WorldCon 2016: Mythology as the basis for speculative fiction

Disclaimer: I am not perfect and neither are my notes. If you notice anything that requires clarification or correction, please email me at melanie (dot) marttila (at) gmail (dot) com and I will fix things post-hasty.

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Panellists: Ada Palmer, Jeffrey Cook, Sheila Finch (moderator), David Farnell, Katie Daniels

SF: Joseph Campbell said that myth and metaphor are the language of dreams. How important is myth in speculative fiction?

JC: The basis of myth is exploration and explanation.

KD: Myth is what endures.

DF: Myth is the story. Science is the vehicle. Even hard science fiction follows mythic patterns.

SF: It’s easy to see the hero’s journey play out in fantasy.

AP: At one point in Jo Walton’s The Just City, a Platonist explains a spaceship to aliens. Myth helps us conceive of alien concepts and means of communication.

JC: Useful myths are universal. They allow us to understand other cultures.

KD: We may have to define most useful. Are we talking about Prometheus or Jason and the Argonauts?

AP: The most useful myths can invoke craftsmanship, finesse.

DF: Do tropes emerge from myths? If you’re writing about Japanese mythology, it’s helpful to dig into the literature and not restrict yourself to what you see in manga.

SF: Jung said that myth conveys a sense of the numinous. They say something different to each person.

DF: Here’s one Japanese myth: the weaver goddess and a cowbird fall in love and stop doing their respective jobs. The Emperor of Heaven separates them, but allows them to reunite in the rainy season. It’s very Romeo and Juliet.

Q: 2001 and Star Wars are myths in their own rights.

AP: Some myths are devoid of awe. Others are full of it. Myths are the metaphysical reality of a world.

Q: What are some of the main themes of myth?

DF: How to deal with death.

JC: A quest of favours. [Mel’s note: In order to achieve the story goal, the protagonist must provide each character who helps her with something they want or need. Things generally get more complicated, and more humorous, as the story progresses, and the series of favours can even be a chain, with the satisfying of one favour being dependent on all the others before. Sometimes the favours cannot be granted until the ultimate goal is accomplished, and then everything falls into place.]

AP: Look for the big questions. Why is there evil? What is death?

And that was time.

Next week: Oceans, the wettest frontier.

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Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, October 11-17, 2015

Making up for last week!

Here are 13 reasons we need a change in government up here. Press Progress. And guess what? We got it (!) For better or worse. I hope for better. Really, anything’s got to be better.

Providing safe drinking water on reserves (one of numerous issues First Nations face) is simple. Just do it. The Globe and Mail.

Ken Taylor, the Canadian envoy who hid Americans during Iran Hostage Crisis, died last week. NPR.

Brainpickings has unearthed a rare BBC interview with Carl Jung.

Understanding sleep paralysis. IFLS.

The Psychiatric Times reviews the DSM-5 changes for sleep-wake disorders.

How we might cure Alzheimer’s (TED talks):

IFLS explains why you shouldn’t wear a bra. Your boobs will thank you 🙂

Eight things Michelle Coombs is too old for. The Huffington Post.

Bizarre star may suggest the existence of alien civilisations. BBC.

i09 lists five gruesome murders that inspired spooky ghost stories.

600 year old Henry V warship found in Hampshire river. The Telegraph.

Chivalry isn’t dead. You just don’t know what the fuck it is. Myths retold.

Doctors take women’s pain less seriously. The Atlantic.

Jennifer Lawrence speaks out on wage inequality in Hollywood. Salon.

A male engineering student explains why his female colleagues aren’t his equals. Click-bait title for a fair and thoughtful post. The Huffington Post.

Meg Urry writes about ending sexual harassment in astronomy. We need to do this across not only STEM fields, but all fields. Seriously people. Scientific American.

How California’s largest school district blamed an eighth-grader for her rape. This one made me swear. Copiously. The Atlantic.

Nobody cares how hard you work. 99u.

Ravens can tell if you’re a cheater who can’t be trusted. Corvus corvus rocks my world 🙂 IFLS.

Twin pandas were born last week at the Toronto Metro Zoo. IFLS.

Here’s a Red Panda and a pumpkin 🙂

I hope this will hold you until Saturday when I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the fall season television shows (what I’ve seen so far, at least).

Hang in there. Tomorrow’s Friday.

Now, hie thee to a thoughtery!

Thoughty Thursday

Sundog snippets: What my mommy brought me from New Orleans

Just a quick note about my cool new mask.

My mom went with a bunch of her friends for a two-week road trip to New Orleans. She bought me a Mardi Gras mask in the French Quarter. The black bits are the ribbon ties. I think they make the mask look pleasantly evil.

I have dutifully hung it on my wall with the rest of my masks.

My new mask, making friends

My new mask, making friends

The green one on the right, I made in high school in art class. He’s a gargoyle. The brown one on the left was a gift from my friend, Margaret, from one of her trips. I can’t remember it’s origin at the moment, and I can’t take it down to check because it’s on there pretty securely.  I don’t want a random passing transport to knock anything down.

The little blue one, below right, was another gift from Margaret when she went to Jamaica. One of the wooden masks was from her, too, but it’s been so long ago now, I can’t remember which (I think it’s the singer) or where it came from 😦

Some of my other masks look on from the adjacent wall

Some of my other masks look on from the adjacent wall

Anyway.

Now you have another piece of the Mellie puzzle.

I like masks. It’s kind of a Hero with a Thousand Faces/Jungian archetypes thing. Also, shamanism.

What do you collect? Any particular reason? Is it thematic, or part of your gestalt? Is it part of who you are as a creative person?

Do share.

Sundog snippet