From Mad Scientists to Martians: Why Murray State's Pogue Has So Many Sci-Fi Mags

Oct 26, 2015

Some science fiction standouts from the MSU Pogue Library Special Collection
Credit Courtesy of Sarah Hopley and Murray State's Pogue Library

Mad scientists, monsters, Martians and more are artfully depicted on the covers of over a thousand science fiction magazines in a special collection at Murray State's Pogue Library. With Halloween creeping around the corner, Matt Markgraf stops by Pogue's War & Diplomacy Room to speak with Special Collections and Exhibits Librarian Sarah Hopley about the books, taking a look at some of the standouts, beginning with an early issue of an influential magazine.

The April 1929 issue of Amazing Stories is the earliest magazine in Pogue Library's extensive collection of science fiction, spanning over 1,000 items, going through 1977. They came from a Murray State alum named Mark Robinson who later became a math professor at MSU. He collected them and decided to donate his collection to the library. He's now a professor at Western Kentucky University.

Many of the books feature authors well known to us now who got their start in these publications, like Ray Bradbury and Dean Koontz. While the subject matter tends to focus on alien invasions and body swapping, these stories can be subversively metaphorically connected to domestic and international conflicts like WWII, nuclear tensions in the Cold War and the divisiveness of the Vietnam War.

For appraising rare books, Hopley says when they receive donations, they ask the person donating them to do the appraisal - because since the recipient doing an appraisal is considered a conflict of interest, she says. To preserve the books, they keep them out of light at a temperature of about 70 degrees with steady humidity at about 58%, then acid-free boxes with acid-free paper separating the issues.

Anyone can come into Pogue during operating hours and ask to read the special collection of science fiction magazines and they will pull the books. The collection can be added to, as well, by contacting Sarah Hopley at the library.

More about Pogue Library's Special Collections