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Editorial Practices

Entry updated 27 September 2021. Tagged: Prelim.

In Notes on Content we briefly describe the principles governing the encyclopedia's construction, and the kinds of information which may be found here. We have tried throughout to present this material as clearly as possible, but some pointers may be helpful, as below. For information on the bibliographic Checklists now appearing at the ends of entries, see Editorial Practices: Checklists.

Cross-reference entries

A little less than 30% of the more than 17,500 entries in the encyclopedia (see Statistics for detailed figures) are cross-reference entries. Many simply cross-refer a name, term, title or variant title to the entry where it is covered, for example: "All-Story Cavalier Weekly See The All-Story."

A typical instance of cross-referencing one person's name to a second arises when the first name is a pseudonym or alternate name of the second that has been used on a book, for example: "O'Donnell, K M Pseudonym of Barry N Malzberg." In the previous edition, such references were often prefaced with [s] for "short", meaning that the first name is a pseudonym of the second but has been used only for short stories. We have now expanded this cryptic notation to a self-explanatory form of words, for example: "Smith, Woodrow Wilson Pseudonym, for short work only, of Henry Kuttner."

Another form of words in cross-references, represented in previous editions by the cryptic [r], is "Referred to in the entry (or entries) for ..." Here the first name is not a pseudonym of the second, for example: "Smith, Laure Referred to in the entry for Seth McEvoy"; "Spittel, Olaf R Referred to in the entry for Germany". Such cross-references mostly cover collaborators and co-editors, or authors cited in a theme or country entry, who have not (or not yet) been given a full entry of their own.

Cross-references in entries

Within the text of entries in past print editions, and in the see also sections attached to many of them, any word given in SMALL CAPITALS generally constituted a cross-reference. In this third online edition, all cross-references are now marked as active hyperlinks. The rare links to intended but as yet unwritten entries appear Thus.

Author, Critic and Editor Entries

Names Each entry begins with the author's real name, working name or pseudonym, whichever is best known. We step outside normal practice only with the concept of the working name, which we have defined as one which encompasses in easily recognizable form a significant portion of a full name – as in the case of Connie Willis, which we treat as Constance Elaine Trimmer Willis's working name. See also Editorial Practices: Chinese and Japanese Names.

Titles For all authors writing in English we attempt to treat or to list every adult book with any significant sf content, to treat or (more commonly) simply to list all fantasy and horror books, and to at least list most children's books of genre interest; for foreign-language authors we do not always claim to list all sf/horror/fantasy work not translated into English. We list most nonfiction works written by sf authors about the field, about related fields (for example, Martin Amis on Space Invaders) or about other authors; we also list, sometimes selectively, nonfiction works of science or popular science by sf authors who also work in those fields. In author entries, each book is given a full ascription (see below for details); other kinds of entry (theme entries in particular) often identify titles in a briefer format. In our selection of titles we have tended to be extremely catholic; one may often find novels whose generic status is doubtful, and collections containing only a few relevant stories. This is deliberate: when we err, we prefer to do so through inclusion rather than exclusion.

We do not list all short stories by authors.

Story titles are given in normal face, within double quotes ("Title"), with dates in normal face. Book titles are given in italics with dates in bold face. Subtitles are sometimes omitted, though we do include them in entry text when appropriate and now always give them in full in Checklists (see Editorial Practices: Checklists). We do so for clarity's sake – there are, for instance, three Stanley G Weinbaum collections which can be distinguished only through subtitles: A Martian Odyssey, and Others (coll 1949), A Martian Odyssey, and Other Classics of Science Fiction (coll 1962), and A Martian Odyssey, and Other Science Fiction Tales (coll 1975). And we list subtitles when they seem to be of inherent interest; for instance, Keith Laumer's Bolo: The Annals of the Dinochrome Brigade (coll of linked stories 1976). Series titles are given in bold face.

We generally give the title of singletons – books which are not part of series – according to normal bibliographical practice by which the title as it appears on the title page (rather than on the cover or elsewhere) is deemed the true title. With books which are part of series, we have decided that normal bibliographical practice is of little use in helping sf readers through the often confusing tangle of conventions used to identify (and advertise) this category of title. Where there is no series identification, we list the title only as we would with a singleton, though in a context which makes clear its connection to its series-mates. Where series are accorded some form of ongoing title, wherever placed, we try to ascribe the first volume in full, but subsequently (as soon as individual volume titles can be clearly distinguished) we may reduce that overall title to a number: as in David Meltzer's Brain Plant sequence, which in the 1993 edition we rendered as Brain Plant #1: Lovely (1969), #2: Healer (1969), #3: Out (1969) and #4: Glue Factory (1969). This convention is now very rarely seen since space constraints no longer apply in the online edition; also, full series listings often appear in Checklists only (see Editorial Practices: Checklists).

