Spring Semester, 2016
JANUARY 24, 2016 – AUTUMN AND WINTER MOVIES
Discussion of the most recent crop of fantasy and science fiction movies, such as: Goosebumps, The Martian, Mockingjay Part 2, Pan, The Scorch Trials, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, any others released by this date.
FEBRUARY 14, 2016 – HOBBIT EXTENDED EDITION
Discussion of the extended edition of The Hobbit Part 3: The Battle of Five Armies.
MARCH 13, 2016 – ODYSSEY CON 16
Discussion of the works of the guests of honor at Odyssey Con 16, to be held at the Radisson on April 8-10: Brandon Sanderson, Margaret Weis, and Marjorie Liu. Read something by one or more of the authors and share your impressions. For information on the conference see http://www.odysseycon.org.
APRIL 17, 2016 – F&SF TV
Discussion of current television series with a fantasy or science-fiction theme. Examples include Agent Carter, Agents of SHIELD, Arrow, Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands, The Flash, Gotham, Grimm, I Zombie, Legends of Tomorrow, Once Upon a Time, The 100, The Originals, Sleepy Hllow, Supergirl, Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries, Vikings, The Walking Dead. Not everyone will have seen all of them, but come talk about your favorites (or dislikes!).
MAY 8, 2016 – WIS CON 40
Discussion of the works of one or more of the guests of honor at the 40th Wisconsin Science Fiction Con, to be held at the Concourse Hotel over Memorial Day weekend: Justine Larbalestier, Nalo Hopkinson, and Sofia Samatar. Suggested titles will be posted later. For information on the conference see http://www.wiscon.info
Summer Semester, 2016
JUNE 5, 2016 – TOLKIEN’S KULLERVO
Discussion of Tolkien’s early, unfinished adaptation of a story from the Finnish Kalevala, published as The Story of Kullervo, edited by Verlyn Flieger (HarperCollins, 2015).
JULY 10, 2016 – IN MEMORIAM, TERRY PRATCHETT
Discussion of Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather (1998) and The Shepherd’s Crown (2015). The former was made into a film and we may show some clips. The latter is the fifth in the Tiffany Aching series and the last Discworld novel he completed before his death.
AUGUST 14, 2016 – RECENT FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION MOVIES
Discussion of the latest crop of movies with a fantasy or science-fiction background. Possible films to consider include: Alice Through the Looking Glass, Captain America: Civil War, Finding Dory, Ghostbusters, Jungle Book, Legend of Tarzan, Star Trek Beyond, Superman versus Batman, X-Men: Apocalypse, Zootopia, et al.
Fall Semester, 2016
SEPTEMBER 23, 2016 (Friday)
Celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of our group in September, 1966. We are holding this on a Friday to make it easier for former members to come in from out of town for the occasion. We will publish a commemorative issue (number 9) of Orcrist, the fanzine-cum-scholarly-journal our group sponsored in the 1960s-1970s. And there will be cake!
OCTOBER 15, 2016 (Sunday) – HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD
Discussion of the script of a play (published in 2016) based on a story by J. K. Rowling, taking up from where the Harry Potter series of novels ended.
NOVEMBER 13, 2016 – BEAGLE’S SUMMERLONG
Discussion of Summerlong (2016), the latest fantasy novel by Peter S. Beagle.
DECEMBER 11, 2016 – NOVIK’S UPROOTED
Discussion of a standalone novel by Naomi Novik (not part of her Temeraire series). Uprooted (2015) has won a Nebula and also the Mythopoeic Society award for best fantasy novel of 2015.
Spring Semester, 2017
JANUARY 22, 2017 – F&SF FILMS
Discussion of the recent fantasy and science-fiction films, such as Arrival, Fantastic Beasts, Moana, Passengers, Rogue One, any others released by the time of the meeting. Come talk about whichever movies you have seen this past winter.
FEBRUARY 12, 2017 – TED CHIANG, STORY OF YOUR LIFE
Discussion of “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang, a novella first published in Starlight 2, edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden (Tor, 1998) and also available in Chiang’s collections Stories of Your Life and Others (Tor, 2002) and Arrival (Vintage, 2016). Those who have seen the movie adaptation, Arrival, can also discuss this version. The story is also at this website https://www.readanybook.com/online/565787.
MARCH 12, 2017 – HOBBIT 1ST EDITION
HarperCollins UK has published a facsimile edition (2016) of the original edition of The Hobbit (1937). Discussion of the first edition and the changes Tolkien subsequently made to it.
