Search SFE    Search EoF

  Omit cross-reference entries  

Season's Greetings

Site information page updated 22 December 2021.

The SF Encyclopedia team is slowing down a little in preparation for festive excess, and wishes all readers a good time. First, though, we had a flurry of updates from DisCon III, the 2021 Worldcon postponed from August for the usual Pandemic reasons and held this month in Washington DC. The Hugo awards were presented: congratulations to all winners! Martha Wells scored a double victory with best novel for Network Effect (2020) plus best series for her very popular Murderbot Diaries (which includes that novel). For the full list of Hugo winners and associated statistics see the links below. Also at DisCon III, China was voted its first Worldcon: Chengdu in 2023.

Housekeeping

The SFE has more or less finished settling into its new server home. Regular updates continue, albeit a little more slowly than usual because John Clute has been travelling in the USA and Canada while David Langford is still tidying up in the wake of the move, though Steven Pearce remains unwavering in his documentation of the vast world of Anime.

One unobtrusive change, not made earlier for fear that it would somehow rock the boat, is the removal of died placeholder lines from all entries for living people (who sometimes objected) and others who may no longer be with us but for whom the SFE team can find no information on date or place of death. We continue to presume death for listed creators who would be more than 110 years old, but this is indicated only in the dates at the head of their entries: (1910-?    ) rather than the open-ended (1910-    ). Mike Ashley and Steve Holland continue to ransack genealogical and other resources for actual dates that can be inserted.

Also removed – invisibly though with some hoped speed improvement – were the codes for navigation buttons within many thousands of entries: the buttons still appear but are now generated automatically when an entry is displayed (a routine website trick which was unfortunately not available in the old SFE home). Speaking of buttons, we have also eliminated the minor inelegance of offering alternative Alphabetical or Chronological presentations of author checklists containing just one title. Unactivated links to entries yet to be written used to appear rather lumpishly {LIKE THIS} but now show in Wikipedia fashion Like This.

In the Hall of the Bright Carvings – that is, the Picture Gallery – Roger Robinson has been working to replace undersized images with larger ones (600 pixels width preferred), and at his suggestion a thin black border has been added to the presentation of covers so that mostly-white designs are distinguished from the white background.

Other little things have changed, several noted in our information page about this new site.

A Word from John Clute

Over the 45 years since we first signed a contract in 1975, the SFE has been a cottage industry, an ongoing conversation of like-minded writers and editors and sponsors: a continuity shared with but not entirely dependent upon any of our genuinely amicable publishers over the decades: Roxby Press, Doubleday, Granada, Orbit, St Martin’s Press, Orion/Gollancz. Collaboratively and alone, they carried us for all those years but have now departed: what remains is the team of us, in the virtual cottage where we have worked and thrived for so long. The mastheads name various significant editors over the years. It might be an idea here to say a bit more.

So here are a few first words about John Lifton and Pamela Zoline, who use their surnames professionally, but are married as John and Pamela Lifton-Zoline, and are sometimes known as the LZs. John and Pamela, in concert with their Telluride Institute in Colorado, have provided moral, financial and institutional support to the SFE for many years now. The moral support, the conversations and parties, began in 1975. During a financial interregnum around 2009 they kept us from sinking, long enough for the complex nuptials between the newly online SFE and Gollancz, which was also entering unplumbed waters, to be consummated in October 2011. From 2015 the story becomes more complicated, and potentially more fruitful.

