Honoring a legend

By Christina Calloway


Attendees of Eastern New Mexico University’s annual Jack Williamson Lectureship are more than just fans of the late sci-fi legend and the genre; Patrice Caldwell calls them family.

Caldwell, the university’s director of planning and analysis, noted that faithfuls of this yearly event make their pilgrimage to Portales to pay homage to Williamson, a former ENMU professor, often putting their personal lives aside. Caldwell said that describes what family does.

In its 38th year, Caldwell said this year’s lectureship was no exception. On Friday, nearly 100 people gathered at ENMU for the lectureship’s programs. The diverse group reflected a mix of writers, students and lovers of the genre.

During the lectureship’s luncheon, fellow authors and friends of Williamson spoke about their memories of the literary giant.

“He was very much in touch with the problems of the world,” said sci-fi author Connie Willis. “The amazing thing is, he kept this sense of wonderment and optimism in spite of that.”

New York Times best-selling author and guest of honor Darynda Jones described her idol as “gracious, patient and sincere.”

Friday’s events ended with several science fiction panels.


In the spirit of science fiction, here’s what attendees had to say about the genre:


• Laken Humble is a park technician at Ute Lake. The 23-year-old ENMU grad from Logan talked about her favorite lectureship panel memory.

“I loved when they discussed the movie ‘Avatar’ before it came out. The director pulled from six different authors to create the movie. I thought it was so interesting to make a massive movies. There are people who will probably never read those writers but are still touched by them.


• Dave Asplund of Portales works as the master control operator at KENW-TV. The 44-year-old was asked which sci-fi trend needs to die and what part of sci-fi would he like to see more of.

“Sparkly vampires, vampires are supposed to be creatures of the night and tortured souls and they don’t want to be found. I’d love to see more novels about space travel and going out in space because I think there’s huge potential for what we can do when we get into the atmosphere.”


• Cordelia Willis, 44, of San Jose, Calif., is the daughter of Connie Willis. The forensic scientist was asked which sci-fi book she’d want to see adapted into a film.

“‘Have Space Suit — Will Travel’ by Robert Heinlein because that was my mom’s first favorite science fiction book.”


• Casey Pedigo, a Portales High School junior, listed her top three favorite sci-fi books:

“Doomsday Book” by Connie Willis

“Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card

“Iron King” by Julie Kagawa


• ENMU senior Lacy Thomas, a graphic design major from Hobbs, listed her top three sci-fi films:

“Star Wars”

“Star Trek”


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