Sci-fi trove gift for university

Emeritus Prof Fred Fastier holds some of the 1000-strong collection of science-fiction books he...
Emeritus Prof Fred Fastier holds some of the 1000-strong collection of science-fiction books he donated to the University of Otago, as special collections librarian Dr Donald Kerr (rear) surveys the rest of it, in Dunedin yesterday. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
A collection of about 1000 books from the "golden era" of science-fiction writing has been donated to the University of Otago.

Collector, Emeritus Prof Fred Fastier, first became interested in science fiction at primary school, a time full of inventions such as the telephone, radio and "talkies" (movies with sound).

One of the first works he read was a magazine called Amazing Stories, while some of the best were Out of the Silence, by Erle Cox, and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.

The ideas and possible situations imagined by authors drew him in.

"Scientists tend to ask `Could it be done?' and philosophers ask `Should it be done?'," he said.

The collection includes hardbacks, paperbacks and magazines from the "golden era of science fiction during the 1930s and '40s" when man was "just beginning to get into space", through to the '60s.

"I'm quite a collector," he said.

However, it had been about 30 years since he had really much interest in the genre, as "in the course of man's life, people have realised the limitations of homo sapiens".

Prof Fastier believed it was time to pass his collection on, as he had no close family and "you can't take them with you".

Special Collections librarian Dr Donald Kerr said the donation was "fantastic".

"We are always reliant on old-fashioned generosity," he said.

The books will be catalogued, made accessible to the public, and displayed.

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