The best current site, without question, is that sponsored by the Center
for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas. It contains a
treasure of information and links to other resources. It is the one place to
start for anyone seeking information about teaching science fiction.
Celebrating Science Fiction Since 1969
We are working to save the world through science fiction! This is only partly hyperbole, as we believe that the more people have the opportunity to become educated about the core messages of science fiction, the better our world can be - and the better-prepared we are, as a species, to face the future. To help achieve this, we offer a comprehensive and ever-growing set of courses and other resources to serve SF students, educators, scholars, readers, and fans, and through collaboration extend the influence of the literature of change, ideas, and the human species to the world at large.
"The most powerful works of SF don't describe the future - they change it" - Annalee Newitz, io9.
The Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction offers a large and growing variety of SF-related resources, awards, conferences, and other programs. This includes for-credit and professionalization courses at the University of Kansas, including workshops, seminars, MA and MFA studies, and a writing retreat; gives annual awards for both international SF and student writing, and scholarships to study SF at KU; hosts the annual Gunn Center Conference; operates an educational-outreach and speaker-finding program through AboutSF; houses research and reading libraries; provides a wide diversity of SF research and educational resources at KU as well as SF news and resource links to the broader SF culture; and administers the new James Gunn's Ad Astra publication. We regularly expand and improve our offerings to serve the science fiction community, so let us know what we can do to enhance the Gunn Center and this website as a resource for you.
"Science-fiction writers and readers didn't put a man on the Moon all by themselves, but they created a climate of opinion in which the goal of putting a man on the Moon became acceptable" - James Gunn, New York Times.
Everyone enjoys equal access to the Gunn Center's offerings, and we actively encourage students and scholars from diverse backgrounds to study with us. Click here to see the Center's Diversity Statement.
The Center was founded in 1982 as a Kansas Board of Regents Center at the University of Kansas, the first such organization at a major university. Professor James Gunn established it as a focus for the SF programs he offered at KU, beginning in 1969 with one of the first science-fiction courses ever offered at a major university.
That is also when the Science Fiction Lecture Series began, and when the University Libraries made its first major acquisition in the field; since then, SF has become the KU Libraries' fastest-growing special collection, mostly through gifts. Special Collections provided most of the illustrations for Gunn's Alternate Worlds: The Illustrated History of Science Fiction, published in 1975 (and the new edition from 2013). Also in 1975, the University held its first Intensive English Institute on the Teaching of Science Fiction, which became an annual event. In 1979, the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for the best science fiction novel of the year was presented for the first time at KU as part of a weekend conference devoted to the teaching and writing of SF. The annual Gunn Center Conference uses the round-table discussion format with associated readings, signings, and so forth. In 2004, the Conference tested a presentation-and-dialogue format with much success. The Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for the best short SF of the year was first given in 1987. In 1985, the Center first offered its Writers Workshop in Science Fiction. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame, presented in cooperation with the Kansas City Science Fiction and Fantasy Society, was presented during the Conference Awards Ceremony from 1996-2004.
In 2005, Kij Johnson first offered the Novel Writers Workshop, and recently added a "Repeat Offenders" Novel Writers Workshop. Chris McKitterick and Physics Professor Philip Baringer began offering the "Science, Technology, and Society" course in 2006. The first issue of the new James Gunn's Ad Astra, a multidimensional journal of fiction, nonfiction, essays, reviews, and multimedia, launched in June 2012 - and is now open for submissions. In 2013, the Center began expanding its interdisciplinary relationships, forming a group of Faculty Affiliates from many KU departments - expect to see more offerings as we build on our collaborations!
In 1991, Dr. Richard W. Gunn, a retired physician in Kansas City and Professor Gunn's brother, created an endowment for the Center, and it was renamed the J. Wayne and Elsie M. Gunn Center in honor of their parents. McKitterick began building this website the next year. In 2004, the Center formed a Board of Advisors consisting of luminaries from the SF field, the Center's Directors, and the English Department Chair. In 2007, the Center moved for the first time to a physical space at the University of Kansas, and in 2009 it opened a comprehensive library of SF books and magazines that is now available for browsing and borrowing. In 2011, KU acquired Theodore Sturgeon's papers, greatly expanding our already strong science fiction special collection available for researchers to use.
The J. Wayne and Elsie M. Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction is a University of Kansas Center most closely affiliated with the KU English Department, and most courses are offered for undergraduate and graduate English credit - but all are also available for non-degree-seeking scholars and writers who wish to enhance their professionalization in the field. The Department offers a creative writing option at the undergraduate level and an MFA at the graduate level, which allows work in SF. Based on our growing interdisciplinary relationships at KU and with other universities, we are working to greatly expand opportunities to study SF at KU - stay tuned!
Currently, the Center offers the following:
The Center continues to offer, within a four-week period in the summer, a two-week intensive Writers Workshop established by SF Grand Master James Gunn and now offered by SF author and scholar Chris McKitterick, featuring brilliant guest authors such as Pat Cadigan, Bradley Denton, Andy Duncan, James Gunn, and John Kessel; a two-week intensive Novel Writers Workshop offered by multiple award-winning author Kij Johnson; a two-week intensive science-fiction literature course especially for teachers; a one-week Young-Adult Novel Writing Workshop; and two advanced "Repeat Offenders" writing workshops (also two weeks). The summer courses run for the full month on either side of the Gunn Center Conference and Awards Banquet.
Everyone enjoys equal access to the Gunn Center's offerings, and we actively encourage students and scholars from diverse backgrounds to study with us. All courses offered by Gunn Center faculty are also available to be taken not-for-credit for professionalization purposes by community members (if space is available). Click here to see the Center's Diversity Statement.
Who We Are
Founded by James Gunn - author, editor, scholar, and teacher of SF - was a SFWA Grand Master and Hall of Fame inductee. He served the Center's mission from when he established it in 1982 until his death in December 2020. And 13 years before the organization was designated as a research center, he was one of the very first to bring the study of SF to academia.
SF author and scholar Chris McKitterick has served the Center since 1992. He was named Associate Director in 2002 when he joined the KU faculty, and has served as Director since 2010.
After nearly a decade of assisting with the summer program, Kij Johnson began serving as Associate Director in 2004. She joined KU as Assistant Professor of creative writing in 2012 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2018.
In 2004 the Center formed its Board of Advisors, which includes long-time friends of the Center, the Directors, and many of SF's leading lights.
In 2005, with donations from publishers, conventions, SFRA, SFWA, and notable people in the field, the Center established AboutSF.com and created the AboutSF Volunteer Coordinator position to serve it.
In 2013, we formed the Gunn Center Affiliates, an interdisciplinary group of faculty and university professionals interested in the intersection of their fields with SF.
In 2015, we formed the International Consortium of Science Fiction, a cooperative of science-fiction research and degree-granting programs from around the world.
In 2018, our first Christopher Gunn Memorial Graduate Research Assistant began serving the Center's mission.
And, of course, we wouldn't be able to do anything without the energy and commitment of our students, friends, support staff, and volunteers - a heartfelt thanks to everyone!
We invite you to become part of the Center, as well - if you're interested in volunteering, fill out the contact form over at AboutSF.com,, or just drop us an email. For more information about the Center or any of our programs:
Our physical mailing address:
In Memoria for some of the greats who served the Center here.
In the background:
Site last updated 2/13/2021