their works, presented by John Hollow of Ohio University at $9.95 each, from Cassette Curriculum, Everett Edwards Inc., P. O. Box 1060, Deland, Florida 32720. (1305) Asimov, Isaac. I Robot and The Foundation Trilogy. (1306) Bradbury, Ray. The Martian Chronicles and The Illustrated Man. ) h Ed Rl'ce Prl'ncess, Gods, and (1304 Burroug s, gar. --Warlord of Mars. (1301) Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. (1303) Verne, Jules. Journey to the Center of the Earth, From the Earth to the Moon, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. (1302) Wells, H. G. The Time Machine, War of the Worlds. Notes & Queries Call for contributors. People and Machines in Science Fiction. Volume Editors: Thomas P. Dunn and Richard D. Erlich. Arrangements are now being made to publish a volume of critical essays on the interface between man and machine in science fiction. We are tentatively recruiting essays on such subjects as computer tyrannies, hive environments, bionics, cybernetics, brain-recording, and the like. In addition, we are interested in essays about the novel of mechanization as motif in film, music and the plastic arts. This volume will be a fine book published by Greenwood Press as part of a series of critical works entitled Contributions to the Study of Science Fiction and Fantasy. General Editor: Marshall Tynm.
5 If you are interested in contributing to the volume or learning more about it, write: Thomas P. Dunn Richard D. Erlich Miami University-Hamilton Hamilton, Ohio 45011 Miami University-Oxford Oxford, Ohio 45056 Request for teaching aids. To the SFRA: I came across your organization recently in research I am doing on future study. For several years I have been interested in general systems theory and, along with my work with giften middle school age children, I am developing a K-12 program relating systems theory to the gifted child. The course outline deals specifically with future study and science fiction study is the main ingredient in the program. My purpose in writing to you is to solicit help in broadening my understanding of the field, in working with giften students to understand the genre and extrapolate into their own future, and in working with groups of teachers. I currently teach two courses in future studies, give workshops to teachers in future studies and will ultimately go on to deeper personal research in the field. If your organization can relate to any of the ideas I have expressed, I would sincerely appreciate a response to my letter. Sincerely, John F. Powers The Fox Lane Middle School Bedford Public Schools Bedford, NY 10506
6 Announcements and Special Reports SFRA Business TEACHING RESOURCES COMMITTEE. Edwin Casebeer is working on a running bibliography/summary of major developments in periodicals. He anticipates completion of an annotated bibliography of IF by July. I am beginning to gather materials for college courses. Meanwhile, the Teaching Resources Committee needs your help. We want to build a clearing house of SF course syllabi and other materials to help our members and "outsiders" who perhaps because of our services might be persuaded to join SFRA. We must start our resources collection from the inside which means with you. If each member sends his/her best and/or most current SF course syllabus, we will be off to a substantial start. Besides objectives and readings, be sure to include strategies for teaching and activities. PLEASE RESPOND BEFORE SEPTEMBER. Send college/university materials to: Lahna Diskin 43 Glen Drive Yardley, PA 19067 Jacqueline Viggiano 115 Sedgwick Road Syracuse, NY 13203 Send high school materials to: Beverly Friend 3415 West Pratt Lincolnwood, IL 60645 Send fantasy materials to: Roger Schlobin 802 N. Calumet Chesterton, IN 46304 Barry McGhan 3404 Sherwood Flint, MI 48503 --Lahna Diskin AUDIO RECORDS COMMITTEE. The Audio Records Commitee has completed its arrangements for the 1979 Conference. We plan to do extensive recording there, including interviews with most of the attending authors. A full report of our activities will be presented at the business
meeting this June, and will appear in the July/August 7 Newsletter. Nolan Shaw, Chairperson COMMITTEE ON CONFERENCE The Committee on Conference Guidelines was appointed by then-President Arthur O. Lewis in August 1978 and charged to "attempt to develop guidelines which will be acceptable to the Association as a whole." Two recommendations and a summary of the reasoning by which the committee arrived as those recommendations were submitted to President Joe De Bolt as the end of March 1979. [Note: Because the Committee's recommendations will be an important part of the SFRA business meeting at Lake Tahoe, I am printing their report to President De Bolt in full. -The Editor] "Concerning Guidelines for SFRA Conferences" From a letter by Arthur O. Lewis, then-President of the Science Fiction Research Association: At the business meeting of the Science Fiction Research Association held on 16 June 1978 proposed guidelines for conferences were presented by Darko Suvin, Vice President, and Chairman of an Ad Hoc Committee appointed for this purpose last year. After a great deal of discussion, the meeting passed a motion rejecting the guidelines as presented and directing me to appoint a new committee. (dated 2 August 1978) The members of the second Committee on Conference Guidelines are Merritt Abrash, Peter S. Alterman, Muriel Becker, Betzy P. Harfst, and Michael W. McClintock (Chairman). Our charge was to "attempt to develop guidelines which will be acceptable to the Association as a whole." The primary recommendation of this committee is that the SFRA not attempt to institute a set of guidelines along the lines of the rejected proposal or any other guidelines that would predetermine the local organization or financial procedures of the conferences, or supervise by means of some (wholly or partly) national committee the specific content of conference sessions.
