Fact or science fiction? Colorado's importance in the sci-fi world is no fantasy

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Fact or Science Fiction?

Paolo Bacigalupi is the latest in a distinguished line of award-winning fantasy, horror and science-fiction authors with special ties to Colorado. The state has long been a hotbed for talented writers and rabid fans of the genres; maybe it has something to do with all those cattle mutilations and UFO sightings.

This timeline is far from comprehensive, but it features some of the grander — and stranger — milestones in Colorado's evolving contribution to the world of fantastic literature:


Ed Bryant

1941: The Third World Science Fiction Convention, also known as DenCon 1, is held at Denver's Hotel Shirley-Savoy. Sponsored by the newly formed Colorado Fantasy Society, the event draws ninety-plus attendees and features Robert Heinlein as its guest of honor.

1958: Heinlein, who has moved to 1776 Mesa Avenue in Colorado Springs, takes out a full-page newspaper ad to support continued atomic testing, in response to a call by liberal Colorado College professors to ban the bomb. Heinlein states that he prefers the risk of death or mutation from fallout to "the certainty of Communist enslavement" that would result if America fell behind in the nuclear-arms race.

1972: Raised in Wyoming, Ed Bryant moves to Denver and soon establishes writing workshops inspired by seminars led by sci-fi pioneer Damon Knight. Bryant goes on to win Nebula awards for his short stories and critical praise for books such as Wyoming Sun (1980) and Fetish (1991) while mentoring hundreds of aspiring writers.

1977: Stephen King publishes The Shining, a book about a writer struggling with alcoholism and other demons at a creepy Colorado mountain resort, which he wrote while living in Boulder (and which was inspired, in part, by trips to the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park). Boulder also figures prominently as the last "Free Zone" in King's post-apocalyptic epic, 1978's The Stand.

1982: Sci-fi giant Philip K. Dick dies in California at the age of 53, after a series of strokes. His remains are buried in Fort Morgan, Colorado, next to the grave of his twin sister, Jane, who died in infancy.

1983: Greeley author Connie Willis wins the Hugo for her novelette Fire Watch. It's the start of a remarkable string of honors for Willis — ten Hugos, six Nebulas, three Locus awards, the prestigious John W. Campbell Award and still counting — in a sci-fi career that encompasses time-travel epics, vampires, light comedy and much more.

1990: Longmont author Dan Simmons wins the Hugo for Hyperion, his breakthrough novel. The former grade-school teacher has gone on to produce a genre-busting series of science fiction, horror, fantasy and hard-boiled crime novels.

2008: The 66th World Science Fiction Convention, also known as Denvention 3, is held at the Colorado Convention Center. Robert Heinlein is the Ghost of Honor.

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