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.


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:


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