Category Archives: Reflections

Experiencing the Science Fiction Archive

In our trip to City Tech’s science fiction archive, I entered with my partner Erik to view the different magazines it had in store for us. The archive contains numerous texts of varying rarity given by a generous anonymous donator. It includes texts from famous magazine runs such as Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Asimov’s Science Fiction and the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. In total, the City Tech Science Fiction archive contains 4,147 science fiction magazines and 1,694 scholarly books and SF anthologies.

As I entered the science fiction archive, I quickly noticed how cramp the space between the texts were. It was so tight that it was difficult to have a handful of students move around. Therefore, I was limited in the amount of books I was able to check. I was surprised by the size of the archive because it seemed to be much smaller in person compared to what the video and readings presented. For example, the descriptions and quantity of texts available made it seem grander in scale than it actually was.

In addition to its size, I also took note of the “old book smell” that filled the room. I thought that it really captured the importance and age of the texts. It was like a constant reminder to the history of them. I think the aroma alone helps one become engrossed in their reading and transports them to another time or world, so to speak.

The quality of the magazines was surprising too. Most of the texts were in great condition (they seemed to be almost new) in terms of their cover and paper quality. However, there were several that were literally falling apart and had to be sealed in a plastic cover. Regardless, it was impressive to have them all hosted in one area considering their age.

In the science fiction archive, Erik and I were particularly interested in the Amazing Stories series of magazines because of its fascinating cover art and illustrations. I decided to choose the January 1988 issue of Amazing Stories (volume 62, number 5) because its cover caught my eye due to its use of color and detail. For example, it contained a very striking contrast between the humans blue smooth skin with the aliens wrinkly and red lighted skin. In addition, the cover really makes you think about what it could be about because it seems to contain symbolism of some kind. Another reason I decided to choose this particular issue was because I found the subject matter to be very interesting (aliens and space) and wanted to learn more about it.

alien

Overall, our trip to the science fiction archive was very interesting and thought provoking because it made me think about the importance of the science fiction genre. It’s an impressive collection that all scholars will one day want to travel and view. The difference between watching the collection in a video and experiencing it in person is clear. The smell and cramp size of the archive somehow manages to transport people into another world to experience the science fiction stories.

 

Below is a website that contains PDF versions of numerous Amazing Stories magazines:

https://archive.org/details/amazingstoriesmagazine

Extension until Tomorrow (W 10/10) on Archive Reflection Posts … Edit Away!

Hi folks:

A number of you asked me after class today if you could either edit your City Tech Science Fiction Collection reflection blogs (due today) to include images you took last Thursday in our visit to the archive or relevant links (don’t forget to cite your sources). I’ve decided to allow these edits/extension, so I’ll hold off on grading these reflection blogs until tomorrow afternoon. You may edit your existing reflection blogs (or post one–if you forgot to do the assignment completely) until tomorrow, W 10/10. at 1pm.

Please don’t forget, however, that you have another blog due at the start of class this Thursday, 10/11, on “There Will Come Soft Rains,” so if you chose to do edits on your previous blog, make sure you leave time for this new one 🙂

Cheers,
Professor Belli

A Walk Into The Time Portal

As my first time being in the City Tech archive, it was pretty amazing to be able to step inside and see what it is that has many ages to it. I never was really interested in what is contained inside of an archive, but taking a step inside made me see things differently. Some of the objects I seen inside are extremely old and so fragile that if you pick it up, it can possibly rip apart. I also saw a typewriter machine inside that people were using during the yellow journalism time period to write fake news. What was also great about the archive Is that it had a grand selection of stuff to choose from to do our assignment. It was difficult because I did not have much knowledge about science Fiction so I had to choose based off the cover art. Majority of the books I saw had great cover art also. If I ever had a research project, I would make sure going to the archive is the first place I attend.

