June 7-8, 2013
|The growth of ACCSFF was
well illustrated in 2013, as the conference that year was the first of the
series to be held over two days. That made it possible to avoid concurrent
sessions and allow everybody to attend all the talks.
ACCSFF '13 began on the evening of June 7 with a wonderful Author Keynote Address by Tanya Huff, who spoke about the myths and realities of women in science fiction and fantasy. Her talk was followed by one session, on Canadian fantasy, featuring talks on Guy Gavriel Kay by Adam Guzkowski, the Northern Gothic by Cat Ashton, and Nalo Hopkinson by Derek Newman-Stille.
The next morning, we began with the Scholar Keynote Address by Robert Runté, a truly remarkable presentation on the history of Canadian SF and his involvement with it. His talk later went on to win an Aurora Award (the Aurora Awards are fan-voted awards in Canadian SF). The first morning session featured papers on some of the backgrounds of Canadian SF, including Michael Matheson's look at the Campbellian monomyth in the fiction of Caitlin Sweet and Allan Weiss's explanation of the sources of Margaret Atwood's controversial distinction between "science fiction" and "speculative fiction." The second session of the day was on Canadian science fiction and included papers on the fiction of David Nickle and Peter Watts--by Michael Johnstone and Clare Wall respectively--and the programs that Judith Merril wrote for the CBC radio program Ideas. The latter paper was an illuminating account by Victoria Lamont and Dianne Newell of Merril's non-fictional speculations.
After lunch, we returned for a session on media expressions: Lisa Macklem on the television program Supernatural, Chester N. Scoville on the Scott Pilgrim comic books, and Laura Wiebe on fantastic music. The next session focused once more on Canadian science fiction, with Dominick Grace discussing the influence of Olaf Stapledon on Phyllis Gotlieb, Galen Fogarty doing a detailed analysis of a short story by James Alan Gardner, and David Milman offering a staggeringly wide-ranging study of William Gibson in the context of philosophy (Kant) and drug literature (de Quincey). The final session dealt with Quebecois SF, as Maude Deschênes Pradet looked at the settings of Esther Rochon's fiction, Amy J. Ransom surveyed the way hockey is portrayed in SF, and Isabelle Fournier discussed French, French-Canadian, and even astronaut Chris Hadfield's takes on David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Once again, the conference could not have been held without the assistance of the staff of the Merril Collection and the contribution of space by Toronto Public Library. Our usual thanks go to Collection Head Lorna Toolis and librarian Annette Mocek. David Cheater once more acted as our refreshments committee. Among those working the registration table were Barbara Kwasniewski, Clare Wall, and Dana Kokurewicz, and Barbara Weiss served again as our official photographer. The English Department of York University and the Friends of the Merril Collection provided their usual generous financial help. Thanks to everyone who contributed their time and money!