Site information page updated 12 August 2022.
Using the SF Encyclopedia
• Where can I find the Introduction?
There are multiple introductions (including one from the 1979 first edition) in what, in a book, would be the front pages. Click About us at top right for links to the most important sections, or start with the main introduction. This links to all the other introductory pages.
• What should I do if I find an error?
Please let us know via our email contact form. All feedback is read by at least one editor, though we may be too busy for a prompt reply.
• How should I cite an entry referred to in my essay or dissertation?
See Advice to Students.
• Why is there no entry for the great Robert Jordan?
Because he was exclusively an author of fantasy, and this is an encyclopedia of science fiction. Jordan received an entry in The Encyclopedia of Fantasy, a companion volume to the 1993 SFE, and would be covered at greater length in any new edition of that encyclopedia. However, we have inherited some entries for older fantasy authors like Tolkien – see here for more about this – and we normally list most if not all fantasies published by included sf authors.
• My favorite author/film/TV programme doesn't have an entry. (Or: there is an entry, but it doesn't seem to have been updated since the 1993 edition.)
This was an early problem owing to our October 2011 launch as a "beta" text still under construction. We have worked hard ever since to fill the gaps, though some still remain.
• Why did you launch in beta form without finishing the first round of updates?
Because that's the way our publishers wanted it. We were flattered to have the SFE launch regarded as an essential part of Gollancz's 50th-anniversary celebrations in Autumn 2011.
• How dare you express opinions and commit original research? Wikipedia would never allow that.
Though we admire it as an indispensable online resource, we are not Wikipedia. Since 1979 the SFE has had a tradition of publishing critical judgments and original research.
• Why are there so few Wikipedia links?
Excellent question. To do justice to Wikipedia and link to it from every entry that's also well represented in Wikipedia would be a huge undertaking, and we're having to give priority to essential updates and additions. We routinely link to Wikipedia episode lists from our television series entries.
• Who wrote the entry about ...?
Entries are signed with initials: JC for John Clute and DRL for David Langford, to name the chief and most prolific editors. Other contributor initials can be looked up on the Contributors page. Much easier, though, is to click the blue About This Entry button at the head of the entry (one of the site improvements added in August 2012), which produces not only a list of incoming links but shows the full name(s) of the entry author(s) and the word count for the entry.
Format and Navigation
• How can I display a list of all entries with a particular tag – Music for example?
The grey bar bar near the top of every page has a few useful options besides ALL ENTRIES and THEMES, which should both be self-explanatory. PEOPLE shows all the entry categories for human beings – Artists, Authors, Critics and so one: click on the first for a list of all Artist entries, and so on. MEDIA offers media categories including Film, Music and TV. CULTURE is a catchall for other categories including Awards, the sf Community (publishers go here) and International (entries on specific countries). All three menus include the All Categories option which shows everything in a single list.
• What does it mean when a name appears
As in Wikipedia, this marks an intended link that hasn't yet been activated because the named entry has yet to be written, or currently exists only as a cross-reference entry pointing to other entries. If you find such a non- to a full entry that does in fact exist, that's a mistake: please tell us.
• Will the 1997 Encyclopedia of Fantasy ever be available online?
It is already, has been for several years – though not significantly updated since 1999 except for later death dates – and was merged into the main SFE site as part of our October 2021 relaunch. Many people don't notice the link at the bottom of the Special Features box at the right of almost every SFE page. The full URL is: https://sf-encyclopedia.com/fe/.
• Please can you give me contact details for Author X?
This is outside our scope. The SF Encyclopedia is a reference work, not an introduction service. If the author doesn't have a website giving contact information (see links at the end of the relevant entry and try Google if we don't give a link), the best approach is through their most recent publisher (see the entry's Checklist). If the author has died, no contact is given and you have a serious business proposition for the author's estate, try the SFWA Estates page.
• When will there be another hardback edition of the SF Encyclopedia?
We regret that a new book version has become vanishingly unlikely. At 1.3 million words, the second book edition of 1993 was regarded as pushing at the limits of marketability for a specialist reference work – indeed we're still finding and often restoring good material from the first edition that was cut from the second to make room for all the new authors, books and films. Now that the text is nearly five times as long as in 1993, a print edition is no longer commercially viable. The Encyclopedia Britannica, though not restricted to a specialist sf market, has met the same problem and its 2010 printed version was the last.
• Are you planning to charge for the SFE at some future date?
So long as we receive support from our current sponsors, access to the encyclopedia will be free. If you'd like to help out, donations are very welcome and can always be put to good use.
Last updated April 2021