Introduction to Citytech’s New Sci-Fi Archive

Walking into the room where the archive stands I immediately noticed the vast collection of unhindered volumes and prints of various science fiction novels, and magazines – some of which are even encased in plastic as to preserve the condition of the books that are in further danger of deteriorating. The experience was actually quite nice to explore the some hundreds of books and taking a trip back into the past. Vishal and I each chose an issue from “IF Worlds of Science Fiction” magazine, mine being the oldest issue I could find in the collection. May 1953. I looked for a more recent book published just so I could compare the physical quality of both books, and the way the pages felt as well as even the smell of the pages differed very noticeably. The issue that I chose had what looked like a showcase short story called “Jupiter Five” by Arthur C. Clarke. It is interesting to see the detail that was included by the illustrator to really give the readers a sense of a pivotal moment in the story and to help the author get his point across much more clearly. The collection is very expansive and I think it is a great addition to the library at citytech, and I do expect to see tons of people who are looking to retrieve these stories for reading or research to be very pleased with the selection. 

The Sci-Fi Attic

On Thursday, October 4th, 2018, the class of ENG 2420, under the lead of Professor Belli, took a trip to the Science Fiction Collection located at the library on the fourth floor here at New York City of Technology. Amazingly, one of the finest and grandest collection of Science Fiction in the world is located at the very college that we are attending. The collection contains a variety of items, some are as early as the 1920s, while others are modern day, there are critics, magazines, and novels, and all these treasures are donated by an anonymous donor.

When I was first aware of such a grand collection, I imagined towering shelves standing next to one another like solders in uniformed lines, raising from the floor and overreaching towards the ceiling, books and magazines packed neatly and tightly in their rightful place on the shelves. However, this fantasy of mine was soon met with reality as the real home of these collections are in fact rather small. Tightly packed, yes, but small. The shelves are taller than me, but not towering, and there are less room and shelves than what I had imagined. Furthermore, the collection shares a room with other materials, like boxes and plastic wraps, and some other not books that I cannot name. Maybe I am more of a romantic or having too much of a fantasy, but I think I had imagined something more traditional, or something you would see out of Harry Potter.

The looks might have been different all together from what I imagined, but the smell of book is the same. When I walked in, standing between the shelves of the collections, and with a book in hand, I can smell the old, woody smell from the pages as I flip there them. It smells of history, of the lingering past, a whole different sensation and awe that can never be imitated by the electronic books. Some of these old collections are wrapped protectively in a plastic wrap and forbidden to be touch in fear of breaking, like fragile flakes.

After that, looking back at the shelves of collection once more, I thought that it is kind of amazing to have all these. Though the books and magazines have not been completely shorted out, the organized neatness and tightness is still there. There is still a far-ranging research materials and philosophy of knowledge that any scholar dedicated to the research of Science Fiction would be interest and excited about.

All in all, I think that this collection have the potential to become an attraction to scholars all across the world, but it still has a long way to go. The arrangement, organization, room, and decoration could definitely use a little more work before the grand opening of the collection to the world as an exhibition. As of now, it is more like a humble attic at a scholar’s home, suitable for tumbling beginners, like us, as the first step into the deep abyss of the Sci-Fi.

From these collections, I chose the Amazing Stories as my choice of reading, vol. 52, no. 3, May 1979, due to it’s eye-catching cover page and intriguing short stories that are worth reading.

Image result for amazing stories may 1979

You Can Smell the Past in the Air

This past Thursday October 4th our class was allowed within City Tech’s Science Fiction Collection. I didn’t know we had such a big archive on sci-fi literature until Prof. Belli told us about it a few times in class. To be completely honest I was not to excited about being around all these books. But as Prof. Belli started to explain the significance and value of this collection I became a little more interested.

When it was my turn to see the archive I had ideas of what I might see when I walked in and I was not disappointed but actually a little bit surprised. As I walked In I saw a lot artifacts pertaining to City Tech and its past before I reached the archive. As I reached the archive Prof. Belli gave us instructions on what to do with the books we were interested in. I was amazed about the quantity of books there was and the conditions of some works of literature. I could literally smell the past in the air. Even though we weren’t allowed to touch these crumbling books it was cool to look at them and see that their wear ad tear comes from being around so long.

