Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Workshop improves science fiction writing

June 14, 2001
Rick Polney, a second-year graduate student at Temple University, and York University English student Karina Sumner-Smith, discuss their writing during the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop on Wednesday afternoon in Van Hoosen Hall. —

Distant lands, scientific gadgets and fantastic creatures are at MSU this June.

The 34th annual Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop began at Van Hoosen Hall on June 3 and will run through July 14.

The workshop accepts writers from all over the country to teach them the different techniques involved in science fiction and fantasy writing.

“It is the best workshop in the country,” said Pheodora Goff, a student at the workshop.

To participate in the workshop, writers must submit two short stories. The short stories can be anywhere from 10 to 20 pages long.

Goff, a graduate student at Boston University, said the workshop has taught her a stronger use of the English language.

“It is like taking a yearlong writing program and compressing it into six weeks,” she said.

Goff said the workshop has helped her and the other students become more courageous and knowledgeable with their writing.

“It is probably one of the most effective writing programs in the country,” she said.

Lister Matheson, an MSU English professor and director of the workshop, said the focus of the forum is the stories written by the students.

“We critique in the morning and the rest of the time the participants spend on reading and writing,” he said.

Matheson said the students are from 13 states, Canada, Australia and Papua New Guinea.

“It is a varied group, they come from all sorts of backgrounds,” he said.

The workshop is being conducted by six nationally recognized science fiction and fantasy authors. The authors will also conduct book readings and signings at the Archives Book Shop, 517 W. Grand River Ave., and Barnes & Noble Booksellers, 2299 W. Grand River Ave. in Okemos.

Ray Walsh, owner of Archives and the Curious Book Shop, 307 E. Grand River Ave., said he got involved with Clarion because he loves science fiction.

“It (is also) a chance to give back to the community,” he said.

Walsh, a 1971 MSU graduate, said science fiction is one of the shop’s specialties and added a number of employees have gone on to become Clarion students.

“One of the people who is attending Clarion now is a former employee,” he said.

Walsh, who has lectured at the workshop on collecting science fiction objects, said the workshop gives young writers encouragement.

“Science fiction is a challenging field and quite entertaining and with the advent of improved technology, there is no limit to where the mind can go,” he said.

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