PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Thanks to a new collection at the John Hay Library, students and scholars at Brown University will have an opportunity to engage with more women-authored science fiction than ever before.
The collection of about 200 volumes of science fiction and fantasy includes signed books by a myriad of contemporary writers, including powerhouses such as Anne McCaffrey, Mercedes Lackey and Nancy Kress.
And the books come from a surprising source who made a name in a very different genre — Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Janis Ian, whose folk melodies often dominated the airways in the 1960s and 1970s.
“Science fiction and fantasy constitute a broad area of collecting strength at the Hay," said Heather Cole, curator for literature and popular culture at the University's special collections library. "With the Janis Ian Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy, our holdings of women science fiction and fantasy authors are significantly increased. In addition, the fact that the books were owned by Ms. Ian — most with inscriptions — provides a wonderful record of a network of women writers and readers, something that is not always easily captured in library collections. Brown students and researchers are certain to make great use of these materials, furthering scholarship in the many important areas of inquiry that are supported by this collection."
Millions know Ian’s chart-topping singles “At 17” and “Society’s Child,” both of which have a place in the Grammy Hall of Fame today. But many fewer know of her boundless enthusiasm for science fiction. Ian has not only read extensively within the genre but has also published some of her own written work.
In 2003, she partnered with 30 top sci-fi writers to publish “Stars: Original Stories Based on the Songs of Janis Ian.” Orson Scott Card, Joe Haldeman and Jane Yolen were among the authors who contributed short stories to the anthology.
According to staff at the John Hay Library, which houses Brown’s University Archive and many special collections, more than 160 of the titles in the Janis Ian Collection are currently searchable in the library’s catalog and are available for use in the library.