Utah has spectacular scenery. From my house, I can walk fifteen minutes and be on Mount Timpanogas, an 11,000 foot peak. I can drive an hour west and be in basin and range country, high desert and mountains. I can drive two hours south and be in Black Rock Desert, a volcanic landscape of cinder cones and basalt. Three hours southeast gets me to Arches, Canyonlands, and Goblin Valley. North east and I'm in the Uinta Mountains, high wilderness. An hour north of my home, I'm in downtown Salt Lake City. Every kind of landscape and scenery you'd imagine, except tropical. It gets a bit cold for that.Utah is also home to a lot of speculative fiction authors. For some reason, it's a hotbed for science fiction and fantasy. The landscape might play a role. A lot of the planet scenes for Galaxy Quest were filmed in Goblin Valley. Many science fiction movies were filmed here. We've got lots of empty spaces and otherworldly scenery. The Mars Project is located here. That's the one where volunteers live in a simulated dome habitat for months at a time and pretend they are on Mars.
Maybe it has something to do with the culture and religion. Salt Lake City is the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, commonly known as the Mormon Church. A good percentage of the population are members. Our church encourages members to ask questions, to think, to learn. Maybe it's this openness that lends itself so well to the what if's of science fiction and the pretend worlds of fantasy. Even Brigham Young, the prophet who brought the saints to Utah in the 1860's, believed in time travel and speculated about other worlds and aliens.
So what famous SF/F authors live here? Orson Scott Card is from Utah. Brandon Sanderson lives here. Brandon Mull, Eric James Stone, Jessica Day George, Tracy Hickman, L.E. Modesitt, James Dashner, the list goes on and on. The list of up-and-coming SF/F authors is even longer, including me.
Maybe it's something in the water or in the air that encourages storytelling. Maybe it's our clear skies, at least outside of the Salt Lake metro area. Maybe it's the endless empty deserts or the towering peaks. Maybe it's the bizarre rock formations. Whatever it is, I'm loving it.
You can check out my work at www.jaletac.com