The University of Kansas

Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Books on a shelf

Welcome to the Kenneth Spencer Research Library blog! As the special collections and archives library at the University of Kansas, Spencer is home to remarkable and diverse collections of rare and unique items. Explore the blog to learn about the work we do and the materials we collect.

That’s Distinctive!: Amazing Stories

May 26th, 2023

Check the blog each Friday for a new “That’s Distinctive!” post. I created the series because I genuinely believe there is something in our collections for everyone, whether you’re writing a paper or just want to have a look. “That’s Distinctive!” will provide a more lighthearted glimpse into the diverse and unique materials at Spencer – including items that many people may not realize the library holds. If you have suggested topics for a future item feature or questions about the collections, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page.

For our science fiction lovers out there, this week we highlight Amazing Stories by Hugo Gernsback. According to Wikipedia, Amazing Stories is an American science fiction magazine that was first published in 1926. The magazine was the first of its kind in being solely devoted to science fiction, which helped launch a new genre of pulp fiction. Gernsback’s contributions to the genre as a publisher were so significant that he is sometimes called “The Father of Science Fiction.” Annual awards presented at the World Science Fiction Convention are named the “Hugos,” in his honor.

Here at Spencer, we have many copies of Amazing Stories from throughout its long publishing history. This week we include just a small sample of early covers from the library’s large collection. The magazines offer a fun array of cover scenes that can be fun to flip through along with the contents of the magazines as well.

Color illustration of a man being confronted by two insects that are larger than him.
Color illustration of two large insects shooting lasers at a dinosaur.
The front covers of Amazing Stories, October 1926 (top) and February 1929 (bottom). You can see on the latter cover that Gernsback referred to the genre as “scientifiction” rather than “science fiction.” Call Number: ASF CURR D3. Click images to enlarge.
Color illustration of a man in a space suit tangled in and fighting vines.
Color illustration of a woman running from a giant insect standing over a mid-century car.
The front covers of Amazing Stories, August (top) and November (bottom) 1958. Call Number: ASF CURR B23. Click images to enlarge.

Tiffany McIntosh
Public Services