Exhibit links sci-fi and the arts
Rebecca Noble / The Daily Wildcat
Gloria McMillan, guest curator, gives a preview of the new exhibit, “Mars Madness: Sci-Fi, Popular Culture and Ray Bradbury’s Literary Journey Through Outer Space” Monday at the Special Collections Library at the UA Main Library.
Martian memorabilia, artwork of Mars and pulp science fiction magazines: this isn’t a list of items found in a sci-fi fanatic’s closet, but just a few things you can read about in Special Collections at the UA Main Library.
The space-themed exhibit, “Mars Madness: Sci-Fi, Popular Culture and Ray Bradbury’s Literary Journey to Outer Space,” opens today and runs through Aug. 1.
“This display links space, science, Mars, the Southwest, science fiction and Ray Bradbury as no other exhibit has,” said Gloria McMillan, a local author, a UA English department research associate and the exhibit’s guest curator. “In addition to making clear the Tucson connection with the world-famous writer for the first time, the depth of Bradbury’s social conscience is explored.”
Last year, McMillan published a collection of essays called “Orbiting Ray Bradbury’s Mars: Biographical, Anthropological, Literary, Scientific and Other Perspectives.”
The exhibit showcases original work by sci-fi fiction author Ray Bradbury, who wrote “Fahrenheit 451,” “Something Wicked This Way Comes” and “The Martian Chronicles.” Bradbury is well-known for his science fiction, fantasy and horror literature, as well as his use of dystopian themes. The author died in 2012 at the age of 91.
“‘The Martian Chronicles’ is an allegory of the dispossession of native peoples by colonists,” McMillan said.
She added that the exhibit will also shed new light on a man who contributed to Bradbury’s rise to fame.
“Bradbury was penniless in the Great Depression,” McMillan said, “and we place before the public for the first time the man who helped him to succeed.”
She said that this man and his influence will be revealed at the exhibit. Alongside literary archives and his original pieces, “Mars Madness” will present spectators with work from the artists and authors that fueled Bradbury’s sci-fi writing career and an array of pulp sci-fi magazines and memorabilia.
Astronomer Percival Lowell, who studied Mars extensively, was one of the men who had an effect on Bradbury’s work.
“The science connection to Percival Lowell’s vision of Mars and its influence upon Bradbury will delight scientists, amateur astronomers and students and popular culture,” McMillan said.
Curators and Special Collections librarians hope that students see the connection between science fiction, the arts and Tucson.
“UA students will benefit from this exhibit in seeing that there are no fixed eternal boundaries between science and the arts,” she said. “The movement between produces more creativity and intelligent questioning than staying either/or, science or art. Bradbury never recognized limits on his sense of wonder and use of diverse sources. If UA students can grasp this via our display, they will feel a real power surge.”
Special Collections team leaders Bob Diaz and India Spartz will co-curate along with McMillan. The exhibit is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Special Collections.