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Stargate Monuments


Martha Wells

My Flying Lizard Circus

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I have friend visiting and today we went up to the university and got a tour of the science fiction and fantasy collection at the Special Collections in Cushing Library. It was incredible. The last time I'd seen it was years ago, when I was a student, and it's huge now. Manuscripts and magazines and books and books and books. It's a great place to go to remember why you love SF/fantasy.

Beginning in 1923, the collection contains the very rare first issue of Weird Tales, dated March, 1923 in its virtually complete run of that important title. Weird Tales, curiously first published by Rural Publishing Corporation, was not strictly a science fiction or fantasy title. The collection also contains a virtually complete run of Amazing Stories begun in 1926 including the very rare April, 1926 first issue. Amazing Stories heralds the beginning of science fiction as a recognizable entity. Hugo Gernsback, named by some as the father of science fiction, actually performed the more motherly service by giving birth to Amazing Stories in 1926, Amazing Stories Quarterly in 1928, Air Wonder Stories, Wonder Stories Quarterly, and Wonder Stories (all from 1929). Wonder Stories is probably best remembered as Thrilling Wonder Stories. The collection has complete runs of these titles as well. The collection's complete run of Astounding Science Fiction/Analog serves as an anchor to the whole collection. Other titles give breadth and depth to the collection: Miracle Science and Fantasy Stories, Strange Tales of Mystery and Terror, Marvel Tales, Scoops (1934), Fanciful Tales of Time and Space (1936), Fantasy and Marvel Science Fiction (1938), Dynamic Science Stories, Famous Fantastic Mysteries, Fantastic Adventures, Planet Stories, Science Fiction, Science Fiction Stories, Captain Future, Comet Stories, Fantastic Novels Magazine, Science Fiction Quarterly, and Super Science Stories give a sampling of the early titles available. The magazine collection has an international flavor, with such titles as New Worlds, Australian SF News, Ad Astra, Robot from Italy, Nueva Dimension (Spain), Utopia, Andromeda and SF Times (Germany), and Fiction and Galaxie (France).

Quantitative Capsule - approximately 10,000 periodical issues, some duplicated in microforms. Over 500 titles are represented in the collection, with most of the classic fiction titles held in complete runs.

They're doing an article about the importance of writers leaving their papers and manuscripts to library collections, with a checklist for authors of questions to ask when they do donate or sell their papers, so you can make sure the collection is going to preserve, index and process it, and that it'll end up listed online in places like TARO so people wanting to do research can locate it. They tried to purchase Andre Norton's papers and High Hallack library collection, but couldn't speak to her in person because she broke her hip right before they arrived, and they ended up only being able to get a few things. (The rest was broken up and sold for a tiny bit of what it was worth.) They did get her portrait, which she sent them as a donation before she died.

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What an amazing collection. Imagine if it were ever digitized and the world had permanent access to all those short stories and novellas.


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Seeing the Special Collection was a true privilege and I'm so grateful to you and Hal for arranging the visit. I think what made it so special was Hal's enthusiasm and knowledge - all those shelves and he could lay his hand on the book or magazine he wanted without hesitation. The University is to be congratulated on committing itself (and funding!) to the endeavour when, annoyingly, science fiction and fantasy are still not taken seriously by so many people.

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