(1939- ) Australian writer and editor, critic and historian of sf, resident in the UK 1970-1988; worked as an academic in English literature (1962-1968, 1971-1977), scripted television documentaries, was a Harkness Fellow in Film-making (1968-1970) in the USA, worked as a publisher's editor (1982-1983), often broadcast film and book reviews on BBC Radio from 1974 and published much sf criticism – generally waspish but unsnobbish – in newspapers and magazines.
He became first Administrator of the Science Fiction Foundation 1971-1977, and edited its journal Foundation: The Review of Science Fiction 1974-1978, part of this work being republished as Foundation Numbers 1-8: March 1972-March 1975 (anth 1978). Nicholls edited Science Fiction at Large (anth 1976; vt Explorations of the Marvellous 1978), collecting essays written for a 1975 sf symposium by Philip K Dick, Thomas M Disch, Alan Garner, Ursula K Le Guin, himself and others. The Science in Science Fiction (1982), edited by Nicholls and written with David Langford and Brian M Stableford, is a study of sf's scientific content. Fantastic Cinema: An Illustrated Survey (1984; vt The World of Fantastic Films: An Illustrated Survey 1984), Nicholls's first solo book, is a critical history of sf, horror and fantasy Cinema. He is the editor/co-editor/editor emeritus of various editions of this encyclopedia, which has been his major accomplishment: he planned the project in the mid-1970s, and was General Editor, with John Clute as Associate Editor, of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction: An Illustrated A to Z (1979; vt The Science Fiction Encyclopedia US; much exp, rev 1993 with Clute and Nicholls co-editors; rev 1995; exp rev 1995 CD-ROM; further rev 1999), for which he won the first Nonfiction Hugo in 1980, also winning a Pilgrim Award in that year for services to sf scholarship. The revised edition of 1993, co-edited by Clute and Nicholls, won Nicholls a second Hugo and Clute a first. Nicholls was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease – a degenerative disease of the brain – in 2000, and since then his contribution to sf criticism and scholarship has been curtailed. He wrote some new entries in the current edition, revised some earlier entries and provided editorial advice, but on a very much smaller scale than previously. The term "editor emeritus" is intended to reflect this contraction (but not elimination) of editorial responsibility. The current edition of this encyclopedia, which won a Hugo as Best Related Work in 2012, still bears his mark throughout. [PN/JC]
see also: Bibliographies; Collections; Critical and Historical Works About SF; Definitions of SF; Eaton Award; Proto SF; SF in the Classroom; Sense of Wonder.
Peter Douglas Nicholls
born Melbourne, Victoria: 8 March 1939
works as editor
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