Close encounters of the writing kind

Enthusiasts of science-fiction and fantasy literature will have an opportunity for a once-in-a-lifetime experience this Wednesday from 10 to 12 a.m., when three of the world’s most prolific sci-fi writers take to the stage of the Phyllis P. Marshall Center Ballroom.

This event, titled “Close Encounters,” is sponsored by the Humanities Institute, the Honors College and the USF Tampa Library, and will feature award-winning authors Joe Haldeman, Harry Harrison, and Piers Anthony.

Anthony is widely known for his fantasy series Xanth; Harrison for the Stainless Steel Rat series and Make Room! Make Room! and Haldeman for The Forever War and Forever Peace, according to a USF press release.

Piers Anthony has especially close ties with USF: in 1963 to complete requirements for his teaching certification, according to special collections librarian Paul Camp. Anthony and Harrison have also donated their extensive manuscripts to the special collections library, along with a temporary display of Haldeman’s works, Camp said.

“It’s a pretty rare opportunity, having three people of this stature all together at once, and at USF,” said event moderator and USF professor Rick Wilber.

“Even if you’re not a sci-fi fan, you are going to enjoy this event because they are going to talk about the creative process of writing, and this would give you some ideas on how to be more creative in your writing,” said history professor and humanities coordinator Robin R. Bajkiewicz.

For those primarily interested in sci-fi movies, Harrison’s novel, Make Room! Make Room! was made into the classic sci-fi movie Soylent Green, Bajkiewicz said.

Participating in a panel discussion, the three writers will speak about their creative processes. According to Wilber and Bajkiewicz, attendees will have a chance to field questions, and from 2 to 4 p.m. there will be able to meet the authors and have books signed in the Grace Allen Room on the fourth floor of the Library. Barnes ‘N’ Noble will also be present, selling the author’s books during the signing.

Library communication manager Skye Rodgers encourages fans to be wary: Only three items may be signed per person, and it would be a good idea to have your name printed on a slip of paper in advance.

Bajkiewicz seemed enthusiastic about the educational aspect of the event, saying:

“These are all very famous people, and we are just thrilled that they agreed to be in the same room, at the same time, and it’s free so that is really amazing for students and for the public.”