In early April 2013 we had put up the first scans in our Picture Gallery, something we could initiate now that we were online; as of October 2021 it contains almost 30,000 scans of first or significantly modified editions of books discussed and/or listed in the body of the SFE. For our selection criteria, and for arguments about the importance of visually experiencing sf texts in the full context of their original entry into the world, see here. In 2015, Pamela and John came into the picture by arranging the purchase for The Telluride Institute of my own collection of sf first editions (ultimately 13,000 of them, mostly in dust jacket), which now constitutes the Clute Science Fiction Library at Telluride, where they can be consulted the way books should be consulted: as objects to be curated and touched and loved and learned from. The covers for 10,000 of these books have been scanned for the SFE Picture Gallery: along with around 4500 scans from David Langford’s and Research Editor Roger Robinson’s own collections, they provide the SFE’s personal provenance for almost half of the scans displayed (the remaining scans are from trusted friends and associates, including 4,600 images, some never seen elsewhere, from the sf dealer Lloyd Currey). For the LZs, this complex interaction between the Library and the SFE helps make the Telluride Institute, amongst its other roles in the deep Rockies, a place where the SFE can be seen and felt: a place for the joining of minds: a parliament of knowledge.

As continuing sponsors of the SFE, they are thinking of other projects we may share. We are too.

John Clute

New World Order

At last we have moved, from the Hachette/Orion/Gollancz web server (which was our home since October 2011) to a commercial web host of our own. The virtual move was a little fraught – transferring the sf-encyclopedia.com domain took several days longer than anticipated – but at least we aren’t surrounded by hundreds of cardboard boxes and wondering which one we packed the Asimov or Le Guin entry in.

While maintaining continuity with what we’ve been doing these last ten years, this is a new site with some unobtrusive design changes described here, and (because the publisher has switched from Orion/Gollancz to SFE Ltd and Ansible Editions) a new edition with a slightly changed masthead: no longer the Third Edition but the Fourth.

We launched the Third Edition in October 2011 with 12,230 entries totalling 3,222,920 words with 113,492 internal hyperlinks. The figures on the day of relaunch – 6 October 2021 – were 18,834 entries, 6,362,055 words and 226,451 links. [Later:] Secure HTTPS connections to the site became active on 7 October 2021.

Thanks, Dublin 2019!

The story so far: our long-running agreement with Hachette / Orion / Gollancz to publish the SF Encyclopedia came to an end on 29 September – very nearly ten years after the launch in October 2011. Hachette are kindly allowing the site to remain on their web server for a few more days while the domain is transferred. Many thanks for this and for all their past support.

We are also most grateful for the support of Dublin 2019: An Irish Worldcon, whose committee (chaired by James Bacon) made a generous and very usefully timed donation from convention profits in September. Further thanks are due to two recent donors of substantial sums who prefer to be anonymous. The SFE will remain free to read!

Langdon Jones (1940-2021)

Michael Moorcock sadly reports that Langdon Jones died in late September. Lang Jones, as friends knew him, was central to the 1960s Moorcock-edited New Worlds, both on the editorial staff – including being sole editor for four issues in 1969 – and as a contributor of some remarkable stories. He also edited the important New Wave anthology The New S.F. (1969). Here, with a couple of tiny corrections, is what Michael Moorcock posted on Facebook:

“One of my closest, longest and best friendships was with Lang Jones, a talented composer, editor and writer, one of the most modest people I have ever known, with the sweetest nature of almost any human being I’ve met. He was Assistant Editor of New Worlds. He restored Titus Alone by Mervyn Peake to the edition you probably read and wrote the music for The Rhyme of the Flying Bomb. You can hear his lively piano on The Entropy Tango here. His own collection of stories, The Eye of the Lens, remains his only fiction in book form. He was a socialist and conscientious Ascot-elected councillor for many years. I last saw him about two years ago, at the wonderful wedding of his daughter Isobel to Jason Nickolds, for whom he was extremely happy, and he said he had stopped writing and composing and had never felt better. He leaves a son, Damon, as well as his daughter. One of the few people of whom it’s possible to write: Loved by all.” (24 September 2021)

Countdown

As noted in our April 2021 bulletin, the SF Encyclopedia is coming to the end of its present hosting arrangement. We are parting amicably from Hachette/Orion/Gollancz (our hosts since the October 2011 online launch) on 29 September. At some point yet to be decided – most probably in the following week – sf-encyclopedia.com will migrate to a new web server with all existing entry links preserved. That, at least, is the master plan; there may be some downtime while we wrestle with the transfer. Fingers are nervously crossed ...

