Science Fiction Los Angeles: Words and World Building in the City of Angels

RSVP Required

Go to:
Saturday, October 29, 2016
When: 9:00am - 5:00pm
Harman Academy, DML 241
Saturday, October 29, 2016 - 09:00

Presented by the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West, USC Dornsife College, and the Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study, this exciting conference explores the symbiotic relationship between Los Angeles and the vibrant literary and cinematic genres of science fiction.  Organized by critic David L. Ulin and historian William Deverell, Science Fiction Los Angeles will, by way of lively panels, film screenings, and readings, explore just how Los Angeles has played such a critical role in the imagined worlds and landscapes of American science fiction writing and film.  

From a film-screening kickoff on Friday, October 28th at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Linwood Dunn Theater, the conference moves to a full-day investigation of the topic on Saturday, October 29th at the Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study in Doheny Memorial Library at USC. 


Science fiction is part of the cultural heritage of Los Angeles. From the Los Angeles Science Fiction Society, whose members, including Ray Bradbury and Robert Heinlein, began meeting at Clifton's Cafeteria in the 1930s, to the dystopian visions of the film Blade Runner, based on Philip K. Dick's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Southern California's particular blend of high and pop culture has made the place an incubator of the form. On October 28 and 29, we will honor this heritage with a two-day conference exploring the lively, curious, and critical role that Los Angeles had played in the development of science fiction landscapes across literature and film. 


Sponsored by the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West, USC Dornsife College, and the USC Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study, the conference begins with a Friday night screening of the 2013 film HER at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Linwood Dunn Theater in Hollywood. We will open the evening with an introduction provided by Los Angeles Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne on the architectural settings and moods of L.A. science fiction films. 

On Saturday, we move to USC and the Doheny Memorial Library for a series of panels and discussions with writers and thinkers on the implications of Los Angeles's science fiction heritage.  Featured authors include Steve Erickson, Mark Frauenfelder, Margaret Wappler, and M.G. Lord, and panels will cover such themes as Artificial Intelligence and visions of the future, the sustained influence of the late Octavia Butler, and the ways in which Ray Bradbury’s life in Los Angeles influenced his writing. 

PLEASE NOTE:  This conference is open to the public, but reservations are required. Ticketing for the screening on Friday, October 28 and the panels on Saturday, October 29 are separate. If you wish to attend both days, please make sure you make your reservation for each day. 

If you are a USC student associated with the Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study and not applying for the student cohort, please contact Karin Huebner ( for tickets and more information. 

Friday, October 28: Screening of HER at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Linwood Dunn Theater


Cost:  $3 members and students, $5 regular

Saturday, October 29: Panels & Discussions at the USC Doheny Library 

Tickets:, code: SCIFILA

Cost:  Free


We are inviting applications for twenty young scholars to attend and contribute to this conference.  Applicants need not be subject matter experts - we are looking for a diverse mix of creative and intellectually curious scholars in their respective disciplines, who will energetically embrace this unique and challenging opportunity. Please note that if you have been accepted as a member of the student cohort, you will receive free admission and transportation to the screening.  For more information about the event and the application details, please click here


Friday, October 28th 

7:00 pm    Conversation with Christopher Hawthorne, Architecture Critic for the L.A. Times

7:30 pm    Film screening of HER at the Linwood Dunn Theater in Hollywood

Saturday, October 29th

9:00 am     Opening remarks from William Deverell and David L. Ulin

9:30 am     Los Angeles: The Capital of Science Fiction: David L. Ulin in conversation with with  MG Lord, Margaret Wappler, and Kristin Miller

11:00 am    Octavia Butler: Madeleine Brand in conversation with Lynell George and Ayana A.H.   Jamieson

                        12:00 pm   Lunch

1:00 pm     Artificial Intelligence, Science Fiction, and the Future: Peter Westwick in conversation with Tracy Fullerton, Mark Frauenfelder, and Shrikanth Narayanan

2:15 pm     Witness and Celebrate -- Ray Bradbury’s Los Angeles: a video presentation by Jonathan Eller

3:15 pm     Philip K. Dick in Southern California: Steve Erickson in conversation with Scott Timberg

5:00 pm    Closing remarks offered by William Deverell and David L. Ulin, followed by a reception for all