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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.

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Hilton, James

(1900-1954) UK screenwriter and author, called up near the end of World War One but never in active service; in the USA from 1935, known mainly for slightly sentimental mainstream novels like Good-bye Mr Chips (1934). He is primarily of sf interest for Lost Horizon (1934), a romantic Lost-World tale which is also very well known, though generically distinct from the rest of his work. In the hidden Tibetan valley of Shangri-La, a name of Hilton's own coinage [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy ...

Ruddick, Nicholas

(1952-    ) UK bibliographer, editor and author, in Canada from 1974. He has perhaps been most influential for his two linked examinations of UK sf, British Science Fiction: A Chronology, 1478-1990 (1992) and Ultimate Island: On the Nature of British Science Fiction (1993). Though its title ascriptions lack full bibliographical detail, the first volume provides an extremely useful chronological run-through of the British scene, each separately presented year broken into ...


A term devised by Alfred Hitchcock, who describes it at considerable length in François Truffaut's Le Cinéma Selon Hitchcock (1966; trans Helen G Scott as Hitchcock 1967), as an object whose loss – or rumours of whose existence – triggers the cast of a thriller or detective film into searching for it, or fighting for it, or running from it, but which has in fact little or no intrinsic meaning once the dust has settled. For Hitchcock, the best McGuffin is the one most ...

Duffus, R L

(1888-1972) US journalist and author on various subjects, including two novels of genre interest: Night Between the Rivers (1937), a Near Future tale in which New York is disrupted by a brief general strike; and Jason Potter's Space Walk (1970) which conflates sf and fantasy as the protagonist is recruited by an angel to address the future of humanity. [JC]

Ghosts of Mars

Film (2001). Screen Gems presents a Storm King production. Directed by John Carpenter. Written by Larry Sulkis & Carpenter. Cast includes Joanna Cassidy, Ice Cube, Clea Duvall, Pam Grier, Natasha Henstridge and Jason Statham. 93 minutes. Colour. / In 2176, colonists mining a part-terraformed and irrelevantly matriarchal Mars activate the dormant bodiless form of a windborne native intelligence, which possesses the colonists' bodies and turns them lethally against the human invaders of ...

Nicholls, Peter

(1939-2018) Australian editor and author, primarily a critic and historian of sf through his creation and editing of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction [see below]; resident in the UK 1970-1988, in Australia from 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 ...

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