How Healthy Is the Eaton Collection?

The estate of Jay Kay Klein has donated $3.5 million to the Eaton Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy announced UC Riverside officials on August 28. It is the largest gift ever received by the UCR library and ranks among the top 25 donations campuswide.

Klein contributed his photo collection of 66,000 images of sf fandom and authors to the Eaton Collection prior to his death in 2012. The photo collection was valued at $1.4 million.

Two Eaton archivists studying a Klein shipment.

Two Eaton archivists studying photos in a shipment from Jay Kay Klein. Photo by John Hertz.

These gifts are credited to the relationship he established with Melissa Conway, the library’s special collections director.

A cash donation of such magnitude might have appeared one more step in the triumphal march of the Eaton Collection’s development were it not just three weeks ago that Nalo Hopkinson, sf writer and teacher of creative writing at UC Riverside, fired off this SOS:

I’m sad to have to report that new library administration doesn’t seem to appreciate the value of the Eaton Collection or the expertise that goes into it. Since spring of this year, their accomplishments have included driving out staff members and pushing changes to collection policies that would reduce the Eaton’s holdings, its value to researchers and as a repository of our community’s history, and its standing as a world-class archive. Meetings with the staff of the Eaton have been productive, collegial gatherings. Meetings to negotiate with the new library administration, not so much. It’s putting the faculty of the research cluster in the alarming position of having to protect the very collection we’re charged with fostering. We’re dealing with the new library admins’ efforts to split up the collection and change priorities for what to collect (eg, e-text over print) without consulting scholars in the field, and with what we’d characterize as harassment of staff, who’ve demonstrated extreme competence over the years.

But Hopkinson followed that warning with this provisional good news just one week later:

We three profs in the science fiction research cluster at UCR met with Dr. Stephen Cullenberg, the Dean of Humanities. He’s the person who had the vision a few years ago to create a faculty research cluster to promote the Eaton. (I should be clear that the profs in the research cluster are not employees of the Eaton. Drs. Vint and Latham are in the English Department and I — not a Dr — am in Creative Writing.) Dr. Cullenberg told us that he’s had a message from the new UCR library administrators. They’re beginning to work on a few proposals aimed at addressing our concerns about the way they’re managing the collection. There will be negotiations and resolutions mediated through a committee that will provide a trackable log of the decisions and actions upon which we’ve all agreed. Of course, this is all a couple of theoretical birds in the bush. The time for rejoicing is when you have actual birds in hand. For, me, this isn’t so much cautious optimism as it is “wait and see.”

She also reports that Eaton’s Dr. Rob Latham wrote on Facebook:

“At this meeting we were apprised of recent, potentially positive news emanating from the library dean involving plans to establish a “focused Eaton unit” with two full-time staff positions. There has also been movement toward creating an advisory body composed of faculty and administrators from both our college and the library whose charge would be to oversee the Eaton. We are cautiously optimistic about these initiatives and hope that they will lead to an enhancement, rather than a diminishment, of the value of the Collection.

Hopkinson and Latham wrote their comments before Klein’s bequest was announced. One can only speculate whether it helped thaw the attitudes they’ve been contending against.

[Thanks to Michael Walsh for the story.]

Today’s Birthday Boy 7/14

George-Slusser_-Eaton-CollectionBorn July 14, 1939: Professor Dr.George Slusser – Eaton science fiction collection Curator Emeritus.

Slusser has faced serious health challenges lately. Greg Benford reports: “He’s back from 3-plus months of chemotherapy and surgery to attack his mouth cancer, and he’s now recouping at home in the Riverside hills.”

My best wishes for his recovery!

Earlier this year Slusser gave an in-depth interview about his career and the collection to Sci-Fi Portal Europe:

How did you succeed to transform the Eaton SF Collection into the world’s biggest?

By silence, exile and cunning. We gradually acquired several massive collections from private parties–an example is the Douglas Menville collection of SF paperbacks, some 30,000 books in mint condition, which the collector had to sell because the foundations of his house were sinking under the weight of the books. Other collections were outright gifts. We are lucky to be located in the greater Los Angeles area, where collectors abound. Our collections of pulp magazines (nearly complete and in mint condition) was a gift. Gradually, through the conference, I made contacts with collectors and writers. This way I was able to target choice materials–an example is the Terry Carr fanzine collection, a veritable roadmap to the fanzine jungle (there are hundreds of thousands of these publications, how to know which ones are significant? Terry Carr’s collection let us set parameters. I was not trained as a librarian, but certainly learned to be one.

