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Past events


Human and machine – an intimate relationship?

22 November 2018, 19:00 – 22:30

On this literary discussion night about Sci-Fi by the University of Ghent I will be participating in the panel.


This year the Scandinavian department is working on the relationship between man and machine. Sci-Fi literature. I think it's a very important signal that the university is putting Sci-Fi literature on the agenda as an area of research!


What is human and what is artificial? What constitutes the human mind? Would it be possible to construct such a mind and if so, how would this artificial intelligence view itself?
This evening we discuss the topics with three specialized authors and two researchers from Belgium and Sweden.
The evening will consist of an open discussion in English, alternated with readings in Dutch and Swedish.

Människa och maskin – en intim relation?

Mens en machine – een intieme relatie?

Human and machine – an intimate relationship?


Free entrance

Made possible with the financial support of VFL http://www.vfl.be/, The Swedish Institute https://si.se/ & Vakgroep Letterkunde - Universiteit Gent http://www.letterkunde.ugent.be/

Participants:

  • Sam Ghazi (SW)
  • Pen Stewart (BE)
  • Guido Eekhout (BE)
  • Jerry Määttä (SW)

Moderator:

  • Sophie Wennerscheid (DE)

Sam Ghazi

Thought is what differentiates humans from other beings, that’s what we’ve long believed. However, the emergence of artificial intelligence puts that belief into question. Sam Ghazi ‘s debut novel Sången ur det kinesiska rummet (The Song from the Chinese Room) takes place in a future Stockholm and focuses on Simona, a doctor and researcher working in a hospital laboratory. Her assistant is Cepheus, a cancer diagnostics robot consisting of a large camera head with a red eye and two sensitive hands. His formidable intelligence allows him to diagnose specimens with enormous efficiency but also makes him unstable and in spite of his insect-like appearance he gradually develops a human way of thinking. He becomes fond of Simona and soon this begins to disrupt his work; he starts to ask questions about his own existence, his relationship to humans, and whether all beings, including robots, are equal. In beginning to create poetry he goes a step too far, and the management decides to shut him down, but is it possible to “kill” a form of intelligence that has all of cyberspace at its disposal? With his virtual tentacles Cepheus has already hacked into computer systems and power plants. From his position, existing nowhere and everywhere, he can shut down cities, take control of satellites and watch over Simona. He can shape his own thoughts, good as well as evil, become a free and autonomous being and evolve into a creative subject.

Ghazi’s novel, the title of which refers to the famous thought experiment by philosopher John Searle, draws on the works of Kubrick, Clarke and Asimov, but has a poetic tone and symbolism that makes it relevant here and now. It raises the issue of what would happen if artificially intelligent beings could question their own creators.

Sam Ghazi was born 1967 in Stockholm, Sweden. He made his debut in 2007 with the poetry collection Sömn är tyngre än vatten (Sleep is heavier than Water), a fictionalized investigation of the life and death of a father, which was nominated to Borås Tidnings debutantpris (The Borås Newspaper Debutant Prize). His second novel Teonauterna (The Theonauts) will be released in the autumn of 2019 and deals with a space expedition to explore a God-like object that could represent the source of life in the universe. Besides being a writer Sam Ghazi is also a medical doctor, specializing in clinical pathology.

Text: Modified from Norstedts publishing house and New Swedish Books 2014 by The Swedish Arts Council.

Guido Eekhaut

Guido Eekhaut is a prolific writer of crime and suspense novels, fantastic and speculative fiction and books for young adults.

He came to genre literature after discovering the work of Jack Vance at age fifteen, and that of Ursula Le Guin, Michael Moorcock, M. John Harrison, J. G. Ballard, Thomas Disch and many others. Later he enjoyed Vladimir Nabokov, Jorge Luis Borger, Angela Carter, Haruki Murakami, John Hawkes and Jonathan Lethem.

He started writing short stories in the eighties, winning several literary awards. A number of his short fictions has been published abroad, based on his own English versions. He also wrote widely for magazines and newspapers.

One his first novel, a post-apocalyptic tale 'The Circle Years', received the Literary Award of the City of Brussels.

