Friday, June 22, 2007

A galaxy of galaxies

110,000 volumes of rare fantasy, horror and sci-fi... I know what I'm doing the next time I visit Cali.
IN 1969, English professor Robert Gleckner helped the school acquire 7,500 rare science fiction, fantasy and horror novels from an eccentric Bay Area physician, J. Lloyd Eaton. Among them was a first edition of Bram Stoker's "Dracula." Eaton had scribbled plot summaries and succinct criticisms of nearly every book on faded sheets of letterhead.

But Gleckner's colleagues mocked the collection, and he banished the volumes to a storeroom and never touched them again.

And for 10 years, no one paid the books any attention — until UC Riverside's head librarian, Eleanor Montague, found them and cracked open a few. She and comparative literature scholar George Slusser began cooking up an improbable scheme: Science fiction, for all its talk of wormholes and galaxies far, far away was a form of 20th-century American literature that someone ought to keep as a cultural archive.

So in 1979, Montague dubbed Slusser the Eaton collection's first curator.

When he broke the news to friends, they shook their heads and warned him it would be career suicide.

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