World-Famous Science Fiction Collection Calls UC Riverside Home

By Yarbrough, Beau | Pasadena Star-News, January 3, 2015 | Go to article overview

World-Famous Science Fiction Collection Calls UC Riverside Home


Yarbrough, Beau, Pasadena Star-News


RIVERSIDE » At one time, it was every geek's worst nightmare: Come back from college, or even summer camp, and Mom has thrown or given away a beloved collection of dog-eared science fiction and fantasy novels.

Oakland physician J. Lloyd Eaton beat the odds.

In 1969, his estate bequeathed his collection of 7,500 hardback editions of science fiction, fantasy and horror books published between the late 19th century and 1955.

But Eaton's collection looked as though it might end up getting split up.

"No library was taking science fiction intact, much less in special collections," UC Riverside head of special collections Melissa Conway said.

But at UC Riverside, the collection found a champion, in librarian Donald Wilson, who arranged for the collection to find a permanent home in Riverside's Tomas Rivera Library.

"His feeling was that if no one was collecting science fiction, but everyone's reading it, one day, scholars will want to study these," Conway said.

Today, the Eaton Collection has grown to more than 100,000 works, along with another 200,000 items.

"So it's grown more than 10 times" in the intervening 45 years, Conway said.

The collection is regularly visited by scholars and readers wanting to get a glimpse into the history of genres that, until recently, got relatively little respect. The university holds regularly scholarly conferences looking at science fiction, fantasy and horror.

Beyond works like the 1517 edition of Thomas Moore's Utopia, taped interviews with American, British and French authors, Japanese manga comics and anime cartoons, the collection also includes relatively little-discussed feminist science fiction and fantasy from the 19th and early 20th centuries, which were until recently sidelined by scholarly discussions in favor of male voices. …

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