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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 27 June 2022
Sponsor of the day: Andy Richards of Cold Tonnage Books

Thurber, James

(1894-1961) US cartoonist, playwright and author, best known for his cartoons (many of them published in The New Yorker [see Slick], where many of his writings also appeared) and for his complexly humorous short stories and pieces, the best assembly of these being perhaps The Middle-Aged Man on the Flying Trapeze: A Collection of Short Pieces (coll 1935), where his Alternate History spoof, "If Grant Had Been Drinking at Appomattox" (6 December 1930 The New Yorker), reached book form. His most ...

Williamson, Thames

Working name of US screenwriter and author Thomas Ross Williamson (1894-1961) who over a prolific career published some work of genre interest, beginning with The Man Who Cannot Die (1926), set in the eighteenth century, about an elixir that gives Immortality at a cost. Against the Jungle (1933), set in Africa, and The Flint Chipper: A Boy's Story of England in the Stone Age (1940), are Lost Race adventures written for boys. Beginning at Dusk: An Interlude (1935) is a competent ghost story, ...


The Polynesian word "tabu", from which the English term is taken, was first recorded in 1777 by Captain James Cook (1728-1779) near the end of his last tour of the South Pacific on behalf of the expanding British empire; unsurprisingly perhaps, the word "taboo" was initially applied by early anthropologists to representative of other, exotic, "inferior" cultures: white civilization had evolved beyond taboo (see Evolution). Within that frame of application, the term was early on defined as ...

Grahame-White, Claude

(1879-1959) UK aviator, aircraft manufacturer and author of two sf juveniles with Harry Harper: The Air-King's Treasure (1913) and The Invisible War-Plane: A Tale of Air Adventure in the Great Campaign (1915). In the latter an Airship is concealed by paint which (it is claimed) neither absorbs nor reflects light. The Aeroplane: Past, Present, and Future (anth 1911) with Harry Harper is an early, highly factual presentation of the subject, with several photographs of Grahame-White as a pilot; ...

Watling, George

(?   -    ) UK author of Claughton's Curtain (1994), a Technothriller set in the Near Future as the Cold War resumes with both sides attempting to create a perfect radiation shield (see Weapons), behind the shelter of which they can destroy the rest of the world. [JC]

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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