George Slusser, a co-founder of UCR’s Eaton Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy, died Nov. 4 in his house in Highland, Calif. As a professor emeritus in comparative literature and the curator emeritus of the Eaton Collection, Slusser helped to make UCR a premier influence in science fiction.
Slusser earned a bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley, a Diplome d’Etudes Francaises from the Universite of Poitiers and a PhD in comparative literature from Harvard University. In 1991, Slusser was one of the first professors at UCR to incorporate science fiction as part of his curriculum and he eventually taught the first classes in science fiction on campus.
“He was a brilliant guy. I can’t speak enough to his passion for (science fiction),” said Melissa Conway, UCR’s head of special collections and university archives in an interview with Redland Daily Facts. “It was really his heart and soul. Talk about a prolific scholar.”
Explaining his own love for the subject, Slusser said in an April 2000 interview that “science fiction is the natural bridge between things scientific and things artistic.” He went on to state that it was his dream to see the Eaton Collection grow to national recognition.
The Eaton Collection is currently the largest publicly accessible science fiction and fantasy collection in the world.
“The field of science fiction studies owes (Slusser) an incalculable debt,” said Rob Latham, UCR professor of English and co-director of the Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies Program in an interview.
Along with Latham, Creative Writing Professor Nalo Hopkinson and English Professor Sheryl Vint comprise the Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies program, making UCR one of the few universities in the country to offer a specialty study in science fiction. This program is the “logical extension” of the Eaton Collection which Slusser helped start, according to former CHASS Dean Stephen E. Cullenberg.
“Dr. Slusser’s dream of making the Eaton Collection, and by extension UCR, a central locus of (science fiction) studies has definitely been realized,” said Steven Mandeville-Gamble, the university librarian.