2022 was my first year as a professor and/but was mostly spent trying to buy and move into a new house.
It took a mere seven months from making the offer to getting the keys, and most of an eighth month before I was finally fully moved in. Probably the lowest, yet also most typical, point of this terrible process was when the deal fell through, and we thought fuck it, we’ll go away for a week’s holiday in Devon to regroup before picking up the pieces. I caught Covid on the train down there; got the all-clear on the morning we had to get the train back.
Still, we now live – surrounded by 150+ boxes of books and DVDs, which will remain unpacked while we have some pretty major conversion work done – in Wales.
Just barely in Wales.
As in, by the first train station, in one of the villages built to house workers digging the Severn Tunnel.
It is a marginally quicker commute to work in north Bristol than it was from my old home in south Bristol. I just have to get used to being reliant on a train or two (rather than multiple buses) per hour.
And to there being almost nothing in way of emergency grocery/wine suppliers en route home.
And to having to leave fun nights out in Bristol earlier than everyone else in order to get the last train back.
Otherwise, the first half of the year was pretty much taken up with promotional work for and spin-offs from The Anthropocene Unconscious: Climate Catastrophe Culture, including:
- ‘Can the Novel Capture the Climate Crisis’ interview for the Economy, Land and Climate podcast (7 January 2022)
- ‘The Anthropocene Unconscious of Shuggie Bain’, Los Angeles Review of Books (8 January 2022)
- ‘The Anthropocene Unconscious: A Conversation with Mark Bould’, CoFutures/Oslo School of Environmental Humanities/University of Oslo, 21 January 2022
- ‘Environmental Humanities: Anthropocene Unconscious’ interview for Moveable Type podcast (June 2022)
- ‘Perturbations of a Planet in Peril: Utopian Interventions in Biodiversity and Climate Breakdown’ plenary panel with Heather Alberro and Richard Seymour, Utopian Studies Society Conference, Brighton 13–15 July 2022
I’ve also given three very different versions of this related paper:
- ‘The Anthropocene Unconscious of Suburban Science Fiction’, Once and Future Fantasies, University of Glasgow, 13–17 July 2022
- ‘Climate Change in Suburban Science Fiction’, The Future: To Whom Will It Belong? Scientific Film and Science Fiction, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Brazil, 17 November 2022
- ‘The Anthropocene Unconscious of Suburban Science Fiction’, Literary and Visual Landscape seminar series, University of Bristol, 23 November 2022)
which is forthcoming as ‘The Anthropocene Unconscious of Suburban SF’ in Ania Malinowska, ed., Anthropocenes: Reworking the Wound (Intellect 2023?)
and one profoundly curtailed version of this related paper:
- ‘Cli-fi/Sci-fi Cinema: Some Tendencies’, FilmeCiência: IV Festival de Filmes Científicos, Banco do Brasil Cinema Cultural Center, São Paolo, Brazil, 16 November 2022
I’d already cut it to the bone, and then at the last moment discovered the live simultaneous translation was actually live sequential translation, so while Alfredo was bravely making sense of what I was saying and turning it into Portuguese, I was busy editing each next paragraph down into a digestible sentence or two. I like to think no one noticed. (Everyone did.) It is forthcoming as ‘Cli-Fi’ in J.P. Telotte, ed., The Oxford Handbook of New Science Fiction Cinemas (Oxford UP, 2023?).
And the Italian translation of The Anthropocene Unconscious came out, courtesy of the smart, lovely and helpfully bilingual Marta Olivi.
The only completely new things I managed to write this year were a reminiscence/ article:
- ‘ghetto jazz mumbo jumbo’, Foundation: The International Journal of Science Fiction 51.2 (2022): 33–40.
and the first postscript I’ve ever been asked to contribute to an edited collection (in which I seize the opportunity to make elaborate connections between Captain Scarlet and Walter Benjamin’s ninth thesis on the philosophy of history):
- ‘Postscript: Screening Futures: From Scarlet to Ebon’ in Joel Hawkes, ed., American Science Fiction Television and the (Re)configuration of Space, 1987-2021 (Palgrave Macmillan 2023?)
and a book review which, despite the urgent tone with which it was commissioned, has still not appeared:
- ‘Joshua Schuster and Derek Woods, Calamity Theory: Three Critiques of Existential Risk’, American Literary History Review
and all but the last two boring leftover bits for Mark Bould and Steven Shaviro, eds, This is Not a Science Fiction Textbook (Goldsmith Press/MIT Press 2023?), the manuscript of which will finally be submitted early in January.
I also got to do two live on-stage interviews with directors after screenings of their films.
Hanging out with Lucile Hadzihalilovic (the only-slightly-bemused recipient of a copy of The Anthropocene Unconscious, the cover image of which comes from her film Evolution) and then discussing Earwig with her and a properly and appropriately stunned audience (Watershed, Bristol 11 June 2022) was a real lift in the middle of our house-buying ordeal:
MB (naïvely): Will you ever let your audience see the sky in one of your films?
LH (deadpan): Of course you can’t see the sky, because then you could breathe…
Jane de Almeida, director of Loga, Marte, was rather less terrifying – and also one of our fabulous hosts at FilmeCiência: IV Festival de Filmes Científicos, Banco do Brasil Cinema Cultural Center, São Paolo, Brazil (November 2022)
Also, in Brazil, I was part of a plenary panel
- ‘Science, Science Education, Scientific Film and Science Fiction Cinema in Times of Pandemic and the Extreme Right’ with Oliver Gaycken and Alfredo Suppia, The Future: To Whom Will It Belong? Scientific Film and Science Fiction, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Brazil, 17 November 2022
Other public events:
- ‘SF and Utopian Art as a Model for the Future’, a public talk at Bristol Transformed Festival, Malcolm X Centre, Bristol 15 May 2022
- introducing Ridley Scott’s Alien for Horror Without End, the Lansdown, Bristol 5 July 2022
- banging on about Crimes of the Future with Nick Chandler for it-will-feel-like-hours on Reel Talk
- introducing Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner: The Final Cut for Film Noir UK, Curzon Cinema & Arts, Clevedon 9 September 2022 (although I was not actually there in person since we were birthday partying in London with China)
I also joined the advisory editorial board of the soon-to-launch journal The Incredible Nineteenth Century: Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Fairy Tale, and examined a pair of rather tasty PhDs
- Iram Ghufran, Situating Documentary Film in a Speculative Future: An Exploration in Multi-Species Entanglements (University of Westminster 2022)
- Guangzhao Lyu, The Boom and the Boom: Historical Rupture and Political Economy in Contemporary Chinese and British Science Fiction (University College London 2022)
Oh, and I had a couple of quite serious seizure-like events (March, September) and then a really serious one (December) which left me spasming unconscious in the street. Doctors are now considering whether it is not in fact a neurological problem (i.e., not technically seizures) but a cardiological one.
As in, sometimes, for unknown reasons, my heart just stops beating.
And then, after a while and for equally unknown reasons, starts up again. (So far.)
I’ll be having a subcutaneous heart monitor inserted some time in the new year.