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University of Iowa News Release

 

Oct. 19, 2006

Sci-Fi Fanzines' View Of World War II On Exhibit At UI Libraries

A new exhibition at the University of Iowa Libraries examines the World War II era as it was recorded by science fiction fanzines.

Titled "As Long As Conditions Permit: Science Fiction Fanzines During World War II," this 24-piece exhibition covers pieces published from 1938 to 1946. Located on the third floor of the Main Library, the exhibit is on display through Jan. 31, 2007. It is drawn from the M. Horvat Collection of Science Fiction Fanzines in Special Collections and University Archives at the UI Library.

"The fanzines provide a unique view of the difficult war years through the voice of intelligent, like-minded individuals," says Greg Prickman, special collections librarian at the UI. Arthur C. Clarke and Ray Bradbury are credited with writing some of the pieces, including the August 1939 issue of New Worlds, Prickman added.

An example of how a fanzine depicted the era is an issue of the newsletter zine The Fanews, published the week after atomic bombs were dropped on Japan in August 1945. A large, hand-drawn headline states, "Fans Say: We Told You So," a reference to the successful use of atomic weapons. This type of military technology had long been predicted by science fiction writers and their readers, who understood the principles behind the technology and also the dangers of its use.

The exhibition also displays the development of the fanzine format, and the early years of organized fan activity. These first enthusiasts started to produce their own publications in the 1930s, which came to be called fanzines. Fanzines were homemade and copied on mimeograph or hectograph machines, resulting in crude, stapled newsletters and pamphlets. As science fiction grew in stature and fandom developed, tensions in Europe and the Pacific escalated into World War II, beginning with Hitler's invasion of Poland in September 1939.

"The war was unlike any other, and fandom was caught up in the events even as it attempted to continue its pre-war activities," Prickman said. "Today we often see this as a time when communities rallied around a common global cause, but studying how a subculture such as science fiction fans responds to it demonstrates how complicated everyday life could be on the home front and in the military."

Three publications in the exhibition are from Great Britain. Due to paper shortages and publishers being drafted, sci-fi fanzines nearly stopped publication during the war, except for one, the Futurian War Digest. In the United States, fanzines were popular before the war, but continued a limited basis during wartime. Some publications such as Fantasy News, published letters from soldiers who were glad to see the zine come during mail call, whether it be in the Pacific, France, or in an Army camp back in the United States.

The exhibition was drawn from collection of thousands of pieces assembled by Martin M. (Mike) Horvat of Stayton, Ore., a longtime science fiction fan and collector of fanzines. The UI Libraries acquired the collection in 2005; it includes major and many minor fanzines from the 1960s to the 1990s, as well as legendary and relatively rare zines from the 1940s and 1950s. For more information on the collection, see http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/spec-coll/MSC/ToMsC800/MsC791/MsC791_horvatfanzines.htm and http://itsnt166.iowa.uiowa.edu/uns-archives/2005/february/021105zines.html

The exhibit is free of charge and open to the public during regular building hours http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/locations/fallhours.html. To view more materials in the Horvat Collection, you can visit Special Collections and the University Archives http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/spec-coll/, open Monday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: George McCrory, 319-384-0012, george-mccrory@uiowa.edu; Program: Kristi Bontrager, public relations coordinator, UI Libaries, 319 335 5960