Center for the Study of Science Fiction

2019 John W. Campbell Memorial Award winners

2019 Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award winners

Campbell Award finalists

2019 Sturgeon Award finalists

Cory Doctorow Talk

James Gunn endows
James E. and Jane F. Gunn Professorship in Science Fiction

Kij Johnson wins both the Hugo and Nebula Awards

Chris McKitterick
wins the AnLab Award

James Gunn’s

Ad Astra Journal

Sheila Williams
Asimov’s Essays on CSSF

Theodore Sturgeon Papers
Donated to SF Library Collection

Conferences and Awards

Gunn Center
Conference and Awards

Sturgeon Award

Campbell and Sturgeon Trophies

Gunn Award

Hall of Fame

Scholarships in SF Studies

Science Fiction in Lawrence

CSSF Staff

Educational Program

Lawrence SF Club

Lawrence Area Activities and Museums

Resources and Multimedia

A Basic Science Fiction Library

SF Websites and Other Resources

SF Essays and Articles

Sturgeon Collection

CSSF Research Resources

CSSF Research Center

SF Multimedia

James Gunn

James Gunn’s Biography

Essays by James Gunn

James Gunn
Keynote Talk on Asimov

New Book by James Gunn: Reading Science Fiction

James Gunn Named Grand Master!

Other CSSF Links

Essays and Speeches

CSSF History


Youth Program

Donate and Volunteer

View the Site Map

Diversity Statement

Welcome to the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the

University of Kansas,

a safe space for inquiry into, education about, and celebration of the genre.
This site provides a wealth of information and informed commentary about science
fiction and the Center’s programs, including awards, course syllabi, writing
resources, and much more.


The best current site, without question, is that sponsored by the Center
for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas. It contains a
treasure of information and links to other resources. It is the one place to
start for anyone seeking information about teaching science fiction.

– Dennis M. Kratz, ANATOMY OF WONDER

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will likely move
Science Fiction Summer program
to online offerings for 2020.

We are also
moving this year’s
Gunn Center Conference and Awards
to the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, NE, October 1 -3.
Stay tuned.

Congratulations to the 2019 winners of the
John W. Campbell Memorial Award

Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award!

(press release here)

Thanks to all who attended the 2019
Gunn Center Conference and Awards
June 28-30.

This year’s theme was, “Gender, Sexuality, Race, Class, Love, Empathy, and Style in Science Fiction:
The Legacies of Theodore Sturgeon
.” Fantastic discussions,
presentations, and guests!

2019 John W. Campbell Memorial Award finalists

(pdf press release here)

2019 Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award finalists

(pdf press release here)

Center director Chris McKitterick wins the

Analog Analytical
Laboratory Readers’ Award (AnLab) for best novelette
for “Ashes of Exploding Suns, Monuments to Dust.”

Feminism+SciFi Forum
(a joint venture with the Emily Taylor Center for Women
and Gender Equity) meets monthly in the KU Memorial Union, KU Bookstore, Jayhawk
Ink Lounge. Participants analyze and
discuss science and speculative fiction from an intersectional feminist
perspective. You can also join the

Facebook group
for at-home participation.

Our founder, James Gunn, released his 50th book in September!

Worlds: The Illustrated History of Science Fiction

Gunn Center Conference 2018 – “The
Posthuman and Science Fiction
” – is a wrap!
Many special scholar
and author guests, including this year’s
Award winners, joined us to celebrate SF in Lawrence, KS, June

Kij Johnson and
Chris McKitterick taught a speculative-fiction writing Masterclass in Houston, TX, January
6-7, 2018.

Click here to see the promo poster

Star-Begotten: A Life
Lived in Science Fiction

James Gunn’s memoir is now available! Book launch event Dec 1.
More info here.

Our own Kij Johnson wins the 2017 World Fantasy Award for

The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe
! Congratulations,
list of winners here

2017 Theodore
Sturgeon Memorial Award winners
2017 John W. Campbell Memorial Award

Gunn Center Conference 2017 – “Saving the World
Through Science Fiction
” – is a wrap! Many special guests joined us
in Lawrence, KS, to celebrate James Gunn and SF, June 16-18.

Center founding director James
has been inducted into the

Science Fiction Hall of Fame
Congratulations, Jim!

William S. Burroughs: KU Libraries acquire the last works of legendary author.

The Spencer Research Library holds many authors’ papers; see
this page for more.


here to see

full-size poster

Celebrating Science Fiction Since 1969


We are working to
save the world through science
! This is only partly hyperbole, as we believe that the more people
have the opportunity to become educated about the core messages of science
fiction, the better our world can be – and the better-prepared we are, as a
species, to face the future. To help achieve this, we offer a comprehensive and
ever-growing set of courses and other resources to serve SF
students, educators, scholars, readers, and fans, and through collaboration extend the influence
of the literature of change, ideas, and the human species to the world at large.

