Theodore Sturgeon's Papers Donated
to the Science Fiction Special Collection
at KU Spencer Research Library

A treasure trove of private letters, manuscripts and other papers by one of the most influential writers of the Golden Age of science fiction who is credited with inventing with Leonard Nimoy the live long and prosper Vulcan phrase for Star Trek has been donated to the University of Kansas.

The definitive collection of late author Theodore Sturgeon's books, papers, manuscripts, and correspondence have been placed at the Kenneth Spencer Research Library at KU, home to the Center for the Study of Science Fiction. The Sturgeon Award for the best short science fiction is given annually at the Campbell Conference.

This acquisition greatly enhances an already-strong KU Libraries Special Science Fiction Collection of papers, manuscripts, and other important research materials available for researchers working in science fiction.

The collection (catalogued here) includes:

  • Original manuscript and multiple film script treatments of More Than Human, Sturgeon's best-known novel.
  • Sturgeon's notes and outline for Amok Time, one of two Star Trek episodes he wrote. In Amok Time, Spock returns to Vulcan to meet his intended future wife.
  • Correspondence, story ideas, and drafts shared with noted science fiction editors and authors, including John W. Campbell, Robert Heinlein, Edgar Pangborn, Harlan Ellison, Isaac Asimov, Kurt Vonnegut, Gene Roddenberry, and T.H. White.
  • Sturgeon's rewrite of an L. Ron Hubbard article submitted to Amazing Stories magazine titled "Dianetics: Supermen in 1950 AD."
  • His adoption papers, in which his name was changed.
  • And much, much more, to be increasingly catalogued and accessible over the coming months.

Best known for transforming the pulp magazine short story into an art form, Sturgeon's writing strongly influenced 60s counterculture, including the Grateful Dead and Crosby, Stills, and Nash. His lyrical and varied style represented a turn from the hard science fiction of the 1940s to the socially conscious topics more common in contemporary science fiction, including sexuality, gender, pacifism, and the individual cost of social conventions. His short stories ranged from science fiction and fantasy to comedy and horror.

Sturgeon was also known for coining Sturgeon's Law, which states that "90% of everything is crud," and the credo, "Ask the next question."

During his career, Sturgeon (1918-85) won virtually every major award in his field, including the Hugo, the Nebula, the World Fantasy Achievement Award, and the Gaylactica/Spectrum Award for his groundbreaking story about homosexuality, "The World Well Lost." He also was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame.

The Sturgeon collection, valued at $600,000, had been privately held in two parts: the Woodstock collection, from his widow, Marion, and the Sturgeon Literary Trust collection managed by daughter Noël. Additional support came from KUs Center for the Study of Science Fiction, English department, and Spencer Research Library.

In making the donation, Noël Sturgeon credits the work of CSSF Founding Director James Gunn.

"Jim's long dedication to the teaching and scholarship of science fiction, and his particular interest in and support of my father's work, was the main impetus behind our choice of the Spencer Research Library at the University of Kansas as the home for Sturgeon's collection of papers," she said.

Beth Whittaker, head of Spencer Research Library, said, "This extraordinary gift ensures that Sturgeon's profound literary and cultural legacy will be available to new generations of scholars, writers and readers."

Keith Stokes, well-known fan and photographer, posted a wonderful photo-essay of the event here.

To listen to the NPR interview with James Gunn, Noël Sturgeon, and Elspeth Healey about the acquisition, see the AboutSF audio archive here.

For more information about Sturgeon, stories, readings of his work, and more, see the Sturgeon Literary Trust website. You can also follow Sturgeon news on Facebook.

In the news:

6 News Lawrence: "Private papers of 'Star Trek' writer donated to KU"
Fox 4 News: "Papers of Legendary 'Star Trek' Writer Donated to KU"
Guardian UK: "Theodore Sturgeon's archive to live long and prosper in university archive"
I09: "University Library gets Theodore Sturgeons original notes for More than Human and "Amok Time"
Kansas City Star: "KU gets sci-fi author Theodore Sturgeons papers"
KU Libraries: "Gift establishes world's largest collection of author Theodore Sturgeon's materials at Kenneth Spencer Research Library"
L.A. Times: "Theodore Sturgeon's papers will live long and prosper at University of Kansas"
Locus: "Sturgeon Papers Go to University of Kansas"
Preternatural Post: "Sturgeon's papers will 'live long and prosper' at the University of Kansas Library"
SF Scope: "Theodore Sturgeon's papers to be united at the University of Kansas"
SF Signal: "Sturgeon Papers Donated"