University of Iowa Receives Epic Sci-Fi Collection
If you enjoy reading Electric Literature, join our mailing list! We’ll send you the best of EL each week, and you’ll be the first to know about upcoming submissions periods and virtual events.
What’s vast, invaluable, and located in a Sioux Falls basement? Allen Lewis’s 17,500-volume science fiction collection.
Lewis’s library has outgrown its current lodgings, prompting the seventy-three-year-old to donate the collection to the University of Iowa. Comprising novels, fanzines and magazines (most of them signed first editions), the collection is worth approximately three-quarters of a million dollars.
It’s a coup for the U of I, quickly becoming the place to be for scholars of science fiction. Lewis’s library will be housed alongside that of James L. “Rusty” Hevelin, who just three years ago gifted his massive collection of sci-fi pulp zines and novels to the university.
Lewis has been a sci-fi fan since he was 12, but it was not until the late ’90s that he began the collection that would eventually achieve epic proportions. He insists that the genre, though by definition otherworldly, is fundamentally rooted in the here-and-now: “Fantasy and science fiction writers explore certain problems or areas within our society today and then expand them and put them in another location.”
A fitting philosophy to underpin the relocation of Lewis’ library — destined to boldly go where various famed collections have gone before.