A monograph, Titled Amazing Stories caught my attention. At first I took it because I believed it was a sort of comic book. But it was not though the cover did attract me and I’m sure it was used to attract other readers at its time. The archive had the whole collection of this monograph from its start till some time in the present. And it wasn’t the only collection of monograph it had. I was really stunned on the amount of literature around me up on the shelfs and still boxed untouched.

I didn’t get a chance to fully digest the whole collection and the monograph I picked out. But I was a great experience to explore this archive. And also have the privilege to hold such an archive in our school. Hopefully sometime in the future the collection can get the proper space it needs so that we ca  attract people from all over the world to come and share such a valuable collection.

Overall it was a great experience and it taught me that there is a lot more value in literature than I thought possible.

The Science Fiction Time Vault

Imagine walking into a time vault. And inside this vault is a collection of sacred texts. Now, these texts have come from all over the world. So it is crucial that these texts are kept in a safe space. This archive/vault is not your regular library. No, it is a safe haven for this collection of texts. By visiting the City Tech Science Fiction archive, I can say that it was a fascinating experience. Being surrounded by books, novels, magazines and etc. was such a wondrous feeling. By stepping into the archive I felt like I was stepping into a piece of history. There were magazines from like the 1930s. That was eighty-eight years ago! Looking at an archive online is totally different from standing inside one. I felt like I was in a forbidden library. Since the collection is so large, I wonder how long it took for the anonymous donor to collect all these types of texts. I wonder what this person had to go through just to collect. DId they have to go to an auction and bid on a certain series? Were they given to as a present from someone? But I must say that it is truly impressive that this person had a collection so massive. If the location was larger it could be a great spot for science fiction individuals to have a taste of the history of science fiction.

The magazine that I chose at the Science FIction archive was from the If series. It was issue 108 from Vol. 16, No. 11. It dates back to November 1966. The magazine was published by the Galaxy Publishing Corporation, owned by Robert M. Guinn. Frederik Pohl, who was responsible for the final content of each If magazine, was the main editor from January 1962 to May 1969. I chose this magazine because it caught my attention quickly. The cover displays two mechanisms or robots of some kind in hand to hand combat. As I saw this cover, so many ideas ran through my mind. By doing some research, I found that the artwork was from a short fiction titled “A Code For Sam” written by Lester del Rey. The short fiction could be found inside this issue of If. The artwork itself was produced by an artist named Dan Adkins. 

Inside this magazine, you can find four novelettes. A novelette is a short novel, typically one that is light and romantic or sentimental in character. There is also one serial. A serial is a work of fiction that is published in smaller, sequential installments. For example, the Harry Potter series is a serial of fantasy novels. Each book continues the story from the beginning to the end. The magazine also includes four short stories. A short story is a story with a fully developed theme but significantly shorter than a novel. The magazine also includes an editorial by Frederik Pohl and two features from the fans of science fiction.

A few things had caught my attention while flipping through the If magazine. The novelette, “A Code For Sam”, by Lester del Rey was an interesting read. It mentioned a code of ethics for robots and how robots must follow a set of laws to live together amongst humans. While reading I felt the pages, and they were rougher than the pages we use today. The smell of the magazine reminded me of Kellog’s Frosted Flakes. The artwork from “A Code For Sam” was truly amazing. The artist for the two pieces above did an awesome job at capturing the different shades and using the various strokes to capture a reflection. The advertisement above was straight-forward. It reminded me of my days of reading comic books and coming across advertisement just like this.

“If” magazine was a United States Digest magazine. It has 175 issues starting from March 1952 to December 1974. It has been in circulation for 22 years until its last publication. It was founded by James L. Quinn. The “If” series had a total of eight editors throughout its run as a magazine.

From my experience at the Science FIction archive, I can ultimately say that even though it was a short visit it got me wondering about other archives and what they hold. I hope to visit the Science Fiction archive sooner and I hope I to get my hands on some interesting space novelettes.

