Richard Dodson Collection on E. E. "Doc" Smith and Science Fiction, 1931-1949  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Title
Richard Dodson Collection on E. E. "Doc" Smith and Science Fiction
Dates
1931-1949 (inclusive)
Quantity
1 cubic feet, (2 boxes)
Collection Number
MG 469
Summary
Richard W. Dodson (1915-2008) was a science fiction fan and American chemist who corresponded with science fiction authors, fans, and publishers throughout the 1930s and 1940s. The bulk of the collection documents his correspondence with E. E. (Edward Elmer) "Doc" Smith (1890-1965) who was a science fiction author and chemist known as the father of the "space opera." Their correspondence includes manuscripts (handwritten and typescript) for three books sent to Dodson by "Doc" Smith. Other correspondents include Clark Ashton Smith (1893-1961), Abraham Merritt (1884-1943), and others in the publishing industry. Dodson also corresponded with other science fiction fans such as Julius Schwartz and "George Zambock" who's real name was Allen Glasser. There are also newspaper clippings, artwork and photographs sent by the correspondents.
Repository
University of Idaho Library, Special Collections and Archives
Special Collections and Archives
University of Idaho Library
875 Perimeter Drive
MS 2350
Moscow, ID
83844-2350
Telephone: 208-885-0845
libspec@uidaho.edu
Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Languages
English


Content DescriptionReturn to Top

This collection consists of materials collected by Richard Dodson during his correspondence with science fiction authors, fans, and periodical editors most of which occurs during the 1930s-1940s. The bulk of the collection documents his correspondence with E.E. "Doc" Smith including manuscripts (handwritten and typescript) for three books sent to him by "Doc" Smith. These are Triplanetary, The Skylark of Valeron and Galactic Patrol. The bulk of correspondence between E.E. Smith and Richard Dodson occured mostly while Dodson was in high school during the early 1930s and discussed his interest in pursuing science as a career and his interest in science fiction. Conversations on science fiction discussed the importance of grounding the fiction in scientific fact. Correspondence between Richard Dodson and other notable science fiction writers include Clark Ashton Smith (1893-1961), Abraham Merritt (1884-1943), and others in the publishing industry. Dodson also corresponded with other science fiction fans such as Julius Schwartz and "George Zambock" who's real name was Allen Glasser. There are also newspaper clippings and artwork sent by the correspondents. The collection also includes two photographs of E. E. "Doc" Smith, and one of Abraham Merritt.

Historical NoteReturn to Top

Richard W. Dodson (1915-2008), from Kirksville, Missouri, was an avid science fiction enthusiast and had a strong interest in science while in high school. He later enrolled in the California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech) in Pasadena to study as an assistant to Linus Pauling. He graduated in 1936 with a B.S. in chemistry and then went to Johns Hopkins University where he received a Ph.D. in Chemistry. Because his research involved radioactive materials he joined the Los Alamos National Laboratory to work on the Manhattan Project in 1943. After World War II he returned to Cal Tech, and then joined the Chemistry Department at Columbia University, eventually earning a full professorship. Other accomplishments include working for the Brookhaven National Laboratory as chair of the Chemistry Department and serving on the General Advisory Committee for the Atomic Energy Commission.

Dodson's early interest in both science and science-fiction connected him to E. E. (Edward Elmer) "Doc" Smith (1890-1965). Smith, known as the father of the "Space Opera", was a chemist. He graduated in 1914 from the University of Idaho with two degrees in chemical engineering and eventually completed his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering with a food engineering focus in 1918 from George Washington University. While working on his degrees he started writing his first science fiction work Skylark of Space. Though he completed it in 1919, it was not published until 1928. Some of his most famous works include The Skylark of Space, and the Lensmen series, and they were published in the periodicals Amazing Stories" and Astounding Stories. As the father of the "space opera," he was one of the first science fiction authors to write about interstellar travel. He became the inspiration for other science fiction authors such as Robert A. Heinlein, Jack Williamson, and John W. Campbell, Jr.

