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Y. spotlight on fantasy and fiction

Love of science fiction expected to lure 500 to 3 days of workshops

PROVO — Those with a fantasy-oriented imagination, love for science fiction and a knack for creating characters from a different world are gathering this weekend at Brigham Young University to share their thoughts and work.

As many as 500 fiction lovers are expected to attend workshops at the 19th Annual "Life, the Universe and Everything" symposium. Organizers say the science fiction and fantasy event is one of the longest-running student-organized academic symposiums in the country.

"Anybody who enjoys science fiction and fantasy likes to come to this," said Charlene Harmon, a symposium committee member.

At the three-day gathering, which runs through Saturday on the third floor of the Ernest L. Wilkinson Student Center, professional authors, poets, moviemakers, inventors and artists will share their expertise in science fiction and fantasy with hundreds of amateurs, enthusiasts and wannabes. Those attending the symposium workshops share their ideas with each other and learn from the professionals how to convert their ideas into a finished product.

"We view the world as a story," science fiction author Tracy Hickman said of those with an interest in science fiction and fantasy.

Hickman is one of four special guests participating in the symposium. Also serving as symposium panelists are movie producer and director Sam Longoria, novelist Harry Turtledove, and science fiction writer, editor and publisher Jeanne Cavelos.

Workshop topics include creating memorable villains, basic role-playing games, the future of space travel, how to tell a ghost story, pirates in science fiction and creating a believable world

"Each different topic appeals to people in a different way," Harmon said.

There are even workshops on character costumes, character makeup and the role of music in science fiction and fantasy media.

"Science fiction and fantasy have their own music," Harmon said.

Amber Hunt, a student from Texas, says she's attending the symposium because she's always loved fantasy and desires to someday be a science fiction writer.

"There are a lot of experts here with some good tips, and I think that will help me make my stories and get them published," Hunt said.

The workshop sessions run each day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and are free to the public upon registration in room 3228.

Besides the workshops, a bizarre amateur talent contest is scheduled for Friday at 7 p.m. At 8 p.m. there will be a fantasy and medieval fashion show.

Saturday's events begin at 8 a.m. with a "Killer Breakfast." During the breakfast, Hickman will attempt to kill off all of the role-playing characters by the end of the meal. The breakfast is free to those who pre-register and bring their own food. Spectators are welcome. A medieval feast is set for Saturday at 6:30 p.m. Cost of the costume dinner is $12 and can be purchased at the symposium registration desk in room 3228. The symposium concludes at 8 p.m. with an auction of autographed books, collectibles and handmade quilts to benefit the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center at Central Elementary School in Pleasant Grove.