 

Comparing the Views from the Past and Present

In science fiction class on Thursday October 4th, 2018, instead of holding class in our usual room, we went to visit The City Tech Science Fiction Collection which was held on the second floor of the City Tech library.  The entire collection is courtesy of an anonymous donor.

When I first heard about the anonymous donation of books delivered to the library, I actually thought they would have to open up a new section in the main part of the library.  It would allow people to just freely browse through the items whenever they wanted. I didn’t actually realize the books would be in its own separate room completely apart from everything else. “The City Tech Science Fiction Collection” video made it appear somewhat identical to the main library aisles. I never actually went to the library to look for books before so I wasn’t really familiar with how things work around there but the City Tech Science Fiction Collection were part of The Archives which are usually created to store and preserve certain items.  It made sense for them to want to keep it away from the rest of the library because allowing random people to have access to them would risk ruining the books. If the books were damaged in any possible way, it would waste the anonymous donor’s hard work of collecting everything.

Aisle of Science Fiction Collection

Row of Books with Varying Levels of Quality

Once the door to the archives was opened, we spent most of our time checking out the deepest aisle of the room because Professor Belli told us to look for science fiction magazines to research on.  The room was kind of ordinary, the size of a classroom, yet it was mainly filled with a bunch of shelves dedicated to holding the science fiction collection. It was kept well conditioned as a way of ensuring the books weren’t negatively affected by any extreme temperatures.  Along the side of the wall were shelves holding some binders, folders, boxes, and trophies which made the aisles hard to walk through but Professor Belli told us that some of that stuff weren’t part of the anonymous donation so it seemed City Tech was using it as a storage room for their own things as well.  On the main shelves, almost all the books were squished together like they were trying to conserve as much space as possible. Some of the books were contained in plastic and others looked like their spines were in such bad condition, they would fall apart upon touching them. There were so many issues, it made me wonder how long this anonymous person has been building up this collection for and why he would suddenly give all of it away.

Magazine of F&SF Issue. Cover Art of January 1979

Table of Contents

Among the major magazines were “Amazing Stories”, “Analog”, and “IF” but the one my partner and I picked out were from “The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction”, a magazine that seemed to have a running time so long it filled up about four rows of bookends on a single shelf.  I chose an issue from January 1979 Volume 56 No. 332 because the cover art was unlike the others. A few of their issues had dark outer space like covers but this one seemed to lean more on the fantasy side by using brighter colors and depicting a forest like setting with a river that flowed downwards from the sky.  While examining the contents, one thing I noticed about this magazine was that it wasn’t like the magazines that are popular today. The science fiction magazine only cost a $1.25 and seemed to have pages that lacked smoothness, color, and artwork. The most detailed artwork was on the cover but afterwards, it became somewhat more basic.  For example, one of the drawings was of a small astronaut walking. Most of the color was also dedicated to the cover and a single advertisement for cigarettes but the other advertisements in the book were more black and white for some reason.

Magazine doesn’t put too much focus onto artwork. Only for the cover and small comics.

For some reason, this advertisement is the only thing other than the cover that has color in it. Please keep in mind that the contents of this advertisement is dangerous for your health.

Taking this experience into account, I thought seeing the science fiction collection through my own eyes gave me a better impression of it than watching it through the video.  I could see the books more clearly and compare it to the ones that are typically used today. As we know, science fiction is a genre designated for speculating and envisioning the future. The magazines are a really good way of seeing how people previously depicted outer space, aliens, and technology but our views develop as we venture further towards the future.   Reading about how far the past’s imagination extends sounds pretty intriguing to me so I look forward to seeing what other ideas they came up with back then.

Walk into The Past

Thursday October 4th, 2018, we went to the library to see an archive. It was not anything kind of archive it was a science fiction archive. Before we were allowed to go in the archive and look around, we discussed about the archive. How it was brought to city tech and who donated all these science fiction magazines. The person who donated this actually wanted to stay anonymous. Talked about few rules, such as, what to touch and what not to touch. Also ask before taking anything that looks like it’s going to fall apart.

