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University of South Florida symposium 'Visions of Apocalypse' dissects doomsday

Ready for the end of the world?

Doomsday will be the subject of the University of South Florida Humanities Institute's annual science fiction symposium for 2012. It's a natural topic, what with those ancient Maya prophecies that predict the world will end this year.

Or do they? First up on Monday in the Visions of Apocalypse symposium will be anthropologist and scholar of ancient Maya culture Christian Wells, a USF faculty member, talking about just what those so-called prophecies might mean.

On Tuesday, two multiple-award-winning science fiction authors will address the question of end times. Joe Haldeman, who has taught SF writing workshops at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has written more than 25 novels and short story collections. His 1998 novel Forever Peace won the science fiction trifecta: the Hugo, Nebula and John W. Campbell awards. Nancy Kress' fiction often deals with genetic engineering; several of her 26 novels and collections have won Hugo and Nebula awards, and Probability Space won the John W. Campbell award in 2003.

Haldeman and Kress will read from and sign their latest novels Tuesday evening. On Wednesday afternoon they will be joined in a panel discussion of America's obsession with apocalypse by two USF faculty members, David Merkler of the chemistry department and Dell de Chant of the religious studies department.

USF has been presenting the science fiction symposium annually since 2006. Unless those ancient Mayas were right, we can look forward to another interesting topic in 2013.

Colette Bancroft can be reached at cbancroft@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8435.

>> if you go

Visions of the Apocalypse

The University of South Florida Humanities Institute presents this symposium, co-sponsored by the USF School of Mass Communications and the department of English. All events are free and take place on the USF campus, 4202 E Fowler Ave., Tampa.

• Associate professor of anthropology Christian Wells discusses "The Ancient Maya Doomsday Prophecy: Helpful Tips for Surviving the End of the World," 7 p.m. Monday, Marshall Student Center 2707

• Reception, reading and book signing by science fiction authors Nancy Kress (After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall) and Joe Haldeman (Earthbound), 6 p.m. Tuesday, TECO Room, College of Education Building

• Panel discussion on our cultural obsession with apocalypse by Kress, Haldeman and USF faculty members David Merkler (chemistry) and Dell de Chant (religious studies), 2 p.m. Wednesday, Marshall Student Center 3705

University of South Florida symposium 'Visions of Apocalypse' dissects doomsday 03/17/12 [Last modified: Saturday, March 17, 2012 5:31am]
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