After winning the Hercule Poirot Award in 2009 with his first crime book, 'Absinthe', he published nearly a score of other books, some regular and traditional crime, others diverging from the genre into the more literary, psychological and speculative fields. He was shortlisted twice for the Dutch Golden Noose crime award.

https://guidoeekhaut.squarespace.com/

Pen Stewart

The writing of Pen Stewart spans multiple genres, from fantasy, science fiction, dystopia, steam-punk to magical realism. Typical of her stories are the social commitment and accessible, smooth writing style. The stories are not so much genre in itself, the genre is used to focus on the deeper layers of the story and reinforcing them. Deeper layers repeatedly touching topics we have to deal with in everyday life: discrimination, terror, religious violence, euthanasia, animal abuse, women's rights, gender, etc.

Pen has an aversion to the void, and with each story she is trying to find a balance between the adventurous and the thoughtful, the journey of the characters and the deeper layers of the story that make us think as a human about the world around us, stripped of all frills.

http://penstewart.com/

Jerry Määttä (researcher)

Research Interests: Sociology of literature, the modern book market, ecocriticism, science fiction, popular literature, disaster stories, role-playing games, fanzines/fan cultures, criticism, literary prizes and awards, and questions on Bildung and fiction

Work in Progress:

The End of the World: The Rhetoric and Ideology of Apocalypse in Literature and Film, ca. 1950–2010

The aim of this project is to examine the modern British and American disaster story by analysing a few strategically selected novels and movies from the period ca. 1950–2010. Apart from sketching the evolution of the apocalyptic motif in modern disaster stories, the study will focus on the aesthetic and stylistic characteristics of the genre, its rhetorics, structure, appeal and functions, and some of its underlying ideological and political standpoints. The project is financed by the Swedish Research Council.

Sophie Wennerscheid (researcher, moderator)

Sophie Wennerscheid is professor of Scandinavian Studies at Ghent university. Originally trained as a scholar of Scandinavian and German literature, she has broadened her research areas looking at the entangled relationships between humans, nature and technology represented in films and literature from Scandinavia and elsewhere. Her current research focuses on forms of intimate relationships which are problematized by the majority of a society as deviating from the norm and therefore as questionable or even illegitimate. Such questionability becomes clear particularly in the relationship between humans and posthuman creatures, the ‘technological Others’.

In various articles on „Love and Sex with Robots“ and in her book, Sex machina. The Future of Desire (forthcoming), she investigates how ‘posthuman love affairs’ are represented nowadays, at the beginning of the so-called posthumanist age, in science fiction films and literature. Drawing on posthumanist queer theory, she seeks to explore the impact of technological developments on practices of love and sexuality. Which changes in intimate relationships are subject of discussion in contemporary artworks? What does it mean to desire posthumanly? Can man’s relationship with machines translate into real intimacy? Considering these questions by analyzing science fiction can help to explain our technocultural condition, because in that genre more than others we find the encounter between man and machine already thematized.


Workshop: Looking for a publisher, and now?

25 November 2018, 10:00 – 17:00

This workshop is suited for people who have been working on a manuscript for a while and want to look for a publisher. If you want to be resilient as an author before taking this step, then this workshop is for you!


Writing a good manuscript is one thing, but how do you get it published? Pen Stewart, as an author, explored it all herself and is happy to share her experience during this interactive lecture. She shares some practical tips and advice and helps you to turn yourself into resilient writers with business knowledge.

How do you do that, finding a publisher, publishing your book yourself, or something in between? How do you ensure that you get a fair pay for your work, a good contract, and that your book will be sold in bookshops? A well-informed author will not just let him or herself be fooled and will be better able to defend his or her rights in a negotiating position with a publisher! This workshop is suitable for any genre.

Today there are many ways to publish your book. So many possibilities, each with their own advantages and disadvantages, that you won't see the wood for the trees anymore.

After this workshop you can, and you know:

  1. What is the book market like?
    (The life cycle of a book)

  2. Which are the ways I can publish my book?
    (The difference between POD, selfpub, semi-professional and professional publishers)

  3. How do I approach a publisher?
    (The synopsis, the cover letter, introducing yourself, selecting publisher candidates)

  4. The elevator pitch

  5. Copyright, what is that?

  6. The contract, what should it contain, and what is better left out?

  7. Subsidy possibilities in Belgium

  8. Supporting institutions for the author

  9. The tax return

Location: Multifunctional centre "Entre Cour & Jardin" in Melle
Price: € 179 for a whole day

Afternoon break with sandwich lunch and (non-alcoholic) drinks included. Coffee/tea with refreshment at the reception in the morning and in the afternoon break.
After the course you can (at your own expense) join me for dinner in the Tokyo-Sushi restaurant, where we can have a chat and network.