SOur secondary recommendation is that the SFRA, for each conference, enter into a contractual agreement with the host institution. Some clauses of such contracts should be standard from year to year; others may be negotiated to suit particular circumstances. The basic contract form should be developed by the SFRA Executive Committee working with appropriate legal counsel. Here is a summary of the reasoning by which the committee arrived at these recommendations: The central objection to the rejected guidelines was that they gave, or appeared to give, to the national organization control over the expenditure of money that the sponsoring institution provided or procured as well as similar control over aspects of conference arrangements that could bear upon finances. The pertinent sections of the rejected guidelines in respect of these matters were I. 1, 3, 4, 5; II. 1, 3; III. 2, 4. The crucial fact is that the SFRA provides little or no financial support for its own conferences. Nor does the SFRA contract with hotels, caterers, or paid participants. (In the future, however, apparently the SFRA rather than the host insti-tution will provide for the travel and living expenses of the Pilgrim Award winner.) Yet problems that led to the appointment of the first committee on guidelines remain matters of concern which should be addressed. The contractual agreement we recommend should serve four main ends: It should protect the SFRA from any financial, civil, or ciminal liability deriving from the conference; it should protect the name and reputation of the SFRA (by, for instance, providing for the withdrawal of SFRA sponsorship under certain ditions of host misconduct, such as failure or refusal to keep the conference primarily scholarly and non-profit in nature); it should protect Association members from having to pay for any non-scholarly events (social events, for instance, should be separately billed and optional); it should insure both that the conference registration fee is determined solely by the actual (or best estimate) costs of the scholarly proceedings and that any profits from ancillary events be used to support the scholarly proceedings. Other matters, such as dates, publication of proceedings, relations with honored guests or paid
9 performers, should be negotiated on a case-by-case (All such negotiations, of course, should be either in writing originally or be confirmed immediately by letters or memoranda of agreement.) The preceding concerns have to do with organizational and financial integrity or prudence. Scholarly integrity is a different sort of concern, and most germane to the purposes of the SFRA; yet even in this case the control which the SFRA can or should exercise is limited. Section II. I of the rejected guidelines proposed that a Program Selection Committee, with a minority of members from the host institution, "set up, approve and reject each and every part of any proposed contribution to the conference program." But any sort of national screening committee would, at best, be unwieldy. The Postal Service being what it is, would-be participants would have to submit multiple copies of papers or panel description/justifications to ensure timely review; even then, discussions among the members of the Program Selection Committee would often be tediously drawn-out and chancy. Furthermore, a national program committee with power to determine specific program content might become a kind of editorial board, certainly appropriate for a periodical, but not for a convention, which should be as open to the testing of new ideas and approaches, trial runs, the working out of ideas in direct conversation, argument, and criticism, as to the presentation of finished work. A magazine should have a personality; a convention should be a meeting of personalities. Even the elaborate MLA "Procedures and Policies" for that organization's annual convention, with its scores of Divisions, Discussion Groups, Special Sessions, and Forums don't insist that representatives of the national organization review every paper or the credentials (except for MLA membership) of each participant. Quality control is finally the responsibility of the entire scholarly peer group. This is not to suggest that shoddy work be tolerated or immature work be welcomed, only that it is better for our conventions to err, if at all, on the side of inclusiveness. The example of the MLA (despite the greater size and complexity of that association's annual gathering)
