Eaton Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy Collection Development Strategy

March 2024


The Eaton Collection of Science Fiction & Fantasy is one of the world's largest, richest, and deepest collections of science fiction, fantasy, horror, utopian literature and related genres. The collection originated with the personal library of Dr. J. Lloyd Eaton, consisting of about 7,500 hardback editions of science fiction, fantasy and horror from the Nineteenth to the mid-Twentieth centuries, which was acquired by the UCR Library in 1969.

As the collection has grown, it has become a major resource for research in all aspects of speculative fiction and is visited by scholars from around the world.

  • Defining Genres
    Defining Genres


    Science Fiction

    ‘Science fiction’ alone has been a historically slippery – not to mention controversial – genre topic to define, cross-pollinating with fantasy, horror, surreal, weird fiction, and the even more nebulous ‘speculative fiction.’


    In this light, the Eaton Collection is in concord with the philosophy of the genre magazine Strange Horizons, which maintains that “speculative fiction has a vibrant and radical tradition of stories that can make us think, can critique society, and can show us how it could be otherwise, for better or worse.” Crucially: “speculative fiction must be a global, inclusive literature."



    Overlapping considerably with Science Fiction – and fracturing into multiple sub-genres such as sword and sorcery, magical realism, second-world fantasy, and horror, to name a few – Fantasy can most succinctly be defined as “fiction about the impossible.”


    Traditional categories of the Eaton Collection within Fantasy are the following:

    • Prehistoric and ‘lost race’ fantasy

    • Legendary fantasy (Arthurian reconstructions, Tolkien)

    • Sword and sorcery fantasy (this category may overlap with the previous one in its frequent use of feudal settings, but is distinguished by action-adventure rather than imaginary reconstructions of past kingdoms)

    • Gothic tales of terror and the supernatural (that is, the historical Gothic mode)

    • Literary fairy tales for adults (includes such forms as the German Märchen and works like Alice in Wonderland or Flatland)

    • Ghost stories

    • Fiction of the magical and the occult


    Other categories relevant to the Eaton Collection are the following:

    • Imaginary biography (defined as dealing with impossible encounters between famous persons, living or dead). Virginia Woolf, Orlando, e.g.

    • ‘Slipstream’ fiction – “fiction that makes use of SF devices, but which is not genre SF.” Surrealist literature with fantastical, absurdist and/or speculative elements are also included in this definition.

    • Realismo mágico and Latin American fantasy

    • Speculative poetry (chapbooks, anthologies)

  • Collecting Scope and Formats
    Collecting Scope and Formats

    In addition to books and periodicals, the Eaton Collection contains manuscripts, microforms, films, videotapes, slides, photographs, digital files, sound recordings, as well as some ephemera.


    Digital Collections/Born-Digital Materials

    The Klein Librarian will work with other library staff, as appropriate, to facilitate acquisition, storage, digitization, and access of both physical and born-digital materials as necessary. These include:

    • Emails

    • Social media posts

    • Physical storage (floppy disks, hard drives, etc)

    • Web archiving


    Formats and Scope

    In addition to books and periodicals, the Eaton Collection collects:

    • manuscripts

    • microforms

    • films

    • videotapes

    • slides

    • photographs

    • digital files

    • sound recordings

    • select ephemera 


    The Eaton Collection is not currently collecting the following kinds of materials:

    • Children’s and Young Adult literature in science fiction and fantasy (excepting notable and award-winning titles)

    • Self-published titles are not to be acquired, unless a work of particular acclaim or notoriety is identified

    • New Fanzine collections that are not relevant to the local area and do not enrich existing holdings. This is to help mitigate the current backlog of fanzines in the Eaton Collection.

    • Toys, action figures, memorabilia and collectibles

  • First Editions
    First Editions

    The Eaton Collection should aim to hold a copy of the first edition (hardcover preferred and if available) of every notable genre work published, going forward. These will include titles from smaller presses as well as larger publishing houses. The Klein Librarian will define what is considered ‘notable' in consultation with the Head of Special Collections and other SCUA colleagues when necessary. In the case of first-edition and hardcover copies of novels, overlap with the library’s main collections is acceptable.

  • Authors' Papers
    Authors' Papers 

    Authors' papers are always welcomed, particularly those from underrepresented creators. These may incorporate additions to existing holdings, papers that are important to historical and local SF/F communities, and reflect ongoing relationship-building with potential donors.

  • Afrofuturism & Africanfuturism
    Afrofuturism & Africanfuturism

    Afrofuturism may be defined as “a wide-ranging social, political and artistic movement that dares to imagine a world where African-descended peoples and their cultures play a central role in the creation of that world." Afrofuturist works across the following media groups should be collected: novels, periodicals, comics, and graphic novels. Author/editor archives that speak to this sub-genre should also be prioritized for collection, and relations cultivated with contemporary figures, as appropriate. 


    Africanfuturism, as defined by Nnedi Okorafor, is similar to Afrofuturism, but is “rooted in African culture, history, mythology and point-of-view as it then branches into the Black diaspora, and it does not privilege or center the West.”

  • Indigenous SF
    Indigenous SF

    Science fiction and fantasy works by and about Native American and First Nations authors should be collected, again, in novel, periodical, comic, and graphic novel media, as well as archival collections pertaining to this area.

  • Non-English languages / works in translation
    Non-English languages / works in translation

    We are always seeking SF/F texts in non-English languages - particularly Spanish - to strengthen the Eaton's holdings and best serve the UCR/Riverside communities.

  • LGBTQIA2S+ materials
    LGBTQIA2S+ materials

    If SF/F are genres that imagine alternative realities *and* realities that could be, the presence of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Asexual, Two-spirit authors is similarly central to the genre – though not always historically valued and recognized as such (a feature commonly held with other collection development priority areas). Collecting archives, novels, periodicals, and comics by and about these communities will not only strengthen the Eaton Collection's holdings but also keep abreast of recent and exciting changes in genre publishing.

  • Disability in SF/F
    Disability in SF/F

    Recent genre scholarship and fiction alike has foregrounded the experiences of neurodivergent and people with disabilities, and the Eaton Collection's holdings should reflect this.

  • Climate Fiction
    Climate Fiction

    This area builds on the Eaton’s historical strengths in collecting utopian literature – as well as its unique situation on the West Coast, which has a long history of climate-focused fiction, through the works of such authors as Octavia E. Butler and Kim Stanley Robinson. Any literature to do with the contemporary climate crisis and/or historical treatments on manipulating the environment (including settling other planets, terraforming, and utopian communities) should be collected.