Saturday, May 24, 2008

Eaton Conference 2008: Chronicling Mars

From 16th to 18th May 2008, I attended the J.Lloyd Eaton Conference at the University of California, Riverside. I presented a paper entitled "Re-Presenting Mars: Ray Bradbury's Martian Stories in Media Adaptation".

On the panel with me were two Bradbury-related speakers. The noted SF editor, publisher and anthologist David Hartwell spoke on "The Non-Scientific Mars from Burroughs, Brackett & Bradbury to Today". And from Collin College (McKinney, Texas), Eric Palfreyman spoke on "Mars is Heaven: Ray Bradbury's Martian Landscape as a Mythological Setting for his Philosophical and Religious Ideas".

Our panel chair was USC's Paul Alkon, who gave each of us a Mars bar. Highly appropriate!

The panel was privileged in being scheduled immediately before the star attractions: a talk by leading author Kim Stanley Robinson, and a special presentation by Ray Bradbury himself. The conference chairs had warned delegates that if they weren't in the conference hall early, they may not get a seat for the Bradbury talk. And so it was that David, Eric and I were blessed (or cursed) with having the largest audience of the entire conference.

Stan Robinson - with whom I had I very brief chat while looking at old astronomical images of Mars - gave a fascinating account of his dealings with the planet Mars (through his terraforming novel trilogy Red Mars, Green Mars and Blue Mars). He made it clear how indebted he is, and other Mars writers are, to Ray Bradbury for his master work The Martian Chronicles (1950).

Bradbury's talk covered his life and career, and his involvement with Mars. It was followed by a question and answer session, and a mammoth book-signing session.

In attendance for the Bradbury presentation were fellow Message Board members Nard, Doug Spaulding, and jkt. When added to conference delegates philnic, Mr Dark and PatR, this probably made the biggest Board gathering of recent times.

Following the Bradbury talk, a select few (self-selected for the most part) retired to a buffet with Mr B. Much talk and photo-taking followed.

To see my photos of the conference, click on the image below: