Literary programme

The Hydrogen Sonata by Iain M. BanksThe Worldcon literary programme is, essentially, the space where readers and writers get together to share their love of books. All the books: space operas, epic fantasies, paranormal romances, fairytales, near-future thrillers, magical realism, alternate histories, film and TV tie-ins, steampunk, and all the other rich and strange varieties of our beloved genre that you're cursing us for missing out as you read this.

Our goal is to put together a programme of diverse, intelligent, passionate, and above all knowledgeable voices to talk about the themes, stories and worlds they care about. The primary emphasis will be on topics that offer broad scope for discussion about current trends in the field, and panels that range thematically across a wide array of books and authors: What makes a fictional alien truly “alien”? Why does modern genre fantasy have such a strange obsession with monarchy? How has the way London has been imagined by genre writers changed over the decades? Is “grimdark” fantasy the same thing as realism? Should steampunk be engaging more closely with the real-world history of imperialism that lies behind it? Who would win in a fight between Jaime Lannister, Nyxnissa so Dasheem, and Skaffen-Amtiskaw?

The Blood of Dragons by Robin Hobb We’ll also be showcasing individual works – and putting them through the critical wringer – via focused discussion groups on particular novels and short stories, together with panels on the 2014 Hugo shortlists. There will be readings by authors and poets attending the con, and some retrospectives on authors or works with landmark anniversaries in 2014. The processes that put books on our shelves or on our e-readers will also be examined: What role do editors play in turning a manuscript into a book? What does the genre publishing field look like outside of the Anglophone world? How has the marketing of books changed in the past ten years? Once books are published, who buys them them and why, outside of the enclave of fandom(s)? How has the rise of blogging shaped the way readers interact with books and their authors?

To do all this, we need you. We want readers, reviewers, writers, and publishers. We want your ideas for topics, and we want you to participate if you can. We want to hear from voices who have never taken part in anything like this before, and from the kinds of voices who are too often marginalised in genre conversations, including but not limited to people of colour and LGBTQ folks. We’d particularly love to hear from readers and writers of genre fiction in languages other than English. We want to explore how we tell and read our stories, and to interrogate the issues surrounding exactly whose stories we are reading. How can we help open up the field to other views and other voices?

Nic Clarke