If you have any ideas for panels or Deep Dive sessions that you would like to see run at Continuum 15, please fill out this google form.
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Panels Under Consideration
Fantastic Tongues and How to Write Them
Language in SF: how it represents a culture and contributes to worldbuilding, from Tolkien to Daniel Findlay’s Year of the Orphan, via 1984 and Story of Your Life/Arrival.
Filing the Serial Numbers Off
Turning fan fiction into pro fiction without turning into E. L. James.
The Handmaid’s Sisters
Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale has re-entered the zeitgeist, with the TV adaptation/expansion and the publication of novels with similar themes, including The Red Clocks and Future Home of the Living God.
Lyrical and Poetic
What’s the difference between purple prose and lyrical prose? Is it a matter of degree? Good examples? Is there any decent poetry out there in SFF writings? What about classical examples of epic poetry — La Morte D’Arthur, Dante’s Inferno, Homer?
The Magic of Cats
From ancient Egypt to witches’ familiars to Catwoman, felines have always had a significant place in our mythology. It’s not a question of if cats are magic, it’s just how powerful they are. Although the venue will not allow pets, cat pictures are welcome.
Universal studios bought some of the most iconic literary monsters to the big screen in the 30s and 40s, monsters we return to again and again. What is it that fascinates us about them, and what resonates with every new generation that discovers them?
The Enlightenment Model of Magic
Discussing the emergence of new terminology in fantasy fiction separating “hard” and “soft” magic, the links some works try to make between magic and rational scientific analysis, and how the concept intersects with real world ideas about “hard” and “soft” sciences.
What’s out there, what’s good? What do we like about it? Authors to follow?
External Reputation of Spec-fic
In the age of Game of Thrones and geek chic, is there still a hard line between SF fans and the rest of the world? Is there any line at all? Literary (e.g. “magic realism”) vs genre spec fiction. The Big Bang Theory and looking down on geeks.
Internally Created Hierarchies
Before we celebrate the “open-mindedness” of speculative fiction, we might want to take a long, hard look at some of the hierarchies that crop up within the fandom. Male-created fiction > female/non-binary fic? Hard sci-fi > soft? Fan fiction < “original” fiction? Everyone > furries? Where do these ideas come from, and how do we break free from them?
Fictional Librarians and Archivists
How did Giles even get a job as a teacher librarian? What’s the best practice for information management in the Star Wars Universe?
True Crime and Horror
Do we consume true crime for the same reason people consume horror? Is female-led true crime bringing more empathy to the genre?
Let’s Taco about Food
The importance of food in worldbuilding and culturebuilding.
Polyamory in Speculative Fiction
In universes filled with alien races and fantasy cultures, why is everyone still looking for “the one”? Let’s talk about the limitations of assumed monogamy, the myths around “true love”, and the best spec fic examples of polyamory and alternative relationships.
Speculative Elements in Women’s Fiction
Barbara Erskine writes ghost stories, and Diana Gabaldon writes time travel, but you won’t find either of them in the Fantasy shelves. And a lot of their readers wouldn’t think of themselves as genre fans. Let’s talk about these and similar works, and how this situation came to be.
What if it sucks?
Whether it’s sending your first draft to beta readers, submitting to anthologies or writing that sequel – how to push past the fear of putting work out into the world.
The Expanse, Altered Carbon, The 100, Total Recall, The Fifth Element… Why are so many TV shows and movies convinced that moving out into space is only going to make things worse?
The last few Continuums have featured panels on the basics of diversity in speculative fiction – gender diversity, diverse sexualities, representations of disability, etc: what’s out there, what works and what doesn’t, and what we’d like to see more of. This year we want to take the discussion to the next level. If you identify as belonging to one or more marginalised groups and you have an idea for a panel topic that goes beyond the 101, we want to hear from you!
Fae courts and space communes, magical crimes and alien dictators. How do you build a legal system for a society that work very differently to ours? What are some examples that work well, and what are some examples that really don’t?
Mothers in SFF
There are so many absent mothers in SFF, but what about the ones who are present on the screen and the page? How do we represent the additional challenges of motherhood in our SFF stories and challenge the tropes that have kept mothers absent from our media for so long.
The edge of the frame
Maps people will never see. Cities characters will never visit. Histories and economies and family trees that are only tangentially important. Building worlds that go beyond the visible.
Standalone or series?
Do standalones sell? How do you structure a trilogy to avoid second book slump? Is it possible to keep a long running series fresh and interesting?
The Doctor Is In
2018 brought us a new Doctor Who — new showrunner, new companions, new Doctor. What do we think of the new NuWho?
First Contact Ethics
According to Ambelin Kwaymullina, indigenous SF authors don’t write about aliens taking over our world, because to them that’s not science-fiction. First contact stories – whether we’re discovering the aliens or they’re discovering us – are a staple of science fiction. How can we approach them in ways that challenge, rather than reinforce, colonial narratives?
Social Media Etiquette
Explore the Dos and Don’ts of connecting with your audience as an author or other creative.
What Makes a Hero?
What makes someone a hero, not just a protagonist? Why do some people argue that Snape was the real hero of Harry Potter?
A discussion of podcasts and other formats of audio, rather that written, storytelling.
Discussing economies and infrastructure worldbuilding in SFF. How do you feed a populace? What about urban planning and waste? What about drought and agricultural production? What can fantasy do with these topics?
Online communities: supportive spaces versus echo chambers
The internet has brought people with shared interests together like never before. Whoever you are, you can find people like you online, whether you’re bonding over a shared love of obscure anime or the belief that the Earth is flat – or that women are the enemy. What can we do to emphasise the positives of online communities, and to mitigate the negatives?