Slusser also pioneered the Eaton fanzine collection website. His original design can still be seen online via Wayback Machine. Its ingenious splash page displays the animated rocket of Fanac blazing across a background the color of faded Twiltone — complete with two rusty staples in the margin. Five icons link to the website’s main divisions – which also animate when you click on them.

The narrative portion of Slusser’s original website also showed remarkable sensitivity to fanzine fandom’s nuances. You can’t get more “inside” than to quote Arnie Katz (from The Trufan’s Advisor) while making a point about print-versus-electronic fanzines. Equally delightful was Slusser’s impatience with the claims of teenaged faneditor Harlan Ellison: “[His fanzine’s] cover promises ‘Ponce de Leon’s Pants,’ a fantasy by Mack Reynolds, which is nowhere inside the covers. Why bother to copyright this stuff?”

Slusser’s vision for the Eaton Collection, made possible when J. Lloyd Eaton gave his 6,000 hardcover sf books to UC Riverside, has grown to encompass many topics, including fanhistory, augmented by the fanzine collections donated by Terry Carr, Rick Sneary, and Bruce Pelz. It is the most extensive fanzine collection available to researchers.

Eaton Presents Benford, Hartwell and Wolfe 5/12

UC Riverside’s Eaton Collection will host a discussion and debate between Gregory Benford, Gary K. Wolfe and David Hartwell titled “Perspectives on Science Fiction” on Monday, May 12. It begins at 3:15 p.m. in the Special Collections & University Archives on the 4th Floor of Rivera Library.

Gregory Benford has published over thirty books, mostly novels. Nearly all remain in print, some after a quarter of a century. His fiction has won many awards, including the Nebula Award for his novel Timescape. A winner of the United Nations Medal for Literature, he is a professor of physics, emeritus, at the University of California, Irvine.

David Hartwell is an American editor of science fiction and fantasy. He has worked for Signet (1971–73), Berkley Putnam (1973–78), Pocket (where he founded the Timescape imprint, 1980–85, and created the Pocket Books Star Trek publishing line), and Tor Books Since 1995, his title at Tor/Forge Books has been “Senior Editor.” He chairs the board of directors of the World Fantasy Convention and, with Gordon Van Gelder, is the administrator of the Philip K. Dick Award. He holds a Ph.D. in comparative medieval literature.

Gary K. Wolfe is a science fiction editor, critic and biographer. He is Professor of Humanities at Roosevelt University’s Evelyn T. Stone College of Professional Studies. Wolfe has written extensively about science fiction and fantasy literature; he is widely recognized as one of the experts in the field. He has had a monthly review column in Locus and has written for Salon and other sites.

[Thanks to Gregory Benford for the story.]

Hodgson Collection To Eaton

Jane and Howard Frank have donated their collection of William Hope Hodgson papers, including unpublished stories, to the UC Riverside Libraries’ Eaton Collection. The gift will be commemorated at an event on April 16.

Born Nov. 15, 1877, in Blackmore End, Essex, Hodgson was widely known for his works in horror, fantastic fiction and science fiction when he was killed in April 1918, during World War I. He wrote numerous short stories, novels and poems, including “The House on the Borderland” and “The Night Land.”

“Scholars have lamented for decades that no collection of primary materials – correspondence, diaries, etc. – had ever come to light to allow for the depth of scholarly research that has been done for his contemporaries such as H.P. Lovecraft,” said University Librarian Steven Mandeville-Gamble. “The Hodgson collection, which was so generously donated to UCR by Jane and Howard Frank, finally brings to light those critically important resources that academics have been seeking for years.”

There will be lectures and a reception at the library on the 16th. Jane Frank will participate, speaking about their acquisition of the collection, and how that led to the two books she edited on Hodgson, for PS Publishing/Tartarus Press, 2005, The Wandering Soul: Glimpses of a Life – A Compendium of Rare and Unpublished Works, and The Lost Poetry Books of W.H. Hodgson.

