SF Masterclass Report #1

Thanks to the benificent bonhomie of a person who shall remain nemless for the time being, I’m rinsing the University of Liverpool wireless broadband from the room in which the course sessions are being held, so I thought I’d drop a quick note onto VCTB. Then I checked my email inboxes … that was about half an hour ago. Lots of spam accumulates over the course of 24 hours.

But that’s all cleared out now, so I can let you know that this morning we had the first quarter of Andrew Butler’s lecture on ‘The Uncanny in Science Fiction’, which largely concerned with introducing and explaining the terms ‘cognition’ and ‘estrangement’, by way of Brecht and Freud channeled through Darko Suvin. Good stuff, with more to come. I’m very much relieved that it doesn’t apear to be flying way over my head.

I’ve managed to pick up a lot of what literary criticism is actually *for* from the same gentleman who has provided me with this tenuous link to the digital world. Which may sound silly, but remember I have no academic background in literature whatsoever, and everything I know has been reverse engineered. I’ve been kind of like an archaeologist rebuilding a steam engine, but not having the knowledge that the engine is supposed to connect to another piece of machinery to power it and make it do useful things. This is good to learn.

I’ve also had a little tour (tour-ette?) of the SF Foundation’s collection, held here at the University Library. For someone who likes and is familiar with archives, it was quite impressive – though to a lot of people it would just look like a whole load of books and boxes on sliding shelves. Hidden gems! Unfortunately, one cannot simply browse the shelves; one has to use the catalogue, which takes some of the fun out of the whole affair. Meh. I have too much to read as it is!

Well, at four o’clock we’ll be listening to Brian Stableford talking about the aesthetics of sf, so in the meantime I think I’ll have a cigarette and take a peek at the RSS coalface while my battery lasts. Later on there will be food and, extrapolating from last night, quite possibly alcohol too …

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