Lectureship unites sci-fi, fantasy writers

Aliens, witches, vampires and goblins were common topics of discussion this week as science fiction and fantasy authors, young writers and fans of the genre descended on Eastern New Mexico University for the annual Jack Williamson Lectureship.

CMI staff photo: Christina Calloway

A panel discusses science fiction classics in television, film and literature Friday at the Jack Williamson Lectureship. The event, started by the late science fiction writer, is in its 37th year.

The three-day event honored the legacy of local sci-fi author Jack Williamson, who made his home in eastern New Mexico and was a longtime, well-regarded fixture at ENMU. Williamson died in 2006, but his legend lives on at the university and in the world of sci-fi literature.

"Jack's greatest legacy was his belief in the university as a site for creativity," said Patrice Caldwell, event organizer and committee member. "He always encouraged students and his colleagues to write, to be creative, and to find new ways to express their ideas."

Now in its 37th year, this week's lectureship included a fiction and poetry reading by special guest and sci-fi Grand Master Joe Haldeman; readings by several visiting writers; a luncheon emceed by Colorado author Connie Willis; and panels ranging in topic from sci-fi and fantasy in television to new directions in the genre.

Friday's panel discussions were the bread and butter of the lectureship. Six panels were held, each giving aspiring writers, industry professionals and sci-fi fans the opportunity to mingle, collaborate and learn from each other about their craft.

"This is my third year coming," said Ken Wilson, who traveled from Albuquerque for the event. "It's fun and it's a good way to meet a bunch of interesting people."

According to Caldwell, close to 350 people attended the lectureship, and came from as far away as New York and Florida.

In addition to the yearly event, Williamson's legacy will continue to live on through his many contributions to this area and to the sci-fi and fantasy field.

"He made the Portales community, the literary world, the educational world, and the world of science fiction better for being a part of them," said Caldwell. "Everyone has a story about Jack, a memory of seeing him at the post office, a confidence shared with him, a recollection of him buying lunch for his friends."

The lectureship wraps up this morning with a young writers' workshop at 10 a.m. at the Portales Public Library.

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