Image © Ludi Price CC-BY-NC-SA
FanLIS2023: “Halliday Journals and holodecks: audiences and information in sci-fi fandoms”
Call for Presentations
FanLIS 2023 is a CityLIS symposium to explore the intersection between fandom, fan studies, and library and information science. May 18th 2023, online event. All are welcome to submit, from fans, librarians, infopros, acafen and independent researchers. Email us if you have ideas but aren’t sure if they fit – we’re open to suggestions!
Many ascribe the genesis of modern fandom to the genre of science fiction. While this remains a debatable assertion, fandom and sci-fi have long been intertwined, and its fans have left us with rich seams to explore. As Hellekson (2018) notes, “Fans, fandoms, and the study of fan culture are inextricably bound up with the history of SF” (p. 295). From the early fanzines and cosplayers of the 1930’s, through to the collaborative social media fanfictions and virtual reality metaverses of today, sci-fi fans have always been at the forefront of innovative information engagement, creation, and practice.
In this year’s #FanLIS symposium, we are highlighting the many ways in which sci-fi fans have been at the forefront of fandom as audiences, content creators, and information workers. As science fiction has long been one of the progenitors of cult media fandom, we welcome historical as well as contemporary perspectives on this topic. Sci-fi is of particular interest to LIS as some of the most significant events and/or innovations related to the field have taken place within the fandom. Some of the earliest fan publications were established by science fiction fans, then known as ‘fanags’, ‘fanmags’ or ‘letterzines’, one of the most venerable of these being The Comet, which was first published in 1930. These publications now serve as rich primary resources for fannish discourse around sci-fi franchises, as well as providing particular insight into how fans communicated with one another in a pre-internet age (see, for example, Nowakowska’s history of early Star Wars letterzines).
In more recent history, sci-fi fanfilms have played a large part on the battleground where new legal frameworks on fair use have played out – for instance, the role of the Star Trek fanfilm, Axanar, in determining the boundaries of what is considered fair use and permissible was, for better or for worse, ground-breaking (or law-making) (Schwabach 2021; Lerner 2018).
As speculative fiction, sci-fi also gives us a unique insight into how humans envision the future of information technologies, cultural heritage and memory institutions, and the preservation of human culture. A recent survey by Duxfield and Liew (2022) shows us the myriad ways in which sci-fi novels have imagined the future of information provision to look, from utopic iterations of futuristic worlds, to post-apocalyptic visions of a dead or dying earth. Likewise, Ue (2022) has investigated representations of the archive and the library in both book and movie iterations of Ready Player One.
Not only this, but cultural heritage and memory institutions, such as libraries, galleries, archives and museums, have long shown an interest in sci-fi as a genre and a fandom; and sci-fi publications have become a core component of several fanzine collections (Blake 1998; Covington 1994), giving a valuable window into the creation and circulation of fanworks in a pre-digital era, as well as into how fans interacted and communicated with one another during this time.
We are hoping to receive proposals from people from all stages in their academic career, including students and early career researchers; and also from people of colour and other cultural/non-Western backgrounds. As sci-fi fandom transcends age and culture, we are especially interested in how it manifests in non-Western settings and across generational divides. We also welcome proposals for quick, 20- minute workshops and other non-traditional presentation formats.
Themes can include, but are not limited to, the following:
- The information behaviour and practices of sci-fi fans.
- The information behaviour and practices of fans of certain sci-fi franchises (e.g. Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who, Mass Effect, Quantum Leap, Ghost in the Shell, etc.).
- The history of sci-fi fandoms.
- Sci-fi fanzines and other amateur/small press publications.
- Representations of libraries, archives, museums and galleries in sci-fi worlds or franchises.
- Information technologies in sci-fi worlds or franchises.
- Fan-to-fan communications within sci-fi fandoms.
- Languages and language use in sci-fi.
- Fans as writers and readers of sci-fi and popular science.
- Copyright issues in sci-fi fandom.
- Sci-fi wikis, encyclopaedias, and other compendiums, whether online or offline.
- How fans research science and technology during the process of creating fanworks.
** The deadline for proposals has been extended to 14th January 2023.
Authors of successful proposals will be notified by 31 January 2023. The symposium will provisionally take place online on 18-19 May 2023.
Proceedings will be published in July 2023 by the Proceedings for the Document Academy (open access).
Blake, L. (1998). Fanzines: the first frontier. National Library of Australia News 9(2): 18-21. https://search.informit.org/doi/abs/10.3316/ielapa.990403784
Covington, V. (1994). The Science Fiction Research Collection at Texas A & M University. Popular Culture in Libraries 2(1): 81-87. https://doi.org/10.1300/J117v02n01_06
Duxfield, A., and Liew, C. L. (2022). Libraries in contemporary science fiction novels: uncertain futures or embedded in the fabric of society? Journal of Documentation, ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/JD-05-2022-0097
Hellekson, K. (2018). Fandom and Fan Culture in the Golden Age and Beyond. In: Canavan, G., and Link, E. C., The Cambridge History of Science Fiction, pp. 295-307. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316694374.020
Lerner, S. E. (2018). Fan film on the final frontier: Axanar Productions and the limits of fair use in the digital age. Transformative Works & Cultures 28. http://dx.doi.org/10.3983/twc.2018.1429
Nowakowska, M. (2001). The Incomparable Jundland Wastes. http://fanlore.org/w/images/b/ba/JundlandWastes-rollup_2009-1.pdf
Schwabach, A. (2021). Bringing the News from Ghent to Axanar: Fan Works and Copyright after Deckmyn and Subsequent Developments. Texas Review of Entertainment and Sports Law 22(1): 37-84. https://heinonline.org/HOL/P?h=hein.journals/tresl22&i=47
Ue, T. (2022). Mining the Archive in Ernest Cline’s and Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One [poster]. FSNNA22, October 12-16. Virtual conference.