ORU will host a Science and Science Fiction Conference in April 17-18. Professors, alumni and current students will speak at the event organized by ORU’s Dr. Andrew Lang and Dr. Mark Hall. Orson Scott Card, renowned author of the 1985-hit novel “Ender’s Game,” will be the keynote speaker.
“Probably for about 10 years, I’ve been trying to get him to come as a guest speaker,” Lang said. “This year he is willing to come to ORU, which is actually a pretty big deal.”
Card plans to speak twice. His first hour-long talk covers the art of writing science fiction. His second discusses a trilogy of science fiction books written by C.S. Lewis.
The prolific author has published more than 70 novels and short stories, not including his various short story collections. Among these are more than 20 works set in the universe of “Ender” and three novels in the “Women in Genesis” series.
The academic conference will be no “Comic-Con.” More than 30 academics from around the world are scheduled to speak on various topics surrounding the world of science fiction. The program guide includes guest professors as well as an assortment of ORU faculty, alumni and current students.
Sophomore Josie Halsmer co-wrote a paper with Dr. Dominic Halsmer to be presented at the conference.
“Our paper topic speaks about Hollywood’s current obsession with the evolution of conscious robots as further evidence for the argument for theism,” Josie Halsmer said. “It is our job as Christians to bring light to dark situations and encourage the mind’s curiosity to ask the hard questions that will lead us closer to the Lord.”
Lang and Hall previously hosted a similar conference spurred on by a visit from one of their favorite science fiction authors, Joan Slonczewski. The pair were teaching on Slonczewski’s writing in their course “Science and the Imagination.” Various science fiction works are presented in the class and students discuss the literary value and scientific plausibility of each. When the author came to Oklahoma, the professors decided to create a one-time academic conference with her as the keynote speaker.
Lang and Hall did not plan to hold a second one. When the opportunity to host Card came along, they took it. In addition to bolstering ORU’s academic reputation, they hope this second conference will benefit a variety of groups.
“Not only do [our students] get to interact with Orson Scott Card, they actually get experience presenting at a academic conference,” Lang said. “The talks that will be presented at the science fiction conference will be accessible to everybody.”
The ORU Science and Science Fiction Conference will be held April 17-18 in the Graduate Center [GC]. Admission to the conference is free. For more information, visit sciencefiction.oru.edu.