Subscribe via mail: pen@penstewart.com, clearly stating which date you choose.
Please note, the number of seats is limited to 20 people per session.


Workshop: Looking for a publisher, and now?

2 March 2019, 10:00 – 17:00

This workshop is suited for people who have been working on a manuscript for a while and want to look for a publisher. If you want to be resilient as an author before taking this step, then this workshop is for you!


Writing a good manuscript is one thing, but how do you get it published? Pen Stewart, as an author, explored it all herself and is happy to share her experience during this interactive lecture. She shares some practical tips and advice and helps you to turn yourself into resilient writers with business knowledge.

How do you do that, finding a publisher, publishing your book yourself, or something in between? How do you ensure that you get a fair pay for your work, a good contract, and that your book will be sold in bookshops? A well-informed author will not just let him or herself be fooled and will be better able to defend his or her rights in a negotiating position with a publisher! This workshop is suitable for any genre.

Today there are many ways to publish your book. So many possibilities, each with their own advantages and disadvantages, that you won't see the wood for the trees anymore.

After this workshop you can, and you know:

  1. What is the book market like?
    (The life cycle of a book)

  2. Which are the ways I can publish my book?
    (The difference between POD, selfpub, semi-professional and professional publishers)

  3. How do I approach a publisher?
    (The synopsis, the cover letter, introducing yourself, selecting publisher candidates)

  4. The elevator pitch

  5. Copyright, what is that?

  6. The contract, what should it contain, and what is better left out?

  7. Subsidy possibilities in Belgium

  8. Supporting institutions for the author

  9. The tax return

Location: Multifunctional centre "Entre Cour & Jardin" in Melle
Price: € 179 for a whole day

Afternoon break with sandwich lunch and (non-alcoholic) drinks included. Coffee/tea with refreshment at the reception in the morning and in the afternoon break.
After the course you can (at your own expense) join me for dinner in the Tokyo-Sushi restaurant, where we can have a chat and network.

Subscribe via mail: pen@penstewart.com, clearly stating which date you choose.
Please note, the number of seats is limited to 20 people per session.


MysteriA Fantasy Fair & Fest

4 May 2019, 10:00 – 5 May 2019, 17:00

The second edition of this new Fantasy event, on the enchanting realm of Elzenhof in Aarschot.

MysteriA 2019
Mysteria Fantasy Fair 2019

It's your Magic, it's your Fantasy, it's YOUR MysteriA!

Programme still in the making…


Workshop: Looking for a publisher, and now?

24 November 2019, 10:00 – 17:00

This workshop is suited for people who have been working on a manuscript for a while and want to look for a publisher. If you want to be resilient as an author before taking this step, then this workshop is for you!


Writing a good manuscript is one thing, but how do you get it published? Pen Stewart, as an author, explored it all herself and is happy to share her experience during this interactive lecture. She shares some practical tips and advice and helps you to turn yourself into resilient writers with business knowledge.

How do you do that, finding a publisher, publishing your book yourself, or something in between? How do you ensure that you get a fair pay for your work, a good contract, and that your book will be sold in bookshops? A well-informed author will not just let him or herself be fooled and will be better able to defend his or her rights in a negotiating position with a publisher! This workshop is suitable for any genre.

Today there are many ways to publish your book. So many possibilities, each with their own advantages and disadvantages, that you won't see the wood for the trees anymore.

After this workshop you can, and you know:

  1. What is the book market like?
    (The life cycle of a book)

  2. Which are the ways I can publish my book?
    (The difference between POD, selfpub, semi-professional and professional publishers)

  3. How do I approach a publisher?
    (The synopsis, the cover letter, introducing yourself, selecting publisher candidates)

  4. The elevator pitch

  5. Copyright, what is that?

  6. The contract, what should it contain, and what is better left out?

  7. Subsidy possibilities in Belgium

  8. Supporting institutions for the author

  9. The tax return

Location: Multifunctional centre "Entre Cour & Jardin" in Melle
Price: € 179 for a whole day

Afternoon break with sandwich lunch and (non-alcoholic) drinks included. Coffee/tea with refreshment at the reception in the morning and in the afternoon break.
After the course you can (at your own expense) join me for dinner in the Tokyo-Sushi restaurant, where we can have a chat and network.

Subscribe via mail: pen@penstewart.com, clearly stating which date you choose.
Please note, the number of seats is limited to 20 people per session.


Past events