Search SFE    Search EoF

  Omit cross-reference entries  


Entry updated 4 July 2022. Tagged: Theme.

Reasons for using pseudonyms are very various, but almost always involve concealment. So obvious is this that it might seem to go without saying; but in fact many reference books altogether disregard the factor of concealment in their use of the term, and often designate as pseudonyms variations upon real names made to heighten impact (C J Cherry, for instance, writes as C J Cherryh), or to shorten or simplify a spelling (Francis A Jaworski writes as Frank Javor), or to select part of a full or married name for public use (Piers Anthony Jacob writes as Piers Anthony, and Kate Wilhelm Knight writes under her maiden name, Kate Wilhelm). For this encyclopedia we have chosen to designate as "working names" all such variations; and we restrict the term "pseudonym" to names which, whether or not the author's legal name is known, have no clear lexical relationship to that name (we do not treat anagrams or mirror spellings as conveying a clear lexical relationship). Thus Christopher Anvil is a pseudonym for Harry Crosby, as are Bron Fane (a partial anagram) and Trebor Thorpe (the given name here being a mirror spelling) for Robert Lionel Fanthorpe, and Frederick R Ewing for Theodore Sturgeon. In almost all cases the main entry for individuals covered in this volume, whether authors, editors, illustrators, critics or film-makers, appears under the name by which they are best known, whether that be the legal name (Isaac Asimov), the working name (Algis Budrys) or the pseudonym (James Tiptree Jr).

All the author's names that have been used for an sf book – real, working or pseudonymous – appear in this encyclopedia, either as the headword for an entry or as a cross-reference headword directing the reader to the entry under which they are treated. Many (but not all) names that have been used only for sf non-book stories are likewise cross-referred, but with the additional notation [s]. Cross-reference entries which designate real figures (who may be collaborators, etc., and who on occasion may themselves be pseudonymous) are identified with the notation [r].

Collaborative pseudonyms, floating pseudonyms and House Names are given entries. A collaborative-pseudonym entry will usually give details of books written together under that name by the authors concerned. A floating-pseudonym entry covers a name which is, in a sense, freely available for anyone who cares to use it. (Ivar Jorgensen is an example of a floating pseudonym.) A House Name – which is a kind of floating pseudonym – is an imaginary name invented by a publishing company, and such were very frequently used in magazines to conceal the fact that an author had more than one story in a given issue; see the separate House Name entry for more.

Pseudonyms – as we said – are forms of concealment. We might add the observation that, in the sf world, pseudonyms were, for many years, very common. The reasons for their popularity were various and (generally) obvious. They have always flourished in Pulp-magazine environments, where writers, being paid pittances for most of the early decades of Genre SF, were forced to write voluminously, and often needed to use several names during their years of high production before burn-out; the low prestige of sf also undoubtedly inspired their use; and (perhaps mysteriously) many sf writers have clearly enjoyed the creation and maintenance of pseudonymous identities. An important guide to sf pseudonyms – Roger Robinson's Who's Hugh? (1987) – contains about 3000 ascriptions and was already seriously out of date by the time of this encyclopedia's second edition in 1993, having been compiled too early to take properly into account the remarkable 1980s revival in the use of every kind of pseudonym, usually by authors of Ties and adventure series. The flood of concealment is, once again, rising. [JC/PN]

further reading


previous versions of this entry

This website uses cookies.  More information here. Accept Cookies