“Modern” Fantasy Settings
A discussion of secondary worlds that correspond to 19th/20th Century real-world settings rather than the medieval (e.g. Amberlough, the Divine Cities, the Craft Sequence).
Roll of the Dice
Roleplaying games seem to increase in popularity every year and more and more media is produced off the back of our love of them. Podcasts, videos, novelisations and more. What attracts us to these worlds and this way of gaming and how much bigger will this industry grow?
Animals in SFF
From creating new animals from the bones up to renaming the ones we already have, a look at all things animals in SFF. Porgs, tribbles, thestrals, dragons and so much more. Discussion of the ethics of Fantastic Beasts and how to avoid cultural appropriation of mythical creatures from other cultures most welcome.
Themes of hunger and greed in speculative fiction. Does cannibalism = capitalism? What are zombies a metaphor for this month? Any examples of good SF featuring hungry ghosts?
Writing and Depression
Nearly every writer has to deal with the black dog from time to time. Panellists discus their own approaches to surviving and thriving during dark periods.
How does our home grown horror differ from that in other countries? Are there any topic/tropes unique to our country? What Australian horror should we all be reading and watching?
Stealth Cosplay: nerdy nails, Disneybounding and more
Want to rep your Hogwarts House at work … without violating the dress code? Want to know what Disneybounding is? (Yes, you can google it if you want.)
Striking Back at Empire
Dismantling empire and colonialism in SFF. This can either be focused on books that critique imperialism and colonialism in SFF (eg Ann Leckie’s Ancillary series, work by Aliette de Bodard and Zen Cho) or it can also tackle how, as readers, we can be more sensitive and critical to concepts and themes that are baked into many SFF worlds.
Why are there so many superheros on my damn lawn- I mean movie and TV screens? This is the panel to discuss the ubiquity of the superhero trend, debate whether any of the recent attempts to do something different with it have been different enough to get us on board, and recommend some great alternative viewing if you, too, are getting bored with costumes and capes.
Short story collection Resist Fascism, which came out last last year, was the most obvious but hardly the first example of recent SFF tackling the rise of the alt-right. What part can SF play in resisting fascism?
Outlets like Patreon and Twitch are great ways for creators to be paid regularly for their work. But with so many, as a fan there’s a financial limit to the number you can give to. How do you choose which to subscribe to and how do you handle the guilt of not being able to support everything you love. Is it furthering the divide between low and high incomes by offering exclusive content for those who can pay? Will there be a saturation point or have we already reached it?
Truman Capote wouldn’t begin or complete a piece of writing on a Friday. Isabel Allende, however, always starts a new novel on the same date (January 8). Many more are the authors who will avoid speaking about works in progress less they “Jinx” them, or adopt special procedures when sending in submissions. We have persuaded some to talk today.
Your Faves are Problematic: What now?
The era of #MeToo and #TimesUp means that, more and more, we’re asking ourselves who to support with our time and money. How do you decide? Is there a hard and fast rule? What do you do when a story you love is created, wholly or in part, by someone deeply problematic?
The Monstrous and the Taboo
Across different cultures, monsters often embody the taboo both traditionally and in modern fiction. Panellists talk about the variation in taboos across culture and time, and discuss their favourite examples and subversions of this trope.
Pale Roses and Diamond Days: Steven Universe Season 5
Steven Universe fans – we have a lot to discuss! From Steven to Rose Quartz, from Pearl all the way up to the Diamonds themselves, the revelations of Season 5 have reshaped our understanding of characters, relationships and events we thought we knew. New fans beware: there WILL be spoilers.
AI, robots, drones: none of these are pure science fiction any more. What are the risks and the possibilities of moving to an increasingly automated world?
We Do This Stuff So You Can Write About It – The Return
Back by popular demand! What’s it really like to be a paramedic or a wildlife rescuer or an astronaut?* People with unusual jobs or hobbies are invited to come talk about them and answer questions, so writers (and the simply curious) know more about what they’re like and what pitfalls to avoid when writing about them. *OK, we probably won’t get an actual astronaut – but we can dream!
Magical Medicine: the Physiology of Fantasy
What options does a twenty-foot dragon have for actually getting airborne? What ailments could trouble a angel? How would you handle a chimera with a cold, and just how *does* a centaur’s digestive system work? Doctors and vets welcome!
Where magic meets technology. How would technology differ under the influence of magic? Evolving magic worlds into sci-fi worlds.
Happily Ever After
Characters walking into the sunset arm in arm with their loved ones? Suceeding at what they set out to achieve? Leaving the world a better place? Or simply surviving? What makes a happy ending and why are they so important?
Spirits Abroad: ghosts of South-East Asia
An exploration of ghosts and spirits in South-East Asian folklore, and speculative fiction that has tapped into those traditions.
Sports in SFF
Quidditch! Podracing! Blood bowl! Calvinball! What would you like to see in a speculative fiction Olympics?
Infinite Diversity Infinite Combinations
Star Trek is back on the small screen — with Discovery, the upcoming Picard series, and a range of confirmed and rumoured spin-offs. How many stories can the Star Trek universe hold?
If we’re currently in late-stage capitalism, then what’s the next stage? What do people think will succeed capitalism as the dominant social model in the western world?
Ever had questions about cosplay, be that “How do I get started” or “How will technique X work for me?”, ask here!
Female super hero movies
With both Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel having taken the stage, what challenges and trials do female-led superhero movies have to face? Besides their protagonists’ gender, what makes their stories stand out from the crowd, and what other female or gender-diverse heroes would we like to see get their own films?
Diseases in SFF
Future sci fi seems to always have “Medical technology has wiped out disease” or “A plague is wiping out humanity”, why do we not hear about common ailments and the oddities of medical care in space and across multiple species?