Being global doesn’t mean anyone needs to be up at 2am! Programming is designed in three regional schedules, so that attendees anywhere in the world can attend the majority of live conference sessions at “normal” morning, daytime, and evening hours. Attendees can also watch presentations they missed on video in Terra.
Learn about your region—named for lands created by some of the world’s leading writers of futurist and speculative fiction.
URRAS-ANARRES North & South America
“The settlers of Anarres had turned their backs on the Old World and its past, opted for the future only. But just as sure as the future becomes the past, the past becomes the future.”
—Ursula LeGuin, The Dispossessed
Urras and Anarres are binary planets orbiting Tau Ceti. Urras is the lush earth-like homeworld for the intelligent Cetians. Anarres experiences an arid inhospitable environment; its indigenous lifeforms thrive only in its seas. The people of Urras are nationalistic, but long ago stripped their world of easy minerals. Urras mined Anarres, until they sent their troublesome anarchists from their world to enter an uneasy exchange. The Anarresti would continue to mine for Urras, but they would also be left alone to develop their own cooperative society in the harsh world.
In The Dispossessed, theoretical physicist Shevek, raised by a colony of anarchists on arid Anarres, visits the home world, Urras, whose hierarchies, inequalities, and deep histories of division plague its polities. LeGuin writes, “The settlers of Anarres had turned their backs on the Old World and its past, opted for the future only. But just as sure as the future becomes the past, the past becomes the future.” Shevek develops a breakthrough theory of temporality, which becomes the basis for the ansible, a device that connects distant planets through instantaneous communication. From that moment, the fictional interplanetary network of the Hainish universe evolves into the Ekumen, distant but affiliated worlds, including our own.
Ursula K. LeGuin, (1929–2018) author of The Dispossessed, grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, surrounded by the founding anthropologists of the University of California, Berkeley. Renowned for her empathetic speculative fiction, she reimagined gender roles and political systems, and subverted class and racial stereotypes. She often created ethnographer protagonists, confronting their own culture shock experiences to reveal insights. The United States Library of Congress named her a Living Legend in 2000, the same year she came to San José State University as a Lurie Author-in-Residence.
OOMZA Europe, Africa, West & South Asia
“I think the past, present, and the future coexist within us all the time. I think we carry more than we want to accept.”
Oomza is the homeplanet of Oomza Uni, a prestigious university that houses the most talented members from the many species who range across interstellar space. It is an ancient place, one dedicated to knowledge, practicality, and reflection, constantly juggling the interactions of students and professors, not only from different cultures, but from radically different species. For the cultures that send their students there, it is a source of innovation and inspiration. The technology they create combines the artificial and the organic. Ships are grown. Personal astrolabes connect sentient entities in a web of communication.
Oomza is introduced in the trilogy Binti, by Nnedi Okorafor. The protagonist, Binti, is the first woman of her people, the Himba, to be accepted as a mathematical harmonizer to Oomza Uni. As she stepped onto the living ship that was to become so much a part of her life, she thought, “I was on the threshold now, between my home and my future.” Binti is caught in a conflict between the human Khoush and the jellyfish-like Meduse, and she begins a series of physical, mental, and spiritual transformations that continue throughout the trilogy.
Nnedi Okorafor is the daughter of Igbo Nigerian parents, and one of the leading authors in the emerging Africanfuturism genre. Her works span speculative fiction, space-faring science fiction, and magical realism. Her book trilogy, Binti, has garnered recognition from science fiction’s Hugo and Nebula awards, and the African Speculative Fiction Society’s Nommo literary award. Her Binti short story was a finalist for the British Science Fiction Association Award.
Kaze no Tani Asia Pacific
“I do believe in the power of story. I believe that stories have an important role to play in the formation of human beings, that they can stimulate, amaze and inspire their listeners.”
Kaze no Tani, the Valley of the Wind, is the central location for anime Nausicaä, in Hayao Miyazaki’s anime and manga series. The Valley is a fragile ecosystem, a narrow strip of habitable land in the shadow of a vast toxic wasteland. Nonetheless, it is a place of visual beauty, protected by the sea’s winds.
Mask-wearing Nausicaä, knowing that five minutes without protection from the toxic fungi would kill her, embarks on a prophetic mission to mediate multispecies harmony and ensure human survival. The anime pioneered the genre of far-future ecological cataclysm, depicting the elaborate cultures and creatures that adapted to those conditions.
Hayao Miyazaki (born 1941) is a Japanese animator, producer, screenwriter and manga artist. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Kaze no tani no Naushika, was critical to the foundation of Japan’s Studio Ghibli and set the stage for Miyazaki’s hallmark messages of seeking peace in a violent world, and respecting nature in the face of technology. LeGuin’s Earthsea and Frank Herbert’s Dune influenced Miyazaki’s storytelling. The mercury poisoning of Japan’s Minimata Bay and the resilience of the ecosystem shaped his vision of the Valley of the Wind and the antithetical toxic jungle. In 2012, Miyazaki earned the recognition of his government as a Person of Cultural Merit, bunka kōrōsha.