Wednesday, August 01, 2007

In a university not far away, sci-fi heaven
UC Berkeley has the world's premiere collection on Mark Twain — and Yale an unmatched trove of rare medieval manuscripts. But for research on Capt. Kirk, Frankenstein or Harry Potter, nothing tops the 110,000-volume Eaton collection at UC Riverside, the world's largest library of science fiction, fantasy and horror books.

"It's like going to Graceland if you're an Elvis fan," said Drew Morse, a creative writing professor who made the pilgrimage to Riverside from Ohio last summer to study rare poetry by "Fahrenheit 451" author Ray Bradbury.

As appreciation for the literary qualities of science fiction has grown in recent years, the UC Riverside collection has emerged from an academic ghetto. No institution had ever stockpiled science fiction like this, or subjected itself to such an internal clash over the worth of the genre.

(Thanks to LoriK at TWP for the link)

Sci-Fi was my first real fiction genre (after, you know, Dr. Suess, of course) that I read a lot of. I still have my old copy of Dune at home in Wisconsin somewhere, I think. I must have read that thing a dozen times in high school and college. A friend of mine took a class with Frank Herbert out here and she said was was an arrogant so-and-so, but I still like his books. I've often thought about having a Write Like Dune Day at ArchaeoBlog.

Should I have mentioned that? Will my readers catch the underlying code-phrase by which I demonstrate my true intentions? By writing this, I do not write this. . . .even as I write this.

Isn't Sci-Fi really something new on the landscape? Sort of a late-19th century phenomenon that all of a sudden got people thinking seriously about the future rather than the present? Most literature, it seems to me, dealt with the present or the past. I wonder if the rapid technological progress of the past century isn't in large part due to this forward-thinking that Sci-Fi promotes. Nearly every scientist I know seems to have had at least a passing affair with Sci-Fi. I wonder if we'd have cell phones now if loads and loads of nerds hadn't watched Star Trek in their youth and became fascinated with the idea of communicators. The flip-phone does bear an uncanny resemblance to one of those suckers. . . . .