Approaching the registration desk at Life, the Universe & Everything is akin to entering another reality, one where creativity has been placed above all else. The rooms buzz with creative energy, the attendees walk through rooms filled with dragons, androids and worlds drastically different from our own on their way to hear a panel talk about how to create suspense in horror games.

Life, the Universe & Everything (LTUE) is an annual academic symposium for writers and artists that specifically tackles science fiction, fantasy and horror. This year’s LTUE was held on Feb. 14-16 at the Provo Marriott Hotel and Conference Center, and was capped with a gala banquet featuring a speech by Utah local writer Lisa Mangum.

“LTUE has influenced best selling authors in Utah-Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, just to name two more famous figures, but also we have Jessica Day George and Johnny Worthen. We have a bunch of authors, and to come together and be able to learn is so vital to not only the community but to creating more writers, more fictions, and more possibilities” said Katie Carolyna, UVU creative writing alumna, after speaking on a panel.

LTUE features a wide range of panels for artists and fans to attend. This year featured panels on topics such as how to invent languages; financial workshops for creative professionals; how to create a monster artistically and create a story to go with it; writer workshops; and even how Starship Troopers influence the military. There was something for every speculative interest under the sun.

A speech by Orson Scott Card in 1980 at BYU showed that there was real interest in an academic discussion about speculative genres. Card was invited as the first guest of honor for LTUE in 1983 for the first official symposium. The event was held on BYU’s campus until 2013, when it was held on UVU’s campus. The following year it was held at the Provo Marriott, where it continues to be held.

Starting in 2019, LTUE will be publishing anthologies of works by authors attending the symposium, the proceeds allowing LTUE to continue offering a deep discount for local students to attend the event. The first anthology, Trace the Stars, is full of works of hard sci-fi and space operas and is available now.

Illustration by Kevin Baggarly.