The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction: An Illustrated A to Z

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9780586053805: The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction: An Illustrated A to Z
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Encompassing 4,360 entries that provide critical insight and biographical and bibliographical data, an updated edition of a popular science fiction reference features a carefully cross-referenced format.

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Review:

Did your last con visit leave you feeling out of touch? Was the latest issue of Locus full of unfamiliar writers? Or are you looking for a definitive analysis of the role of eschatology in science fiction? Look no further. You can find all the help you need, and the answers to questions you didn't even know you wanted to ask, in John Clute and Peter Nicholls's invaluable reference work, The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. In the introduction, Clute and Nicholls write, "We see this book as more than merely an encyclopedia of sf; it is a comprehensive history and analysis of the genre."

With over 4,360 entries and 1,300,000 words, this is a jam-packed sourcebook on science fiction authors, books, subgenres, movements, and history. You can live without it, but why would you want to? It's got riveting trivia on every page, hours of browsing enjoyment, and endless potential for playing spot-the-error, a game popular among science fiction writers and fans. Clute and Nicholls have put together an admirable, ever-improving encyclopedia that tries to encompass a genre that grows new pseudopods every year. This is a great resource for fans and writers. Those with a yen for a more visual approach might appreciate Clute's Science Fiction: The Illustrated Encyclopedia, and fantasy readers and writers should definitely check out The Encyclopedia of Fantasy when the new edition is published early in 1999. --Therese Littleton

From Booklist:

Extensively revised from the 1979 edition, this edition has been expanded from 2,800 to more than 4,300 entries. Approximately 2,900 of them are for authors. Included besides mainstream writers of science fiction, horror, and fantasy are such authors as H. P. Lovecraft and J. R. R. Tolkein, who have influenced the genre.

There are 212 topical entries, including Robots, Time Travel, and Cyberpunk. A list of these topics is found in the introduction. Sixty-five scientific or sf jargon terms are defined. Science fiction in 27 different countries is covered in separate articles, which helps to balance the collection's strong U.S.-U.K. bias. This focus is probably inevitable given the anglophone domination of the field, but it has its drawbacks. The Japanese film industry, which "owned" the monster-movie market for years, is relegated to a few paragraphs in the article Japan.

Individual novels, even such seminal ones as Stranger in a Strange Land and War of the Worlds, do not get separate entries, but 544 motion pictures, 34 filmmakers, and 96 TV shows do. The movie known to monster-movie fans as Godzilla is listed as Gojira (a transliteration of its Japanese title), but there are adequate cross-references. Publishing houses (Arkham House), editors (Judy-Lynn del Rey), and critics (Kingsley Amis) have entries, as do comic book writers, artists, and publishers. Magazine and cover-art illustrators are also listed.

The editors devote considerable space to sf fandom, with such entries as Fanzines and Semiprozines, magazines which have provided some authors with their start in the field. There are also articles on fan organizations, without addresses.

The article Bibliographies is a useful survey dating back to the 1940s when fans compiled some ground-breaking titles such as Raymond Bleiler's The Checklist of Fantastic Literature (1948). It also lists more academic studies, including The Reference Guide to Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror (1992). The encyclopedia has no separate bibliographies, but entries cite titles of major works in the field with variant titles and dates of publication.

An introductory section includes a list of contributors with initials--all entries are signed. Contributors express opinions, sometimes strong ones. Articles range in length from a few lines to several pages. The dictionary format and abundant cross-referencing allow the browser or librarian with a ready-reference question to plunge right in.

More detailed author biobibliographies and criticism can be found in such sources as Contemporary Authors or some of the works cited in the Bibliographies article. But its coverage of so many related topics makes The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction a recommended purchase for medium-sized to large public and academic libraries. High schools will want to consider it, too.

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Published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd (1981)
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