S272. Speculative Fiction: Defining the Rules of a Rule-Breaking Genre

Room 402 AB, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level
Saturday, April 2, 2016
4:30 pm to 5:45 pm


What are the risks of breaking rules in fiction? What are the rewards? Do unicorns exist? Five award-winning speculative writers share their origin stories and reasons for writing fiction that eschews formal convention (and occasionally the laws of physics). Though speculative fiction is often marginalized, they discuss why it should be necessary reading for students of any genre, and offer practical advice for writers who want to try it and teachers who want to implement it into their curriculum.



Rob Spillman is editor and cofounder of Tin House. He is the 2015 recipient of the PEN/Nora Magid Award for Editing and is currently a lecturer at Columbia University. His memoir, All Tomorrow’s Parties, is forthcoming.

Marie-Helene Bertino is the author of the story collection Safe as Houses and the novel 2 A.M. at the Cat's Pajamas. She teaches at NYU and in the low-residency MFA program at the Institute for American Indian Arts. For more info: www.mariehelenebertino.com

Ramona Ausubel is the author of PEN/USA Fiction Award winning novel No One Is Here Except All of Us and the collection, A Guide to Being Born. Her work has been published in the New Yorker and elsewhere. She is on faculty of the low-residency MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts.

Aimee Bender is the author of five books, including The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake and The Girl in the Flammable Skirt. Her work has been published in sixteen languages, and she teaches creative writing at USC.

Manuel Gonzales is the author of the collection, The Miniature Wife and Other Stories, and the forthcoming novel, The Regional Office Is Under Attack! He teaches creative writing at the University of Kentucky in Lexington and at the low-residency MFA program at IAIA.


February 7–10, 2024
Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City Convention Center