1996: Grant Stone

Grant Stone

A person who has done almost everything, Grant Stone is an archivist, bibliographer, collector, librarian, organiser, publicist, publisher, reviewer and critic, fan and professional. He is a botanist by training, a librarian by profession, a collector by inclination and a new renaissance person because he can't help himself. It might be said that Grant Stone is one of the not so quiet achievers of Australian Science Fiction.

In Western Australia grant Stone is almost unavoidable. Every week he broadcasts the Faster Than Light Radio Show which has been going to air regularly on RTR-FM since the 1970s. To listen to the FTL Show is to be exposed to Grant's deep and passionate interest in science fiction and everything related to it. From around the world Grant brings together the news of the latest happenings, the new books, comics and movies, spices them with his wry observations and enlivens them with his quirky humour. If they could bottle it they could make a fortune. (Most people around Australia can now sample Grant's radio style, if not his knowledge of sf, some time during the week on local ABC radio stations. He has become a popular and regular feature, demonstrating his encyclopaedic knowledge of almost everything.)

Around Australia Grant's presence is less obvious but nevertheless pervasive. He is a person who encourages, supports and helps out behind the scenes. He is the source of a great deal of material used all over Australia including bibliographies, listings and other published work. Grant has the innate ability to generate synergy wherever he goes. People who work with Grant are in danger of being infected by his enthusiasm, many projects have come from nothing more than a conversation with Grant or his ability to bring people together and suggest ideas about things that need to be done. At conventions Grant invariably brings his deep knowledge, intelligence and wit to any session he takes part in - even if he starts off sitting in the back row.

It may be that Grant Stone's greatest contribution to science fiction will not be recognised for decades to come. He joined the library at Murdoch University in 1974 before the university opened for teaching and immediately began putting together a collection of popular culture material which features science fiction and related fields. By now that collection has reached almost epic proportions. On the open shelves of the library is one of the best science fiction and fantasy collections in Australia available for everyone to enjoy. The library's journal subscriptions include all the major sf news and review magazines and the critical journals. The video collection also has an amazing range of sf and fantasy. This way he has made more science fiction readers than we can count. Despite all these things Grant's most important contribution is behind closed doors in the Library's Special Collection. Over the years he had put together one of the most extensive collections of special publications, fanzines and fan memorabilia in the world. This collection is being prepared for future generations of researchers and scholars.

And this entire achievement, which would be the life's work for any normal person, is only a small portion of the total Grant Stone. He is as known and loved in many other groups in the community as he is in the science fiction community. He has a full and rich family life, an equally rich and busy spiritual life, he loves basketball and used to coach a team, and he knows more about feminism, counter-culture, children's literature and goodness knows what else than even he can keep track of. (Those who have had the opportunity to visit his office in the Murdoch University Library will know what I mean.) His work in progress, a PhD thesis on the cultural ecology of Barbie dolls, is already legendary around the academic world and in cyberspace.

Such a full life must have its blank spots and Grant Stone is no exception for, so far as I know, he has never written any fiction. He doesn't have the time. But if he ever does, look out!

Leigh Edmonds

March 1996