The archive of Hodgson manuscripts, letters and photographs was once owned by the late Sam Moskowitz.

Jane Frank believes the collection will shortly be available to scholars and researchers and hopes that the donation will spark new studies of Hodgson’s stories and poetry.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]

Tarpinian: 2013 Eaton Conference in Progress

Professor Philip Nichols giving his lecture on the script writing styles of Ray Bradbury and Harlan Ellison

Professor Philip Nichols giving his lecture on the script writing styles of Ray Bradbury and Harlan Ellison

By John King Tarpinian: Every two years UC Riverside hosts the Eaton Science Fiction Conference. I’ve had attended in past years when they gave their Lifetime Achievement Awards to Ray Bradbury (2008) and Frederik Pohl (2009).

Conferences over the four days would start at 8:30 a.m. and continue until 8:30 p.m., running in six rooms at once. If one can get Sci-Fi overload this would have been the place to be. A list of topics: “Gods, Monsters in Science Fiction Television,” “Queering the Genre,” “Octavia E. Butler,” “Superhero Controversies in Comics and Television,” and so on and so forth. Larry Niven and David Brin are among the writers in attendance. For a more detailed list of the event meander over to: http://eatonconference.ucr.edu/

This year’s Lifetime Achievement Awards are going to Ursula K. Le Guin (2012), Ray Harryhausen (2013) and Stan Lee (2013). They will be honored at the Saturday evening banquet.

On Friday I took a day trip to hear a lecture by a friend of mine, Phil Nichols, a UK Professor from the University of Wolverhampton. Phil lectured, along with Julian Hoxter & Michael Joseph Klein who gave papers on scripts in Science Fiction. Phil specifically talked about the diverse script writing styles of Ray Bradbury & Harlan Ellison. Ray’s scriptwriting was honed by writing Moby Dick for John Huston but his first official script was for It Came from Outer Space. Harlan’s style was developed in the early 60s with is TV writing from the Alfred Hitchcock Hour through Star Trek and a script for Masters of Science Fiction.

As in books, Ray used metaphors for camera direction (sample scripts were shown on the screen), what today is called a spec-script. Ray’s scripts would allow for more input for the director. Harlan, on the other hand, would number each scene and have very specific directions as to shooting the scene. Harlan would go as far as to specify if a scene was an interior or exterior show.

I was not consulted when they selected the dates for the conference so after having lunch with my friend that was it for the day. She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed was off on a photo safari in Death Valley and guess who had to get home to walk the dogs? Maybe the best end to a good day was getting a souvenir LASFS bookmark.

2013 Eaton Conference poster.

2013 Eaton Conference poster.

Eaton conference panel schedule.

Display at  2013 Eaton Conference.

Display at 2013 Eaton Conference.

Display at  2013 Eaton Conference.

Display at 2013 Eaton Conference.

Display at  2013 Eaton Conference.

Display at 2013 Eaton Conference.

 

Klein in Hospice

Legendary fan photographer Jay Kay Klein is in a hospice with terminal oesophegeal cancer reports Laurraine Tutihasi, who spoke to the person who placed him.

Klein recently made news when he donated his photos to UC Riverside’s Eaton Collection.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]

John Hertz: Klein is Big, Door is Dear

By John Hertz: Jay Kay Klein, the photographer of science fiction, has donated his photographs to the Eaton Collection. Shipments are arriving. It is best to arrange such things while one is alive.

Klein shot all of us – sounds tempting, doesn’t it? – fans and pros. He was there, usually with several cameras. In monochrome, color, stereo, he took a hundred thousand photos.

The Eaton Collection, on the Riverside campus of the University of California, is the world’s largest publicly accessible holding of s-f, with books, prozines, fanzines, ephemera. Terry Carr’s, Rick Sneary’s, and Bruce Pelz’ collections made Eaton the largest in fanzines. The Klein photos are a perfect match, and in their own right an element – I use the word deliberately.

Since seven years were needed for a preliminary index of the Pelz collection, Eaton librarians delighted in finding Klein’s photos carefully identified. Perhaps I may be allowed to say that when I talked with him by phone about it recently he chortled. It had not been by the power of his mind alone that he laid hands on pictures as needed.