The most powerful works of SF don’t describe the future – they change it” – Annalee Newitz,


The Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction offers a large and growing variety of
SF-related resources, awards, conferences, and other programs. This includes for-credit and
professionalization courses at
the University of Kansas,
including workshops,
seminars, MA and MFA
studies, and
a writing retreat; gives annual
awards for both
international SF and student writing, and
scholarships to study SF at KU; hosts the
Gunn Center Conference
operates an educational-outreach and speaker-finding program through AboutSF;
houses research and reading libraries;
provides a wide diversity of SF
research and educational resources
at KU as well as
SF news and resource links to the broader
SF culture;
and administers the new
James Gunn’s Ad Astra
publication. We regularly expand and improve
our offerings to serve the science fiction
community, so let us know what we can do to enhance the Gunn Center and this website as a resource for you.

Science-fiction writers and readers didn’t put a man on the Moon all by themselves, but they created a climate of opinion in which the goal of putting a man on the
Moon became acceptable
” – James Gunn,

New York Times


Everyone enjoys equal access to the Gunn Center’s offerings, and we actively
encourage students and scholars from diverse backgrounds to study with us.
Click here to see the Center’s Diversity Statement.


The Center was founded in 1982 as a Kansas Board of Regents Center
at the University of Kansas, the first such organization at a major university. Professor James
established it as a focus for the SF programs he offered at KU,
beginning in 1969 with one of the first science-fiction courses ever offered at a major university.

That is also when the
Science Fiction Lecture Series began, and when the University Libraries made its first major
acquisition in the field; since
then, SF has become the KU Libraries’ fastest-growing special collection, mostly through gifts.
Special Collections provided most of the illustrations for Gunn’s Alternate
Worlds: The Illustrated History of Science Fiction
, published in 1975 (and
the new edition from 2013). Also in 1975, the University held its first Intensive English Institute on the
Teaching of Science Fiction
, which became an annual event.
In 1979, the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for the best science fiction novel
of the year was presented for the first time at KU as part of a
weekend conference devoted to the teaching and writing of SF.
The annual
Gunn Center Conference

uses the
round-table discussion format with associated readings, signings, and so forth.
In 2004, the Conference tested a
presentation-and-dialogue format with much success. The
Sturgeon Memorial Award
for the best short SF of the year was first given in 1987.
In 1985, the Center first offered its
Workshop in Science Fiction
. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame, presented in cooperation with the
Kansas City
Science Fiction and Fantasy Society
, was presented during the Conference
Awards Ceremony from 1996-2004.

In 2005, Kij Johnson first offered the
Novel Writers Workshop
, and recently added a “Repeat Offenders”
Novel Writers Workshop. Chris McKitterick and Physics Professor Philip Baringer began offering
the “Science, Technology, and
” course in 2006. The first issue of the new
James Gunn’s Ad Astra
, a multidimensional
journal of fiction, nonfiction,
essays, reviews, and multimedia, launched in June 2012 – and is
now open for
. In 2013, the Center began expanding its interdisciplinary
relationships, forming a group of Faculty Affiliates from many
KU departments – expect to see more offerings as we build on our collaborations!

In 1991, Dr. Richard W. Gunn, a retired physician in Kansas City and
Professor Gunn’s brother, created an endowment for the Center, and it was
renamed the J. Wayne and Elsie M. Gunn Center in honor of their parents.
McKitterick began building this website the next year. In
2004, the Center formed a Board of Advisors consisting of luminaries from the SF field,
the Center’s Directors, and the English Department Chair.
In 2007, the Center moved for the first time to a physical
at the University of Kansas, and in 2009 it opened a comprehensive
library of SF books and magazines that is now available for browsing and
borrowing. In 2011, KU acquired
Theodore Sturgeon’s
, greatly expanding our already
strong science
fiction special collection
available for researchers to use.


