Archive for Sunday, July 12, 1998

SCI-FI WRITERS SHARPEN THEIR SKILLS

July 12, 1998

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Authors, would-be writers, editors and students gather to discuss trends in science-fiction writing.

James Gunn signed a few copies of his new anthology, ``The Road to Science Fiction,'' while sitting in a chair Saturday at the Adams Alumni Center.

He was getting ready to lead a discussion at the Campbell Conference for science fiction. About 50 writers, would-be writers, editors, fans and students gathered at Kansas University to discuss trends and influences in science fiction writing.

``We will be discussing the past, present and future of science fiction writing,'' Gunn said. ``It seems like a good idea to talk about some of the things that matter to science fiction.''

The topic for the weekend conference this year is the science fiction novel, but discussions have included influences on science fiction, the motivation to write, audience, and crossing over into other writing genres. Some of the discussions centered on mainstream writing using elements of science fiction and science fiction writers writing for a broader audience.

``As always, there is a difference of opinion,'' Gunn said.

The conference is being held in conjunction with the Campbell and Sturgeon awards for science fiction writing, given Friday night.

Joe Haledman won the John W. Campbell Award for the best science-fiction novel, ``Forever Peace,'' and Michael Flynn won the Theodore Sturgeon Award for the best science fiction short story with ``House of Dreams.'' Flynn attended the conference on Saturday.

``There's a lot of interesting things being brought out because of the diverse people here,'' Flynn said.

The crowd, he said, ranged from old-timers who remembered science-fiction in the 1930s to student novices. He said he was interested in the different motivations to write, from exploring new technology to writing as an industry.

``I've never really thought about these things,'' he said. ``I just write stories and try to sell them. Sometimes they're demented enough to send me money.''

The conference has been held with the awards presentations since Gunn took on responsibility for the award.

``This is something we've been doing here at the university for about 20 years,'' said Gunn, who heads the KU Center for the Study of Science Fiction. ``Originally, it was a small academic conference.''

It's a chance, he said, to discuss issues important to the industry.

``I like them to go back feeling invigorated, either to write or read or edit,'' he said. ``Once in a while, it helps to get away and talk about things in a more analytical way.''

-- Felicia Haynes' phone message number is 832-7173. Her e-mail address is fhaynes@ljworld.com.

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