CFP: Gardeners of the Galaxies: How Imaginary Worlds Teach Us to Care for This One by Drs. Sørina Higgins and Brenton Dickieson

Hello dear readers! I am super pleased to announce that I am co-editing an academic book with my long-time friend and scholar, Dr. Sørina Higgins (of The Oddest Inkling fame, with edited volumes like the Mythopoeic Award-nominated Charles Williams play, The Chapel of the Thorn, and the Mythopoeic Award-winning The Inklings and King Arthur). For scholars, critics, and creative folk interested in this project, you can find the CFP below and at

I would invite you to watch our be-kittened promo as well. And if you have the ability, please share this CFP with people you think would make great contributors.

CFP: Gardeners of the Galaxies: How Imaginary Worlds Teach Us to Care for This One, co-edited by Dr. Sørina Higgins and Dr. Brenton Dickieson

As the climate crisis worsens, our home planet and our conversations about it are heating up–and creative writers both reflect and anticipate such concerns. Thanks to the recent ethical turn in science fiction and fantasy, many speculative works offer readers a mirror in which to view our own world. Its beauties and vulnerabilities take on special clarity through the page or the screen. A tale of terraforming another planet reminds us how precious and fragile our home world is. The perennial conflict between nature and technology comes alive when trees march to war. We find insights into healthy, diverse communities by spending time with characters in a fellowship–or on a starship.

Gardeners of the Galaxies: How Imaginary Worlds Teach Us to Care for This One will be an academic, peer-reviewed collection of interdisciplinary essays, co-edited by Dr. Brenton Dickieson and Dr. Sørina Higgins. This volume will explore literature, film, the visual arts, and other creative works (especially Cli-Fi, genre fiction, and speculative lit) that imagine, invent, and embody environmental concerns. Rather than coercing texts to conform to our analyses, however, we want to approach our subjects humbly and earnestly, listening to what they say about creation care, biodiversity, or neighborliness; immersing ourselves in their stories of ecological harmony and disharmony; mourning the disasters they depict; and celebrating the solutions they imagine. In particular, we would love analyses of works that envision ingenious alternatives to large-scale planetary depredation.

Chapter proposals might consider questions such as the following (although this list is by no means comprehensive nor intended to limit lines of inquiry): What kinds of environmental disasters are depicted in contemporary literature, film, and other media? How does a certain genre or medium represent nature, and how have those portrayals evolved over time? Do certain metaphors for land or diction choices about earth impact how people treat the soil, landscapes, or ecosystems with which and in which they live? In a given work, is nature empowered or oppressed, and how do characters respond? What is the significance or impact of the anthropomorphism of animals, plants, landscape features, or celestial bodies? When stories blur the line between the human and the nonhuman, what implications does such destabilization have for our living in community with our nonhuman neighbors? What lessons are conveyed through encounters with extraterrestrial species? What do stories of interplanetary colonization suggest about imperialist urges, their ecological impacts on earth, and strategies for integrating with the Other rather than obliterating or oppressing them? Are there tales in which technology plays an essential role in preserving nature or reinforcing what makes us human? What techniques do creators use to entertain us and draw us into moral considerations without compromising artistic excellence or devolving into propaganda?

Submission Information: 

As this volume will be interdisciplinary, we welcome scholars working in literature, film, popular culture, the fine arts, ecology, history, the social sciences, religion, and related fields. While aimed at a scholarly audience, chapters should be written in a lively, accessible tone, avoiding jargon while employing rigorous theoretical and critical frameworks and engaging deeply with existing research. Interested authors should consider trying out their ideas at TexMoot, Signum University’s Annual Texas Literature & Language Symposium (held in Austin, TX, and online; CFP deadline March 1st), which explores the overlapping theme of “Starships, Stewards, and Storytellers: How Imaginary Worlds Teach Us to Care for This One.”

