Lectureship features sci-fi grand masters

Tony Parra

Some people wonder where the ideas for stories from the Star Trek and Stargate shows came from. They come from people such as the trio of grand masters who made their presence at the 28th Annual Williamson Lectureship on Thursday at Eastern New Mexico University.
“You have no idea what it is to introduce three legends of science fiction,” Connie Willis, mistress of ceremony and fellow author, said. “It’s a dream come true.”
The Science Fiction Writers of America vote for the grand master status to science fiction writers who have made substantial accomplishments in their field.
The sold-out luncheon in the Campus Union Building ballroom was in dedication to Jack Williamson, the science fiction writer, who also teaches a science fiction class at ENMU. Other sci-fi writers and fans consider Williamson to be the pioneer of science fiction.
“I started out writing ‘Amazing Stars’ and ‘Astonishing Stars’ and I wrote them for a penny a word,” Williamson said about short stories which ran in various magazines. “I see all of you here and the event amazes me. It’s wonderful and not yet believable.”
Williamson has a 76-year career in writing and won the grand master award for science fiction in 1976. One of the first books Williamson wrote, “The Girl from Mars,” was published in 1929. The 96-year-old author’s latest is “Stonehenge Gate.” The book is scheduled for release in 2005.
Frederik Pohl was on hand to speak about Williamson. Pohl, who is an author, editor, publisher, among other things, achieved grand master status in 1993 and has won three Hugo awards, two Locus awards and two nebula awards for his writing.
“I really loved collaborating with him (Williamson),” Pohl said. “I was happy to see and learn from him. He used to write a sentence in five or six different ways.”
Robert Silverberg was present for the luncheon and has recently been named grand master by The Science Fiction Writers of America. Silverberg has written more than 100 science fiction books and more than 60 non-fiction books.
“He radiates goodness and kindness after visiting him for only five minutes,” Silverberg said. “He’s a splendid writer. You have to be to sustain a 76-year career. There’s never been a career in science fiction like Jack Williamson’s and there never will be.”
Silverberg said, with a smile, he was one of the youngest writers to win the Hugo Award and at one time wanted to also be the oldest, but he said that may be impossible, now because of Williamson.
Stephen Haffner awarded Williamson with ‘Seventy-Five — The Diamond Anniversary of a Science Fiction Pioneer’ book. The book, which is a tribute to Williamson, is bound in black goat skin with a copper emblem of Williamson’s face, inscribed with his name.
Haffner Press will release a hardcover copy of the book in the first week of April for $40 and can be ordered through Southwest Books and More, ENMU Bookstore or at the Haffner Press Web site.