Sue and I had the opportunity last week to attend the conference for the “International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts.” It is a small academic conference for students of the arts related to SF/Fantasy and other speculative fiction. This isn’t a convention geared towards fans. There are no costumes or bands. The conference mostly consists of academic papers presented by the attendees as well as readings by some of the authors in attendance.
One of the draws for us was the conference itself, as it attracts a lot of SF/Fantasy writers. The other was the fact that Neil Gaiman was one of the Guests of Honor this year. He is definitely one of my all-time favorite writers.
We had a fantastic time. Neil Gaiman was probably run ragged with his duties as a popular Guest of Honor, but he was very gracious throughout the week and any room he entered became more funny and interesting by his presence. We heard him give a few speeches, watched him act in a short play, and watched him read the first few chapters from his upcoming book “The Ocean at the End of the Lane.” We managed to get him to sign copies of Coraline for us, and discovered that he not only signs his name in his books, but he also draws a small illustration for you related to the story.
Aside from the probably once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet Neil Gaiman, the rest of the conference was very enjoyable. Sue and I quickly discovered that we generally preferred author readings to most of the academic works. There were many published authors that we were able to hear. The real treat was the ability to hear readings from a few authors we had not yet heard of.
That brings me to the true reason for this post. If you like Sf/Fantasy writing at all then you owe it to yourself to check out some of these writers. I’m late to the party on some of them, and others are just getting started. Based on the readings that we heard, you may want to look into the works of these authors:
Keffy R. M. Kehrli
Robert J. Sawyer
E. Lily Yu
Much of what they have is short fiction that may be difficult to find. Most of what we heard has not even been published yet, but I will be keeping my eye on these names.
Now if I could just find the time to read them all!