How good are they?

Look at the Photo Yearbook in the 75th Anniversary issue of Analog (January-February 2005). The photos are Klein’s. See in particular his portraits of Campbell, Heinlein, Moore.

He’s been as valuable a reporting photographer as a portraitist. Look at the Asimov Appreciation in the June 1992 Locus. He can write, too. He recounted the memorial gathering, then gave the closing reminiscence, after Hartwell, Gunn, de Camp. Asimov “loved to have someone top him if possible. Seldom possible.”

Photography is an extraordinary combination of an artist’s vision and of fact. Of this Jay Kay Klein has been illustrative.

No one can top an act like that, but I promised to say something about Selina Phanara’s door. It arrived safely, was placed duly, and is enjoyed muchly.

Eaton is eager to make its resources available. It has a Website and a copying service. Visits in person are welcome.

Two Eaton archivists studying a Klein shipment.

Selina Phanara’s door in place.

Eaton Geeks

When an earlier generation of wowsers derided that “Crazy Buck Rogers stuff” they weren’t kidding. When today’s journalists pitch into geeks and nerds it’s hard to take offense although they’re writing in an identical tone — in contrast to the teenagers of First Fandom, the targeted group is, if not the majority, at least in the mainstream, so nobody’s self-esteem is likely to be bruised.

And lately, Wired magazine’s choice of the Eaton Collection as a Hotspot on a list of  “Geeky Destinations and Smart Side Trips” has encouraged writers to lovingly lampoon UC Riverside’s as a nerd’s treasure house of science fiction.   

John Weeks supplies an example in his column for the Contra Costa Times, “Geeks of the world trek to Riverside”:

Wow, what site is it? Hold on to your pocket protectors and listen. It’s the Eaton Collection of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror and Utopian Literature in the Special Collections Department of the Tomas Rivera Library at UC Riverside.

Even you wonks with thick glasses held together by tape can see the connection, can’t you? Nerds love comic books, which means they love science fiction and fantasy, which means they are bound to make a beeline to the Eaton.

The university itself has gotten into the act with a recent post titled “A haven for the spooky and geeky”. Unlike Weeks’ column, however, it is more than a cute exercise in verbal imagery, and offers substantive insights from an interview with Nalo Hopkinson:

The accolade in Wired recognized the often-overlooked connection between technological innovation and science fiction, said Nalo Hopkinson, a Jamaican-born writer of science fiction and fantasy who joined UC Riverside’s creative writing faculty this fall. 

Hopkinson pointed out that Bill Gates and Paul Allen, the co-founders of Microsoft, were science fiction buffs. British newspaper columnist Damien Walter recently reported that Chinese authorities have encouraged the popularity of science fiction, hoping to foster U.S.-style innovation. But the Chinese authorities got more than they bargained for when author Chen Guanzhong came up with a cogent political critique in his novel “The Prosperous Time: China 2013.”

Science fiction has been a powerful tool for social commentary since the days of “Gulliver’s Travels,” according to Hopkinson. 

“Science fiction and fantasy wrestle with the clash of cultures, with the way humans change the world around them, and who does the dirty work,” she said. 

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]

Hertz: Of Drinks and Doors

Selina Phanara's art on the APA-L room door. Photo by Karl Lembke.

By John Hertz: (Reprinted from Vanamonde 952) When I saw an empty Moxie bottle at the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society’s first meeting in our new Clubhouse, I should have guessed someone had been to Galco’s, a shop so much more famous for carrying five hundred kinds of soft drink than for its Blockbuster sandwiches that it’s less known as Galco’s Old World Grocery than as the Soda Pop Stop.  Galco’s has as many beers, six dozen kinds of bottled water, a hundred candies including Clark Bars, Nik-L-Nips, and Sen-Sen, but soft drinks are its fame, almost any so long as bottled in glass.  After guessing someone had been there, I should have guessed it was Marc Schirmeister.  Both guesses would have been correct.  But neither of those afterthoughts was a double-take – unlike understanding the empty bottle.

