Award-winning author to speak at YSU

John Scalzi will speak at the HATH conference on Feb. 22 in the DeBartolo Hall Auditorium. Photo courtesy of @jscalzi on Instagram

By Tala Alsharif
Jambar Contributor

Best-selling science fiction author John Scalzi will speak at the History Across the Humanities conference at 7 p.m. on Feb. 22. in the DeBartolo Hall Auditorium.

This year’s HATH conference features a science-fiction theme in film, literature and pop culture. 

According to his website, Scalzi has won multiple awards for his work, including the Hugo award, a top award in science fiction. He also won the 2016 Governor’s Award for the Arts in Ohio. 

At the conference, Scalzi will discuss the genre of science fiction and the direction it’s going in. 

“The current state of science fiction is as good as it’s ever been, with more and more diverse writers and stories,” Scalzi stated. 

Scalzi stated he first gained interest in the genre when he started reading it in elementary school.

“I stay engaged with it as a writer because it is a very flexible genre,” Scalzi stated. “You can just write about every other type of fiction within science fiction itself.”

A banner about Scalzi’s upcoming speech. Photo by Tala Alsharif / Jambar Contributor

Christopher Barzak, an English professor at Youngstown State University, stated students can benefit from hearing about Scalzi’s influence and knowledge on the genre of speculative fiction. 

“He has a vast store of knowledge of the history and the current state of speculative fiction and its impact on our lives,” Barzak stated. “He’s also incredibly funny and down to earth. Students will not only be educated by hearing his talk, they’ll be entertained.”

Barzak stated Scalzi’s writing is forward-thinking and reflects current society. 

“Much of his work can also be categorized as satire and parody, which is humorous and tends to skewer many of our stereotypes in society,” Barzak stated. 

Scalzi stated he often integrates social and political topics in his storytelling, which he finds easy for stories about humans.  

“I integrate them into the storytelling because complex social and political issues exist in the real world,” Scalzi stated. “To ignore them would be to ignore a significant part of the human experience.”

Laura Beadling, a professor in the Department of English and World Languages, said she’s a long-time fan of Scalzi and often teaches his novels. She is currently teaching one in her young-adult literature class. 

Beadling said she enjoys Scalzi’s recent books because they’re fast paced and snarky, which she believes students will enjoy. 

“I would encourage everyone, if they don’t know Scalzi, pick up one of his books and see if it’s for you. He’s really fun,” Beadling said. 

According to Barzak, Scalzi is also the former president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association, where he had positive influences on the publishing industry.

Scalzi hopes students will walk away from his speech with more knowledge of the real world of writing and publishing.

“I’d like them also to see a place for themselves in the community of science fiction writers, readers and fans,” Scalzi stated. 

Beyond his novels, Scalzi engages with fans through his blog Whatever, where he shares his thoughts on writing, politics and pop culture.

His upcoming project, the seventh book of the “Old Man’s War” series, is set to come out in 2025.