Program to Open Literary Portal

    UCSD is the new home for the nationally distinguished Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop, a six-week summer program for professional or aspiring science fiction and fantasy writers.

    The Clarion workshop is an annual summer program now in its 40th year that focuses on the fundamentals of science fiction and fantasy writing. The instructors include leading writers and editors in the science fiction field today.

    The campus decided to partner with Clarion for a variety of reasons, including drawing more attention to its writing program.

    “”First of all, interestingly enough, UCSD has produced over the past 30 years several successful science fiction writers,”” Dean of Arts and Humanities Michael Bernstein said.

    These UCSD alumni include Gregory Benford, David Brin, Nancy Holder, Vernor Vinge and Kim Stanley Robinson, a current member of the Clarion board who helped negotiate Clarion’s move to UCSD.

    “”In 2002 these authors appeared on a televised panel at UCSD,”” literature department Chair Don Wayne stated in an e-mail. “”At which time, then-Chancellor Robert C. Dynes (now president of the University of California) noted that ‘UCSD has created a larger number of really, really good science fiction writers than any other campus in the country.'””

    Bernstein explained that UCSD also seemed ideal as the new home for Clarion because it is an active research campus, so writers from Clarion have the opportunity to be exposed to cutting-edge technology.

    “”We think it is a nice synergy,”” Bernstein said.

    Having a science fiction program on campus may also foster dialogues about controversial issues in science, Wayne said.

    “”Many authors of science fiction are concerned in their writing with issues such as global warming, sustainable resources and agriculture and the development of new technologies, and some are particularly knowledgeable about the science involved,”” Wayne stated in an e-mail. “”So we would hope that a dialogue might develop between writers of fiction and scientists directly engaged in research in these and other areas.””

    A typical Clarion workshop day would involve a morning lecture by the visiting faculty member for that week and the “”workshopping”” of a student’s story, including critique from each of the workshop’s participants and instructor-led discussions about larger issues that the short stories raised.

    The day continues with time devoted to individual writing, meetings with the visiting faculty members and preparing critiques for the next morning’s workshop.

    During the six-week session, certain evenings will include readings by the instructors in conjunction with Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore, a San Diego bookstore that specializes in science fiction and fantasy literature.

    Although there is no requirement for any of the participants to complete a piece of work during the clinic, all participants are expected to be active writers, working on one or more pieces during the workshop.

    Initially, Clarion’s presence on campus will be felt primarily during summer.

    “”But the literature department hopes to develop occasional programs during the regular academic year, including readings by authors of science fiction and fantasy literature and lectures and panels involving both authors and scholars who work in the field,”” Wayne stated in an e-mail.

    According to Bernstein, part of the arrangement involved in Clarion’s partnership with UCSD includes the relocation of the workshop’s archives to Geisel Library, where literary critics and science fiction and fantasy scholars will be able to access them.

    The archives will be housed in special collections.

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