Festival of The Imagination 1996 – Programming

Being page 6 of the December 1995 Newsletter. Faithfully transcribed by Anna Hepworth. 


The spectrum of science fiction has continually widened to encompass an impressive range of sub-genres. Science fiction no longer represents a restrictive type or mode of fiction, but now acts as a banner under which a variety of speculative, imaginary styles and approaches congregate. SF should be about the changing ways of thinking and seeing; not necessarily by didactic or dialectic means, though certainly valid, but simply by developing our attitude, approach, intuition to the field. Without this philosophy being entrenched in the genre and the manner in which we communicate and interact with and within it, science fiction means nothing, or at least nothing of any real importance. Not even a jolly good time. And science fiction should be of importance, even when it is busy trying to make us laugh. Because good SF can still be a hell of a lot of fun while also making us scratch our heads and getting the brain ticking over new things and new ways to see them.

And with these attitudes and beliefs in mind, the programme is being constructed to allow wide and opinionated debate. Such topics to be discussed are “Future Shock”, the relationship between SF/fantasy film/TV and literature, the Star Trek universe as providing the basis for a new religion, UFO culture as an attempt to live science fiction in a real world, do-it-yourself conspiracy, the role of paranoia in SF, SF as counter culture, madness, X-Files culture, future sex, the Internet, publishing and reviewing, F&SF film criticism as opposed to general film criticism, the importance of design and originality in the genre or lack of it. Specific panel, discussion, presentation details, including social programming, will in the following newsletters leading up to the Festival, with the final pre-con publication presenting full details of the programme and the respective participants (see previous newsletter for a description of the programme’s general structure).

A long list of potential panel items exists (those who have contacted Festival committee members know we’re not short on ideas), but topics aren’t nearly as important as who will be presenting them. This Festival wishes to emphasise that the program will be about people who have ideas and opinions to communicate and who will actively encourage Festival members to participate in the creative and entertaining process. And it is the intention of the Festival and the committee to spend the following period after this newsletter to make contact with current members and prospective members and to seek input and participation into events whether volunteered and offered, whether panel presentation, performance or workshop. As it stands we already have many current and future members who will promise a most interesting, entertaining and diverse series of events from silly quiz shows to intense debate on film, video, literature, comic, art, radio, gaming and music. We promise to make a concerted effort to cover the length and breath of the SF realm

And don’t just wish us luck (as we hear some say “you’ll need it”), gives us your thoughts. They are more than just welcome, they’re requested. And, to encourage the idea of debate, if you disagree and wish to make comment on any views expressed earlier in this article, then please make them known to the newsletter editor. (Thanks, Robin! – Ed.)

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