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Tuck, Donald H

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author, Critic.

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(1922-2010) Australian bibliographer and industrial manager whose bibliographical labours in sf since the late 1940s were among the most extensive in the field since the pioneering work of Everett F Bleiler. In recent decades his publications have been partially superseded, but they comprise one of the foundation Bibliographies upon which later workers have built; the increasing sophistication and breadth of coverage of his bibliographical work can be traced through the successive versions of the encyclopedic glossary of sf and fantasy, variously titled, that he published between 1954 and 1983. The breadth of coverage of even his early work – like that of Bleiler's – should be enough to lay one conventional untruth about sf readers and sf studies: that until relatively recently their understanding of the range of the fantastic in literature was circumscribed. By around 1950, Bleiler and Tuck were routinely incorporating writers like Wyndham Lewis and Virginia Woolf into their checklists, and the editors of the first edition of this Encyclopedia (1979) were deeply indebted to their example, perhaps especially Tuck, whose annotations were indispensable; this Encyclopedia was not the first to disregard strict generic boundaries in the selection of writers and themes to include.

The first iteration of this enterprise was A Handbook of Science Fiction and Fantasy (1954; rev vt A Handbook of Science Fiction and Fantasy: 2nd Edition, Revised and Enlarged: April 1959 [for full title see Checklist] 1959 2vols), both editions self-published; the latter received a special Award from the 1962 Worldcon. The 400 ample pages of the 1959 edition incorporated a very considerable amount of information that had never previously been sorted; but this work – though Tuck carried its principles and formatting conventions over in amplified form to its successor – pales beside his magnum opus, The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy through 1968: A Bibliographic Survey of the Fields of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Weird Fiction through 1968, in three separately released instalments: Volume 1: Who's Who, A-L (1974); Volume 2: Who's Who, M-Z (1978) and Volume 3: Miscellaneous (dated 1982 but 1983), all from Advent: Publishers; the third volume won a Hugo award. As in the Handbook, but far more thoroughly, synopses are given for many books, and publishing data for all, including reprints. Coverage of Genre SF is thorough; coverage of non-genre sf and of older sf is selective but sometimes illuminating. Listings of stories in collections and Anthologies are given, and the coverage is almost as thorough for Fantasy and weird fiction as for sf. Generally (there are exceptions) Tuck did not cover work which had not been first printed, or reprinted, 1945-1968. It may be the case that – because there are very few sustained narrative entries, and no cross-references at all – the Tuck Encyclopedia might better be described as a comprehensive bibliography of its subject matter, with extensive annotations: but however described, this was a remarkable achievement for a single man, working (it seems) essentially alone.

After 1980 or so, Tuck seems to have retired from the field, perhaps because the post-1968 genre had became too large and ramified for one person to deal with. His Encyclopedia remains in constant use. [PN/JC]

see also: Australia; Small Presses and Limited Editions.

Donald Henry Tuck

born Launceston, Tasmania: 3 December 1922

died Melbourne, Victoria: 11 October 2010



other reference works

  • Authors' Books Listing (Hobart, Tasmania: for the author, 1975) [nonfiction: chap: various bibliographic lists: self-published: pb/nonpictorial]


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