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Welcome to the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, Fourth Edition. Some sample entries appear below. Click here for the Introduction; here for the masthead; here for Acknowledgments; here for the FAQ; here for advice on citations. Find entries via the search box above (more details here) or browse the menu categories in the grey bar at the top of this page.

Site updated on 21 January 2022
Sponsor of the day: Martin Dorfer

Virtual Reality

Since the mid-1980s, a popular item of sf Terminology, and for a century or so – in a rather more extended sense – a popular sf theme. In ordinary usage a virtual reality is a computer-generated scenario which seems real (or at least all-encompassing) to the person who "enters" it; one essential quality of virtual reality is that the person who enters it should be able to interact with it. To a degree all Videogames, as habitual players well know, have long offered a primitive form ...

Alguire, Judith

(1946-    ) Canadian author of Young Adult fiction; of sf interest is Zeta Base (1991), in which an ancient wise scientist finds her warnings about the instability of the Sun dangerously disregarded. [JC]

Toffler, Alvin

(1928-2016) US journalist and author, best known for his speculative nonfiction on Sociology and Futures Studies, at that time better known as Futurology. Future Shock (1970) documents the increasing rate of change in the twentieth century, and speculates on the psychological trauma this may be causing Western civilization. Filmed as Future Shock (1972) with narration by Orson Welles, it has had a great influence in futurology generally, and quite directly on many sf writers – notably ...

Clifton, Mark

(1906-1963) US author, an industrial psychologist for many years until his retirement around 1950 – mostly occupied in personnel work, putting together many thousands of case histories from which he extrapolated conclusions after the fashion of Kinsey and Sheldon. This practical experience, and the slant of mind it fuelled, mark his work as a writer, beginning with his first stories of genre interest, "What Have I Done?" for Astounding in May 1952, and the slightly later "Star, Bright" ...

Riddell, J L

(1807-1865) US chemist, botanist, inventor and author of Orrin Lindsay's Plan of Aerial Navigation, with a Narrative of his Explorations in the Higher Regions of the Atmosphere, and his Wonderful Voyage Round the Moon! (1847 chap), a hoax narrative clearly indebted to Edgar Allan Poe's "Hans Phaall – A Tale" (June 1835 The Southern Literary Messenger), both exemplifying the complex interrelation between hoax and Thought Experiment significant in the shaping of twentieth-century Hard SF. ...

Langford, David

(1953-    ) UK author, critic, editor, publisher and sf fan, in the latter capacity recipient of 21 Hugo awards for fan writing – some of the best of his several hundred pieces are assembled as Let's Hear It for the Deaf Man (coll 1992 chap US; much exp vt The Silence of the Langford 1996; exp 2015 ebook) as Dave Langford, edited by Ben Yalow – plus five Best Fanzine Hugos and one Semiprozine Hugo for his self-produced news magazine, Ansible (which see). His one ...

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