Leiber Collection Online

Fritz Leiber

Fritz Leiber.

The University of Houston Libraries has the largest collection of Fritz Leiber’s papers. They have scanned and posted at their website many publications Leiber brought home from conventions over the decades – complete program books (particularly for the World Fantasy Convention), newsletters, Leiber’s own manuscripts for GOH speech and convention reports.

This digital collection provides a glimpse into the world of science fiction and fantasy conventions during the 1970s and 1980s. It features programs, pamphlets, newsletters, flyers, and other documents collected by writer Fritz Leiber as he attended science fiction and fantasy conventions across the United States and internationally. Leiber often actively participated in these conventions, as a planner, speaker, or presenter. In all, the collection contains over 200 items.

With the recent controversy about the World Fantasy Award’s Lovecraft statuette, this is a timely opportunity to see Kirby McCauley’s flyer for the first World Fantasy Convention which says in part —

The overall plan of the convention is to focus on the serious side of fantasy literature. Fritz Leiber recently reflected on one of the effects of his correspondence with Lovecraft. “…I became convinced that the supernatural horror story and the fantasy (and the sword-and-sorcery story) are as much high art as any other sort of fiction ….” That’s exactly the guiding light of belief for his convention: to gather for serious exploration into, and discussion of, fantasy art….”

[Thanks to Matthew Davis for the story.]

Kirby McCauley (1941-2014)

Literary agent Kirby McCauley died over Labor Day Weekend of renal failure associated with diabetes. McCauley represented many writers, Stephen King once among them, and in the 70s and 80s was one of the top agents in the field. He was George R.R. Martin’s agent for decades and Martin has written a lengthy tribute.

Whether due to overexpansion or McCauley’s personal problems, his agency suffered a downturn in the late 1980s. King dropped McCauley in 1988, and several other clients followed the agency’s departing employees.

However, the business recovered and in 1994 McCauley was able to lay the foundation of another great success. George R.R. Martin remembers:

When I sent him two hundred pages of a fantasy I had been working on for a few years, and asked him if he could maybe sell it for enough money to get me out of television, he chuckled and said he thought maybe he could…. Kirby sent the book all over New York, got six publishers to submit offers, and soon had two of them bidding each other up and up until… well, Bantam won, and I popped a bottle of champagne, bid farewell to television, and set to work on A Game of Thrones.

McCauley also co-founded the World Fantasy Convention, chairing the first one in 1975. His anthology Dark Forces won the World Fantasy Award in 1981.