Please submit 500-word proposals here by May 15, 2022. Notifications regarding acceptance will be made in June 2022. Full papers (5,000-8,000 words, including notes) will be due by November 30, 2022.

In addition to academic submissions, the editors will carefully curate a small number of creative works for possible inclusion in the volume. Poets, short-story writers, essayists, and visual artists are invited to submit the actual piece of work that they would like to have considered here; note length limits on the submission form. These works can be submitted up until September 1, 2022.

Send questions about academic submissions to Brenton Dickieson (brenton[dot]dickieson[at]signumu[dot]org). Send queries about creative submissions to Sørina Higgins (sorina[dot]higgins[at]signumu[dot].org).

About Brenton Dickieson

“A Pilgrim in Narnia” is a blog project in reading and talking about the work of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the worlds they touched. As a "Faith, Fantasy, and Fiction" blog, we cover topics like children’s literature, apologetics and philosophy, myths and mythology, fantasy, theology, cultural critique, art and writing. This blog includes my thoughts as I read through Lewis and Tolkien and reflect on my own life and culture. In this sense, I am a Pilgrim in Narnia--or Middle Earth, or Fairyland. I am often peeking inside of wardrobes, looking for magic bricks in urban alleys, or rooting through yard sale boxes for old rings. If something here captures your imagination, leave a comment, “like” a post, share with your friends, or sign up to receive Narnian Pilgrim posts in your email box. Brenton Dickieson is a father, husband, friend, university lecturer, and freelance writer from Prince Edward Island, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter, @BrentonDana.
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16 Responses to CFP: Gardeners of the Galaxies: How Imaginary Worlds Teach Us to Care for This One by Drs. Sørina Higgins and Brenton Dickieson

  1. Pingback: CFP: Gardeners of the Galaxies: How Imaginary Worlds Teach Us to Care for This One by by Drs. Sørina Higgins and Brenton Dickieson – Glyn Hnutu-healh: History, Alchemy, and Me

  2. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    I wonder how far back works go which could be characterized as ones “that imagine, invent, and embody environmental concerns”? Becoming aware earlier today of a set of two Studio Ekran 1991-92 Russian interplanetary ecological short cartoons based on a 1977 short story by Gennady Tishchenko (see Wikipedia article, “Vampires of Geon”), I found Lewis’s ‘Prelude to Space’ springing to mind – but cannot find it’s date! (Sadly no copy of Don King’s Collected Poems within easy access…) Meanwhile, I have begun enjoying an amateur audiobook of the 1938 novella ‘Who Goes There?’ by John W. Campbell Jr. – which strikes me as a fescinating candidate…


    • Well, our walking supposition is that it is a central human theme to “imagine, invent, and embody environmental concerns.” We began in a garden, one way or the other.
      But I am curious about the awakening to “the environment” as a concern. I think it comes in my culture from writers like Aldo Leopold and Rachel Carsen, writing just as the West is awakening from Hiroshima–awakening to the reality that we are now all god, all destroyers of worlds with the capacity to destroy our world.
      Then the generational impact of war and industrialism, urbanization, rapid innovations in agriculture, suburbanization, and a global point of view … the sense of the “garden” grows in us as the reality deepens that we can make an indelible impact on our environment.
      Maybe. I don’t know. That’s just a hunch.
      I don’t know about the Russians. I think the “boy loves girl, boy loves tractor” Soviet love story is less about connection to the land and more about an industrial spirit.
      ‘Prelude to Space’–Charlie Starr dates that to about 1950, which makes some sense.
      ‘Who Goes There?’ by John W. Campbell Jr. … that’s in my mind for a reason I can’t remember. I hope it’s great!

      Liked by 1 person

      • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

        Your re-accenting the Garden, got me thinking about how science-fictiony one might consider Milton’s Paradise Lost, among other things in the way he presents the cosmic impact of the Fall – which got me trying to think about ‘science’ and poetry (and prose fiction) – what length of history, in what senses…?