Ghost titles and projected titles Books whose existence we doubt and books whose release we had not confirmed by press time we give in normal face between chevrons (« and »), giving their publication date (if any) in normal face. Thus «The Last Dangerous Visions».

Ties We define a Tie as any text whose contents take their substance from some prior inspiration, which may be a shared-world bible, a film, a television series, a role-playing or other form of Game. All such novels, collections, anthologies and omnibuses were formerly identified by an asterisk (*) placed immediately after the title, as with Donald F Glut's The Empire Strikes Back * (1980), which novelizes the film Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back. With the introduction of Checklists, this marker has been replaced with the more explicit "tie" in the relevant comment field, removing the distraction of asterisks from main entry text.

Ascription data about titles is contained within brackets, and has been kept as simple as is consistent with our desire to provide as much information as we can, within the constraints of our encyclopedia format. Within the main text of an entry we do not, for instance, normally provide full bibliographic data (i.e., city of publication, publisher, pagination, etc.). Many novels – such as H G Wells's The Island of Doctor Moreau (London: William Heinemann, 1896) – therefore need no more than a simple date of publication; collections can be identified by the term "coll" placed directly before the date. But this third edition adds Checklists giving city, publisher and other bibliographical information, including cover artists where known.


We use several further terms to describe books. Abbreviations placed before the date include:

  • coll
  • coll of linked stories
  • fixup
  • graph
  • anth
  • omni

A fixup – briefly – is a book composed of previously written stories which have been cemented together (see Fixup for more). The term "graph" denotes Graphic Novels and illustrated works with very high pictorial content. An anth is an Anthology, either reprint or an Original Anthology, while an omni is an omnibus – a book that assembles previously published volumes.

Abbreviations placed after the date include:

  • chap (see Chapbook)
  • dos
  • ebook
  • vt (variant title, introducing an alternative title)
  • web

"Chap" designates a book of fewer than one hundred pages in length; "dos" designates two titles usually (but not always) bound back-to-back and upside down with respect to one another (see Dos-à-Dos); ebook is of course an Ebook edition.

When titles are published in two countries within a few weeks of one another we "follow the flag" and treat first publication as being in the author's country of residence.

We give variant titles, where they exist, for all books and films. A variant title is normally identified by the abbreviation vt placed initially, as in Daniel F Galouye's Counterfeit World (1964; vt Simulacron-3 1964).

We designate revised editions of all books listed. However, we are not always able to specify the nature of the revision, in which case the revised edition will be identified by the abbreviation rev placed initially, as in Marta Randall's Islands (1976; rev 1980); if we have further knowledge, we use such terms as cut, exp (expanded), much exp, text restored – all of which are intended to be self-evident.

In the case of novels, we attempt to give magazine publication where it precedes book publication, as with George Allen England's The Golden Blight (18 May-22 June 1912 Cavalier; 1916). We usually give the magazine title of a story when this differs from the book title, though we do so less consistently in cases where the story was published two years or less before the book version. As of the third online edition, magazine appearances are given wherever possible and in greater detail, pinpointing the precise issue(s) by month and, where necessary (in the case of dailies, weeklies, and biweeklies) the day. Hence the expanded ascription of The Golden Blight above, formerly given as simply (1912 Cavalier; 1916).

Translations Whenever possible we notate translated books according to the following example by Vladimir Nabokov, Priglashenie na kasn' (1938; trans Dmitri Nabokov and Nabokov as Invitation to a Beheading 1959). As we treat translations as separate entities, we date them in bold face. We do not, however, necessarily list all variant translations, sometimes giving only the first. When untranslated books are mentioned, a rough English translation of the title appears in square brackets immediately after the original, as with Arno Schmidt's Schwarze Spiegel ["Black Mirrors"] (1963). When a translation's title differs sharply in meaning from the original title, we may insert such a square-bracketed clarification of what the original title means. [JC/PN/DRL]

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