Stephen Hickman (1949-2021)

Another sad loss to the sf/fantasy community: the noted artist (and sculptor) Stephen Hickman died on 16 July 2021 at the age of 72. In a professional career that began in the early 1970s he won the inaugural Jack Gaughan Award, six Chesley Awards – including the lifetime artistic achievement honour in 2000 – and a 1994 Hugo for the Space Fantasy postage stamps he created for the US Postal Service. The cover shown here, for Gryphon (1989) by Crawford Kilian, was a Chesley winner as best paperback cover.

Nebula Awards

The 2021 Nebula Awards for 2020 work were presented at a virtual SFWA ceremony in June. Winners are Martha Wells for best novel with Network Effect (2020); P. Djèlí Clark for best novella with Ring Shout (2020); Sarah Pinsker for best novelette with “Two Truths and a Lie” (17 June 2020 Tor.com); John Wiswell for best short story with “Open House on Haunted Hill” (2020 Diabolical Plots – 2020); T Kingfisher for best middle grade/YA fiction (the Andre Norton Award) with A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking (2020); Michael Schur for best dramatic presentation (the Ray Bradbury Award) with his script for The Good Place episode “Whenever You’re Ready” (2020); and Greg Kasavin for best game writing with Hades (2020). As had previously been announced, the Damon Knight Grand Master Award for life achievement went to Nalo Hopkinson.

Downtime and Sponsorship

Problems with the Hachette web server made SFE access difficult or impossible from 9 April to 13 April; our thanks to Mike Webb of Hachette IT for carrying out the traditional ritual of poking the server with a big stick.

The news that Orion/Gollancz and the SFE will be parting amicably in October 2021 has already led to offers of help and sponsorship. We are grateful to acknowledge significant donations from Andy Richards of Cold Tonnage Books (a long-time supporter of this project), Joe Haldeman and David J Lally, while the Dublin 2019 Worldcon committee and Handheld Press have offered further support.

David Langford has very nearly finished creating the alternative SFE site (looking closely similar to this one, but with several improvements) which will be officially unveiled in October.

[Updated 1 May 2021.]

Shape of Things to Come

October 2021 will see the tenth anniversary of the online Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, which since 2011 has been hosted by Orion and linked to the Gollancz SF Gateway ebook operation. Orion/Gollancz have now decided not to renew the contract on 1 October 2021, and we are parting amicably.

The principal Encyclopedia editors John Clute and David Langford plan to move sf-encyclopedia.com to their own web server and continue as seamlessly as possible with very much the same “look and feel”, with access exactly the same as now, though soon perhaps with a new sponsor and certainly with a few improvements that the current platform does not allow. Keep watching the skies!

Storm Constantine (1956-2020)

It was a shock to learn that Storm Constantine, remembered as a hugely vital and flamboyant presence at UK events, had died on 14 January at the age of only 64. Her debut Wraeththu trilogy beginning with The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit (1987), with its hermaphrodite posthumans, was a dramatically effective excursion into gender-bending sf; other powerful novels followed. In 2003 she founded Immanion Press, publishing her own work and that of authors she admired, in particular Tanith Lee. Storm is much missed.

James Gunn (1923-2020)

We must sadly report that James Gunn died on 23 December at the age of 97. His awards include a nonfiction Hugo and, for life achievement, the SFWA Grand Master Award.

John Clute writes: “He began writing stories in 1949 and stopped in 2020. He published dozens of books, fiction and nonfiction, that illuminated the field from within. He was an example and a mentor, and he made us believe we shared the long story. We knew he would be there forever, until suddenly he was not.”

