Media programme

What do we talk about when we talk about “media SF”? In 2014, I want us to talk about context. Perhaps because media SF doesn't tend to be the work of a community of creators in the same way as written SF, our conversations often focus on specific works: the Doctor Who panel, say, or the Buffy panel. And there’s certainly value in that approach. But nothing is made in a vacuum, so in 2014 the media programme will reach for a broader perspective: to look at recent trends that tie together a range of works; to trace out traditions across the decades; to explore emergent themes and tropes we’ve come to expect from our TV and film; to think critically about how and why media SF works (or doesn’t).

Of course, this being a London Worldcon, you can expect thorough coverage of the history of British telefantasy, from Quatermass to Misfits, and the work of British directors from Terry Gilliam to Duncan Jones. But we’ll also be looking across the channel, and back across the Atlantic, to discuss other traditions. Panels will build on each other, across the convention — a look at the influence of Ron Moore’s Battlestar Galactica, ten years after its premiere, might set up a panel about how the portrayal of artificial intelligence in film, TV and games has evolved, which in turn could lead into a more general discussion of how media SF co-opts science for its narratives.

We’ll spotlight lesser-known works as well as franchises, and when we do want to examine a particular work in depth, we’ll use the most appropriate format: expect a few presentations and some pre-announced discussion groups along with more traditional panels. The aim is to inform as well as excite, inspire as well as educate. Much as a good literary programme introduces you to new books, as well as celebrating what you’ve already read, I hope that in London we’ll give you a list of things to go away and watch – and perhaps a few new angles on the works you think you know inside out.

Niall Harrison