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An interesting session, despite being a shambles, with one of the panellists recruited as she was walking in to be an audience member – apparently the original panellist’s flight had been delayed. But they all rallied to the cause, giving some good reading recommendations for those interested and doing some useful analysis of why mothering and mothers are portrayed so ambivalently when they are portrayed at all in SF.

One thing occurred to me, which is that mothering (or parenting) is a slow, nurturing job, one that unfolds over many moments whose connection is not always immediately obvious – the example or explanation you give a child one day may resurface in quite startling fashion, sometimes quite transformed, months or years down the track, and only that close, deep attention to another person for their own sake can equip you to understand or even notice their epigenetic and epicultural (epimemetic?) transformation of the influences upon them. Not the stuff of traditional SF – or traditional anything really. But if done right, utterly fascinating; and maybe some of the forms SF seems to suit well, the longer narratives like novel series and episodic TV, are better suited to that kind of slow-motion bloom. Don’s daughter Sally in Mad Men is one example of this kind of literal character development, come to think of it, and Betty’s relationship to her motherhood has been consistently fascinating; having only seen up to the end of Season Three, I’m suddenly very anxious to see how more we get to see of of this in Season Four.

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