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Sci-Fi Lecture Series

Science fiction gurus participate in SDSU's new lecture series starting Friday, March 22.
Literature on display in Love Library's Donor Hall as part of the new exhbit, Strange Data, Infinite Possibilities.
Literature on display in Love Library's Donor Hall as part of the new exhbit, Strange Data, Infinite Possibilities.

San Diego State University's Library is launching a science fiction themed lecture series in conjunction with the Strange Data, Infinite Possibilities exhibit currently on display in Donor Hall.

The series kicks off at 2 p.m. on Friday, March 22 with internationally renowned science fiction writer, illustrator and SDSU alumnus Greg Bear.

Q&A with Greg Bear

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Greg Bear, an SDSU alumnus, kicks off the lecture series. 

What were some of your earliest experiences with science fiction?

I read comics and Tom Swift novels back when I was a sub-teen, then discovered Robert Heinlein’s "Red Planet" and very soon after, jumped immediately into the full flow. A navy base library on Kodiak, Alaska, had a good supply of contemporary (now classic!) science fiction. And there was also a screening of a Ray Harryhausen film that I attended when I was seven years old, in the Philippines ... "20 Million Miles to Earth." Scared the hell out of me, and totally converted me.

You traveled extensively at a young age.  Did the exposure to so many different cultures and landscapes spark the creative urge to write and publish?

Absolutely. As a Navy brat — son of a Navy officer — my first memories are of Japan, including the giant Buddha at Kamakura. That and the jungle villages of the Philippines taught me that California, my birth-state, was not the only strange and wonderful place in the universe.

What made you decide to attend SDSU for your bachelor’s degree?

SDSU, what was SDSC at the time, was nearby and inexpensive and very large. I commuted to college from home for a few years, then jumped into dorm life, then walked to school from an apartment complex across the freeway. I met a lot of fascinating professors, and found both religious studies and the music department to be very innovative. Philosophy back then, much less so! And then there was the English department and Elizabeth Chater ...

During your time at SDSU you worked as a teaching assistant for Professor Elizabeth Chater.  How did that experience influence you and/or your writing?

Elizabeth was an amazing woman and a fine teacher. After interacting with me as a student in a couple of classes, she took a stab in the dark following her instincts and allowed me to help her both create and teach the first curriculum course in science fiction and fantasy at the college. We had a rollicking good time for the next few years, and she continued the course after I graduated. About that same time, I was serving on the committee for San Diego Comic-Con, so San Diego was a hotbed of pop culture studies and outreach. Elizabeth remains one of my very favorite people in the world.

Do you have a favorite book or short story that you’ve written?  A favorite character?

Many favorite characters, nearly all female, Casseia Majumdar from "Moving Mars," Kaye Lang from "Darwin's Radio," Patricia Vasquez from "Eon" ... but also Vergil I. Ulam from "Blood Music."

What will you be discussing during your lecture on Friday?

I never quite know for sure.  A lot of topics will be touched upon, limited only by the constraints of time.

About Greg Bear

A standout writer of "hard science fiction," Bear captivates readers while emphasizing scientific accuracy and detail.  His accolades include two Hugo Awards, five Nebula Awards and, from the SDSU community, the 2006 Monty Award.

Bear's newest book, “Halo: Silentium,” will be available for signing during the event.

Lecture series continued...

The lecture series will continue with Larry McCaffery at 2 p.m. on Thursday, April 18.

McCaffery taught at SDSU for more than 30 years with classes focusing on the interactions between science fiction, film, rock music, and postmodern culture.  His career as a professor, literary critic and editor was inspired by the science fiction work of Ray Bradbury, Theodore Sturgeon, Philip K. Dick and Alfred Bester.

During the closing lecture on Thursday, May 16 at 2 p.m., Vernor Vinge will explore the complex relationship between humankind and technology, a common theme in his work.

Vinge taught math and computer science at SDSU from 1972 to 2000. During that time he wrote “True Names,” which is widely considered one of the first books about cyber space.  His work has been recognized with five Hugo Awards, including three for Best Novel.

More info

The series will bring together professionals who work within the realm of "infinite possibilities."  Greg Bear, Larry McCaffery and Vernor Vinge take readers on a journey through time and space; into futuristic worlds where human beings compete with artificial and alien intelligence.

All lectures will take place in Love Library room 108, directly adjacent to the Donor Hall.

The events are free and open to the public. For additional information visit the library website.  

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