IU may be helpful. The SFRA has nothing corresponding LO the MLA Divisions or Discussion Groups, but most of the scholarly proceedings of our conventions resempble the MLA Special Sessions, and certain events (e.g., "An Hour with or featured speeches or large panels) seem analogous to the MLA Forums. For Special Sessions, the HLA "Procedures" state that "the Program Committee reviews all valid proposals and approves the Special Sessions for that year's Convention. The Committee attempts to approve sessions on a wide range of subjects and approaches . A proposal for a Special Session should include : (1) the title of the session, (2) a precise description of the topic, (3) the names of the discussion leader and the panelists who will partici pate" For Forums, "large public meetings on topics of broad general interest," the "Procedures" specify that "the MLA Executive Director, with the assistance of the Program Committee, is responsible for approving Forums for each year's Convention .... Formal proposals should describe in detail the topic and nature of the proposed Forum, including bibliographical information on its participants, and explain the number and purpose of related workshops." Adapting these procedures to the circumstances of the SFRA, the Committee on Conference Guidelines suggests that the Executive Committee act ex oficio as a program committee for each conference, chiefly to review the program as submitted by the host institution. We suggest that it be the responsibility (as it generally is now) of the host institution to compile and organize the program, but that a copy of the proposed official printed Program, listing session topics and participants, be provided the Executive Committee in time to allow it to be printed in the Newsletter for the month preceding the month of the conference. We suggest that it not be considered a responsibility of the Executive Committee to read papers in advance of delivery and that, in general, the Executive Committee call for program reVlSlons only in cases when the program conflicts with the terms of the contractual agreement. Michael w. McClintock, Chairman
.M'l"ALYSIS OF RESPONSES TO A SURVEY OF SFRA "DROPOUTS" -MARCH 31, 1979 by Barry McGhan Respondent Categories College teachers (C) ---17 Secondary teachers (S) 5 Librarians (L) 3 SF fans (F) 2 SF writers (W) ----1 Others*(O) ------9 II Total 37 responses out of 145 dropouts contacted *engineer, editor, retired, unemployed, etc. How did you hear about SFRA? The figures in the total column indicate that the four means of learning about SFRA are about equally frequent .. 1. colleague/personal contact 2. conferences or convention 3. publications 4. publicity C S L F W 0 Total 4 0 100 2 7 210 0 126 2 1 1 201 7 510 0 006 5. don't remember/no response 4 2 1 0 0 4 11 Why did you join? Professional reasons (e.g. contact with others with similar interests; teaching an SF course) account for about 50% of the responses. C S L F W 0 Total l. to contact others with similar interests 5 0 1 2 0 3 11 2. because I was teaching an SF course 4 3 0 0 0 1 8 3. mild interest/curiosity 3 1 0 0 0 3 7 4. to get publications 1 0 1 0 0 0 2 5. other 5 1 1 0 1 2 10
2 How long were you an SFRA member? Two-thirds of the respondents were members for 2 years or less. 1. one year 2. two years 3. three years 4. four years 5. five years 6. six or more years 7. no response C S L 221 9 3 0 000 200 100 100 o 0 2 F W 0 202 o 1 2 003 000 000 001 000 Total 9 15 3 2 1 2 2 What kind of SFRA-re1ated activites did you pursue while you were a member? Most former members indicated that they had taught SF courses, with research and attendance at conferences rated about equally important after teaching .. 1. research 2. published articles, books, papers 3. attended conferences, workshops 4. taught SF courses 5. other Why did you drop out of SFRA? C S L F W 0 Total 13 1 1 0 0 4 19 8 1 100 2 12 10 2 1 0 1 3 17 15 5 1 0 0 6 27 30020 2 7 Eighteen respondents identified cost as a factor in dropping out. "Other" reasons for dropping out were about equally divided between complaints about the organization and changes in personal circumstances. Organizational complaints included several about the mechanics of membership renewal. Ideological differences were also cited: one college teacher felt an SFRA meeting was too high school oriented; one high school teacher felt the meetings were oriented too much to college literature interests. 1. useful but too expensive 2. too expensive for value 3. Not useful. I needed information on C S L 5 2 0 5 2 1 4 1 0 F W 0 Total 1 0 1 9 001 9 001 6