The J. Wayne and Elsie M. Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction is a University of Kansas Center affiliated with
KU English Department
, and most courses are offered for undergraduate and graduate English credit
– but all are also available for non-degree-seeking scholars and writers who
wish to enhance their professionalization in the field. The Department
offers a creative writing option at the undergraduate level and an MFA at the graduate level,
which allows work in SF. Based on our growing interdisciplinary relationships at
KU and with other universities, we are working to greatly expand opportunities
to study SF at KU – stay

Currently, the Center offers the following:

The Center continues to offer, within a four-week period in the summer, a two-week
intensive Writers Workshop established by
SF Grand Master James Gunn and now offered by SF author and scholar Chris
McKitterick, featuring brilliant guest authors such as Pat Cadigan, Bradley Denton, Andy Duncan,
James Gunn,
and John Kessel; a two-week intensive
Novel Writers Workshop
offered by multiple award-winning author Kij Johnson; a two-week intensive
science-fiction literature
course especially for teachers
; a one-week Young-Adult Novel Writing Workshop;
and two advanced “Repeat Offenders” writing workshops (also two weeks). The
summer courses run for the full month on either side of the
Gunn Center Conference and Awards

Everyone enjoys equal access to the Gunn Center’s offerings, and we actively
encourage students and scholars from diverse backgrounds to study with us.
All courses offered by Gunn Center faculty are also available to be taken
not-for-credit for professionalization purposes by community members (if space
is available).
Click here to see the Center’s Diversity Statement.

      Who We Are      

James Gunn – author, editor, scholar, and
teacher of SF – is a SFWA Grand Master
and Hall of Fame inductee. He has served
the Center’s mission since he established it in 1982… and for 13 years before it was
even designated as a research center.

SF author and scholar Chris McKitterick
has served the Center since 1992. He was named Associate Director in 2002 when
he joined the KU faculty, and has served
Director since 2010.

nearly a decade of assisting with the summer program, Kij Johnson began serving
as Associate Director in 2004. She joined KU as Assistant Professor of creative
writing in 2012 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2018.

In 2004 the Center formed its Board of
, which includes long-time friends of the Center, the Directors, and many of SF’s leading

In 2005, with donations from publishers, conventions,
SFWA, and notable people in the field,
the Center established
and created the
AboutSF Volunteer Coordinator position to
serve it.

In 2013, we formed the Gunn Center Affiliates, an
interdisciplinary group of faculty and university professionals
interested in the intersection of their fields with SF.

In 2015, we formed the International Consortium of Science Fiction,
a cooperative of science-fiction research and degree-granting programs from
around the world.

In 2018, our first Christopher Gunn Memorial Graduate Research
began serving the Center’s mission.

A diverse group of authors, scholars, reviewers, and editors serve on the Campbell Award and
Sturgeon Award
nomination committees and

And, of course, we wouldn’t be able to do anything without the
energy and commitment
of our students, friends, support staff, and volunteers – a heartfelt thanks to everyone!

We invite you to become part of the Center, as well – if you’re
interested in volunteering, fill out the contact form over at
,, or just drop us an email. For more information about the Center
or any of our programs:

[email protected],

[email protected]
, or [email protected]

For personal matters, you may directly contact
Chris McKitterick,
Kij Johnson, or
James Gunn.

Our physical
mailing address:

Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction

University of Kansas

1445 Jayhawk Blvd

3001 Wescoe Hall

Lawrence, KS 66045

Science fiction is the literature of the human species
encountering change
, and the literature of ideas and philosophy;
it is multi– and interdisciplinary; and at its
heart is a community
of thinkers and creatives

Like the scientific method, science fiction provides an approach to understanding the universe
we live in. It provides the tools, tropes, and cognitive framework within
which we can explore ideas and safely run thought-experiments where we cannot or
ought not in real-world experiments. By dramatizing such scenarios, populating
them with believable characters, and providing the background necessary for the
audience to willingly suspend disbelief, SF brings ideas to life.

In Episode 5 of Cosmos: A
Spacetime Odyssey
, Neil deGrasse Tyson says, “Science needs the light of free expression to flourish. It depends on the
fearless questioning of authority, and the open exchange of ideas… The nature of scientific genius is to question what the rest of us take for granted, then do the experiment.”
Replace “science” or “scientific” with
science fiction” in these statements, and you concisely
define what SF does – and the value of its study becomes apparent.

In her speech at the National Book Awards,
when she was awarded the 2014 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to
American Letters, Ursula K. Le Guin said, “Hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now and
can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope.
We will need writers who can remember freedom. Poets, visionaries, the realists of a larger reality.”

This is science fiction.

For a fuller discussion of these points,
plus more perspectives on defining the field of SF Studies,
check out this page.

Click here to see the Center’s Diversity Statement.

In Memoria for some of the greats who served the Center here.

In the background:

An early science fiction woodcut
depicts Cyrano de Bergerac
being lifted
to the Moon on bottles of dew.

Top banner:
The Center’s logo against a Hubble Space Telescope
of the Great Orion Nebula.
Click here to use
our logos

Site last updated 3/21/2020
Check back to pages that interest you for frequent
Course syllabi
change almost daily during regular semesters.

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