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What We Need to Know

Site information page updated 29 August 2021.

This page briefly lists the basic information the SF Encyclopedia editors would like to have in order to create a new author or artist entry, or to expand an existing one with Checklist notes on further publications. More about our approach to bibliography can be found in the entries Editorial Practices, Editorial Practices: Checklists and Checklist of Abbreviations. This condensed version focuses on essentials, such as giving a book's place of publication as well as its publisher.

Personal Information

Where possible we give the entry subject's birth date in full – day, month and year – plus place of birth: city and county for the United Kingdom, city and state for the USA, Canada and Australia, city and country for most other countries. (A few major cities, notably London and New York, are given alone without further county, state or country information.) Where applicable we also give death date and place of death – in the same format.

In addition to genre publications, career information generally comprises a brief description of the day job if the subject is or was not a full-time writer (artist, critic, whatever). Regarding awards, we always try to list all Hugo, Nebula and Locus Award wins. Other genre awards may be noted at the discretion of the SFE editors, or referenced in a see also link below the entry text, pointing to the relevant award entry. Non-genre awards are rarely recorded, unless it's something highly notable like the Nobel Prize. We do not give specific bestseller list appearances or, as a rule, any details of award shortlistings which did not lead to a win. The SF Encyclopedia almost never quotes from blurbs or reviews.

Short story appearances are not listed exhaustively, but we report an author's first professionally published story of genre interest if this was not at book length, plus stories which have won major awards. Other thematically influential stories are more appropriately cited in relevant theme entries, e.g. Stanley Weinbaum's "A Martian Odyssey" in (among others) Aliens, First Contact and Mars.


For book titles cited in the entry text, we give the year of publication in boldface: Space Adventure (2000). Here it is assumed that Space Adventure is a novel. If it were a story collection the citation would be given as (coll 2000) or (coll of linked stories 2000). If an anthology, then (anth 2000) – followed by "edited by" and the editor's name, unless edited by the subject of the entry. We designate books of fewer than 100 pages as chapbooks: Space Adventure (2000 chap) or Space Adventure (coll 2000 chap).

For short story titles, the formula is "Story Title" (January/February 2010 Interzone); for serializations, the first and last magazine issues are given, e.g. "Story Title" (June-August 1965 Analog); for serializations later reissued as novels, it's Story Title (June-August 1965 Analog; 1966) where 1966 is the year of book publication. First appearances in anthologies are given as "Story Title" (in Great Big SF Anthology, anth 2010, ed A N Editor); in author's own collections, as "Story Title" (in The Second Best Stories of A N Author, coll 2005).


The SFE end-of-entry bibliographical Checklists are described at length in the entry Editorial Practices: Checklists. The checklist is headed by the author's full real name (if known), as distinct from any working name or pseudonym appearing on books and used as the entry headword. This information is followed by the place and date of birth, and if applicable the place and date of death:

born London: 1 January 1950

died Brighton, Sussex: 30 June 2015

Next, under the overall heading works, we try to list every distinct genre-related book by or edited by the subject of the entry: each first edition, plus any significantly revised editions or variant titles (but not routine paperback reissues and the like). For each work we give title, place of publication (city and county or state, as for place of birth above), name of publisher and year of publication, followed by a "comment field" in square brackets which at minimum records whether the book was a hardback or paperback, and if possible adds information about the cover artwork (if available) and other details of format.

Here are some simple examples. A standalone hardback or paperback novel:

  • Space Adventure (London: Orbit, 2000) [hb/]
  • Space Adventure (London: Penguin, 2010) [pb/]

Below are some other possible versions of the hardback listing with various alternative cover descriptions, including the cover artist's name. Here "uncredited" means that this first edition has been inspected without the jacket painting being identified or credited; "typographic" that there is no actual artwork, just lettering as in the famous Gollancz yellowjackets; "photographic" is self-explanatory. If the book is part of a series, like Asimov's Foundation sequence, we include the series title in boldface just before the hardback or paperback information. A chapbook (defined as one of fewer than 100 pages) is marked "chap".

  • Space Adventure (London: Orbit, 2000) [hb/uncredited]
  • Space Adventure (London: Orbit, 2000) [hb/Frank R Paul]
  • Space Adventure (London: Gollancz, 1980) [Foundation: hb/typographic]
  • Space Adventure (London: Gollancz, 1980) [hb/photographic]
  • A Short Illustrated Space Adventure for Young Readers (Pottstown, Pennsylvania: Small Fry Press, 1980) [chap: illus/M C Escher: hb/Jim Burns]

Multi-book series are listed before individual works, under the boldface subheadings series, Series Title 1, Series Title 2 and so on, followed by individual titles as the subhead for standalone novels.

If not otherwise specified, a listed book is assumed to be a novel. But suppose it's a science-fact book, an anthology, a story collection? (We always use "anthology" for a book of stories by a number of authors, "collection" for a book of stories by the same author.) Some examples:

  • True Space Adventure (London: Hodder, 2000) [nonfiction: hb/]
  • Space Adventure Stories by Women (London: Hodder, 2000) [anth: hb/]
  • Space Adventure Stories by Me (London: Hodder, 2000) [coll: hb/]
  • Space Adventure: All the "Rocket" Smith Stories (London: Hodder, 2000) [coll of linked stories: hb/]

Some of these keywords can be combined, the order being defined in Editorial Practices: Checklists.

  • True Space Adventures (Paris: Snark, 2000) [nonfiction: coll: hb/]
  • Space Adventure Limericks (Sydney, New South Wales: Boojum, 2000) [poetry: coll: chap: pb/]
  • Space Adventure Bibliography (New York: Bellman, 2000) [bibliography: chap: pb/]

Although a single standalone story collection would be lumped together with novels under works or (if series sections have appeared first) individual titles, multiple collections are split off under collections. Other self-explanatory subheads are nonfiction for nonfiction titles and works as editor for anthologies edited by the entry subject. These appear in the same order as in this paragraph.


Q. How do you show simultaneous hardback and paperback appearances?
A. We list the hardback only, the legal fiction being that the paperback is a reprint appearing some nanoseconds later. To anticipate the next question, the same principle applies to simultaneous hardback and ebook publication; for simultaneous paperback and ebook publication, we list the paperback.


The very end of the entry, following the Checklist, is the place for a link to the subject's website if any. Please provide us with the URL.

We invariably link to the Internet SF Database if (as is usual) the subject of our entry has an entry there. We don't as a rule link to Wikipedia. So many thousands of Wikipedia links would be required for consistency that the editors would need a long untroubled period to add them all ... alas, we haven't had such a quiet time since the SF Encyclopedia launched.

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