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Strange Data, Infinite Possibilities exhibitIf you’ve been in the library lately, you’ve probably noticed that the walls of the Donor Hall are covered with weird, wonderful graphics and the display cases are full of vintage science fiction books, Star Wars and Dune figurines, and other mementos of imaginary worlds far, far beyond the borders of our galaxy. “Strange Data, Infinite Possibilities” is the latest exhibit created by Special Collections, and it contains items from several of the library’s largest sci fi collections, including the new Edward E. Marsh Collection.

The exhibit features works from many science fiction genres: fantasy, utopian and dystopian fiction, early weird fiction, postmodern, and cyberpunk, to name a few. While the famous and familiar are well represented—Star Trek, Blade Runner, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Greg Bear, and H.P. Lovecraft—it’s the offbeat little gems that caught my eye. Shouldn’t everyone’s bookcase contain a copy of Judith Merril’s Galaxy of Ghouls, the subtitle of which reads:  A Handy Guide for Vampires and Werewolves of Spells and Sorcery of Switches on Witches of Shape-Stealers and Soul-Swappers of Demons and Damnation?

Science fiction materialsThere’s more to “Strange Data” than just books. The exhibit features pulp fiction, sheet music, and original correspondence from authors such as Isaac Asimov. Ray Bradbury’s unproduced screenplay for The Martian Chronicles and L. Ron Hubbard’s original manual typewriter are on display; both items were part of Edward Marsh’s generous donation. My favorite item in the exhibit is Jeff Wayne’s 1978 concept album The War of the Worlds, which was narrated by Richard Burton and contains the hauntingly beautiful “Forever Autumn,” sung by Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues.

Set aside an hour one afternoon or evening and take a look at this exhibit. It’s worth your time.

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You may have read the recent article in the San Diego Union-Tribune about the world-class science fiction collection donated to the SDSU Library by Escondido resident Edward Marsh. If you haven’t, you should, because this is a pretty spectacular collection of rare books, art, and artifacts. Let’s just say that when I saw a fraction of it arranged on the tables in Special Collections, I felt like I was looking at the El Dorado of science fiction, comics, fantasy, and pulp fiction. It’s breathtaking. Most of the collection is from the golden age of science fiction, and most of the works and photographs are signed first editions.

Below are some of the photos I took when Special Collections held a preview.

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SDSU Library Receives $2.25M Collection (San Diego Union-Tribune, January 25, 2013)
Library Receives $2.25 Million Sci Fi Collection (SDSU’s NewsCenter)