During the 1920s Fred Fastier attended Arthur Street Primary, and it was there that he became interested in science fiction. One of the first works he read was a magazine called Amazing Stories, which was edited by Hugo Gernsback, who, in his own stories, predicted RADAR and television. Two other novels remembered by Fastier included Erle Cox's Out of the Silence, which involves the discovery of a gigantic, buried sphere, containing the accumulated knowledge of a past civilization; and Aldous Huxley's classic Brave New World (1932). Collecting was begun in earnest when he was teaching in New York in the 1950s. This was when the McCarthy era was in full swing, dominated by anti-communism sentiment and the Cold War.

As a professional scientist, Fastier preferred 'hard-science' 'sci-fi' rather than imaginative fantasy. What also captured his attention were the ideas and possible situations imagined by sci-fi writers. As a consequence, Edgar Rice Burroughs and his Venus and Mars series did not rate, while writers such as Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, and Arthur C. Clarke did. Other authors favoured include H. G. Wells (his idea of tanks before WWI); Hal Clement (especially his A Mission of Gravity); John Wyndham (of Triffids fame); and Philip K. Dick, whose The Man in the High Tower interested Fastier, especially if the Japanese had won the war. The collection also contains a number of magazines such as Astounding Science (which he subscribed to), Galaxy, and Nebula, many of which feature classic short stories in the field.

In early December 2010, Fred Fastier, inaugural Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Otago, donated his 1200 strong collection of Science Fiction titles to Special Collections, University of Otago. His collection forms the basis of this exhibition: 'Ray Guns & Rocket Ships. The Fred Fastier Science Fiction Collection'.

Please enjoy it.

Exhibition poster (278K in PDF format)

Exhibition handlist (705K in PDF format)