Sad news, Uncle Hugo’s Science Fiction Bookstore, the oldest independent science fiction bookstore in America, has been attacked and burnt to the ground in the ongoing US riots which errupted following the murder of George Floyd by police.
Uncle Hugo’s Science Fiction Bookstore opened for business on March 2nd 1974 in Minnesota. Its companion shop, Uncle Edgar’s Mystery Bookstore opened for business in a nearby location in 1980. Both stores then moved to a shared location in 1984.
Owner of the now destroyed indie store, Don Blyly, said,
“There was a call from the security company around 3:30 this morning that the motion detector was showing somebody in the building. I threw on clothes and headed over there. When I was 2 blocks away I received a call that the smoke detectors were showing smoke in the store. Every single building on both sides of Chicago was blazing and dozens of people dancing around.
As I pulled into the dentist’s lot I could see that flames were leaping out the front windows of the Uncles. It looked to me like they had broken every window on the front of the Uncles and then squirted accelerant through each broken window. It looked hopeless to me, but I went around to the back door to see if I could get to a fire extinguisher. As soon as I opened the back door a wave of very thick black smoke poured out, so I quickly closed the door again. The dentist’s building was not showing any flames and the garage door was open, so I went in to see if I could save it.
There is a door from the garage into a break room, and there was almost no smoke in the break room. There is a second door from the break room into the main clinic. When I opened that door I couldn’t see a fire, but the smoke came pouring into the break room, so I quickly closed that door and headed back to the car. Some of the rioters were busy breaking every pane of glass in the transit hub.
The former Sheraton did not seem to be on fire yet, and there were guests who were staying there. It looked like somebody may have broken a window on the first floor along Chicago and started a fire, but it could have just been a reflection of the flames from the Uncles. I didn’t notice anything going on yet at the Global Marketplace, but the rioters were headed in that direction.
There is no way a mere fire could bring that building down, but it could wipe out all of those businesses, and there are hundreds of people who live above the Global Marketplace who could be trapped by the smoke. Since Chicago Ave. was full of dancing rioters, broken glass, and flaming debris, I went down the alley and took Lake St. home. There were blocks of Lake St. where every building was blazing. No sign of any cops, national guard troops, or any help.
I’m pretty sure the insurance policy excludes damage from a civil insurrection, so I suspect I won’t get a cent for either the building or the contents.
I am starting to investigate the best crowdsourcing to rebuild. Any donations – well – I’ll need to find where to send them. Stay safe – we love you all!”
We’ll update you on any crowdfunding page news when we get it at SFcrowsnest.