Plague Year

The intermittent lockdowns of 2020 haven’t prevented the steady expansion of the SF Encyclopedia, mostly with author entries by John Clute, animation entries by Steven Pearce, film entries by Jack Nicholls, and miscellaneous oddments and updates by grumbling dogsbody David Langford. Inevitably we have a substantial new theme entry (with links from all over) for Pandemic, but are resisting the urge to cover the equally topical and only slightly less depressing Brexit. Season’s greetings and a Happy New Year to all our readers.

Six Million Words

Today’s site update finally took the SF Encyclopedia past six million words. Though not, alas, six million dollars. The saga continuums ...

John Clute’s personal tally of contributions very recently passed 2.7 million; the entry that took the SFE over the six-million-word mark was Jonathan Clements on Japanese author Kajio Shinji.

Here are our traditional bar charts of past editions’ word and entry counts.

Ye Yonglie (1940-2020)

Jonathan Clements reports that the prolific Chinese author Ye Yonglie died on 15 May, aged 79. Jonathan wrote – and we have now updated – the SF Encyclopedia entry for this writer, which is linked from his name above.

18,000 Entries!

There’s always something irrationally exciting about big round numbers, and today we are unreasonably thrilled that the Encyclopedia’s entry count has reached and passed eighteen thousand. Our 18,000th entry is for the only one of the just-announced Nebula Award novel finalists not already covered by the SFE: Alix E Harrow, who reached the final ballot with her first novel The Ten Thousand Doors of January (2019). Congratulations to all the Nebula nominees. Now we face a further long haul to 19,000 entries, to 20,000....

Paul Barnett (1949-2020)

Our old friend and fellow-encyclopedist Paul Barnett – who published mostly as by John Grant – died unexpectedly on 3 February 2020. Besides a prodigious output of solo-written sf, fantasy and nonfiction, he was Technical Editor of the second edition of the SF Encyclopedia (1993), and co-editor with John Clute of the 1997 Encyclopedia of Fantasy, for which they shared a Hugo; he also wrote many new artist entries and updated existing ones for the current online edition of this encyclopedia. See his SFE entry for some indication of his considerable achievement.

Terry Jones (1942-2020)

Yet another sad farewell, to Terry Jones of Monty Python’s Flying Circus fame (also noted for other work; see his entry), who died on 21 January after a long and harrowing decline. He gave us so much joy.

Brian Froud’s artwork for their joint creation Lady Cottington’s Pressed Fairy Book (graph 1994) won a Chesley Award and a Hugo.

Mike Resnick (1942-2020)

After a long career, during which he published at least 100 books of sf interest, Mike Resnick has died on 9 January following nearly two years of rotten health. He was gregarious, funny, full of energy. Often fitting his serious concerns into space opera and adventure formats, he was instrumental in his post-imperialist approach to the Matter of Africa, and his deep love of myth and legend, as re-imagined in his vivid tales, extended over half a century of constant publication. He was nominated for dozens of awards and won lots of them, including five Hugos. – John Clute

Christmas University Challenge

Jonathan Clements, who has written so many China- and Japan-related entries for the SF Encyclopedia, reports a personal triumph: “Kim Newman may have fallen at the first hurdle with Sussex (as reported in Ansible), but authors Jonathan Clements and Henry Gee were both on the victorious Leeds team, the first from a non-Oxbridge institution to ever win Christmas University Challenge, scoring 235 points against Wadham College, Oxford, in January 2020.”

Alasdair Gray (1934-2019)

A major and highly distinctive voice of Fantastika (and non-fantastika too) has been silenced with the death of Alasdair Gray on 29 December 2019. He was 85. His books, almost all designed and illustrated by himself, were and are a joy to handle as well as to read. This is another sad day for literature.