APRIL 9, 2017 – FANTASY OF TAD WILLIAMS
Discussion of the work of the author guest of honor at this year’s Odyssey Con, to be held at the Radisson on April 28-30. For information on the conference see http://www.odysseycon.org. Tad Williams came to prominence with Tailchaser’s Song (1985) which might be described as a feline version of Watership Down with a cat mythology and language. He is also the author of the Bobby Dollar urban fantasy series: The Dirty Streets of Heaven (2012), Happy Hour in Hell (2013), and Sleeping Late on Judgement Day (2014); the Shadowmarch series: Shadowmarch (2004), Shadowplay (2007), Shadowrise and Shadowheart (both 2010); and the Otherland series: City of Golden Shadow (1997), River of Blue Fire (1998), Mountain of Black Glass (1999), and Sea of Silver Light ((2001). He is perhaps best known for his Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series: The Dragonbone Chair (1988), Stone of Farewell (1990), and To Green Angel Tower (1993). He has recently returned to the fantasy world of that series with The Heart of What Was Lost: A Novel of Osten Ard (January, 2017) and due in April is the beginning a trilogy, The Witchwood Crown: Book One of the Last King of Osten Ard. There is a collection of his shorter work in The Very Best of Tad Williams (2014). [He later withdrew from Odyssey Con.]
MAY 14, 2017 – AMAL EL-MOHTAR AND KELLY SUE CONNICK
Discussion of the work of the author guests of honor at this year’s WisCon, to be held at the Concourse on Memorial Day weekend, May 26-29. For information on the conference see http://www.wiscon.info.
SUMMER SEMESTER, 2017
JUNE 18, 2017 – STAR WARS: THRAWN
To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the release of the first Star Wars movie in 1977, we will discuss the Star Wars novels of Timothy Zahn. After the film series had settled down after the first three movies, Lucasfilm authorized a series of novels continuing the story to test interest, and discovered it was great from the popularity of Zahn’s trilogy of novels Heir to the Empire (1991), Dark Force Rising (1992), and The Last Command (1993), set after Return of the Jedi and introducing brilliant Grand Admiral Thrawn as the primary antogonist for the New Republic to overcome. These were so that Zahn continued the story with his Hand of Thrawn duology: Spectre of the Past (1997) and Vision of the Future (1998). He also used the character in prequels Outbound Flight (2005) set before the fall of the Republic and Thrawn (2017) set at the beginning of the Empire. Zahn has also written a number of other Star Wars novels and shorter works (notably using the character of Mara Jade, an agent of the Emperor also introduced in Heir to the Empire and who in time becomes Mrs. Luke Skywalker), but for this discussion we will concentrate on his Thrawn series.
JULY 16, 2017 – THE SILMARILLION
This year also marks the 40th anniversary of the posthumous publication of Tolkien’s Silmarillion, compiled and edited by Christopher Tolkien. It is an appropriate time to discuss the legacy of this work.
AUGUST 13, 2017 – F & SF FILMS OF THE SUMMER
Summer is the season for blockbuster movies, and for our annual discussion of those films oriented to fantasy and science fiction. Examples include Alien: Covenant, Cars 3, Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, The Mummy, Pirates of the Caribbean 5: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Valerian: City of a Thousand Planets, War for the Planet of the Apes, Wonder Woman and probably others. Come talk about whichever movies you have seen this past summer.
Remember also that the annual conference of the Mythopoeic Society will be held relatively close to us in Champaign-Urbana from July 28-31, 2017. For details see http://www.mythcon.org
Fall Semester, 2017
SEPTEMBER 17, 2017 – BEREN AND LUTHIEN
Christopher Tolkien has prepared a new edition of this story so central to his father’s legendarium, scheduled to be published in June, 2017. We shall discuss this and compare it to earlier versions in The Silmarillion (1977) and the History of Middle-earth series.
On Saturday, September 23, 2017, there will be two lectures, 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., in Upper House, 365 E. Campus Mall, #200. Dr. Michael Ward will speak on “Planet Narnia: C. S. Lewis and the Seven Heavens” in the morning, and Dr. Holly Ordway will speak on “Tolkien’s Modern Sources: Middle-earth Beyond the Middle Ages.” Admission $10.00 (lunch on your own).
OCTOBER 8, 2017 – WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS
Discussion of the comedy-cum-horror film What We Do in the Shadows movie (2014), about vampires in New Zealand trying to fit in, directed by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi (both of whom also played major characters). Waititi is also the director of Thor: Ragnarok (release date November 3, 2017) so the earlier film gives some taste of what’s to come. Film scholar Kristin Thompson will provide some background on Taika Waititi, and the meeting will be held in her home.
