Reno – A Science Fictional Place to Be
By David Durham
When I decided to return to an academic career (after several years of being a full-time writer), I knew a job search could result in an offer anywhere in the country. A worrying thought. When I saw the University of Nevada, Reno’s (UNR) advertisement for a fiction faculty member to join the relatively new MFA program I knew I’d found my hoped-for, go-to destination.
Considering that I was moving from New England after just having returned from living in Scotland, I frequently got asked, “Why Reno”? I said Reno was a place where art, literature, and education were valued, but it was also a city that still had some rough edges and quirks. I said I wanted the sun, the mountains, the Truckee river, and the cool Midtown shops and bars. I wanted hot August nights and hot air balloons and monthly pub crawls. And I wanted to join a program that bravely declared the value and worth of fiction written in genres like science fiction, fantasy, horror, crime, and for young adult audiences. That’s what I proclaimed before even arriving here. Now, two years later, was I mistaken?
Not at all. Reno and UNR has been everything I hoped for. I work with great colleagues and with inspiring students from the area and from all around the country. As a novelist who believes science fiction and fantasy authors are doing exciting, entertaining, and frequently important work, I hoped that I’d be welcomed here, and that I could help introduce some of my favorite writers to Nevada readers. That’s exactly what’s been happening! I was thrilled to help bring the very excellent novelist and comic book writer Saladin Ahmed to UNR for a weeklong interaction with students and the community, and I’m just as thrilled that the World Fantasy Award winning novelist Fonda Lee will be doing a similar gig here next February.
AND I had a hand in bringing three wonderful authors for the upcoming Nevada Humanities Literary Crawl. Ellen Klages, Maggie Shen King, and Carrie Vaughn will be here in Reno on September 14, talking about all the exciting work they have done and are doing. They’re all fun, engaging, innovative artists working at the top of their game. Come and hear them talk about Wicked Wonders, Excess Males, and the Wild Dead – among other things!
David Anthony Durham is the award-winning author of the Acacia Trilogy of fantasy novels, as well as the historical novels The Risen, Pride of Carthage, Walk Through Darkness, and Gabriel’s Story. He writes for George RR Martin’s Wild Cards series of collaborative novels, and he teaches creative writing at the University of Nevada, Reno. Catch David at the sixth annual Nevada Humanities Literary Crawl in Reno on September 14; his two Literary Crawl panels include the Wild Card series and Diversity in Sci-Fi.