West Windsor, N.J. – For Ed Carmien, Ph.D., a professor of English at Mercer County Community College, the answer to the question, “What’s your favorite subject?” is an easy one.
While Carmien enthusiastically teaches writing, American literature, and several other English classes at Mercer, his genre of choice is fantasy and science fiction. He teaches courses in the subject each year and has expanded the horizons of many students to what is, quite literally, another world of literature.
Carmien is the author of 16 short stories that have been published in noted science fiction and fantasy magazines, and has also written non-fiction pieces on the genre. He has also become a regular participant at national and international conferences and conventions for educators, authors and fans of the genre.
Most recently, Carmien participated in two panel discussions at Philcon, the annual Philadelphia convention on science fiction, fantasy and horror that took place Nov. 8-10.
Carmien served as the moderator for a panel entitled: “Do You Really Want to Live in a Utopia?” The discussion focused on the notion of happiness typically found in fictional utopias. “Characters may claim that they are happy in fictional utopias but, on closer inspection, the societies are always flawed,” Carmien says. “Because it is difficult to generate the necessary drama to drive the plot line in a ‘perfect’ utopian society, fictional utopias generally have fundamental problems.”
Also on the panel were Tobias Cabral, Alexis Gilliland, Michael Swanwick, and Ian Randal Strock.
Carmien participated in a second discussion based on a groundbreaking anthology by renowned science fiction writer Harlan Ellison. In “‘Dangerous Visions’ Reexamined,” Carmien and fellow panelists Tom Doyle, Jim Freund and Steve Miller posed the provocative question, “Did this change the field forever? Or is it overrated?” The moderator was Tim W. Burke. Carmien notes that the panel provided him with a chance to revisit material from a class he taught to graduate students in Hamburg, Germany, in 2012.