Ray Guns & Rocket Ships

Ray Guns & Rocket Ships.
The Fred Fastier Science Fiction Collection
University of Otago

In early December 2010, Fred Fastier, inaugural Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Otago, donated a 1200 strong collection of Science Fiction titles to Special Collections, University of Otago. This collection forms the basis of the exhibition ‘Ray Guns & Rocket Ships. The Fred Fastier Science Fiction Collection‘, which begins in the de Beer Gallery, Special Collections, University of Otago, on 23 March 2012.

During the 1920s Fred Fastier attended Arthur Street Primary, Dunedin, and it was there that he became interested in science fiction (SF). One of the first works he read was a magazine called Amazing Stories, which was edited by Hugo Gernsback, who, in his own stories, predicted RADAR and television. Two other novels remembered by Fastier included Erle Cox’s Out of the Silence, which involves the discovery of a gigantic, buried sphere, containing the accumulated knowledge of a past civilization; and Aldous Huxley’s classic Brave New World (1932). Collecting was begun in earnest when he was teaching in New York in the 1950s. This was when the McCarthy era was in full swing, dominated by anti-communism sentiment and the Cold War. As a professional scientist, Fastier preferred ‘hard-science’ SF rather than imaginative fantasy. What also captured his attention were the ideas and possible situations imagined by SF writers. As a consequence, Edgar Rice Burroughs and his Venus and Mars series did not rate, while writers such as Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, and Arthur C. Clarke did. Fastier calls the latter ‘a good technologist’. Other authors favoured include H. G. Wells (his idea of tanks before WWI); Hal Clement (especially his A Mission of Gravity); John Wyndham (of Triffids fame); and Philip K. Dick, with his The Man in the High Tower. The collection also contains a large number of magazines such as Astounding Science (which he subscribed to), Galaxy, and Nebula, many of which feature classic short stories in the field.

The exhibition ‘Ray Guns & Rocket Ships. The Fred Fastier Science Fiction Collection‘ begins in the de Beer Gallery, Special Collections, University of Otago, on 23 March 2012. It runs through to 15 June 2012. Hours: 8.30 to 5.00 pm Monday to Friday

Exhibitions are free and all are welcome

For further information, please contact Dr. Donald Kerr, Special Collections Librarian , University of Otago, Dunedin. Donald.kerr@otago.ac.nz or phone: (03) 479-8330

Teleporting & telepathy are also acceptable methods of communication

One comment on “Ray Guns & Rocket Ships
  1. This will be worth a look. I was in Dunedin last year at the library for work and had an opportunity to look at the collection. I do declare that I could have spent several weeks sitting in the closed stacks reading if allowed ;p

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