June 23, 2004

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Contact: Dan Lara, University Relations, (785) 864-8855.

Science Fiction Hall of Fame leaving Kansas City and KU for Seattle

LAWRENCE -- With the new Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame officially open this month in Seattle, legends and luminaries who have shaped the genre now have a place to be honored.

SF fans everywhere have Kansas City and the University of Kansas to thank for it.

The move has the blessing of the Kansas City Science Fiction and Fantasy Society, along with the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction at KU, which founded the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 1996. Each year, the hall of fame has honored four individuals, two living and two posthumously, on their contributions to the science fiction and fantasy field. The honorees usually are announced at an annual SF convention in Kansas City, Mo., and are officially inducted at a conference sponsored by the Gunn Center every summer.

This year's hall of fame activities, however, will be the last in this area. In the future, the induction activities will be at the Seattle museum, which will be located alongside the Experience Music Project in the Frank Gehry building at the base of the Space Needle. The museum is the brainchild of Paul Allen, a Microsoft Corp. founding father, and other SF aficionados.

No one should think that Allen is attempting an alienlike snatching of the hall of fame from the Midwest, according to James Gunn, professor emeritus of English at KU and director of the Gunn Center (named after his parents, J. Wayne and Elsie M. Gunn). The move had his blessing and that of the Kansas City society.

"Paul Allen said the museum ought to have a hall of fame," said Gunn, who serves on the advisory group for the Seattle museum. "His representatives got in touch with me and visited Lawrence in October of last year. It made sense to move the hall of fame to the museum."

As an indication of the close relationship between the Gunn Center and the Science Fiction Museum, Donna Shirley, director of the museum, will speak at this year's Campbell Conference at KU, Gunn said.

This year's living hall of fame inductees are Brian W. Aldiss and Harry Harrison. They are honored for their half-century careers as authors and editors. Aldiss, named a Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, may be best known for his Helliconia trilogy. Harrison wrote "Make Room! Make Room!" a novel about overpopulation that became the film "Soylent Green," and dozens of other novels, including the Stainless Steel Rat series.

The posthumous inductees are Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, author of "Frankenstein" and "The Last Man," and E.E. "Doc" Smith, who published one of the first SF novels, "The Skylark of Space," for Amazing Stories in 1928 and became a fan favorite with his space epics.

The induction ceremony will take place July 9 during the Campbell Conference. The conference is the concluding event of the annual Writers Workshop in Science Fiction and the beginning of the Intensive English Institute on the Teaching of Science Fiction. (See related release "Annual writers workshop, conference to inspire future science-fiction writers.") All events will be at KU.

Also scheduled are a free informal discussion July 8 on "Science Fiction: Past, Present and Future"; a mass autographing session July 10 in Oread Books; and guest speakers Frederick Pohl, Gregory Benford, Greg Bear, Joan Slonczewski, George Zebrowski, Pamela Sargent, Harrison and Aldiss.

Also announced at an award dinner preceding the conference will be the annual John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best science fiction novel and the annual Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for best science fiction short story. Aldiss and Harrison founded the Campbell Award.

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