On July 20, Prof. Jason W. Ellis spent two hours in the library’s archives inventorying the magazine portion of the City Tech Science Fiction Collection. This part of the inventory included Fantastic Story, Science Fiction Age, two mislaid Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction issues, Fantasy Book, Fantastic Novels, Startling Stories, and Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. Some magazine covers from this day’s inventory are included below.
On July 14, 2016, Prof. Jason Ellis spent two-and-a-half hours in the archives inventorying the magazine portion of the City Tech Science Fiction Collection. He completed Analog and row 115, and moved to row 114 to catalog Thrilling Wonder Stories, Science Fiction Plus, Vertex, Future Science Fiction, and Fantastic Stories. The current inventory is over 3000 items. He would be further along, but it takes more time to inventory the older pulps, many of which are missing spines or the date portion of the spine. In most of these cases, he uses the Internet Speculative Fiction Database (this is one among several important research tools, which are also linked on this site’s Resources page) to look up issue information based on the cover story instead of pulling and opening the issue, which could damage the magazines before they are properly stabilized. Nevertheless, the end of the magazines is in sight! (Then, the larger portion of the inventory can begin.) Below are images of some covers from the inventory session.
On July 13, 2016, Prof. Jason Ellis spent two hours in the library archives today inventorying an extra shelf of the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, a variety of large format magazines, OMNI, and Analog. He is at the end of row 115, and hopes to turn the corner onto 114 tomorrow or next week. The inventory has over 2,500 items now. Below are some covers that he spied during the inventory.
On July 7, 2016, Prof. Jason Ellis spent two hours in the library archives continuing the inventory. Prof. Sean Scanlan, editor of NANO: New American Notes Online, stopped by to see the collection and snapped the photo to the left. As you can see, he has progressed from the back wall to about halfway down the first row of SF magazines and the inventory has surpassed 2000 entries! This day’s efforts focused on Astounding Science Fiction, Beyond, Space Science Fiction, and Science Fiction Stories. During the inventory, he took photos of some interesting magazine covers included in the gallery below.
On July 5, 2016, Prof. Jason Ellis spent three hours continuing to inventory the magazine portion of the City Tech Science Fiction Collection. This session focused on the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Satellite, and Infinity. Below are some of the magazine covers that he saw while doing the inventory.
On June 29, 2016, Prof. Jason Ellis spent three hours in the library archives inventorying the SF magazines in the City Tech Science Fiction Collection. When completed, it will serve as a record of the magazines in the collection and provide visitors with a temporary finding aid (the information collected includes title, date, and shelf id). This session focused on Worlds of If and Galaxy. Prof. Alan Lovegreen stopped by to discuss strategies for the inventory and research tools, too.
On June 27, 2016, Prof. Jason Ellis used his Canon EOS T3i and 10-18mm wide angle lens to take photos of each shelf of the City Tech Science Fiction Collection (182 shelves in all). He created a new Google Photo Album available here to enable easy browsing of the shelves. The photos are arranged beginning at the top shelf of the first bookcase and going to the bottom and repeating with the next bookcase. The collection is currently arranged by monographs, SF anthologies, SF magazines, journals, and novels.
On June 15, 2016, Prof. Jason W. Ellis gave Prof. Matt Gold (currently at the Graduate Center, CUNY, and formerly at City Tech) and Prof. Patrick Corbett (City Tech) a tour of the City Tech Science Fiction Collection in the Library Archives.
Prof. Jason W. Ellis recently used the City Tech Science Fiction Collection to find and share readings relevant to the NEH-funded “A Cultural History of Digital Technology: Postulating a Humanities Approach to STEM” Project directed by Prof. Anne Leonhardt and Co-Directored by Profs. Sandra Cheng, Satyanand Singh, and Peter Spellane.
“A Cultural History of Digital Technology” is a National Endowment for the Humanities’ Humanities Initiatives at Hispanic Serving Institutions-funded eighteen-month interdisciplinary faculty development project. It’s faculty participants—NEH Faculty Fellows—take part in reading and activity workshops, engage with invited speakers, and ultimately, plan the curriculum for a new, interdisciplinary course for first-year students in the School of Technology and Design that bridges cultural and historical significance to their science and technology-focused educational career path.
The third seminar of “A Cultural History of Digital Technology” is titled “Fractals: Patterning, Fabrication and the Materiality of Thinking,” and it was for this seminar that Prof. Ellis made his discoveries in the collection. This module explores the interdisciplinary perspective that led to Benoit Mandelbrot’s insights into fractal forms in nature, mathematics, signals processing, and computers, and it realizes the materiality of fractal roughness through the materiality of 3D printing and rapid prototyping. The other NEH Faculty Fellows working on this module include Profs. Michell Cardona, Boyan Kostadinov, Anne Leonhardt, Satyanand Singh, and Peter Spellane.
To support the discussions that accompanied a workshop on generating fractals in Mathematica, Matlab, and Mandelbulb3D software and realizing those computer-generated forms as 3D printed models, Prof. Ellis shared the earliest known stories that express some of the important ideas behind what we now call 3D printing: Robert A. Heinlein’s “Waldo” in the Aug. 1942 issue of Astounding Science Fiction (cover pictured above), which imagines remotely controlled armatures on macro and micro scles (Heinlein’s “waldo” became the accepted term for this kind of technology), and Eric Frank Russell’s “Hobbyist” in the Sept. 1947 issue of Astounding Science Fiction (cover pictured to the left), which imagines a godlike manufacturer of lifeforms who creates with what we would call today a 3D printer.
Of the two stories, “Hobbyist” is far more difficult to find, and the City Tech Science Fiction Collection’s holdings of Astounding Science Fiction made is possible for this important SF story to inform the discussions of City Tech faculty designing the new course. Having access to these stories in their original published form within City Tech’s Library Archives made it possible to easily share these readings with team members, and it informed the cultural side of the on-going discussions in the project. This is a small, but early win for the collection’s impact on faculty research that informs pedagogy by supplying needed cultural and historical context in a timely manner.
Before getting out for Spring Recess, Prof. Jason Ellis asked his ENG 2420 Science Fiction students what SF inspired them and what SF in general does to inspire young people to pursue STEM careers. These are some of their insightful responses:
Nurul Alam, Mechanical Engineering
“Science fiction can open someone’s mind to potential ideas, things that people normally think is impossible. We have a lot of creative fields here at City Tech. In a way, we are the future.”
Kevin A. Gaul, Emerging Media Technologies
“Since science fiction contains elements related to STEM fields, it would seem appropriate for science fiction to inspire people to take up STEM fields to unlock the mysteries that science fiction has presented to us.”
Brandon Francis, Undecided
“I enjoy really thought provoking and complicated science fiction such as “—All You Zombies.” Science fiction can inspire people to want to create things that are seen in movies or TV shows. Inventions that are seen on Star Trek, like video chat, wasn’t possible at the time of conception but now it is a reality!”