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.
- Dennis M. Kratz, ANATOMY OF WONDER
Welcome to the website for the Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the
University of Kansas,
a medium for information about the Center and its programs, data about science
fiction, informed commentary, and news about SF in general.
Celebrating Science Fiction Since 1982
We are working to save the world through science
fiction! To help achieve this, we have built a comprehensive program to serve SF
students, educators, scholars, and fans, and through this extend the influence
of this literature of change and the human species onto the world at large.
"The most powerful works of SF don't describe the future - they change it." -
The Center for the Study of Science Fiction offers a large and growing variety of for-credit and
professionalization courses at KU,
retreats; gives annual
awards and a
scholarship; hosts the
annual Campbell Conference;
operates an educational-outreach program through AboutSF;
houses research and reading libraries;
provides a wide diversity of SF resources at KU as
well as sharing SF news and links to the broader culture beyond;
and we just launched 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 Center and this website as a resource for you.
The Center was founded in 1982 as a focus for the SF programs created at the
University beginning in 1969, with the first course taught by Professor James
Gunn. That also was the year University Libraries made its first major
acquisition in the field and the Science Fiction Lecture Series was begun; since
then SF has become the 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. That
same year 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 the University as part of a
weekend conference devoted to the teaching and writing of SF; the
Sturgeon Memorial Award for the best short SF of the year was added in 1987, and
the Hall of Fame, presented in cooperation with the
Kansas City Society for
Science Fiction and Fantasy, was added in 1996. In 1985, the first
Workshop in Science Fiction was held. From 1979 through 2003, the Campbell Conference format was
round-table discussion, and in 2004, the Campbell Conference experimented with a
paper-presentation format with much success. In 2005, Kij Johnson first offered the
Novel Writers Workshop, and recently added the "Repeat Offenders"
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 much more, launched in June 2012 - and is
now open for
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.
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.
In 2011, KU acquired
papers, greatly expanding our already
fiction special collection available for researchers to use.
The Center is associated with the
KU English Department, and most of its courses are offered for undergraduate and graduate English credit. The Department
offers a creative writing option at the undergraduate and graduate level,
which allows work in SF. Currently, the Center offers the following:
The Center continues to offer, within a four-week period in July, a two-week
intensive Writers Workshop established by James Gunn and now offered by Chris
McKitterick, featuring guest authors such as Bradley Denton and Andy Duncan; a two-week intensive
Novel Writers Workshop offered by Kij Johnson; and a two-week
intensive science-fiction literature
course. These workshops and Institute run for two weeks on either side of the Campbell Conference and Awards dinner. To
learn more about and register for these activities, click the navigation links on this page.
James Gunn, author, editor, scholar, and
teacher of SF and SFWA Grand Master has served
the Center since he established it. After a decade of association, Chris McKitterick
began serving as KU faculty and Associate Director of
the Center in 2002, then was named Director in 2010. Also after a decade of
association, Kij Johnson
as Associate Director since 2004 and as KU faculty since 2012. In 2004 the Center formed a Board of
Advisors which includes long-time friends of the Center and many of SF's leading
lights. In 2005, with donations from publishers, conventions, and notable people in the field,
the Center established AboutSF.com
and created the
AboutSF Volunteer Coordinator position to
A diverse group of authors and editors serve on the Campbell Award and
Sturgeon Award juries. And we wouldn't be able to do anything without the
energy and commitment
of dozens more volunteers - thank you, everyone!
We invite you to be a part of the Center, as well - send us a message about volunteering by filling 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, contact
Chris McKitterick (email@example.com) or
(firstname.lastname@example.org), or send us a letter:
Center for the Study of Science Fiction
Department of English
University of Kansas
1445 Jayhawk Blvd.
3001 Wescoe Hall
Lawrence KS 66045
2013 saw the loss of two great friends of the Center:
Frederik Pohl was associated with CSSF Founding Director James Gunn since the 1940s,
eventually becoming involved with what later became
the Center for the Study of Science Fiction. Here he presented many talks, recorded a discussion about "The Ideas in Science Fiction" in 1973
Literature of Science Fiction lecture series, served the
Intensive Institute on Science Fiction and
Science Fiction Writing Workshop, and lent his
understanding to the Center in countless other ways.
We cannot begin to express
how much we will miss his help, insight, and friendship.
Frederik Pohl died on September 2, 2013.
was Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology and Professor of
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Kansas. He was a discoverer of the American Cheetah, Miracinonyx; the sabertoothed cats,
Barbourofelis and Xenosmilus; the earliest beaked bird,
Confusciusornis; and was a leading authority on saber-toothed
carnivores, fossil rodents, birds from the age of dinosaurs, and the
fossil history of disease.
With his wife Jean, Larry graciously
hosted regular "Science Fiction Sunday" gatherings at his home
on the last day of the Campbell Conference for several years, and was a regular Campbell Conference
Larry Martin died on March 9, 2013.
Thank you for everything, Fred and Larry. We miss
you very much.
In the background:
An early science fiction woodcut
depicts Cyrano de Bergerac
to the Moon on bottles of dew.
The Center's logo against a Hubble Space Telescope
of the Great Orion Nebula.
Click here to use
Site last updated 11/12/13. Check back for frequent