SDSU Library Receives $2.25 Million Science Fiction Collection
SAN DIEGO, Calif. — Edward E. Marsh has spent thirty years and millions of dollars assembling one of the largest and most significant collections of science fiction on the planet. And now he is gifting much of it to San Diego State University’s Love Library.
The gift, valued at more than $2.25 million, will eventually be displayed in the “Edward Marsh Golden Age of Science Fiction Room,” created specifically to house these works. It will take several months to catalogue the collection before it will be available to the public.
“This is an incredibly significant collection, not just to science fiction fans, but to students and researchers in the fields of science, technology, politics, religion, philosophy, journalism, even theatre and film,” said Dean of the Library, Gale Etschmaier. “This is just a phenomenal gift for researchers.”
Science fiction authors featured in the collection include Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert, L. Sprague de Camp, and Kevin Anderson as well as classic science fiction by Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Edgar Rice Burroughs and others who influenced the “golden age.” Most of the books are signed first editions and include ephemera such as press clippings, notes and autographs.
Marsh is particularly fascinated by L. Ron Hubbard, who got his start writing pulp fiction in the 1930s and 40s. He collected his work as well as the works of both those who influenced Hubbard and who were influenced by him.
The collection also includes works by such authors as Ernest Hemingway, Albert Einstein, George Orwell, Will Durant, Winston Churchill, Ian Fleming, William Burroughs, U.S. presidents and many others.
“This is a great gift of intellectual and literary content,” said Rob Ray, Director of Library Special Collections. “The true gift Ed Marsh has given is his love and devotion to science fiction’s ‘golden age’ represented by his collection and the endless potential for research into ideas yet to be discovered, to be talked about and understood.”
With his gift, Marsh joins the more than 40,000 individuals who have contributed $380 million toward the $500 million Campaign for SDSU. The campaign, which began in 2007, will provide the university the resources to continue on its mission to attract and retain top faculty, support research and innovation and provide more scholarships for students.
“I have a very warm spot in my heart for this university,” said Marsh, who attended SDSU for two semesters in 1969. “There was nothing I wanted more than to make sure this collection made it here and that it would continue to be shown to the public and be maintained in perpetuity.”
More than just books, the collection also includes autographed photos, busts of authors, movie props, original artwork for book covers, literary contracts, portraits, and authors’ yearbooks.
“I hope that there are more science fiction writers that come of it,” Marsh said of donating his collection to SDSU. “We need brilliant minds to be stimulated by the old brilliant minds and to come up with new ideas because science fiction points to the future … it heralds the future of what can be.”
Marsh was born in San Francisco in 1951 and grew up in San Diego. He attended SDSU as a freshman before pursuing a career first with the Church of Scientology and then in the mortgage and real estate industry. It wasn’t until 2000 that he started the Marsh Library out of his home in Escondido where he worked to “honor and forward the works of the men of the Golden Age.”
“There is no single ‘wow’ piece in this collection, but rather a treasure trove in which there is a new "wow" piece at every turn,” said Etschmaier.
About San Diego State University
San Diego State University is the oldest and largest higher education institution in the San Diego region. Since it was founded in 1897, the university has grown to offer bachelor's degrees in 85 areas, master's degrees in 76 areas and doctorates in 21 areas. SDSU's approximately 31,000 students participate in an academic curriculum distinguished by direct contact with faculty and an increasing international emphasis that prepares them for a global future. For more information, visit www.sdsu.edu.