Things like, “That’s Brandon Sanderson walking behind you,” could be heard at the Life, The Universe & Everything event, LTUE, held Feb. 9-11. LTUE is not a typical science fiction and fantasy convention. It is actually a symposium where creative writers and artists gather to teach the business.
LTUE is a free event for any and all students, so some attendees who are adults now have been going since they were children. There is a $30 entrance fee for the general public, and many people come year after year for networking opportunities and writing advice.
A variety of special guests, specifically local talent, attend this event every year, though it usually takes place at BYU. Despite LTUE being a regular fixture there for decades, scheduling conflicts caused the symposium to search for another venue for its 30th anniversary.
According to David Doering, the “Guru” who was instrumental in creating the event 31 years ago, UVU was more than glad to come to the rescue.
“The level of support by the UVU staff was unprecedented,” Doering said.
UVU was able to provide sufficient space for the convention, but LTUE could have definitely used more. Anticipating which panels would be most popular was a bit more challenging this year because UVU students have slightly different tastes in LDS literature than those of BYU.
Howard Tayler, creator of the “Schlock Mercenary” web-comic, mentioned how BYU’s requirement of all panelists to get signed endorsements from their religious leaders “has been a detriment to getting a wide variety of prominent authors to the event.”
People braved the crowded rooms to hear about things like what not to do when writing speculative fiction, how to promote your work without coming on too strong, how to create a language or world from scratch and how to write query letters to publishers.
The main highlight of the event, however, is always the keynote address given by the guest of honor. This year it was James A. Owen, author of “Starchild” and, “Here there be Dragons.”
Readings were given by authors such as Sanderson, L.E. Modesitt, Jr., Tracy and Laura Hickman and up and coming recent Hugo award winner, Mary Robinette Kowal.
Book signings are also a main fixture of the event, but the bookstore sold out of some books and also closed before most book signings occurred.
The biggest complaint by authors and attendees was the long trek from the parking lots, especially since the shuttles were not mentioned as a transportation option. There were also issues with the food court closing too early and even running out of food for the mob of guests.
Tayler pointed out that the attendance at the event could soon justify the use of the UCCU Events Center, with planning for the next LTUE starting today.
“Our first LTUE at UVU was a resounding success. I look forward to 30 more years here,” Sanderson said.
To learn more about LTUE, or to volunteer, go to ltue.org or send an email to [email protected]
By Lorna Marie Larson