Headlining the six days of sci-fi celebrations during half term, from October 24 to 29, will be Scotland’s leading writer of the genre Ken MacLeod, author of the new Corporation Wars trilogy.
He will be joined by Huddersfield’s own Joanne Harris; storyteller Tim Ralphs; Dr Will Tattersdill, an expert on Victorian sci-fi magazines; and fantasy writer Alison Lock.
“Ken is proving to be a really big draw,” says Sarah Falcus, a senior lecturer in English literature in Huddersfield and one of the festival organisers.
“But science fiction is a really appealing genre across all age groups. We want to make a festival that is for everyone, that’s why we hold it at half term.
“Science fiction is very popular among students. We have a lot of students who write it and know a lot about the genre. The university has a science fiction society. There are people who enjoy science fiction from six to 60, and over.”
Many of the festival events are free and some are specifically aimed at children and young people.
SciFest is also encouraging youngsters to share their sci-fi fantasies by entering two competitions, one for writers aged 11 to 18 and the other for artists up to the age of 16.
Entrants will be asked to either writer a postcard from another world or produce an artwork for the chance to win one of three £50 book vouchers.
Can’t wait for the fun to begin? This weekend sees a pre-festival family film-screening of the 2008 computer animated movie WALL-E about a robot who is left on an abandoned earth of the future and encounters a probe sent down to scan the planet.
The showing is on Sunday, October 9, at 1pm in the Greenwood Centre, Dewsbury. No booking is necessary and the admission price of £3 gives entry to the Greenwood Film Club’s three films this season.
But the festival proper begins on Monday, October 24, with a Radiophonic Workshop for over 18s.
The university’s Heritage Quay event starts at 6pm and will allow participants to make their own other-worldly 1960s-inspired sound effects. Entry is free but places need to be booked.
Other highlights of the festival include:
Alison Lock: Let’s Make a Fantasy World on Tuesday, October 25, at Birkby Fartown Library from 10am and Batley Library from 2pm.
Alison is the creator of Maysun and the Wingfish, set in a fantasy world, and will be leading a young people’s writing workshop studying elements such as planetary climates, history, language, magic and customs. Entry is free, book a place at the library of your choice.
Joanne Harris: From Tricksters to Tweeting on Tuesday, October 25, at 7pm in the Town Hall Reception Room, Huddersfield.
While Joanne is known for her best-seller Chocolat she has written much more and crossed genres – from crime to mythology. She will talk about what draws her to the fantastic and gothic and may even get around to discussing her love affair with Twitter. Tickets are £2 and £4 and must be booked.
Dr Will Tattersdill: Analogy, Victorian Dinosaurs and the Failure of Pixar on Wednesday, October 26, from 12.15pm at JPG/13 Huddersfield University. Entry is free, no booking necessary.
Birmingham University lecturer Dr Tattersdill is an expert on Victorian literature and in this talk will look at the Victorian fascination with dinosaurs. He is giving a second talk on Late Victorian Sci-Fi Magazines at 7pm in Heritage Quay, which looks at how the authors of the 19th century, with their tales of technology and exploration, opened the way for a whole new genre of sci-fi literature. Free but a place must be booked.
Ken MacLeod: How to be a Science Fiction Writer on Thursday, October 27, at 2.15pm in Heritage Quay. The award-winning author will talk about his experiences as a writer and answer questions from the audience. Entry is free but should be booked.
At 7.30pm, in the Huddersfield Town Hall Reception Room, Ken will be giving another presentation, this time The Science in Science Fiction – Does it Matter? Tickets are £2 and £4.
Tim Ralphs: Visitors From Other Worlds on Thursday, October 27 at 11.30am and 2pm at the Tolson Museum.
Storyteller Tim entertains with tales of timid visitors to our planet who have an interesting perspective on mankind. Tim can be seen again in the evening, from 6.30pm at Lindley Library, with a mind-expanding look at how our view of the cosmos has evolved over thousands of years. Entry to each event is £1 with no booking necessary.
Other Worlds: Utopian and Dystopian Futures on Saturday, October 29, from 10 am at Huddersfield Town Hall Reception Room.
Offering bitesize introductions to three thought-provoking utopian/dystopian novels, three members of staff from Huddersfield University – Allegra Hartley, Nic Stavris and Sarah Falcus – will talk about Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Sarah Hall’s The Carhullan Army. Entry is free but places need to be booked.
The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari on Saturday, October 29 at Heritage Quay.
A Halloween experience in partnership with the university’s drama department. From haunted artefacts and mysterious entertainers to a classic movie, the venue has yet to confirm times.
For details of all events and bookings visit scifestyorkshire2016.wordpress.com