Speakers 2017

Right here will appear information on guest and visiting speakers, including a brief description of their field, works and an outline of the talk(s) they will be giving. All relevant transcripts will end up in the archive, below.

Julie Bertagna

Julie will give a talk, titled: A Moment Leaning Out of Time* – creating ‘4D’ futuristic fiction in the dynamic space where the real meets the realms of possibility and fantasy

(*From ‘Eternal Moment’ by Sándor Weöres, translated by Edwin Morgan.)

Julie Bertagna
Julie Bertagna

The Ayrshire born Julie Bertagna is the author of 12 novels since her debut, The Spark Gap, in 1996. Her work is specifically aimed at children and young adults, and her best known series is the Exodus trilogy. This has been hugely influential in the YA genre, particularly due to its focus on the danger of climate change and the importance of education.

Among many awards and nominations, the first novel in the series, Exodus, was shortlisted for the Whitbread award. She is a Mentor for Scottish Book Trust’s New and Young Writer Awards. She speaks in schools, libraries and at book festivals across the UK. Her website contains links to a number of blogs that she runs for her different book series.

Julie Bertagna graduated from the University of Glasgow with an Honours degree in English Language and Literature, and we look forward to welcoming her back to provide insight into a future world where fantasy, science fiction, and children’s literature meet. Her interest in using Glasgow as a setting, combined with the genre crossing of her work, makes her a perfect fit!

Maureen Farrell

Dr Farrell will be in conversation with Julie Bertagna.

Dr Maureen Farrell
Dr Maureen Farrell

Dr Maureen Farrell is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Education in the University of Glasgow. She was previously an English teacher before moving into Higher Education and teacher education in particular. She contributes to the language courses for both primary and secondary teachers in degree and Masters programmes at the university as well as being a key team member on the successful M Ed Children’s Literature and Literacy programme.

Maureen Farrell has a particular interest in Scottish children’s literature and has published work in this area: she is currently co-editing The International Companion to Scottish Children’s Literature.

Stefan Ekman:
Crossroads, Sidestreets, Subways: Three Approaches to Urban Fantasy

Urban fantasy is a form of fantastic literature that has been around for decades but has recently received a great deal of attention, from readers if not from scholars. Today, it is described and defined in so many ways by so many people that it is difficult to know what it is: urban fantasy comes across as a form of literature stuck at a crossroads and torn in different directions – and it is hard to predict which way it will end up going.

In his presentation, Stefan offers three possible perspectives from which urban fantasy can be examined, discussing its relation to other fantastic genres, its focuses on people and places that our society often ignores, and its juxtaposition of modernity, the past, and the fantastic.

Dr Stefan Ekman
Dr Stefan Ekman

Stefan Ekman has a PhD in English literature with a thesis on the function of environments in fantasy literature, and an MSc in Economics with a focus on development and environment. He works as Research Coordinator in the Humanities and Social Sciences at the Swedish National Data Service and teaches fantasy at University of Gothenburg. His research is focused on fantasy literature, and his book Here Be Dragons: Exploring Fantasy Maps and Settings examines various functions of maps and environments in the genre. He currently pursues two projects, exploring social criticism in urban fantasy, and developing world-building as a critical tool for analysing fantasy texts through their settings. He is also a judo black belt, a keen RPGer, and fairly decent cook.

Phil Harris:
Does the Monomyth Exist in a Multiplayer World?

Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth, often referred to as the Hero’s Journey, is a staple of much modern fiction and is used in popular franchises and smaller indie publications alike. But what happens when you try to apply the Hero’s Journey to the world of Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) games, and what issues do narrative designers face?

Given the complexities of creating a branching narrative in an interactive MMO, the development and creation of these stories is far less linear than those experienced in books, films, TV series and single player games, with few exceptions. Narrative designers need to understand how to control this, stopping it spiralling out of control, as well as have a clear picture where the different heroes sit within the dialogue and the importance of involving the player/reader in the experience. Narrative designers have to consider the paths of multiple heroes whose stories intertwine with each other, as well as with that of the player/reader. They also must understand the nature of the constantly changing world, where the story never ends. Finally, they need to create something that is engaging to a player/reader base of many ages and levels, without alienating them.

Using examples from his own career, Phil will explain the vital nature of the relationship between the narrative designer/writer, the art, design, code and marketing teams of the studio and, of course, the player/reader: How the story is conveyed to the player/reader in practice and what type of feedback is worthy of note.

When all these elements come together, some of the results can be surprising or even staggering, shaping the real question: “Is the Monomyth dead in this context, or has it found a new form?”

Phil Harris
Phil Harris

Phil Harris is a Senior Narrative Designer at Bigpoint, working on DarkOrbit and Seafight, as well as a number of new products. Phil writes unique, functional canon for each game, providing quests based on the worlds he has created and integrating with art and design teams to realise the stories he is telling. Previous works include Celtic Heroes, in which he created a narrative storyline which led to a massive increase in player retention, and Distant Star: Revenant Fleet. Phil is friendly, outgoing, and often enjoys dazzling people with the glint off his bald head, a trick he uses to gain the upper hand in meetings.

Rob Maslen: The Book as Fantastic Object

Reading is an act of conjuration: through it we raise the dead and bring lost lands, non-existent people and new concepts into being. Fantasy can be understood as the purest celebration of the act of reading. Many fantastic narratives are particularly concerned with the interface between the world of the reader and the secondary worlds conjured up by the printed text. The mechanism that enables this interface is in many cases the physical book, and in this talk Rob will be considering a range of representations of the book as a fantastic object, which may help to explain the continuing appeal of fantasy in the twenty-first century.

Dr Rob Maslen
Dr Rob Maslen

Dr Rob Maslen teaches at the University of Glasgow, where he is the creator and convener for the Fantasy MLitt. He blogs monthly at The City of Lost Books, which is worth checking regularly. Information on both the man and the course can be found here.

At the time of writing Dr Maslen is set to give the opening and closing addresses of the event. We are sure to find various other roles for him as well!