Symposium offers a look into the Sci-Fi universe

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    By AMY O’KELLY

    The 16th annual production of “Life, the Universe, and Everything,” the largest ongoing science fiction and fantasy symposium in the nation, will be today through Saturday on the third floor of the Ernest L. Wilkinson Center.

    “It’s really easy to label the symposium a fan convention for Trekies, but it is an opportunity for people interested in science fiction and fantasy to discuss these topics that may be considered juvenile by some in other circles,” said Matthew Hamby, 27, a senior from Pleasant Grove majoring in international relations, linguistics and Italian, and symposium co-chair.

    This BYU symposium provides a mature academic and religious setting in which science fiction and fantasy can be discussed, Hamby said. Various aspects of science fiction and fantasy will be addressed by authors, editors, artists, critics and scientists.

    “We invite well-known authors from around the country to come and share what they know with us,” Hamby said.

    Guests of Honor will speak each day of the symposium at noon in the Varsity Theater. Dave Wolverton, science fiction author and BYU alumnus, will be speaking today. Nationally recognized science fiction authors Sherwood Smith and Elizabeth Moon will be speaking on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

    A large focus of the symposium is to help aspiring authors improve their writing so they can get their work published. Panels made up of authorities from many different fields of study will offer science fiction and fantasy writers a broader knowledge of the real world to incorporate into the world they create in their writing.

    The three-day event will feature lectures by authors and scientists, panel discussions, readings, art displays, writing workshops, media presentations, book signings and filking, which is a variety of science fiction folk singing, said Marion K. Smith, associate professor of English and faculty advisor for science fiction activities at BYU.

    “Our symposium is really quite unique. It is the only place I know where science fiction and fantasy can be approached in an academic and entertainment setting,” said Heather Monson, 21, senior from Carlinville, Ill., majoring in English and symposium co-chair.

    “Life, the Universe, and Everything XVI” is free to the public.