The Science Fiction Foundation recently published my review of A Conversation Larger Than the Universe: Science Fiction and the Literature of the Fantastic from the Collection of Henry Wessells. The exhibit, held at The Grolier Club in New York City from Jan. 2018 through 10 Mar. 2018 offered a very interesting afternoon’s exploration of one reader’s impressive collection of books, autographs, and ephemera. While I hope that you will click through to read the full review, I include my conclusion below and a separate link to the photos that I took at the exhibition, which might be of interest to those folks who were unable to attend the short-lived display.
Personal collections tend to say more about their collectors than anything else. While the totality of the items in the collection (with the exhibit being a curated selection from the larger collection) provides one kind of map and history of the fantastic, it ultimately expresses the logic and lived experience of its collector. Wessells explains: ‘I collect by synecdoche, meiosis, and metonymy, as well as by inclination, and by ties of friendship’, and ‘My interests as a reader have often led me away from the canonical to the uncertain edges of the fantastic. Along the boundaries is often where distinctions are sharpest, where science fiction is not so much a place you get to as it is the way you went’. Wessells’s exhibited collection is as admirable as it is interesting to experience, a path off the busy Manhattan streets and into other, imagined worlds.