James Gunn in 2010.
Gunn newest trilogy, now available!
James Gunn was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1923. He received his B.S. degree in
journalism in 1947 after three years in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and his M.A.
in English in 1951, both from the University of Kansas. He also did graduate work in theater
at KU and Northwestern. In 1969 at the University of Kansas, he taught one of
the first university courses in science fiction.
Jim died on the morning of December 23, 2020, of congestive heart failure. Brief illustrated memorial here.
In 2015, Gunn was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. Gunn
joins the elite
company of Theodore Sturgeon, H.G. Wells, Isaac Asimov, and other SF greats.
In 2007, he was named "Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master."
Read the story - and see lots of photos - here.
He was Guest of Honor at the 2013
WorldCon in San
Antonio, Texas; Special Guest at the same year's
in Riverside, California; and of course permanent Special Guest at the
in Lawrence, Kansas. He also makes occasional appearances, especially in the
Gunn has worked as an editor of paperback reprints, as managing editor of KU
alumni publications, as director of KU public relations, as a professor of English, and now
is professor emeritus of English and director of the Center for the Study of Science Fiction.
He won national awards for his work as an editor and a director of public relations. He was awarded the Byron Caldwell Smith Award in recognition of literary achievement and the
Edward Grier Award for excellence in teaching, was President of the
Science Fiction Writers of America for 1971-72 and
President of the
Science Fiction Research Association from
1980-82, was guest of honor at many regional SF conventions, including SFeracon in
Zagreb, Yugoslavia, and Polcon, the Polish National SF convention, in Katowice; was
presented the Pilgrim Award of SFRA in 1976, a special award from the 1976 World
SF Convention for Alternate Worlds, a Science Fiction Achievement Award
(Hugo) by the 1983 World SF Convention for Isaac Asimov: The Foundations
of Science Fiction, the Eaton Award in 1992 for lifetime achievement, and
named Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master
Science Fiction Writers of America in 2007; was a
KU Mellon Fellow in 1981 and 1984; and served from 1978-80 and 1985-present as
chairman of the Campbell Award jury to select the best science-fiction novel of the year. He
has lectured in Denmark, China, Iceland, Japan, Poland, Romania, Singapore, Sweden,
Taiwan, Yugoslavia, and the Soviet Union for the U.S. Information Agency.
At 95, Gunn released the final volume of the trilogy that
entitled Transformation -
Star-Begotten: A Life
Lived in Science Fiction, his grad-school thesis. At 97, he was still
short fiction and essays in Asimov's Science Fiction magazine.
Gunn started writing SF in 1948, was a full-time freelance writer for four years, and
had more than 100 stories published in magazines and books; most of them have
been reprinted, some as many as a dozen times. He is the author of 28 books and the editor of 18;
his master's thesis was serialized in a pulp magazine. Four of his stories were dramatized
over NBC radio's "X Minus One"; "The Cave of Night" was dramatized on television's Desilu
Playhouse in 1959 as "Man in Orbit"; and The Immortals was dramatized as an
ABC-TV "Movie of the Week" in 1969 as "The Immortal" and became an hour-long series in
1970-71. His stories and books have been reprinted in Australia, China, England, France,
Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Scandinavia,
South America, Spain, Taiwan, the Soviet Union, and Yugoslavia.
In 2014, James Gunn created a $1.5 million endowment for the
James E. and Jane F. Gunn Professorship in Science Fiction
in the KU College of Liberal Arts (to be associated with the Center), to ensure the long-term legacy he established
in SF Studies here.
Jim was also a championship bridge player.
Go here to read a tribute to James Gunn by former student, John Kessel,
presented at Gunn's Grand Master induction ceremony.
Gunn's publications are listed below. He recently sold several more
books, including his newest trilogy of novels:
(2016), and Transformation (2017),
and his memoir,
Star-Begotten: A Life
Lived in Science Fiction.
SF Writers Workshop attendees have heard excerpts.
Co-authored with Jack Williamson in 1954 and originally published in 1955,
has been published in Tor
Books' classic reprint series.
Together the two novels, almost 60 years apart, bookend a career and in some ways the space epic itself. Also reprinted
in 2013 was Alternate Worlds: The Illustrated History of Science Fiction, in China by the Beijing Division of the Shanghai Century Publishing Company.
By a marvelous serendipity, the book was translated by Sasha Jiang, the Center's
2011-2012 visiting scholar from China.
The first critical study on Gunn,
Saving the World Through Science Fiction: James
Gunn, Writer, Teacher, Scholar (U of
Illinois Press Modern Masters of Science Fiction
series), by Gunn Center Fellow
Michael Page, came out in June,
James Gunn's Birthday cake from 2004:
"The uninspected belief is not worth holding," Jim's take on the saying, "The uninspected life is not worth living."
