Daughter bequeaths papers by revered SF author and Star Trek screenwriter

The University of Kansas will be hoping Theodore Sturgeon’s famous maxim that “90 per cent of everything is crap” does not apply to his own work after the papers of the legendary science fiction author were donated to its library.

Sturgeon, winner of practically every science fiction prize going, was the author of more than 200 short stories and novels and a key figure of the “golden age” of science fiction. Described as “a master storyteller” by Kurt Vonnegut and an inspiration for authors including Stephen King and Ray Bradbury, he also wrote two Star Trek episodes and – together with Leonard Nimoy – is credited with inventing the Vulcan phrase “live long and prosper”.

The collection donated to the University of Kansas by his family is valued at $600,000 (£375,000), and includes the original manuscript of his most famous novel More Than Human, his notes for a Star Trek episode and his correspondence with fellow authors, from Isaac Asimov to Robert Heinlein and Harlan Ellison, in which Sturgeon shared story ideas and drafts with his contemporaries.

The author’s daughter Noël Sturgeon said she chose the University of Kansas because of the work of the institution’s professor emeritus James Gunn, a science fiction author who created the university’s Intensive English Institute on the Teaching of Science Fiction in 1975 and the Centre for the Study of Science Fiction in 1982. “Jim’s long dedication to the teaching and scholarship of science fiction, and his particular interest in and support of my father’s work, was the main impetus behind our choice of the Spencer Research Library at the University of Kansas as the home for Sturgeon’s collection of papers,” she said.

The library’s head Beth Whittaker called the donation an “extraordinary gift” and said it would ensure “that Sturgeon’s profound literary and cultural legacy will be available to new generations of scholars, writers and readers”. Sturgeon died in 1985.

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