Late author honored

By Thomas Garcia: PNT staff writer

A panel of science fiction writers and 80 guests attended the 32nd annual Jack Williamson Lectureship on Friday at Eastern New Mexico University.

This year’s lectureship marks what would have been the month of Williamson’s 100th birthday.

“We were worried that when Jack died, the lectureships might end,” said Betty Williamson, Jack’s niece. “It means a lot to the family that friends and fans of Jack still come together for this event every year.”

Williamson posthumously received what could be described as an out-of-this-world birthday gift. Williamson, along other science fiction writers Roger Zelazny, C.S. Lewis and Fredric Brown, recently had features on Mars named after them by officials of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Mars Rover project.

The Jack Williamson feature is located on the Mitcheltree Ridge in the Chapel Hills, according to Patricia Rogers of Albuquerque, a longtime fan of Williamson, who died in 2006.

“I think this is wonderful. I think Jack would just be tickled about it,” Betty Williamson said. “I think Jack would just be thrilled about a part of Mars being named after him.”

In November 2006, Rogers approached Larry Crumpler of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science at Albuquerque about naming a feature on Mars after Williamson. Crumpler was working as a part of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Mars Rover project.

“I was attending one of Larry’s seminars when he began talking about naming features on Mars,” Rogers said. “Jack had just passed away, and I thought, ‘What better way to honor one of science fiction’s greatest authors than to have a feature on Mars named after him.’”

Rogers was notified Tuesday that a feature on Mars had been named after Williamson.

The lectureship’s guest of honor was Steven Gould, the author of “Jumper, Jumper: Griffin’s Story, and Reflex.”

Gould’s novel is the basis for “Jumper,” a movie from 20th Century Fox.

“Jack Williamson is such a colossal figure in the field of science fiction and being asked to come here and speak at this lecture is a honor,” Gould said.

Regarding the recent “Jumper” movie, Gould felt the film had “strong elements” but could have had more character and story development.