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University Relations

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April 18, 2005
Contact: Dan Lara, University Relations, (785) 864-8855.

KU's Gunn Center receives gift of SF magazines spanning seven decades

LAWRENCE -- The J. Wayne and Elsie M. Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction and the Department of English at the University of Kansas have announced the gift of a substantial collection of science-fiction magazines spanning seven decades. The collection, containing issues of Astounding Science Fiction (now known as Analog), Galaxy Science Fiction and Fantasy & Science Fiction, date from the 1940s to 2003.

Amy and Gary Bennett of Philadelphia donated the magazines in memory of Amy Bennett's father, the late Edward Dobert Spear, a civil engineer and avid reader of science fiction. The gift will be available for general circulation at Watson Library. The Spencer Research Library also holds a collection of vintage SF magazines.

" We are very thankful to the Bennett family for this substantial donation," said James E. Gunn, professor emeritus of English and director of the Gunn Center. "While the Bennett family doesn't have a direct connection to KU, they gave this gift to the university based on the work and reputation of the Gunn Center in preserving science fiction history."

Spear, whose studies in electrical engineering were interrupted by Army service in Europe during World War II, graduated from Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., and became a civil engineer after the late 1960s. He maintained and designed renovations for military buildings, including the Pentagon. He died in 1995. His wife, Amy Clark Spear, also was an electrical engineer, a graduate of Cornell and a science-fiction reader until her death in 2001. She worked on NASA contracts for the Lunar Excursion Module radars as well as ARPA Net, one of the forerunners of the Internet.

The Spears' interest in science-fiction literature was passed on to their four daughters, two of who became engineers and one became an accountant. Amy Bennett eventually earned her doctorate in nursing. Now Bennett's three daughters also read science fiction.

Bennett said she and her sisters often read their father's Astounding/Analog collection and found that reading science fiction prepared them for real and rapid change in today's society.

"For us, today's shocking headlines are yesterday's interesting stories," Bennett said. "And we are prepared to think about the effects on society, and possible approaches to handling consequences, because science fiction authors have already done so."


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