Guestbook from the Merril Collection, Toronto's science fiction reference library

More scenes from a book-tour: last night I wrapped up this leg of the tour (I'll be back in the US at the end of June for American Library Association and Copynight in DC, as well as an appearance at Red Emma's, co-sponsored by Baltimore Node). The final stop was my hometown, Toronto, at the Merril Collection, the largest public science fiction reference collection in the world (it was stupendous, with a huge crowd of friends old and new).

Which brings me to this photo. The Merril has a beautiful guestbook with signatures from the members of the public and the science fiction luminaries who visited over the years. When we visited it as a class in 1983 (a transformational event in my life), we all signed the guestbook. Last night, I had a long peruse through the book (lingering over the signatures from the likes of Theodore Sturgeon!) and found this page, with the names of all my school-chums from grade 7. Also note the signature from "Timmy" Wu, who now goes by Tim Wu, and is the excellent writer and thinker who (among other things), came up with the term "Net Neutrality."

The guestbook is nearly full after several decades, and about to be replaced with a new, equally lovely hand-made number. If you're in Toronto, be sure to visit the Merril and ask to see it (as well as the rest of the wonderful collection). They also archive all my manuscripts (along with many other writers'), along with lots of other really fascinating material.

Merril Collection guestbook page, my 1983 visit, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.JPG


  1. My wife and I just took a trip across Canada and we stumbled upon the Merril collection while wandering around the University district. It was a total religious experience. What an amazing collection. They also have the Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books in the same branch, which is equally mind blowing. Just beautiful.

  2. I like how Timmy Wu put “earth” for where he is from. Kudos to Cory for the awesome signature. Armsby seems like he’s compensating for something, even going so far as to assimilate part of Cox’s signature into his own!

  3. Posts like this make me feel so old, because in 1983 I was twenty-five years old. It’s weird to me that grownups today were kids back then.

    One thing I will say, is how polite kids were with the guestbook. Recently, I visited my local museum, and glanced at the guestbook. You wouldn’t believe some of the rude stuff kids put in there.

    1. To be fair, advanced-placement kids (I’m guessing ALP stands for Advanced Learning Program–we called it Talented And Gifted when I was in school) would have a certain amount of reverence for a Science Fiction Reference Library, versus random kids towards a random museum.

      1. Actually ALP stands for the Alternative Learning Program. The kids in the program may have been talented or gifted but that wasn’t how they got there. The program was designed for kids who, for whatever reason, chose to be in an environment which was student-centered, and operated in a very democratic, open way. Classes were multi-age grouped and kids from kindergarten to grade 8 were in the program which was housed in a regular public school. The Toronto school system has many programs like this in their public schools.

    2. On flight back to NJ Friday, the youngish woman (or oldish girl) next to me ordered a drink and said “you want to see my id i bet”. Flight attendant sees it and says “88? ok, here you go”.

      I was a junior in high school in 88. Damn passage of time.

  4. I used to go to this library when I was small back in the 70’s when it was the Boys and Girls House and held children’s books and had children’s playshops. It defined learning for me and is one of my fondest memories growing up in Chinatown and going to nearby Orde St. School.

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