This Fortress World, 1955 (Gnome), 1957 (Ace),
Star Bridge (with Jack Williamson), 1955 (Gnome), 1956,
1961 (Ace), 1977 (Berkley), 1982 (Del Rey),
1989 (MacMillan), TBA (Tor Books classic reprint series)
Station in Space, 1958 (Bantam),
The Joy Makers, 1961
Book Club), 1971 (Bantam),
The Immortals, 1962, 1968 (Bantam), 1979 (Pocket)
Future Imperfect, 1964 (Bantam),
Man and the Future, (editor), 1968 (University Press
The Witching Hour, 1970 (Dell)
The Immortal, 1970 (Bantam)
The Burning, 1972 (Dell)
Breaking Point, 1972 (Walker), 1973 (DAW)
The Listeners, 1972 (Scribner's), 1972 (SF Book Club),
1974 (NAL), 1985 (Del Rey), 1991 (Easton Press), 2004 (BenBella)
Some Dreams are Nightmares, 1974 (Scribner's)
The End of the Dreams, 1975 (Scribner's)
- Nebula Award Stories Ten (editor), 1975 (Harper &
Row), 1976 (Berkley)
Alternate Worlds: The Illustrated History of Science Fiction, 1975
(Prentice-Hall), 1976 (A&W Visual Library), 1976 (Quality
Paperback Book Club), 2018 (the Beijing Division of the Shanghai Century
The Magicians, 1976 (Scribner's), 1980 (NAL)
Kampus, 1977 (Bantam), 1986 (Easton)
- The Road to Science Fiction; From Gilgamesh to Wells (editor),
- The Road to Science Fiction #2: From Wells to Heinlein (editor),
- The Road to Science Fiction #3: From Heinlein to Here (editor),
- The Road to Science Fiction #4: From Here to Forever (editor),
The Dreamers, 1981 (Simon & Schuster), 1982
(as The Mind Masters) (Pocket)
Isaac Asimov: The Foundation of Science Fiction, 1982 (Oxford).
Tiger! Tiger!, 1984 (Drumm)
Crisis!, 1986 (Tor)
The New Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (editor),
1988 (Viking Penguin)
Inside Science Fiction, 1992 (Borgo)
The Best of Astounding: Classic Short Novels from the Golden Age of
Science Fiction (editor), 1992 (Carroll & Graf)
- The Unpublished Gunn, Part One, 1992 (Drumm)
- The Unpublished Gunn, Part Two, 1996 (Drumm)
The Joy Machine (1996, Pocket
The Road to Science Fiction #5:
The British Way, 1998 (White Wolf)
The Road to Science Fiction #6:
Around the World, 1998 (White Wolf)
- Human Voices, 1999 (Henan People's Publishing House)
The Science of Science-Fiction Writing, 2000 (Scarecrow)
The Millennium Blues, 2001
Human Voices, 2002 (Five Star Books)
The Road to Science Fiction;
From Gilgamesh to Wells
(editor), 2002 (Scarecrow)
The Road to Science Fiction #2:
From Wells to Heinlein
(editor), 2002 (Scarecrow)
The Road to Science Fiction #3:
From Heinlein to Here, 2002 (Scarecrow)
The Road to Science Fiction #4:
From Here to Forever, 2003 (Scarecrow)
The Immortals (revised and expanded edition), 2004 (Pocket)
Speculations on Speculation: Theories of Science Fiction (with
Gift from the Stars, 2005 (Easton Press)
Inside Science Fiction: Second Edition, 2006 (Scarecrow)
- Reading Science Fiction (with Matthew Candelaria and Marleen S. Barr), 2008
Click here for more information and to participate
on the editors' blog.
- Paratexts: Introductions to Science Fiction and Fantasy, August 2013 (Scarecrow Press).
2013 (Tor Books).
Nov 2014 (Tor Books).
March 2016 (Tor Books).
June 2017 (Tor Books).
Star-Begotten: A Life
Lived in Science Fiction, 2017 (McFarland).
- Modern Science Fiction: A Critical Analysis (The Seminal
1951 Thesis), May 2018 (McFarland).
Worlds: The Illustrated History of Science Fiction, Sept 2018 (McFarland).
- Alternate Worlds (new and updated edition,
Chinese edition) 2020.
James Gunn with vintage SF magazines, 2008
James Gunn's memoir,
out now from McFarland.
The first volume of James Gunn's first-ever trilogy, available
from Tor Books. Click for full-size
slipcover art (.pdf).
James Gunn's newest nonfiction,
out now from Scarecrow Press.
The Gunn Center for the Study of
Science Fiction is:
Founder James Gunn.
Associate Director Kij Johnson.
Director Chris McKitterick.
...and many more! Visit this page to meet other people at the Center for the
Study of Science Fiction.