D C Fontana, Andrew Weiner

We are sad to report the deaths of D C Fontana (1939-2019) on 2 December 2019, and Andrew Weiner (1949-2019) on 3 December 2019. Dorothy C Fontana was best known for her involvement with the original Star Trek and its successors; Andrew Weiner, who made his debut in Again, Dangerous Visions, was a talented but underrated author. Both will be missed.

Gahan Wilson (1930-2019)

We are sad to report the death of Gahan Wilson on 21 November at the age of 89. He wrote several books, but for seventy years was mainly a cartoonist. He was the funniest creative figure in sf and horror and fantasy, both in his work and in person; and was maybe the most consistently funny cartoonist ever, and maybe the most prolific (nearly a thousand in Playboy alone) at a high level.

Under the Lid

For various reasons it’s been a tough year at SF Encyclopedia headquarters. John Clute broke his femur and is still recovering, while David Langford lost an old friend and has been helping out with the long, dismal task of house clearance. Owing to these and other distractions, a considerable time has passed since the last news bulletin here. Nevertheless – with the aid of our few but loyal contributors – the SFE has continued to grow. At the risk of inflicting terminal boredom, here are some figures for 2019 so far.

Somewhat exceeding our contractual commitment to update the SFE website (quite a laborious process) twice a month, the Statistics page records 174 site updates – not counting minor updates that didn’t seem worth a change to that page. Also in 2019 we have added 279 entries, a shade over 166,000 words of text, and 5,221 new hyperlinks. The author checklists and further reading lists have grown by some 2,300 new titles. Although no one seems to have made a note of the number of images in the Picture Gallery at the end of 2018, the current count is 25,590 as compared with 20,000 in late November 2017.

Finally, with the post you are still reading, the 2019 count of SFE news bulletins is now 1. Sorry about that.

The New £50 Note

As reported in the December issue of Ansible, the Bank of England’s longlist of past UK scientists who have been nominated to appear on the new £50 note includes several people with SF Encyclopedia entries. Here they are – and is there anyone else on the Bank of England list who should be included below? Perhaps we need an entry for the late Stephen Hawking, who like John Dee and Ada Lovelace below may not have written sf but became an iconic figure in the genre (see the entry for Icons).

Worldcon 76 News

The annual World Science Fiction Convention always generates a great many updates for the SF Encyclopedia, and this year’s event – Worldcon 76 in San José, California (16-20 August) – is no exception. Unfortunately an unexpected problem with the SFE site update procedure prevented us from adding or changing any entries on Monday 20 August as planned*. Instead, here below are some relevant links published at the Ansible website:

Congratulations to the New Zealand bidding committee and all the award winners!

* Better news: the SFE was successfully updated around noon on Tuesday 21 August.

Michael Scott Rohan (1951-2018)

The Scots sf and fantasy author Michael Scott Rohan died in hospital in his home town of Edinburgh on 12 August 2018; he was 67. Although his first novel Run to the Stars (1983, pictured) was a lively science-fiction adventure, his considerable reputation rests mainly on the Winter of the World fantasy sequence beginning with The Anvil of Ice (1986) and the Spiral science-fantasies beginning with Chase the Morning (1990).

Speaking personally, Mike Rohan was an old and valued friend (we first met at the Oxford University SF Group in the early 1970s) whose unexpected death leaves an aching hole in the world. – David Langford

2018 Clarke Award

At a ceremony held at Foyles in Charing Cross Road, London, on 18 July, the 2018 Arthur C Clarke Award (taking the traditional form of an engraved bookend and a cheque to match the year – this time £2018) was presented to Anne Charnock for her novel Dreams Before the Start of Time.

Harlan Ellison (1934-2018)

Harlan Ellison (1934-2018), US author, screenwriter, anthologist and controversialist whose fame extends well beyond the sf world and whose many trophies include seven Hugos and four Nebulas for short fiction (plus a further Hugo for his Star Trek script “The City on the Edge of Forever”), died in his sleep on 28 June; he was 84. His noted anthologies Dangerous Visions (1967) and Again, Dangerous Visions (1972) both received special Worldcon awards, while even the non-appearance of The Last Dangerous Visions became legendary. Among his life achievement honours are the World Fantasy Award (1993), Bram Stoker Award (1996), SFWA Grand Master (2006) and SF Hall of Fame (2011).