13 4. lost interest 3 0 0 1 0 3 7 5. changed jobs and no longer needed SF connection 0 1 0 0 0 3 4 6. other 5 2 2 2 0 4 15 if anything! could SFRA have done that would have Erevented lOU from droEEing out? About 60% indicated either that the organization was not at fault or failed to identify any fault. Several indicated an interest in re-affiliation. C S L F W 0 Total 1-nothing/no response 8 3 1 1 0 7 20 2. lower cost 1 1 0 0 0 0 2 3. better membership followup 1 1 0 0 0 0 2 4. better newsletter 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 5. other 4 0 2 1 1 0 8 "Other" remarks: 1. Diversify focus of SFRA. 2. Provide better communications and emphasize teaching. 3. Establish an active link with fandom. 4. Give extended memberships to mid-YRar joiners. 5. Become less esoteric, less academic, less bibliographical. 6. Become more rigorous in the selection of conference program components. 7. Become less disorganized. 8. Become more engaged with the content of SF. Conclusions While the evidence, based on this survey, is not especially strong, there are some ideas suggested by the results. First, SFRA should consider periodic mailings to former members urging re-affiliation. Second, SFRA should consider expanding the classes of membership (along the lines of the American Educational Research Association, for example) in the organization to ease the financial strain for those who have become unemployed and for those who do not have a professional interest in teaching or research. Third, SFRA should encourage a diversification of interests within itself, and that diversification should be reflected in its conference offerings and publications.
14 SFRA dues are now being accepted for 1980. Enclosed in this issue of the Newsletter is a membership form for your convenience. I realize that some of you have just paid your 1979 dues and may feel that SFRA is really dunning you for money--well, we are, but there is a good reason for it! In the past, dues have been paid primarily from January through March. Because of our obligations to Science Fiction Studies and Extrapolation, we need to shift the paying months so that we can provide the journals with accurate membership lists and payment by January. Since November and December are normally expensive holiday months, it seemed to the officers that a summer payment plan would be ideal for both the members and the journals to whom we are obligated. If we can make this shift successfully, 1979 will be the only calendar year in which you will be hearing from the treasurer more frequently than usual about the dues. Not only will this plan aid the journals (who are giving SFRA members a 33 1/3 discount), but it will create the fewest possible problems in continuing members' subscriptions to the journals and the Newsletter. If you have any questions, suggestions, or complaints, please write me. If not, send me your dues! --Elizabeth Cogell Humanities Department University of Missouri--Rolla Rolla, Missouri 65401 Tel. (314) 364-6749
Preliminary notice of the 1980 SFRA Conference. The 1980 annual meeting of the SFRA will be held June 20-22 (Friday to Sunday} at Wagner College, 631 Howard Avenue, Staten Island, NY 10301. The host-contact is Thomas Hamilton, director of the Wagner College Planetarium. 15 Members are invited to begin thinking about papers they may wish to present. Those submitting 200-300 word abstracts of proposed papers should also indicate if they are willing to permit their papers to be recorded for possible broadcast over a local radio station. Housing will be on the campus, which overlooks New York Harbor. Rooms will be available in singles or doubles from Thursday night, with single prices imately (next year is a long way off, and who can guarantee inflation) $12, doubles $10 each per night. Meals can be taken on campus or at local restaurants. SFRA Newsletter No. 72 June 1979 The SFRA Newsletter is published ten times a year by the Science Fiction Research Association. Editorial correspondence to Roald Tweet, 3900 8th Avenue, Rock Island, II 61201. Editor: Roald Tweet Contributing Editors: New Pub.lications: Marshall Tymn, 721 Cornell, Ypsilanti, MI 48197 Instructional Ai_ds: Beverly Friend, 3415 West Pratt, Lincolnwood, IL 60645 Editorial Assistant: Susan Dorbeck
SFRA Newsletter #72 Roald Tweet Augustana College Rock Island, IL 61201 FIRST CLASS