        Thanks for the ‘Prelude to Space’ date information – it occurs to me that in a way, it epitomizes one aspect of the Ransome cycle – especially OSP-Perelandra-THS – without accenting the Providential aspects in them.

        It was great – wow! Fascinating play with contemporary science – including virology, and wonderfully intricate in how, if at all, in the circumstance to come to reliable ‘evidence’ and avoid disaster. It has many cinematic ‘adapttions’ – starting with The Thing from Another World (1951), followed by The Thing (1982) – and the 2011 one, and another one announced…


        • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

          I keep meaning to try Arkady and Boris Strugatsky’s Roadside Picnic (1972), the title of which seems to be based on a sort of ecological analogy (!) – and I’ve somehow so far missed their screenplay-adaptation for Andrei Takovsksy’s Stalker (1979), much as I am avid to see Tarkovsky movies. I have watched a fair bit of game-play footage of the Chernobyl-located (!) S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series – which in fact made me aware of the novel.

          Liked by 1 person

        • I haven’t thought about Milton’s Paradise Lost and Science Fiction effect, except that the fall of Satan when read carefully for perspective (as Stanley Fish does somewhere) reads much like how Lewis shapes movement, colour, and sense perception in discovery in, say, Ransom’s first visits to Malacandra and Perelandra. I want to reread the poem and may think in these terms: world-building, alienation/estrangement and recovery, atmosphere.
          But it will be months before I get to it.
          A completely different note, but if I was a billionaire, I would hire a brilliant CGI/animation studio to interpret the Divine Comedy visually–something no one has done or could afford to do, but a brilliant reading performance with various styles of artistic visualisation and interpretation and music. It would be a 18-hour film, or maybe 20. It would cost 400m and only make 50m. But what a thing it could be.
          The Thing is on the list to show my son–trying to give him a heritage of film before he slips totally into adulthood. That might be my Campbell link?


          • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

            Yes, Dante… I’ve wondered (unambitiously…) what could be done… and, trying to find some sorts of attempts I think I’ve heard of, I find (with the help of IMDB) something variously described as a Divine Comedy opera or “Musical” – with lots of balletistic action – by Father Marco Frisina (2007), of which there is a professional dvd (2008) – a vimeo trailer of which can be traced via links starting at its IMBD entry, and there are also clips of a live performance of it on YouTube; and further a 2021 “opera film” with Denis Lavant (of whom there are what I take to be live-performance-related clips – in French – on YouTube). There are also a restored 1911 Inferno film – and lots of (to me) weird- and unattractive-looking things that usually have Inferno but sometimes Divine Comedy in the title! I also find assorted professional and amateur audiobooks of various translations, some explicitly described as ‘unabridged’. My quick conclusion is, the field is still wide open for you!

            I think I saw the 1951 Thing as a teenager, and the 1982 one about 15 years after its release… It’s a jolly fact that there is a scan in the Internet Archive of the August 1938 issue of Astounding Science-Fiction with the original story:


            while someone with a YouTube channel called AGreatDivorce has what I think an enjoyable amateur audiobook reading of it. I’m tempted to re-listen with the text before me, as all the scientific detail is not the easiest thing for me to take in by ear: perhaps something you-all might find worthwhile, before or after a movie adaptation (or two…)?

            Liked by 1 person

  3. robstroud says:

    What a fascinating venture. Don’t be surprised if you receive a proposal from the West Coast of our shared continent.


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  6. This sounds like a very timely project. I hope someone will submit something about Indigenous futurisms, and Black speculative fiction, and also Pagan perspectives in speculative fiction. Given the requirement to base contributions on current academic research, I find myself unqualified even to offer the last of these items, sadly.


  7. Pingback: “Gardeners of the Galaxies” Discussion with Sørina Higgins and Brenton Dickieson on Inkling Folk Fellowship (Fri, Apr 29, 2022, 4pm Eastern) | A Pilgrim in Narnia

  8. Pingback: Not today, Yoda – Idiosophy

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