When the professor was explaining the archive, I felt as if I was going to walk into the past through some sort of time machine. I did not really know what I was going to feel. To me it just looked normal and plain when we were watching the video about it. However, when I entered the room it was like I was in a museum, except this is only for books and magazines. The smell I found kind of interesting, because I thought the smell of the magazines would be really strong like you can smell without going near it, that was not the case. I had to physically go and try to smell the magazines. I only thought this, because of how old the magazines were. Everything was organized and safely stored away. Some of the magazines looked absolutely destroyed. Since some of the books were in bad condition due how old they were they were wrapped in plastic. I was not expecting the magazines to be in chronological order. I found that pretty cool, since they were in chronological order you can almost feel like as if you are traveling through time. The reason being is that inside the magazines there are ads and from those ads you can see how things have changed over time. You can actually tell a lot about that year or time just by looking at the ad. The magazines were also organized in according to series. They had few different kinds of series. Some of the series were, “What If”, “Fantasy and Science Fiction”, “Analog”, and “Amazing Stories”. Out of all the series I found “Fantasy and Science Fiction to be largest, since there were so many magazines or issues for that series.

Overall, I unexpectedly liked the archive. When I was listening and watching about it I did not think I would like it. It did not really sound that interesting. However, walking inside was like a whole another world filled with all the imagination of people had before and how it was expanding over the years. Who would’ve thought that people had this kind of imagination. People really were thinking far into the future and how things would become. These magazines or issues are proof of what people thought like and how they were, because these magazines or issues are actual time relic. Lastly, I found the fact that someone actually collected this many magazines and were kind enough to donate it to somewhere else, where people from all over the place can have access to it.

The future in the past 

Last Thursday we were able to venture into the science fiction archives of City Tech.  In preparation for the adventure we watched videos and read about the what was really in the archive and why it was important and even though we did these things I don’t think we were really sure what to expect. When finally allowed into the room my first initial thought was that it was a pretty basic room which smelled of old paper and was filled to the brim with as much material that could be fit. Even though the room wasn’t anything extraordinary what set it apart from everything in the library was all the information stored in the thousands of books organized by dates when science fiction was really coming into its own. 

The history hidden behind each and every story shows  such a different view point of the people of the time. When we think of the past we tend to forget what the people thought of the future. It was so easy to get swept up in all the stories contained in the magazines from the past as well as easy to how things have really changed in the way we absorb information. When we were told this collection contained magazine the first thing I envisioned was  soft paper minded paper that was yellowish and falling apart but what we really got were this small book like magazines that really focused on the stories and tales of the writers as well as the readers itself. In the Amazing Stories magazine I encountered something that really stood out to me was the section in which readers could write the editors about their magazine. More importantly what stood out in that section was that the first readers response was a complaint about a past story and how they didn’t always agree with the stories being told. For the most part in magazines editors tend to leave out complaints about there work so it was surprising to see that this magazine valued all forms of readers opinions. 

Moving through all the sections of the archive was in a lot of ways moving through time. We got see the opinions and overall thoughts and values of the people at that time. In the Amazing Stories magazine titled “The Iron Virgin” by C.H.Thames it was easy to see how women were viewed at the times and though the story sounds pretty sexiest with it’s attracting comment of “treachery had red hair and soft curves” it also shows how normal it was for the time after all it was published in 1956. Though these tales were based of fiction and hope of a different future they still reflected the views of the past. They told the stories of a different time under the light of a different future. 

Overall the archive which looked like a simple room proved to be much more then that. It told stories of the past with the hopes of progression in the future. If I could read all the stories in the archive I have no doubt that it would give me an in-depth perspective on the past and how things have changed in unexpected ways. Science fiction is a weird way of telling history but its probably one of the most telling ways as well. The archive reflects the past and the future in a cohesive unexpected way