In Memoriam: Jonathan Langford

We are shocked and saddened to hear that our friend Jonathan D. Langford passed away on March 31 at the age of 55, apparently suffering a sudden heart attack. Jonathan has been the coordinator for this blog since 2010, soon after its founding. Jonathan was also an author, editor, and a key leader and participant for many years of the Life, the Universe, and Everything conference, The Leading Edge magazine, and the Association for Mormon Letters. The funeral will be held Saturday, April 8, at the LDS Church at 545 Stageline Rd in Hudson, WI. The viewing will be at 1 pm and the funeral at 2 pm.

Jonathan grew up in western Oregon. His first published work was a poem which appeared in The Children’s Friend when he was 8. He enrolled at Brigham Young University as a 16-year old in 1978, intending to study politics. During the Winter of 1980 he became involved in Quark, a science fiction club at BYU that was less than a year old. From 1981 to 1983 he served a mission in Italy for the LDS Church. “One of the many insights on my mission”, he wrote, “had been the realization that while in Italy, I’d had no problem setting aside my interest in politics—but that everything I saw made me think of art, literature, and culture in general. And so I decided I should follow my love, and go into literature.” Continue Reading →

The Appeal of Fantasy for (Some) Mormons

Back in April, I posted some thoughts over at A Motley Vision about the appeal of science fiction for (some) Mormons, which in turn prompted some excellent comments by various readers. At the time, I pointed out that the appeal of fantasy for Mormons, while similar, was “a different essay.” And here, at long last, is that essay!

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Paper Ideas? I Thought You’d Never Ask!

logo-3Every now and then for fun, I spend time coming up with ideas for academic papers that I will probably never write. (Which will tell you something about what I consider “fun,” but let that pass…) More specifically, in light of the recent call for papers on intersections of sf&f and Mormonism at LTUE 2017, I spent a few minutes the other day generating ideas for the kinds of papers I could imagine being delivered at such a session.

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Call for Papers — Mormonism & Spec Fiction (LTUE 2017)

The Association for Mormon Letters is calling for papers relating to the connections between speculative fiction and Mormonism, to be delivered at Life, the Universe and Everything 2017, to be held February 16-18 in Provo, Utah.

Presentations can be shorter (10-15 minutes) or longer (20-25 minutes), and can address any area of intersection between speculative fiction and Mormonism, including any of the following:

  • Works by LDS authors of speculative fiction
  • Depictions of Mormons and Mormonism in speculative fiction
  • History of the Mormon speculative fiction community
  • Thematic and cultural affinities, connections, and tensions between Mormonism and speculative fiction as ways of viewing human life and the universe in general

Student papers are welcome.

Proposals are due by August 31, and complete papers are due by October 1. Papers can be submitted without previously submitting a proposal, but we prefer the advance notice. Papers will be considered for publication in Deep Thoughts, the proceedings volume for LTUE.

In addition to submitted papers, there will be a panel on the appeal of science fiction and fantasy for Mormons. Please let us know if you would be interested in being on that panel.

Queries, proposals, and papers should be sent to Jonathan Langford, email jonathan AT langfordwriter DOT com.

Orson Scott Card: Mormon Literary Pioneer

Quick: What author has arguably done more than any other to explore multiple ways of being Mormon, across multiple genres and audiences? Answer: Orson Scott Card.

Which you already knew, because you read the title of this column. It’s a point well worth making, particularly now when he’s returning once again to Provo next week to be part of Life, the Universe and Everything this coming Feb. 13-15.

You can’t read around for very long in Mormon literature without stumbling across Card’s name. As a young playwright, he was the author of several well-regarded plays on Mormon themes, including Stone Tables and Father, Mother, Mother & Mom. He also started a repertory theater company which experienced popular success but (as so often happens in endeavors of this sort) had to close because it ultimately failed to pay the bills. As an author of historical fiction, he was awarded the 1985 AML best novel award for Saints (originally published as A Woman of Destiny), featuring a composite female character from the early days of the Church, and more recently, he has authored several historical novels based on the lives of Biblical women. His stories have appeared in LDS church magazines (back when they used to publish fiction). He wrote scripts for scriptures on tape and revamped the script of the Hill Cumorah Pageant. He even tried his hand at an epic poem based on the life of Joseph Smith, though I don’t know if that was ever published.

All this aside from the science fiction and fantasy that he’s best known for — which, from a Mormon literary perspective, I think includes some of his most interesting work.

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A Community of (Mormon) Readers

The best conversations are the ones where you get a chance both to share your own views and to rethink them in response to what other people say. That’s the kind of experience I had with my recent AML blog post about LTUE, the ongoing science fiction and fantasy symposium formerly held at BYU, and its relationship to the Mormon sf&f community.

This post is me continuing the cycle by sharing some of those new thoughts, which aren’t so specific to sf&f. In fact, I think they have a lot to do with the community of Mormon letters in general, and AML in particular. Let’s see what you think.

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LTUE and the Mormon SF&F Community

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of going back to Utah to attend the 31st iteration of Life, the Universe, and Everything: The Marion K. “Doc” Smith Symposium on Science Fiction and Fantasy. My pleasure in attending was manifold, and only in part because I got to see my son in a position of responsibility that I held long ago. I also got to spend time with friends and associates whom in some cases I hadn’t seen in 10 years or more. And I got to see how something I helped inaugurate has grown and prospered since its early years — beyond I think the expectations of any of its founders.

Which led, inevitably, to meditations on LTUE itself, its future, and the future of the Mormon science fiction and fantasy community that now more or less calls LTUE its home.

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This Week in Mormon Literature, Feb. 10, 2012

The Whitey Awards finalists were named, the LDS Film Festival was held, LTUE is going on now, several plays are ongoing, three new Jane Austen-based novels, and the passing of Paul Swenson. All these Mormon lit news, books, and reviews, it’s killing me. Look how long this is! If you must, please send any suggestions or announcements to mormonlit AT gmail DOT com.

News and blog posts

Journalist, editor, and poet Paul Swenson passed away on February 2, 2012, at the age of 76. He was a journalist at the Deseret News, editor of Utah Holiday magazine in the 1970s and 1980s, and wrote for The Event, the Salt Lake Observer, and the Salt Lake Tribune. He wrote poetry, and Signature Books published his 2003 poetry collection Iced at the Ward, Burned at the Stake. He was the younger brother of May Swenson, one of the leading American poets of the 20th century. Continue Reading →

Star Kvetch: The Next Generation; A Musing on Community over Time

A meander in two-and-three-halves parts.

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Life, the Universe, and Everything 30, the Marion K. “Doc” Smith Symposium on Science Fiction and Fantasy will be held February 9-11 (Thursday-Saturday) in the Sorensen Student Center at Utah Valley University. Membership is free for students; non-students can purchase one-day passes for $20 or a full three-day membership for $30 if they register before January 23—after which prices will go up. Please register early.

Guests this year will include James A. Owen (author of Starchild and Here There Be Dragons), Richard Paul Evans, Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, James Dashner, David Farland, and many, many others. Special guest Chris Schoebinger is an acquisitions editor for Shadow Mountain.

Visit ltue.org for more information on guests, venue, banquet, and more. You can also visit the LTUE Facebook page.

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