BYU

Computer Science Graduate Compared to Science Fiction Greats Asimov and Clarke

Science fiction novelist Nancy Fulda discovered she had a unique opportunity to pursue a writing career one year before she graduated with a master’s degree in computer science at Brigham Young University.

Fulda began to take her writing abilities seriously after she submitted her work to the Phobos Fiction Contest and was published in its anthology along with other contest winners.

“When I got my copy of the Phobos anthology,” Fulda said, “I opened the book and started reading the biographies of the other authors who were in there. . . . I looked at those biographies, and I thought, ‘If I can get into an anthology with these people, then maybe I can really be a writer. Maybe I really have what it takes.’”

At BYU, Fulda initially withheld her writings from other students and faculty until she enrolled in a creative writing class. She connected with her professor, Marion K. Smith, and received positive feedback on her work.

Fulda also recognizes that the principles she learned as a master’s student at BYU have influenced her ability to become a successful science fiction author.

“Science fiction writing is all about asking the right questions and then seeing where those questions lead you. A lot of that skill — knowing which questions to ask — came during my research here as a master’s student [at BYU].”

As a master’s student, Fulda researched artificial intelligence and created simulated robots. The challenge involved creating an artificial architecture that allowed the robots to interact with a simulated world and other agents at an intelligent rate.

Fulda’s work “The Breath of Heaven” has recently been compared to the likes of science fiction greats Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke. She has won multiple awards, including the Vera Hinckley Mayhew Award and the Jim Baen Memorial Award for her works “The Man Who Murdered Himself” and “That Undiscovered Country.”

Fulda feels her LDS background and perspective have permeated her work, and she is excited to be part of the current wave of popular LDS authors. She hopes to contribute to the world in a positive way through her writing and credits BYU and the gospel for helping her reach her goals.

“BYU is by its very nature an inherently optimistic place. At BYU . . . one has the feeling that one can do anything; one can accomplish anything,” Fulda said. “I believe that this optimism and the sense of security that comes from living the gospel to its fullest has helped me to accomplish all the things that now make me happy.”

By Chris Scheitinger Posted on