Prepare for a science fiction invasion as authors, aspiring writers and lovers of the genre alike flock to Eastern New Mexico University Thursday and Friday to celebrate one of the genre's pioneers, Jack Williamson.
Jack Williamson, who died in 2006, is celebrated annually with the Lectureship that carries his name at Eastern New Mexico University.
This will be ENMU's seventh year celebrating the annual lectureship without the famed dean of science fiction since his death in 2006, but his niece, Betty Williamson, says his legacy lives on through the university he loved so much. Williamson joined ENMU's faculty in 1960.
This year, science fiction author Joe Haldeman will be the grand master of ceremonies and will kick off the lectureship Thursday night with a reading. Other science fiction authors, such as award-winning author Connie Willis of Colorado, will join the celebration by leading several workshops Friday.
All events are open to the public, but only the luncheon is not free.
- Reading by Grand Master Joe Haldeman: 6 p.m., Room 112 of the Jack Williamson Liberal Arts Building.
- Readings by visiting writers: 9:30-11:30 a.m., ENMU's Sandia Room of the Campus Union Building.
- Lectureship luncheon, 11:45 a.m., ENMU's Campus Union Ballroom. Reservations are required and lunch is $10 at the door. Books will be available for purchase with autographing available from writers in attendance.
- Science fiction workshops: 3-6 p.m., ENMU's Golden Library's Special Collections. Authors and guests will discuss topics in science fiction and fantasy.
Five questions with a Williamson
Jack Williamson wrote nearly 100 works. Betty Williamson, a local farmer and rancher, answered a few questions about her uncle.
What keeps the lectureship going strong for 37 years?
I think part of it is the person that he was. he was just special to a lot of people in the field. He was an extraordinary nice person; he didn't have enemies. He was really encouraging, especially to young writers. The science fiction community is a also a close-knit community, so these are opportunities for them to get together and visit as well.
How would you describe his style of writing?
He wrote hopeful science fiction. He liked happy endings. He called himself a desperate optimist, I think that was the term he used. He reminds us that the human race has survived thousands of years and will continue to survive.
What book of his was his claim to fame?
He's probably best known for "The Humanoids," which was an early one, but a lot of people give him credit for being one of the early founders of the field.
When people find out you're related to him, how is it like being associated to the Williamson name?
It's generally good. He was very beloved in his community. It's fun. It's a fun association. I got to go with him to conventions when he still traveled.
He still was writing and teaching very close to the end of his life, so when he showed up somewhere, people are so happy to see him. He's a legendary character.
I understand after the lectureship you let his fans and members of the science fiction community come out and visit where Jack once lived and worked. What's that like?
Jack was my dad's brother. This is where Jack grew up (out near Pep). There's a little old shack he built to write in. His followers and fans enjoy coming out here. W'eve had as many as probably 40 people visit at once. We've had people come out here with their laptops and wanted to sit in Jack's little shack and say, "I just want to sit where he sat and write where he wrote."