Every seat was filled in the SUNY Oswego Campus Center auditorium April 9, when Bruce Coville ’73, keynote speaker for the 34th Quest symposium, shared wisdom garnered from his life as a writer of fantasy and science fiction stories for children and young adults.
Many in the audience had read Coville’s books—sometimes as part of their elementary or middle school curriculum and sometimes for their individual pleasure.
Either way, they remembered the excitement, the mystery and the drama of such stories as “My Teacher is an Alien,” “Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher” or “The Monster’s Ring,” and they came to hear the author. His message, addressed to the cross-disciplinary audience, was a plea for responsible living.
“The arc of moral history is long,” he said, quoting 19th Century American Unitarian minister Theodore Parker, “but it bends toward justice.” Coville advised the audience to be aware that every action has unintended consequences and that everything we do has a ripple effect that becomes a wave—positive or negative—as it moves from one person to another.
Coville filled the keynote hour with an amalgam of philosophy, history, poetry and tips for creative living. He told the crowd he treasures a folder labeled “To Look at on Bad Days,” in which he keeps letters from fans who tell their own stories about how his books have inspired them to contribute to others in positive ways.
He offered 12 tips for living, including the advice to “show your heart.”
He closed with an original parable to illustrate the idea that those who do what they love will reach heaven never knowing the difference between their lives on earth and their entrance to paradise.
“I’m a fantasy writer,” Coville said, “but I could not—not in my wildest dreams—have imagined, when I was here on campus in the early ’70s, that I would ever, ever be invited back as a speaker.”
To find out more about Bruce, visit brucecoville.com.
—Linda Loomis ’90 M’97