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.

3 thoughts on “Today’s Birthday Boy 7/14

  1. Mike: Surely you mean “his original collection can still be SEEN online” (not “see online”?) Martin

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