Director's Report

The Speculative Fictions and Cultures of Science Program had a production 2018-2019 academic year. We hosted visits by two multiple-award-winning science fiction writers this year, Ted Chiang visited us in February, to read from his just published book Exhalation: Stories (Knopf 2019). He also gave a presentation about time travel and the physics of temporality, introducing the audience to some of the thinking that informs his work. In May, we hosted writer Andy Duncan, who read from his new collection An Agent of Utopia: New and Selected Stories (Small Beer Press 2019).

Professor John Jennings launched the exhibition Uncaged: Hero for Higher in UC Riverside’s Culver Center for the Arts, co-curated with University of Illinois professor Stacey Robinson. Exploring the long history of the comic book character Luke Cage, who anchored the recent, eponymous Netflix series, the exhibit foregrounded questions of social justice, race, poverty and stereotypes about black men. Featuring original art alongside displays about the depiction of this superhero across a number of titles, the exhibit also featured its own Spotify playlist.

Professor Jennings also started a new speculative fiction imprint at Ohio State University Press, New Suns: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Speculative.

The Alternos Mundos exhibit about speculative themes in Latin America art, for which SFCS Professor Robb Hernandez was a curator, moved from Riverside to new venues this year. The exhibit is currently open at Queens Museum in New York.

Professor Nalo Hopkinson published an volume of comics set in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman Universe, House of Whispers, and was featured as the keynote speaker at the Science Fiction Research Association’s 2019 annual conference. She also won a British Fantasy Award for her co-edited special issue of Lightspeed Magazine, People of Colo(u)r Destroy Science Fiction.

Professor Sherryl Vint spoke at a Disciplines in Dialogue Event hosted in April by UCR’s Center for Ideas and Society, on animal and ethics, addressing the ways that speculative fiction helps us to think differently about human/animal relationships and the capacities of other species. She also gave keynote addresses at several international venues, in Canada, China, Spain and the United Kingdom, confirming UC Riverside as a global center for sf research.

Several of our students completed their PhDs this year. Congratulations to Josh Pearson, Taylor Evans, and Ezekial Crago. Finally, we have been joined this year by two visiting scholars, Sümeyra Buran from Turkey, working on a project about violence toward women in speculative fiction, and Yao Wang from China, doing research on comparative reorientations in Chinese and American sf. Dr. Wang also publishes science fiction under the name Jia Xia.

—Sherryl Vint, Director