Write-a-Thon Results

Well, as I announced about six weeks ago, I participated in the Clarion West Write-a-Thon again this year, I think the first time since 2007. I pledged something insane: to write three academic papers in six weeks, to the point of them being ready to send out at the end of the six weeks.

Well, the result was: close, but not quite, but I’m still quite chuffed by what I did achieve, and a few things got thrown into the mix that I didn’t expect, so I’m overall quite pleased with what I did manage:

  • The first paper I worked on was only very tangentially related to SF: it was on using creative projects in the Korean classroom. One of the projects the students wrote as a kind of SFnal allegory of an English-centered cult, and I did an exegetic analysis on that and another project, focusing on how the projects not only explicitly critique the effect of the English-language learning industry on Korean society, but also implicitly diagnose problems in everyday classroom TEFL practice. The paper applies Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and some research on the topic of Creativity, to attack the question of how the projects themselves, and other creative projects like them, could rectify the problems discussed by the students. It’s the one paper that’s seriously unfinished, with the final section of the argument (on Creativity) and the conclusion waiting to be written. That’s for a conference in October in Seoul, though a copy of the paper is due next month.
  • The second paper is for the Utopias conference at Monash University in Melbourne. The paper deals with the politics of the Korean blockbuster The Host, in terms of ecological politics and political ecology from within the discourse of the minjung movement, also mapping the conservative, techno-futurist/developmentalist discourse that has evolved in opposition to it. The paper’s basically done except a few little citations that need to be checked and sorted out.
  • The third paper, which I finished drafting last night, is for presentation later in the same week as the Utopias conference, at WorldCon 2010 (also in Melbourne). That paper deals with the uses of SF in the Korean classroom — both as a window on Anglophone (and especially American) culture, and as a kind of mirror on Korean culture. I focus on uses of Blade Runner and Avatar, though Nalo Hopkinson’s Midnight Robber and Larissa Lai’s “Rachel” also come up along the way, as I attempt to demonstrate that SF’s marginality in Korea makes it more, not less, useful for such purposes here. There’s some interesting stuff linked to the theory of Azumi Hiroki (on the links between SF and 19th-century “grand narrative”-type philosophy) which I ran across and which are heklpful here, as well as in my questioning of why SF is so marginal in Korea. There are, again, a few references and commnents from an interview that need to be integrated into it, but it’s basically done.
  • Along the way, I was asked to give a talk at the KOFAC (The Korean Foundation for the Advancement of Science and Creativity). The short deadline was such that I had to throw something together, and while I’d probably have presented it differently if I’d known what the audience was going to look like, I think there were a few interesting ideas in among what I said.

So that’s the results in terms of writing. In terms of fundraising, I only garnered $110 dollars in donations, though anyone interested in supporting the Clarion West workshop — the workshop that gave me my start as an SF author! — is still able to make a contribution on my page for the Write-a-Thon.

If anyone who made a donation wants to see the papers, feel free to email me and you can check out the final drafts. (It’s very academic stuff, though, be warned!)

4 thoughts on “Write-a-Thon Results

  1. Wow, you’ve written up a storm, dude.

    You actually finished a conference paper a month prior to the submission date? What are you, a geek or something?

    I’m still trying to squeeze out a paper for a converence in Tokyo in two weeks but many, many non-academic factors are conspiring to make it impossible for me to finish.

    It’s the Society for Social Studies of Science conference.

    For some weeks I couldn’t write the paper (feeling blue or something) and I nosed around my computer and found your short story “The Country of the Young” somewhere on my hard drive. That plunged me into a worse depression.

    It changed the way I look at Korea, perhaps forever. I felt it was too credible. I identified the character Jiah with my daughter, feeling that she could easily live in the society you portrayed after she grows up.

    Somehow that story was too chillingly realistic. The way you portrayed the omnipresent technophilia. The immense power of the Chaebol and its likely usurpation of the state’s social functions.

    What I genuinely admired was the way you deployed with the political ideologies in the biotech-dominated society. For example, the idea that after NK is absorbed by the south, that Juche will become a genuinely subversive ideology of anticapitalist resistance instead of a cult of worshipping the state.

    What is even more interesting is your projection of today’s contemporary patterns of social stratification onto a future in which the aging process itself will become a basis of stratification, rather than money itself…

    Actually, the story left me wishing for additional stories set in the same universe but with different characters. A whole book perhaps even. That would plunge me into even greater misery but very intriguing.

  2. Bradley,

    Oh, I likely won’t finish the shortened, presentation-friendly versions of the papers till a few days before I fly, but, hey… that’s life. I’m shooting for 2 days work per summary. That’s a week of solid work.

    As for The Country of the Young… would you mind reposting your comments to the post on the story itself, or if I did so? I think it might be interesting for readers abroad to see your sense of how it fits with Korea today.

    As for more stories set in the same world: yeah, it’s something I plan. I have a couple of ideas, and think it’d make an interesting collection of short stories… including a retelling of a specific Korean story by a modern author, weirdly adapted to this bleak North Korean setting.

    I have a much less believable novel draft somewhere that’s partly set in a reabsorbed North Korea, one that was taking refugees and since the USA was collapsing in that world, you got American refugees (especially Mexican and other nonwhites, including lots of kids orphaned in terrorist attacks) being brought to the North, being taught Korean, and being sent to work in construction in the growing chaebol polises for a pittance.

    The second part of the story, though — featuring a mixed-blooded (part Korean) American refugee who ends up being a cop-for-hire in Busan — sort of like a PI, but hired in a more official capacity, alternately by different police corps, in a city where police services have been privatized and are bidded on by a central computer. The character’s specialty was foreigner crimes, interrogation and psychological analysis. I think guy’s story could probably be suitably reworked for a new short story… and likely his stint teaching Korean to foreign refugees in the North could fit a different character, but the novel as a whole wasn’t just unworkable — I already cannibalized parts of it for other things I’m working on or have already published.

    Anyway, nice to hear you “liked” to story, if that’s the right word. Appreciated, maybe?

  3. Gord,

    Yes, I will re post my comments on your post for the story. I didn’t realize you have a post for that story.

    Of course I liked it! I echo the reviewer you quoted who enjoyed the “somber” details.

    Another person you quoted described it as “chilling.” I think that if it comes off as chilling, that means it hits some nerves. Not just one or two but a few nerves.

  4. Bradley,

    Yeah, I have posts for all my stories, in case readers want to know more about them — the genesis, the reviews, links for more information, and so on.

    Which reminds me, I haven’t put up posts for the two stories I have coming out in anthologies this fall. Guess I should!

    BTW, Aliette’s French, and I don’t think she’s all that familiar with Korea; I think she just figures it’s frighteningly believable.

    Thanks for reposting!

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