Correspondence between Richard Dodson and other notable science fiction writers include Clark Ashton Smith (1893-1961), Abraham Merritt (1884-1943), Julius Schwartz (1915-2004), and others in the publishing and science fiction industries. Clark Ashton Smith was a poet and author of exotic pulp fiction, and wrote the "Immortals of Mercury" in 1932. Abraham Merritt was a journalist and editor in addition to an author of science fiction. Julius Schwartz was a science fiction fan who lived in New York City and helped organize the first World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) in 1939. Schwartz became an influential editor at D.C. Comics in the mid-1950s. Dodson also corresponds with "George Zambock" a pseudonym for Allen Glasser, a well known science fiction fan.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

E. E. "Doc" Smith manuscripts, 1931-1932Return to Top

Four unpublished manuscripts sent from Smith to Dodson during the period of their correspondence. There are two drafts of Triplanetary from around 1931 and 1932 one of which is a first draft. There is also one draft of The Skylark of Valeron from 1932, and one draft of Galactic Patrol from around 1936 or 1937. Triplanetary was published in Astounding Stories as a four-part serial beginning in the issue published in January 1934.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 1
"Triplanetary" first draft
This first draft of Triplanetary is 113 pages. It includes extensive notes and revisions. Page 60 inclues a note dated 1 December 1931.
circa 1931-1932
1 2
"Triplanetary" draft
This draft contains 212 pages including chapter titles and revisions made by editor Harry Bates and a publisher named Clayton from "Astounding Stories" magazine as well as some by Smith. Smith's letter to Dodson dated 4 February 1932 shares some information about the manuscript.
circa 1932
1 3
"Skylark of Valeron" draft
Consists of chapters two through twenty-three including an epilogue. It includes extensive notes and corrections. Everything preceding chapter fourteen differs significantly from the published work. The letter from Smith to Dodson on 15 February 1934 shares this draft with Dodson.
1932
1 4
"Galactic Patrol" draft
This rough draft contains 220 pages where chapter one is typewritten and the rest is handwritten. This manuscript was gifted to the Dodson's as a wedding present on 28 August 1937. It was eventually published in six installments beginning in September 1937 in Astounding Science Fiction.
circa 1936-1937

E. E. "Doc" Smith correspondence with Richard Dodson, 1931-1949Return to Top

Consists of 27 letters beginning in May 1931, when Dodson was 16 and Smith was 41, and ending in 1949. During the correspondence Dodson visited Smith at his home in Hillsdale, Michigan twice, once in the summer of 1933 and again with his new wife during the summer 1937. Topics covered during their correspondence include discussions of science fiction, issues concerning Dodson's education and interest in science, and comments from Smith regarding Dodson's critiques and praise for his writing.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 5
E. E. Smith letter to R. Dodson
1931-05-09
1 6
E. E. Smith letter to R. Dodson
1931-06-04
1 7
E. E. Smith letter to R. Dodson
1931-07-30
1 8
E. E. Smith letter to R. Dodson
1931-09-15
1 9
E. E. Smith letter to R. Dodson
1931-12-14
1 10
E. E. Smith letter to R. Dodson
1932-01-02
1 11
E. E. Smith letter to R. Dodson
1932-01-09
1 12
E. E. Smith letter to R. Dodson
1932-02-04
1 13
E. E. Smith letter to R. Dodson
1932-02-08
1 14
E. E. Smith letter to R. Dodson
1932-05-14
1 15
E. E. Smith letter to R. Dodson
1932-10-05
1 16
E. E. Smith letter to R. Dodson
1932-12-25
1 17
E. E. Smith letter to R. Dodson
1933-01-16
1 18
E. E. Smith letter to R. Dodson
1933-07-02
1 19
E. E. Smith letter to R. Dodson
1933-08-29
1 20
E. E. Smith letter to R. Dodson
1934-02-15
1 21
E. E. Smith letter to R. Dodson
1934-03-01
1 22
E. E. Smith letter to R. Dodson
1934-05-12
1 23
E. E. Smith letter to R. Dodson
1934-10-08
1 24
E. E. Smith letter to R. Dodson
1935-01-08
1 25
E. E. Smith letter to R. Dodson
1936-01-07
1 26
E. E. Smith letter to R. Dodson
1936-04-05
1 27
E. E. Smith letter to R. Dodson
1937-06-02
1 28
E. E. Smith letter to R. Dodson
1937-07-25
1 29
E. E. Smith letter to R. Dodson
1939-10-01
1 30
E. E. Smith letter to R. Dodson
1946-01-09
1 31
E. E. Smith letter to R. Dodson
1946-03-03
1 32
E. E. Smith letter to R. Dodson
1949-04-02
1 33
Verna Smith letters to R. Dodson
undated

