James Gunn, English professor emeritus at the University of Kansas, has been named to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.
Gunn’s 2015 class of inductees includes Kurt Vonnegut and Jack Gaughan, according to science fiction website Io9.com. Past inductees include Stanley Kubrick, Steven Spielberg and J.R.R. Tolkien.
Despite writing or editing more than 42 books, publishing more than 100 short stories, and helping to establish the Hall of Fame, Gunn said he was surprised by the news.
“I never contemplated it; even when I was helping select other people for the award,” Gunn said Thursday.
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The Hall of Fame was founded in 1996 and was in KU’s Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction. In 2004, the hall moved to EMP Museum in Seattle. Some of the museum’s current exhibits include “Star Wars and the Power of Costume” and “What’s Up Doc? The Animation Art of Chuck Jones.”
Gunn Center was named for the KU professor, who grew up in Kansas City and sold his first short story in 1949. He received a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master’s degree in English from KU and is director of the Center for the Study of Science Fiction there. In 2007, Gunn was named Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.
Gunn, who lives in Lawrence, will turn 92 in July and last published “Transcendental” in 2013. It’s the first of a trilogy, Gunn said. The second book, “Transgalactic,” is due out March 2016 and he is currently working on the final installment, “Transformation.” He also just had a story accepted by a magazine.
He will attend the induction ceremony in Seattle later this month.
“It’s a nice tribute not just to my own work,” Gunn said, but to “all of the people who helped make it possible. They’ve always provided me an opportunity to do what they thought I was qualified to do.”