Pre­serv­ing sci-fi his­tory

The National - News - - ARTS & LIFESTYLE -

Ray Brad­bury won over gen­er­a­tions of read­ers to sci­ence fic­tion with Fahrenheit 451 and other works dur­ing a writ­ing ca­reer that spanned much of the 20th cen­tury and pro­duced a moun­tain of manuscripts, cor­re­spon­dence and mem­o­ra­bilia. That sprawl­ing col­lec­tion, much of which Brad­bury’s fam­ily donated af­ter his death in 2012 at age 91, is now en­ter­ing a long-run­ning preser­va­tion project at its home on the cam­pus of In­di­ana Univer­sity-Pur­due Univer­sity in In­di­anapo­lis. The Cen­tre for Ray Brad­bury Stud­ies, which is de­voted to the study of the sci­ence fic­tion-fan­tasy author’s works, won a US$50,000 (Dh183,625) grant this month from the Na­tional En­dow­ment for the Humanities to be­gin plan­ning the con­ser­va­tion of the gi­ant archive. “This is a na­tional trea­sure and we have the great good for­tune to be able to pre­serve his legacy here for years to come,” said Jonathan Eller, who be­friended Brad­bury in the 1980s and di­rects the cen­tre, which he co-founded in 2007. Al­though Brad­bury wrote his most fa­mous ti­tles in the mid20th cen­tury, in­clud­ing Fahrenheit 451, Eller said many of his works re­main rel­e­vant be­cause of their warn­ings about the mis­use of tech­nol­ogy and the im­por­tance of safe­guard­ing the hu­man imag­i­na­tion. Mean­while, the Brad­bury cen­tre, which is near down­town In­di­anapo­lis and fea­tures a replica of the base­ment of­fice in Los Angeles where the author wrote for decades, is pre­par­ing to delve into the col­lec­tion he left be­hind for what’s ex­pected to be a time-con­sum­ing preser­va­tion ef­fort. It won’t be an easy task: the col­lec­tion weighs more than 13,600 kilo­grams and in­cludes un­pub­lished works, 120,000 pages of his type­scripts and other doc­u­ments as well as pho­tos and mem­o­ra­bilia. There’s also about 30,000 pages of Brad­bury’s in­com­ing cor­re­spon­dence and about 1,600 rare pulp mag­a­zines such as Amaz­ing Sto­ries.

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