The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

By Joe Siess

Lectureship makes return


Last updated 4/17/2021 at 2:37pm

Courtesy photo

Jack Williamson

PORTALES - The coronavirus pandemic halted last year's plans for the Jack Williamson Lectureship, but this year, the three-day event hosted by Eastern New Mexico University in Portales is back on.

The lectureship, which honors the late John Stewart "Jack" Williamson, the science fiction writer and long-time ENMU English professor, is set to take place virtually Thursday through Saturday.

The 44th annual lectureship will bring in two guests of honor, science fiction writers James Patrick Kelly, and Rebecca Roanhorse.

Roanhorse, a New Mexican science fiction and fantasy writer whose work features Navajo characters, will give a reading at the lectureship at 5 p.m. on Thursday, followed by a Q&A session.

On Friday, Kelly will give a reading at 11 a.m., followed by a Q&A.

The event will feature workshops for aspiring science fiction writers, and a trivia contest that will give participants a chance to win copies of Williamson's books.

While the event will be different this year because of the pandemic, Betty Williamson, Williamson's niece, is grateful her uncle's legacy is a virtual go.

Betty Williamson, a writer herself, said her uncle grew up on the ranch where she lives today. She said he was the first science fiction writer in the family.

"He got into it pretty young," Betty Williamson said. "It was an extremely isolated existence at that time. He had a great imagination and invented stories and characters."

Williamson said not much has changed on the ranch since her uncle's days inventing new worlds, but the difference today is technology has made it easier to stay connected with the outside world.

Betty Williamson said that back in her uncle's days writing on the ranch, it was a three-day journey to get to Portales.

"Now it is 30 to 40 minutes in a vehicle to run up there," she said. "The big difference between his world and my world is transportation and communication."

Williamson said her uncle, who died in 2006, would have certainly been inspired to write science fiction about the pandemic, and the world as it has changed over the last few years.

"That is the stuff of science fiction," she said. "If you roll it back only a few decades."

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