Ellison’s flamboyant, hyperbolic, take-no-prisoners approach to life and literature won him much admiration and some enmity; the sf world is a drearier place without him.

Some early obituaries, tributes and memoirs are linked below. We do not link to US sites which refuse access from the UK.

Gardner Dozois (1947-2018)

Gardner Dozois, after a short illness, died in Philadelphia on 27 May 2018; he was 70. He was best known as a hugely influential genre editor, both for his long stint at Isaac Asimov’s SF Magazine from 1986 to 2004, and for many anthologies including 35 authoritative volumes of The Year’s Best Science Fiction (1984-2018). He won fifteen Hugos as best professional editor and – though he was far less prolific as a fiction author – two Nebulas for best short story. In 2011 he was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. He is also fondly remembered as a cheeringly rumbustious and reliably irreverent presence at countless sf gatherings.

Some early obituaries, tributes and memoirs are linked below.

Kate Wilhelm (1928-2018)

Kate Wilhelm died on 8 March 2018, aged 89. She was much valued not only for her substantial and varied output of fiction – including the Hugo-winning Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang (1976) – but also for encouraging and mentoring many younger writers through the Milford (with her late husband Damon Knight) and Clarion workshops. Further accolades include three Nebulas for shorter fiction, the SF Hall of Fame in 2003, and SFWA’s 2009 Solstice Award, a career honour which in 2016 was renamed the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award. Another sad farewell.

Peter Nicholls (1939-2018)

We announce with great regret the death on 6 March of Peter Nicholls (1939-2018), who conceived and edited the first edition of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (1979), who co-edited the second edition in 1993, and who served as Editor Emeritus of this third edition (2011-current) until today. His withdrawal from active editing was due solely to a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease in 2000, after which he rarely left his native Australia; but he continued to speak to the rest of us, sometimes firmly, always with the deepest loyalty to the encyclopedia he had given birth to and nurtured.

For almost half a century I have known and loved Peter and his immediate family, and his sister Helen who died in 2014, but this is not the place to expand upon private loss. What can be said is that Peter, boisterously knowledgeable, dangerously brilliant, gemutlichly incapable of suffering fools, marked every aspect of the SFE over the four decades since Granada and Doubleday introduced that first triple-columned print edifice to a world of print. Though everything has changed in that world and in this book, in a sense nothing has: as he is with us in every page.

John Clute

Photographs: Peter Nicholls in 2004 (above) by Roger Robinson and in the 1970s (below) by Sam Long.

Ursula K. Le Guin (1929-2018)

Losing Ursula K. Le Guin on 22 January 2018 left the SF Encyclopedia team stunned and bereft of words. She was a great writer and a great person whose very many awards include five Hugos – the first being for The Left Hand of Darkness (1970) – six Nebulas and several honours for lifetime achievement: the Pilgrim Award (1989), World Fantasy Award (1999), Science Fiction Hall of Fame (2001), SFWA Grand Master Award (2003) and Eaton Award (2013).

Here are some links to obituaries, memorial articles and celebrations of a huge literary talent. Goodbye, Ursula.

For readers who would like to donate to some good cause in Ursula K. Le Guin’s memory, her family has mentioned the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge as a non-profit organization that was close to her heart.

