Jules Verne Is Focus of Conference in California

Jules VerneDozens of international scholars of science fiction and popular authors will discuss the impact of Jules Verne, the 19th century French author of Journey to the Center of the Earth and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, at the 2009 Eaton Science Fiction Conference at the University of California, Riverside May 1-3.

“Verne’s influence on the hardware and the locales of modern science fiction — the center of the earth, the bottom of the seas, outer space — is widely recognized,” said George Slusser, professor emeritus of comparative literature and curator emeritus of the Eaton Collection. “More significant is his influence on the shape of modern science fiction: the extraordinary voyage has become a foundational motif by which scientific knowledge is linked to the exploration of richly imagined worlds.”

Presented by UCR Libraries’ Eaton Science Fiction Collection and the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences in coordination with the North American Jules Verne Society, the three-day “Extraordinary Voyages: Jules Verne and Beyond” conference will include the presentation of the second Eaton Award for Lifetime Achievement in Science Fiction, in-absentia, to Frederik Pohl, author of The Space Merchants, Gateway and other science fiction classics.

“We are really delighted to be able to host an Eaton conference with this emphasis on Jules Verne,” said Melissa Conway, head of Special Collections and Archives at UCR. “Verne’s influence – right up to the present day — cannot be underestimated. In the United States – largely as the result of inept translations — he has been perceived as an author of adventure books for children. I hope this conference will help in correcting that unfortunate misperception.”

The conference includes presentations of academic papers and panel discussions, a Science Fiction Poetry Association poetry reading, and an award ceremony for winners of the second University of California Science Fiction Short Story Contest. The program is available online at eatonconference.ucr.edu/index.php.

Registration for the conference is required. Books by conference authors will be available for sale, as will items from various vendors, including New Zealand’s Weta Workshop, which designs and manufactures special props, costumes and models for films such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy, King Kong and The Chronicles of Narnia. Conference registration is not necessary to visit the vendor displays.

A symposium, “The Histories of Science Fiction,” will precede the conference on campus on Thursday, April 30, from 2 to 4:30 p.m. in the Special Collections Reading Room of the Rivera Library. The symposium is free and open to the public.

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About the author

As The Genre Traveler, Carma Spence loves to view the world through Genre-Coloured glasses. In other words, she sees the world through a lens of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, where trash cans can be Daleks in disguise and neighborhood forests can harbor faeries and sprites. Magic realism is real! Or at least you can choose to see the world that way to add to the fun and awe of life.