About the Ad Astra Center for Science Fiction & the Speculative Imagination


In Henrique Alvim Corrêa’s Illustrations for The War of the Worlds (1906), a large alien robot walks, holding a raygun
An illustration by Henrique Alvim Corrêa’s for The War of the Worlds (1906). View more at the https://publicdomainreview.org/collection/henrique-alvim-correa-war-of-the-worlds Public Domain Review.

The Future Now

Science fiction, fantasy, horror, and other forms of speculative fiction have become the most popular modes of storytelling in the world. And why not? Humanity is living in the future right now, in a world that is changing incredibly, incomprehensibly, fast. What if? What else? What does it mean to be human in a universe filled with nonhuman entities - known, potential, and impossible? What is “human,” anyway? How do we move into the future? Speculative fiction is a way to ask and answer these and other questions, through art that informs, entertains, extrapolates, and inspires.

Led by award-winning authors and long-time educators Chris McKitterick and Kij Johnson, KU's Ad Astra Center for Science Fiction & the Speculative Imagination brings creatives, scientists, readers, teachers, and fans of speculative fiction together to study and create work that changes the world.

The Ad Astra Center's mission is to:

  • Build bridges between STEM and the arts by showcasing cutting-edge science and tech research, helping creatives engage with the forces changing the world. We help take "Science into Fiction" through informal STEM education, creative workshops, and diverse outreach and publication strategies designed to increase comfort with and literacy in STEM among SF creatives and their audience.
  • Promote speculative fiction as a mode of expression across time, cultures, regional boundaries, and forms of media.
  • Give creatives, educators, librarians, students, and fans the tools to better understand and enjoy the speculative arts through talks, workshops, masterclasses, and more.

The Ad Astra Center is part of the Achievement & Assessment Institute (AAI), one of 12 designated research institutes at the University of Kansas. AAI and its centers partner with other agencies to improve the lives of children and adults through academics, employment, career advancement, and building healthy environments, as well as to enhance the capacity of organizations that help children, adults, and communities succeed.