Twenty Thousand Images Under the Sea

John Clute writes: It was only in early 2013, almost two years after we went online, that David Langford and Roger Robinson and I decided it might be a good idea to create an SFE Picture Gallery containing cover scans for a sample of the 50,000 or more titles listed in the SFE Checklists that accompany every author who’s published a book. We thought reaching a sizeable number of scans would take a while, with maybe a few thousand being about our limit. This slowness was (and remains) a direct consequence of our need to make sure that each scanned cover precisely matched the edition of the text we checklisted (in almost every case the first edition). We were able to obtain a lot of scans from others who knew more than we did, mainly Lloyd Currey, who has allowed us to take 3,776 images from his site to date, and SF Site, which has supplied 2041. But most of the remainder have been personally scanned and vetted and captioned and put up by the three of us. We’ve made a few errors, but in fact very few indeed. What you should see when you look at the scan of a book is what that book looked like when it first came into the world: beauty is important (many of these covers are stunning), but context is all-important.

The years passed, and we far exceeded our first guess as to how many cover illustrations (and images of pictorial boards etc) we could ever put up. Today, with a scan of the original Polish edition of Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris from 1961, we have hit 20,000 covers. And counting.

Brian Aldiss (1925-2017)

Brian Aldiss, universally acclaimed as a major sf writer, anthologist, critic, and general mover and shaper in science fiction worldwide, died in his sleep in the early hours of 19 August 2017 after celebrating his 92nd birthday on the previous day. Farewell to the Master.

His awards for specific works include two Hugos, a Nebula and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. To quote from the career awards section of his very long SF Encyclopedia entry, whose bibliography alone is enormous:

Over his large career, he received a succession of honours: a Special Plaque Hugo Award in 1958 as “most promising newcomer”; a British Science Fiction Association special award in 1970; the SFWA Grand Master Award in 1999; the Prix Apollo in 1999; and he was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2004. For his critical contributions to the field, he received a Pilgrim Award in 1978, and the IAFA Award as Distinguished Guest Scholar in 1986. He was given an OBE (Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in 2005.

2017 Clarke Award

On 27 July 2017, the Arthur C Clarke Award went to Colson Whitehead for his novel The Underground Railroad (2016). As is traditional, the trophy takes the form of a bookend and is accompanied by a cheque reflecting the year of presentation – this time, £2017 sterling.

From Colson Whitehead’s acceptance speech: “Way back when I was 10 years old, it was science fiction and fantasy that made me want to be a writer. If you were a writer, you could work from home, you didn’t have to talk to anybody, and you could just make up stuff all day. Stuff about robots and maybe zombies and maybe even miraculous railway lines. Fantasy, like realism, is a tool for describing the world, and I’m grateful that a book like The Underground Railroad, which could not exist without the toolkit of fantastic literature, is being recognized with the Arthur C. Clarke award.”

18,000 images!

Less than four months after our slightly bemused announcement that the SF Encyclopedia Picture Gallery had more than 17,000 cover images, the total has now passed 18,000. By popular demand the 18,000th image is the title page of a rip-snorting space opera from the golden age of 1656, by pulp master Athanasius Kircher.

As before, these scans have mostly been uploaded by Roger Robinson, drawing on the editors’ collections and (with permission) several online archives which are credited in “About the Gallery” below. The total of 18,000+ images does not include a further 700+ alternative views, typically showing wraparound jacket art in addition to the usual front-cover image.

17,000+

Achievement unlocked this month: the SF Encyclopedia now has more than 17,000 entries (most of the recent additions being new author articles by the terrifyingly prolific John Clute) and the Picture Gallery has more than 17,000 cover images (mostly uploaded by Roger Robinson) – not counting additional scans of wraparound covers and the like. David Langford’s copycat claim of 17,000 nervous breakdowns while handling related technical issues has been rejected by the incorruptible SFE Statistics Committee.

5,271,009

We really meant to have a special celebration when the SF Encyclopedia word count reached the semi-magic figure of 5,271,009, but inevitably the total went straight from Less Than That to (Slightly) More Than That during our 7 December update. The number, often used by such sf pundits as Patrick Nielsen Hayden and David Langford to signify the subtle concept “ever so many” or “lots”, is the title of Alfred Bester’s cover story for the March 1954 issue of F&SF – see below. Also known as “The Starcomber”, this wittily sends up numerous sf Clichés born of adolescent wish-fulfilment. Meanwhile we wish all our readers a Merry Christmas or other seasonal festivity of your choice ...

