Science Fiction and Fantasy Characters as Dramatis Personae

deadline for submissions: 
March 31, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Museum of Science Fiction/Escape Velocity Conference

The Museum of Science Fiction's literary programming track is accepting 250 word proposals for 15-20 minute papers to be presented at this year’s Escape Velocity Conference in National Harbor Maryland, May 25th – 27th, 2018.

Science Fiction and Fantasy (SFF) literature and television offer us textual and visual representations of what possible futures might look like, what challenges are likely to arise alongside the ever-increasing complexities of technological advancement, and how we might handle encountering the unknown, including the probable existence of alien life. But parallel to their ethical and speculative dimensions, SFF literature and television offer for our consideration various complex characters through whose development the text’s innermost meaning becomes intelligible, and the “human condition” is highlighted.

Upon closer examination, many of the characters created within SFF appear to be constructed with various stock roles or “masks” in mind. For instance, the televised space opera (Farscape, and the Stargates: SG1, Atlantis, and Universe, for example) seems to articulate a particular vision through its inclusion of specific crucial dramatis personae. In this case, there is the cis/heterosexual white male protagonist, variously responsible for trying to colonize the universe; his rough and rugged sidekick/best friend (often alien or “primitive”) who struggles to contain his “bestial nature”; the female love interest, who is strong and capable, yet vulnerable to feelings for the main lead. Then there is often the scientist, the mechanic, the humanist/cultural specialist, and even the “red shirt,” each playing a crucial role in the construction of compelling SF worlds and narratives.

For this year’s Escape Velocity Conference, we are seeking proposals addressing the functions of specific dramatic personae and the presence of stock characters in science fiction and fantasy literature, television and film, examining their roles in the construction of SF worlds, canons, cult classics, and in the interrogation of ethics.


Conference: May 25th – 27th, 2018

Deadline for proposals: March 31st, 2018