The World Science Fiction Convention in Dublin

August 8th, 2019

This year’s World Science Fiction Convention will be held in Dublin. I shall be there. My own program currently includes a concert with my songs, a discussion panel on “Humorous Fantasy” and one on “Satire and the Fantastic”. I’m especially happy about this last topic, because when I had finished my exam at the university, I was offered the option of adding a phd. Topic: Satire and fantasy.

Great topic, which at that time I would have tackled mainly by discussing Flann O’Brien / Miles na Gopaleen. Nobody knew him back then, he had disappeared into the cracks of literary history, but then his oeuvre was translated, and today, when you talk about Irish literature, it’s hard to imagine life without him.

In a nutshell: I didn’t do a doctorate. If I lived in Austria, you might call me Mrs. Magister, but that’s all there is. I didn’t “get it done”. I had to work full time and simply couldn’t manage to work for my dissertation in the evening. There are people who can do that. And there are people who can copy other theses terribly well. I didn’t belong to either of those groups. With the latter, I can pat myself on the back morally, but concerning this particular subject there really wasn’t much to copy back then. Speculative literature was simply not a subject that the university would teach at the time. Anyone who liked SFF, like me, would do well to enjoy it in secret so as not to get the nimbus of a trash lover.

Trash. The word annoys me again and again. Is there literary trash? Sure. There is. But what is rubbish and what is not, can only be defined very imprecisely, may be something different for everyone and certainly is not the apt description of one entire literary genre. A trigger topic for me. I could jump about and stamp my feet – and explain to the people that

a) there are good books and bad books in every literary genre
b) no one suddenly becomes a literary scholar just because he/she calls an entire genre trash
c) the interpretation of literary texts which one has not read at all – indeed never – is no less primitive than the statement “Modern art is only kids’ stuff. Any three-year-old can do it” – again without knowing art.
d) Statements like “books with ghosts, dwarves and devils I simply can’t take seriously at all” include almost all our classics. Faust – hello – what then was at the core of the poodle?

Now I got off topic a little. Back to satire and fantasy.
And back to Dublin. What else am I going to do?

I want to drink coffee at Bewley’s.
I want to do a distillery tour at Jameson’s and drink whiskey.
I want to meet a lot of writers.
I want to hear beautiful Irish music.
I want books … no. I don’t want to buy books. NO books. Do you hear? No more books.
Maybe a hat? – No. No hat either.
Maybe I’ll take a boat trip up the Liffey.

Or I find the street in Dublin that I sometimes have nightmares about without recognizing it. I surely won’t look for it.

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