NOVEMBER 12, 2017 – THE LADIES OF GRACE ADIEU – POSTPONED TO DECEMBER 10
There was a mixup and the Union scheduled us for November 11. We noticed too late to notify people. This meeting was therefore cancelled and the topic was postponed until the December meeting.
DECEMBER 10, 2017 – THE LADIES OF GRACE ADIEU –PHILIP PULLMAN, BOOK OF DUST POSTPONED TO FEBRUARY
Discussion of Susanna Clarke, The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories, (2006) (postponed from November 12). We will have our traditional cake catered by the Union, and we will set dates and topics for our spring semester meetings. Philip Pullman’s Book of Dust (published October 19, 2017), originally scheduled for tonight’s meeting, will be taken up at our February meeting 11th meeting.
Spring Semester, 2018
JANUARY 28, 2018 – F&SF MOVIES
Discussion of the recently released films with a fantasy or science fiction aspect, e. g. Blade Runner: 2049, Coco, Downsizing, Justice League, The Shape of Water, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Thor: Ragnarok.
FEBRUARY 11, 2018 – LA BELLE SAUVAGE
Discussion of the first novel in Philip Pullman’s proposed new trilogy set in the world of his His Dark Materials series, The Book of Dust 1: La Belle Sauvage (2017). This is not quite a prequel but begins earlier and overlaps the time frame of the earlier published books, and shares some of the same characters while also introducing new ones. (This topic was postponed from our December, 2017 meeting).
MARCH 11, 2018 – BEAGLE, THE OVERNEATH
Discussion of the latest collection of short stories by Peter S. Beagle, The Overneath (Tachyon, 2017). Some of the stories feature Schmendrick from The Last Unicorn and one is set in the world of The Innkeeper’s Song.
APRIL 15, 2018 – McKILLIP, KINGFISHER
Discussion of Patricia McKillip’s latest novel, Kingfisher (2016). This won the 2017 Mythopoeic Award for Best Adult Fantasy.
MAY 6, 2018 – TOLKIEN AND C. S. LEWIS ON MYTH
Discussion of Chip Duncan’s new documentary, Tolkien and Lewis: Myth, Imagination, and the Quest for Meanng (2017).
Note that the Odyssey Con science-fiction conference will not be held this year. WisCon will be held over Memorial Day weekend as usual; see http://www.wiscon.info for details.
Summer Semester, 2018
JUNE 17, 2018 – URSULA K. LE GUIN REMEMBERED
Discussion of the oeuvre of Ursula K. Le Guin (1929-2018), with focus on her classic novel, The Left Hand of Darkness (1969). We shall also decide on topics for future meetings.
JULY 15, 2018 – THE LONG EARTH
Discussion of the first novel in the “Long Earth” series about parallel worlds by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter, The Long Earth (2012).
AUGUST 19, 2018 – F&SF MOVIES
Discussion of the recently released films with a fantasy or science fiction aspect, e..g., Annihilation, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther, Christopher Robin, The Incredibles 2, Isle of Dogs, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, A Quiet Place, Solo, A Wrinkle in Time. Watch the movies that interest you and come share your thoughts about them.
Fall Semester, 2018
SEPTEMBER 16, 2018 – TOLKIEN’S ART
The exhibit this year of Tolkien’s own paintings and illustrations at the Bodleian Library in Oxford from June into September published a catalogue edited by Catherine McIlwaine, Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth. We shall have on hand and discuss this catalogue as well as other books on this topic, including J. R. R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator (1995), The Art of The Hobbit (2011), The Art of the Lord of the Rings (2015), all by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull.
OCTOBER 21, 2018 – THE FALL OF GONDOLIN
Discussion of this just-published book edited by Christopher Tolkien, bringing together versions of the story of Tuor and the fall of the Elf kingdom of Gondolin to examine its evolution. There is a summary of the story in chapter 23 of The Silmarillion.
NOVEMBER 18, 2018 – IN MEMORIAM HARLAN ELLISON
Discussion of the work of Harlan Ellison (1934-2018), writer of award-winning short stories, editor, essayist, scriptwriter [some produced (e.g., “City on the Edge of Forever” for Star Trek, “Demon With a Glass Hand” for The Outer Limits), some unproduced but still significant (e.g, movies of Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot and of Will Eisner’s The Spirit)]. Everybody read something by Ellison and come contribute.
DECEMBER 9, 2018 – FRANKENSTEIN
Discussion of Frankenstein (1818) by Mary Shelley on the 200th anniversary of its publication.