As usual the papers delivered were of a high quality and a diverse range of topics from D&D bestiaries to feminist utopia, ecological disaster to Harry Potter, medieval English horror to Japanese dystopian YA and far more besides. As usual huge thanks go to those who presented a paper: thank you for the enthusiasm with which you approached the task and for the hard work you did preparing for the conference, a conference - no matter how the organising goes - is nothing without its delegates.
If I were to pick a single weakness of the conference it would be my failure to secure a photographer with a steady hand, or a decent camera... Next year I'm bringing a tripod. Thanks to those delegates who generously suggested it was more SF-nal this way like we're beaming up, or just undergoing a time shift.
|Our 2016 conference photo. Apologies for the blurriness|
One thing that is evident from this photo is the quantity of attendees. CRSF 2016 represents a record year for number of delegates, with non-presenting delegates outnumbering presenters for the first time. This was in no small part thanks to the excellent Science Fiction Research Association (SFRA) conference also held in Liverpool on the 28th-30th June, a number of whose delegates came along to see CRSF in action. There were, however, a number of non-presenting delegates, including former presenters from previous years, who made the trip to Liverpool especially to see CRSF, I cannot think of a better endorsement for the atmosphere and organisation of the conference than for those who have been before to want to come back, even if they're no longer eligible to present.
In total we had fifty-six attendees and thirty papers presented, over three parallel streams, by delegates from institutions throughout the UK, as well as Ireland, Belgium, Germany, Finland, Spain, Russia, Israel, Canada, and the United States, among others.
Thank you to all who attended. Additional thanks to all those who engaged with the conference on social media. I'm a firm believer in the Twitter back channel for conferences, and CRSF performed ably in this regard too. If you're not on Twitter and you want to (re)discover the tweet-by-tweet coverage of the conference it's been conveniently archived on Storify here for you.
Thanks also to our wonderful keynote speakers: Dr. Caroline Edwards (Birkbeck University of London) and Dr. Pat Wheeler (University of Hertfordshire) who not only gave fascinating and insightful keynote lectures, but also attended numerous panels, asking insightful and constructive questions throughout, and offering many a kind and supportive word for delegates in the breaks and more informal moments of the conference. Caroline's paper opened the conference and was entitled '"But there is still such beauty": Post-Apocalyptic Fiction and Eco-Eschatological Time in the 21st-Century', it took us through such post-apocalyptic novels as Emily St. John Mandel's Station Eleven and Maggie Gee's The Flood, highlighting the pastoral beauty often found in these texts and the implications of that for our vision of the apocalypse and the future (if any) of humanity's role on the Earth. Pat's keynote was entitled '"She can't love you, she's just a machine': Metal-fevered Boys and their Passion for New Eves', which challenged how we should read gynoids in the twenty-first century: as either challenge or constriction to women's agency.
Thanks as ever to the University of Liverpool staff who provided support both in the build up to, and during, the conference: the Rendall Building staff, and Filomena Saltao, the Administrator of the School of the Arts, and Siobhan Quinn. Thanks also to Andy Sawyer, academic librarian for the Science Fiction Foundation collection at the University of Liverpool's Sydney Jones Library, for once again arranging for all delegates to receive free copies of Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction. Thanks also to the staff at Il Forno, our traditional restaurant of choice, who once again dealt with our large numbers with aplomb.
As always we welcome your feedback on CRSF 2016, all comments are useful and appreciated. Please leave a comment on this post, or e-mail them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CRSF will return in 2017. Watch this space.