Among the points upon which I concur with Marv Wolfman is the assessment of this drink.  Galco’s owner John Nese once told a visiting couple who’d driven sixty miles “Try a Moxie, then try a Coke.  The taste is so pronounced, it just pops out.”  That’s very true.  Lloyd Penney says Klingons used to arrive from Montréal with cases of it.  Moxie = courage may come from what’s needed to drink it; or may be like Old Infuriator, the Algerian wine which the British Navy supposedly served because it was so bad it would make men fight anyone, see e.g. I. Fleming, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service p. 145 (1963).

Someone must have actually consumed a bottle of Moxie.  Well, astounding things happen at the LASFS.

This Clubhouse is roomy.  It has space for our 20,000-book library.  No patio; we left our home-grown lemon tree behind.  Also the Star Wars wallpaper Marjii Ellers hung neatly in one of our bathrooms.  The new painted-concrete walls are “live”, i.e. in the acoustic sense.  Quiet is not a fannish virtue; we’re talkative; I’d not have it another way; maybe we’ll hang arras.  Given our new neighbor across the street, we can tell people “Come to the LASFS and be close to power.”

Among the attenders was Dr. Melissa Conway, head of Special Collections at the Library of the Riverside campus of the University of California; among her six, with the Tuskegee Airmen and fifteen printing presses, is the Eaton Collection, world’s largest publicly accessible collection of SF, including the Terry Carr and Bruce Pelz and Rick Sneary fanzines.  I introduced her to Karl Lembke, Chairman of the LASFS Board of Directors.  During the meeting I sat next to Selina Phanara, who thanked me.  “Why?” I asked.  “Because I did something about your door?”  In 1999 this talented artist painted the APA-L collating-room door (Amateur Press Ass’n – LASFS) with a space ship and suns.  When I learned the Club was relocating I asked Dr. Conway if Eaton wanted the door.  She said “Yes, please.”  Lembke with a little help from his friends dismounted it and put in a plain one; he now arranged to get the Phanara door to Riverside.

In the festivities I brought greetings from Paul Turner and Tim Kirk.  Kirk often drew APA-L covers in the years he won five Hugos as Best Fanartist.  Turner had asked me to be sure and credit Pelz, who fanned Turner’s building-fund spark into flame.  Jerry Pournelle said “Don’t forget to credit Chuck Crayne.”  We all cheered Pelz’ widow Elayne, the LASFS Treasurer, who’d done more than anyone else to negotiate, close, and consummate the transactions that disposed of our second Clubhouse and brought us into this our third.

Freehafer Hall in the old LASFS clubhouse on Burbank Blvd. Selina Phanara's door art is visible to the right of the pillar. Photo by Taral Wayne.

Eaton Conference 2011

Samuel Delany

The 2011 Eaton Science Fiction Conference that begins February 11 boasts a spectacular slate of speakers, beginning with authors Nalo Hopkinson, China Miéville and Karen Tei Yamashita. Hopkinson is the Jamaica-born author of Brown Girl in the Ring and The New Moon’s Arms; Miéville is the English author of “Perdido Street Station, The City and the City and Kraken; and Yamashita is an associate professor of literature at UC Santa Cruz and author of I Hotel and Tropic of Orange.

Samuel R. Delany and Harlan Ellison will receive the 2010 and 2011 Eaton Award for Lifetime Achievement in Science Fiction. Ellison, the 2011 recipient, is expected to attend the conference to accept the award.

Mike Davis, distinguished professor of creative writing at UCR, will deliver the keynote address. Other notable authors will participate, such as Greg Benford and Howard Hendrix.

Harlan Ellison

The conference will be preceded on February 10 by the Science Fiction Studies Symposium, which will explore the theme “The Singularity in SF Literature and Theory.” Scheduled participants include Neil Easterbrook, who teaches literary theory at Texas Christian University and is an editorial consultant for the journal Science Fiction Studies; Brooks Landon, professor of English at the University of Iowa and author of “Science Fiction After 1900: From the Steam Man to the Stars”; and Rob Latham, who is a senior editor of Science Fiction Studies.

Both the Eaton Conference and symposium are open to the public. Admission to the symposium is free. The conference will be held at the Mission Inn and Spa in downtown Riverside. Registration is $165 for the entire conference or $75 for a single day. Student admission is $55.

[Based on the Eaton Conference press release. Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]