Other correspondence, 1931-1946Return to Top

Consists of correspondence between Dodson and other well known authors and fans in the science fiction community during the 1930s and early 1940s.

Letters from Dodson to Clark Ashton Smith include topics such as Smith's view of life, writing style, story ideas, thoughts on recieving feedback from editors (notably one named Gernsback), religion, stories he enjoyed, and recommendations of stories for Dodson to read.

Correspondence between Dodson and Abraham Merritt usually discussed Dodson's requests for signed materials. Dodson explains that he admires his work.

Correspondence between Dodson, Julius Schwartz, and George Zambock consists of 27 letters written between 1931 and 1933. Most are between Dodson and the then sixteen-year-old Julius Schwartz. They usually discussed favorite stories published in magazines during that time and commentary on fan activity of the time. In a notable letter dated 30 November 1931, Schwartz announces his intention to publish "The Time Traveller," which is considered the first science fiction fanzine.

Other correspondence includes letters to other authors, booksellers and the editors of "Amazing Stories" and "Astounding Stories." These consist of letters from John W. Campbell, Harry Bates (editor of "Astounding Stories"), and Eric Temple Bell (John Taine), Desmond Hall, and Julius Unger among others. There is also critiques from Dodson to publishers regarding the importance of scientific accuracy in publications and manuscripts. Correspondence between Dodson and E.R. Eddison occur from 1933-1935 include receiving of an autograph and a flyer announcing Faber and Faber Limited's edition of "Mistress of Mistresses" with a publication date written in Eddison's hand. This was sent to Dodson in 1935.

There are also 13 letters, mainly from Henry Clark of the Association of Interplanetary Engineers dated from 1932-1934. These young science fiction enthusiasts discussed the possibility of space travel.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
2 34
Clark Ashton Smith letter to R. Dodson
1932-11-10-1933-12-31
2 35
"The Fantasy Fan"
1933
2 36
Clark Ashton Smith postcards and poem
1933-1934
2 37
A. Merritt letters to R. Dodson
1932-09-30-1933-12-23
2 38
A. Merritt letters to R. Dodson
undated
2 39
Association of Interplanetary Engineers correspondence
1932-1934
2 40
George Zambock letters to R. Dodson
undated and 1931
2 41
Julius Schwartz letters to R. Dodson
1931-04-24-1931-08-20
2 42
Julius Schwartz letters to R. Dodson
1931-09-10-1933-02-06
2 43
"The Face of the Abyss" and "Brigands of the Moon" newspaper clippings
undated
2 44
Harry Bates letter to R. Dodson
1931-1932
2 45
John W. Campbell, Jr. letters to R. Dodson
undated and 1933
1 46
Eric Temple Bell (John Taine) letter to R. Dodson
1933-08
2 47
R. Dodson correspondence with E. R. Eddison
1933-1935
2 48
R. Dodson correspondence with Desmond Hall
1934-1935
2 49
R. Dodson letter to "Amazing Stories"
circa 1939
2 50
John Campbell, Jr. correspondence with R. Dodson
1940
2 51
R. Dodson correspondence with Julius Unger
1945-1946

Photographs and ArtworkReturn to Top

Material sent to Dodson during correspondence with the associated author. Dates were included when known.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
2 52
E. E. Smith photographs
1932 and 1937
2 53
A. Merritt photographs
2 54
Clark Ashton Smith artwork
circa 1919 and undated
2 55
"Dwellers in the Mirage" by A. Merritt cover

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Science fiction--Appreciation
  • Science fiction--Authorship
  • Geographical Names :
  • Fandom & culture