Sunday, February 16, 2014

My thoughts on "Life, the Universe and Everything: the Marion K. "Doc" Smith Symposium on Science Fiction and Fantasy

This past Thursday and Saturday (I missed Friday, because my cold got the better of me), I attended the LTUE Symposium held in the Marriott Hotel in Provo, Utah. I had preregistered for the event and it only cost me thirty bucks. I didn't attend any of the things you had to pay extra for, like the dinner etc., which meant I didn't get to listen to Brandon Sanderson. I feel bad about that, but I didn't want to fork out another $30 to do so. Like most of these events, there are some good classes and some that aren't as good as one had hoped. I attended a few of both. The class presenters and panels were a smattering of local writers and some who weren't local. Some had published many books, and some had published few. The number of books published wasn't necessarily representative of how good of instructors they were either.

One of the highlights was Orson Scott Card as the keynote speaker. Card had been expected to arrive earlier in the week, but due to weather, made it for the Saturday sessions. The talk he gave was effective and interesting, geared in large part to the majority LDS audience. It was marred a bit in the end when those running the symposium kept cutting in and telling him his time was up. You could tell he was frustrated by the interruptions. "Those of you who need to go to other classes can go," he said at one point, "I won't hate you." I'm not sure he understood that the large room where he was speaking was taking up three rooms (movable walls) in which some of those classes were supposed to take place, or if he didn't care that this was the case. It didn't hurt my feelings either way.

At any rate, for most of the people in the crowd, he was the one they had come to see, so they didn't care all that much if the other classes were shortened. One has to wonder how the other presenters felt about it though.

I had arrived early in the morning to get on the list for a class called "1000 Ideas in 1 Hour" taught by OSC--a class that would be a maximum of fifty people. When it was time for that class in the late afternoon, I thought it was well worth the time I spent arriving early in order to take part. With five minutes to go, one of the organizers came in with a sign that read "Five minutes". Card said "It'll be ten." In fact, it ended up being closer to thirty. However, unlike the earlier time, there weren't repeated interruptions.

It was my first time attending this event and I'd definitely go back again if my schedule permitted it. Whether or not the classes were valuable, the action of attending helped me to focus more on writing and getting on with it. That's a plus in and of itself.

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