Mary Kay Bray’s Copy of Time Out of Joint

I just cracked open the copy of Philip K. Dick’s Time Out of Joint that I requested via interlibrary loan for my PKD exam. I noticed that it arrived at the Kent State Library from the Watson Library at Wilmington College in Wilmington, OH, but I didn’t register where I had heard of Wilmington before. It has a colorful cover by Roy Colmer that portrays Phil Dick sitting with book in hand next to an old radio and eclipsing a distant planet in the background, but the real treasure was just inside the front cover:

This copy of Time Out of Joint used to belong to Mary Kay Bray, the science fiction scholar who was active in the Science Fiction Research Association and whose name is honored with her memorializing SFRA award: the Mary Kay Bray Award for Best Feature, Essay, or Review in the SFRA Review. She taught at Wilmington College. After her death in 1999, her close friend Professor William L. Andrews of UNC, Chapel Hill funded this award in Bray’s name. I was honored with the 2007 award for two reviews I wrote: one on Heinlein’s Starship Troopers and one on Ian McDonald’s Brasyl. Since then, I have served on the awards committee two years. See the other award winners here.

I was already looking forward to reading Time Out of Joint, but I am even more eager to do so now knowing that this particular copy of the novel belonged to a distinguished scholar and teacher with many friends in the SFRA. I only wish that I had had the chance to meet her in person. As it is, we are connected through time by science fiction.

Published by Jason W. Ellis

I am an Assistant Professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY whose teaching includes composition and technical communication, and research focuses on science fiction, neuroscience, and digital technology. Also, I coordinate the City Tech Science Fiction Collection, which holds more than 600 linear feet of magazines, anthologies, novels, and research publications.

7 thoughts on “Mary Kay Bray’s Copy of Time Out of Joint

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  2. Hey Matthew–yes, these finds in library books are priceless. I’m also interested in marginalia within library books. Who writes those things, and what made them think those particular ideas? And, who are those damned people who write squiggly blue ink lines THROUGH text rather than properly underlining–I don’t think that’s very interesting, I just hate those guys.

  3. Hi, I realize you wrote this post in May of 2010 but I was happy to hear that Dr. Bray’s book had found it’s way into a fan’s hands. Dr. Bray was on of the most influential professors I had in school. I have thought of her frequently.

  4. Hi Deb, Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts on Dr. Bray. It is nice to hear that she was an influential professor to you. I wish that I had had the chance to meet her, but I learned of her life and work much later. I have talked to others who knew her, and she certainly seemed like a very giving person with a keen intellect. We should all be so lucky to meet and know people like her. Best, Jason

  5. Hello Jason. I was fortunate to have taken over half a dozen courses with Dr. Bray when I was a student at Wilmington College in the early 1980s. I met her as a first year student when I convinced her to let me replace a first year English course with her junior level Mythology course. That eventually led to another student in the class and I developing and taking a senior level independent study with her that applied concepts learned in the Mythology class to various works of science fiction. I believe that I managed to take at least one to three classes with her for all five years that I was at Wilmington. I have very fond memories of her courses, including a teaching internship with her for the first year English course that I managed to skip.

    Your post made me remember the stories that she told me about her life before she came to Wilmington and visiting her at her Wilmington home to help remove books and other items items from her basement that she wanted to give away (I wound up with back issues of Fantasy & Science Fiction, some books, and an old stereo, while my friend Barry wound up with the remainder of the books). I was happy a few years ago when I read about the Mary Kay Bray award, and it is nice to see that people continue to remember her today.

  6. Hey Jeffrey! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I’m glad that my post rekindled your memories of Dr. Bray. My wife and I had dinner with Mack and Sue Hassler, my dissertation director and his wife, tonight. One of the things that we talked about was the history of the Science Fiction Research Association. Dr. Bray was an important member from the earlier days of the organization. I hope that we can create a written history of the SFRA and its members. I know that attempts have been made (perhaps they are on-going but taking longer than expected). When I get done with my dissertation and find a job, I might try my hand at such a project. I would certainly want to find out more about the development of the organization and the members, including Dr. Bray, who made important contributions towards its on-going development. Writing a history with those stories would be a rewarding way to give something back to the SFRA. Best, Jason

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