The Power and Relevance of Diary in Near-Future Mundane Science Fiction
This presentation and discussion explores and interprets the sub-genre “Mundane Science Fiction” and how the use of memoir achieves powerful impact by establishing relatable harsh and mundane realism. The talk explores why this works particularly well in near-future speculative fiction using among others the example of my eco-novel A Diary in the Age of Water (Inanna Publications, June 2020). The use of mundane realism through setting and events — particularly through letters or diary — creates powerful narrative that uniquely engages the reader with metaphor, allegory, and archetypes through additional sensibilities and personal connections. Devices, such as POV, tense, and voice are discussed as well as disadvantages and caveats of this form of storytelling.
Nina Munteanu is a Canadian scientist and writer of eco-fiction, science fiction, fantasy novels and text books. An award-winning short story writer and essayist, Nina teaches writing at the University of Toronto and George Brown College. Her book Water Is… was picked by Margaret Atwood for the New York Times’ “The Year in Reading” (2016). Nina’s most recent cli-fi novel, A Diary in the Age of Water (2020), is about four generations of women and their relationship to water.
Something Blue: Autoimmunity and Writing Pandemic Fiction
In our present moment of COVID-19, we cannot deny that disease plays an inescapable role in current life. I respond in a creative way to the challenges of living in a world that seems more dystopian every day, through a short story collection and a critical essay detailing my research and process in writing about illness. As a writer with an autoimmune disease who is immunocompromised, I have a unique angle from which to write and research. The plot of my short story “Someone is Dead” centres on Olive and Nora, a couple in a power outage at the peak of an epidemic, and M, Nora's sister, as they navigate autoimmunity in a pandemic situation. The collection as a whole reflects the socioeconomic, emotional, and/or physical traumas that disease can induce and how members of society are not all affected in equal measure when disaster strikes. My critical and creative writing incorporates disability studies, feminist speculations, and the ways we might live in an uncertain future, in order to integrate discourses of science, literature, and personal experience.
Amy LeBlanc is an MA student in English Literature and creative writing at the University of Calgary, and she will begin her PhD in English and creative writing there this fall. She is Managing Editor at filling Station magazine. Amy’s debut poetry collection, I know something you don’t know, was published in 2020. Her novella Unlocking will be published by UCalgary Press in 2021. Her work has appeared in Room, PRISM International, and the Literary Review of Canada. She is a recipient of the 2020 Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Emerging Artist Award.
Katłįà (Catherine) Lafferty
While there is much room for the rewriting of history through an Indigenous lens of storytelling, Indigenous peoples are often not able to tell these stories through mainstream media because of systemic barriers. Visions of Canada in speculative texts are often written by those with privilege who only tell one side of the story, away from the true historical accounts of Indigenous peoples. Through a timeline of past, present, and future, Land-Water-Sky tangles and unfolds the immense impacts that colonial structures have had on Indigenous peoples and their sense of community, not only with each other but with the land. The characters are themselves Indigenous legends on the land. Readers grasp that land is identity and that environmental destruction and political and social conflicts are used to break down strength in community. Language is woven throughout to show both an inadvertent loss of Indigenous language throughout the centuries, and the resistance and revitalization of Indigenous languages.
Katłįà (Catherine) Lafferty is a northern Dene novelist. Her memoir Northern Wildflower (2018) is used as a teaching tool in secondary and post-secondary Indigenous studies. Her novel Land-Water-Sky/Ndè-Tı-Yat’a was on the CBC’s Fall 2020 Reading List and the Scotia Bank Giller Prize Craving Canlit list. Katłįà is currently working on her fourth novel, Firekeeper, while canvassing publication of her manuscript This House Is Not A Home. Katłįà is a member of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation from Somba K’e (Yellowknife). She is completing her Juris Doctor in Common Law and Indigenous Legal Orders with the University of Victoria.
Knowledge Through Storytelling, Kakendausowin peme Tibachimowin: Understandings of STEAM through Traditional Stories and Cultural Knowledge
Dr. Amy Farrell’s Indigenous storytelling-situated research provides an exploration of Indigenous science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) concepts within the creation of an Indigenous speculative fiction creative work. In this presentation, she introduces her process of merging Indigenous storytelling practices with traditional Indigenous knowledge. Within the structure of an Indigenous storytelling methodology, she utilizes an Indigenous epistemological framework supported through understandings of the medicine wheel, cultural ethics and values, and ways of knowing that are inherent to connections with the land, animals and all living creatures, the universe, and sacred story. Her creation of a speculative fiction novel is, at its heart, an allegory of contemporary political and environmental issues, and while her vision in this Indigenous storytelling work is a dark one, it is steadfastly hopeful.
Dr. Amy Farrell is Anishinaabe and a member of Eabametoong First Nation. She is a faculty member in the Faculty of Education, Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning, at the University of Manitoba. Her research interests include Indigenous Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) education, and culturally appropriate teaching practices.
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