Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Spring 2001 Newsletter

Time-Traveler

Cover of "Let Darkness Fall" by L. Sprague de Camp

Dust jacket, Lest Darkness Fall, Galaxy Publishing Co., Inc.,
New York: 1949. Title page reads: “A hilarious, fast, moving
novel of a situation that could not happen to you.”

L. Sprague de Camp, grand master of science fiction, died last November, just three weeks short of his 93rd birthday. His archive, which includes the work of his wife and collaborator, Catherine Crook de Camp, provides a nexus for the Ransom Center's science fiction, hard science and literary holdings. His immaculately constructed files and extensive correspondence with other writers of science fiction's "Golden Age"—including Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Fletcher Pratt—will provide scholars with an incomparable look into the circles and business of science fiction as an emerging genre.

Although trained as an aeronautical engineer, de Camp grounded his science fiction in linguistics and historical studies at a time when most of his contemporaries explored the "hard" sciences. His early work pioneered time-travel themes, including the epic Lest Darkness Fall (1949). He is well known for his sword-and-sorcery adventures like his "Conan" cycle, based on the stories of Robert E. Howard, whose biography he wrote and whose legacy he kept alive. In all, de Camp wrote over 120 books and several hundred short stories, including non-fiction works in history, science, and a biography of H.P. Lovecraft.

De Camp's 1996 autobiography, Time and Chance, won the Hugo Award for best non-fiction. This capped a career lauded by virtually every major award his field bestows. In 1976 he received the Grand Master Award for Lifetime Achievement in Fantasy, and the Science Fiction Writers of America presented him their Grand Master Nebula Award in 1978, one of the few writers ever to be so honored.

Lisa Jones
Department of Manuscripts and Archives

The Ransom Center is proud to have the L. Sprague de Camp and Catherine Crook de Camp Endowment for the study of Science Fiction and Fantasy. The endowment was established by the couple in 1990 for the purpose of organizing, preserving, accessing, and developing the de Camp literary archive here at the Ransom Center.  For more information on the endowment please contact Sue Murphy.

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