Sturgeon’s papers will “live long and prosper” at the University of Kansas Library

Amok Time, Spock
Spock in a scene from Amok Time

The Vulcan phrase from Star Trek may be the most widely known, and oft-repeated, phrase created by late science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon, but it is hardly the only one. During his career, Sturgeon won virtually every major award in his field, including the Hugo, the Nebula, the World Fantasy Achievement Awards and the Galatica/Spectrum Award for The World Well Lost, his groundbreaking story about homosexuality. He was also inducted posthumously into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2000 while it was still housed in Kansas.

Sturgeon’s writing transformed the pulp magazine short story into an art form and had profound influence on the counterculture of the 1960’s. His short stories which ranged from science fiction and fantasy to comedy and horror, are marked by a lyrical and varied style. Sturgeon turned away from the “hard” science fiction of the previous generation to a more socially conscious type of science fiction that included contemporary themes such as gender, pacifism, sexuality and the price of social conventions.

The collection, donated by Sturgeon’s daughter Noël, is a treasure trove of personal papers, private correspondence and manuscripts. Together with the Woodstock collection which had been held by her mother, they embody the definitive collection of the late author’s written labors. The collection includes:

  • The original manuscript and multiple film treatments of More than Human, Sturgeon’s best-known novel.
  • Notes and the outline for Amok Time one of two Star Trek episodes Sturgeon penned. In Amok Time Spock (Leonard Nimoy) returns to Vulcan to meet his intended future wife.
  • Sturgeon’s rewrite of an L. Ron Hubbard article submitted to Amazing Stories magazine titled Dianetics: Supermen in 1950 AD (bet the Church of Scientology would love to get their hands on that!)
  • His adoption papers, in which his name was changed.
  • Various correspondence, story ideas and drafts shared with other noted science fiction editors and authors including John W. Campbell, Robert Heinlein, Edgar Pangborn, Harlan Ellison, Isaac Asimov, Kurt Vonnegut, Gene Roddenberry and T.H. White.

The Sturgeon collection is valued at $600,000 and will be established at the Kenneth Spencer Research Library at the University of Kansas (KU), which is also home to the Center for the Study of Science Fiction. In making the donation, Noël Sturgeon credits the work of James Gunn, professor emeritus of English at KU and a noted science fiction author who created KU’s Intensive English institute on the Teaching of Science Fiction in 1975 and the Center for the Study of Science Fiction in 1982.

“Jim’s long dedication to the teaching and scholarship of science fiction, and his particular interest in and support of my father’s work, was the main impetus behind our choice of the Spencer Research Library at the University of Kansas as the home for Sturgeon’s collection of papers,” Noël said.

In many ways, Sturgeon’s published works read like a manual for discovering new worlds. With the addition of this collection, researchers, students and fans will now have an opportunity to discover how Sturgeon worked as well as insights into ideas and concepts that never made it to publication. Who knows what inspirational treasures this collection holds?

Sturgeon also coined “Sturgeon’s Law” which states “90 percent of everything is crap” and the credo “ask the next question.”

“This extraordinary gift ensures that Sturgeon’s profound literary and cultural legacy will be available to new generations of scholars, writers and readers,” said Beth Whittaker, head of Spencer Research Library.