By Emily Stout
For nearly a year the planning committee for Life, the Universe, and Everything, BYU”s annual science fiction and fantasy symposium, expected to have this year”s event in March 2004. However, due to a miscommunication, the committee has had to scramble put it on February 19-21, or not at all.
For some, the initial response was to panic.
“We all totally freaked out,” said Peyton Smith, head of the academic track for Life, the Universe, and Everything. “I swear my inbox went from being ten percent full to 120 percent full in the course of six hours.”
Life, the Universe, and Everything — the Marion K. “Doc” Smith Symposium on Science Fiction and Fantasy is an annual event at BYU.
“We scheduled the rooms early; a scheduling problem arose later, and scheduling sent out a letter saying, ”Hey, we have a problem, we want to change it to these dates,”” said Charlene Harmon, track coordinator for LTUE. “Unfortunately, it was never received. It was really nobody”s fault.”
Melissa Lasley, a representative from Campus Scheduling, said although the LTUE committee requested March 11-13 for the event, they never had rooms officially scheduled for that time.
Members of the symposium planning committee only learned of the problem three weeks before the scheduled date, but they soon adopted a show-must-go-on attitude. Aside from a few changes, the program for LTUE remains intact.
At least one guest of honor, former author and BYU faculty member Dave Wolverton, is unable to attend as a result of the scheduling error.
Sally Taylor, faculty adviser for the symposium, expressed confidence that this year”s LTUE would be just as good as previous years” events.
“There”s still going to be some guests of honor, people who”ve published and big things, so it”s still going to be great,” Taylor said.
The symposium, now in its 22nd year, was named after the late Marion Smith, the BYU faculty member who began it.
Harmon, the planning committee”s longest-standing member, said LTUE is unique because it is an academic symposium run and organized by students.
“It is, from what I have been told, the largest and longest-running student-organized science fiction symposium in the United States,” she said.
The symposium consists of three full days of activity, and not just the usual papers, panels and workshops, Taylor said. A few of the more unusual events are the Contra dance, filking, a concert by Tri-Destiny, and a silent auction benefiting the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center in Pleasant Grove.
All in all, the scheduling mishap does not seem to have hurt the symposium. In fact, it may even have helped.
“I think we needed that; it got us to get a move on,” Peyton Smith said. “If we had been putting it on at the time we thought we were going to, we would”ve been rushing around in three weeks anyway. And now we just have extra time to work on it for next year.”
The symposium is free and open to the public, but registration is required. More information about LTUE is available at http://humanities.byu.edu/ltue.