Five Years On

The SF Encyclopedia and SF Gateway are both about to celebrate their fifth anniversary. According to the relentlessly updated SFE statistics page (and who could ever doubt statistics or our tasteful bar charts?) we’ve added over 4500 entries and updated many more for a total of just over two million additional words since the launch of this online edition in October 2011. It’s party time.

Awards Season

Many sf awards were presented at this year’s Worldcon (MidAmeriCon II in Kansas City, 17-21 August), and a few days later came the Arthur C Clarke Award ceremony (London, 24 August) at which the 2016 winner was revealed. Here is a quick listing of the last week’s genre awards for novels; to see all the results for the Hugo and other multi-category awards, click through to the award entry.

SFE in the News

Good to see that the Guardian story about John Crowley’s new translation of The Chemical Wedding (1616) by Johann Valentin Andreae quotes our very own John Clute and links to the relevant SF Encyclopedia entry. But to call this work “the first ever science fiction novel” is to pick just one of all too many possibilities in the vast realm that’s outlined in the SFE entry for Proto SF. It’s complicated ...

Fifteen Thousand Images

The SF Encyclopedia Picture Gallery has been growing steadily since its launch in May 2013, with most of the cover images coming from John Clute’s collection and most of the uploading and captioning being handled by Roger Robinson. As well as our usual front cover scan, several hundred of these images also offer an “alternative view” below the main one, usually showing a wraparound cover at full width. Don’t forget to click on any Gallery image to see it at maximum size.

Today’s round-number landmark: there are now more than 15,000 images in the Gallery and more than 500 additional wraparound views. The 15,000th cover and 500th wrap both show an important book whose cover is mostly plain text: Katherine Burdekin’s Swastika Night (1937) as by Murray Constantine, in the famous Gollancz yellow-jacket format.

Five Million Words

Last night’s site update finally took the SF Encyclopedia past five million words. As you know, Professor, the first edition of 1979 ran to some 730,000 words and the second edition of 1993 to about 1.3 million words. We launched the third edition in October 2011 with 3.2 million words, and reached 4 million in January 2013. Gasp. Suddenly, after months of ever-closer approach to this milestone, it seems a long way to the next one ...

ID4 Downtime 4-5 July

To mark Independence Day in the USA, a gigantic alien battleship now hovering above the SF Encyclopedia will reduce our website to plasma with its coruscating beams of ravening destruction. This is laughably known as system maintenance and will take the SFE offline from about 8am on Saturday 4 July to about 6pm on Sunday 5 July (estimated times only). The SF Gateway site will likewise become a finely divided residue of glowing particulate matter.

Pages and features hosted at the editors’s site [now incorporated into the main site] will remain available. These include What’s New, On This Day and the ever-growing Picture Gallery (now approaching 14,000 images), though their links to main-site entries will fail during the downtime period.

Another small landmark: on 1 July the SF Encyclopedia text reached and passed the 4.9 million word mark. The once unbelievably remote goal of five million words seems ever more possible ...

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015)

Sir Terry Pratchett, famed and widely loved creator of the Discworld saga and much else, died on 12 March 2015, aged 66. Although he and the world had known this was coming since his 2007 diagnosis with a rare form of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, it wasn’t easy to insert that date into his SF Encyclopedia entry. He contributed so very much to the genre party, and had to leave so early.

Goodbye, Terry. Here are some links.

The Days of March (again)

We used this headline just a year ago, but recycling is supposed to be a good thing.... As usual, the SF Encyclopedia editors have been ceaselessly toiling away behind the scenes. This week the total text size crept past 4.8 million words – half a million more than announced in March 2014.

The Picture Gallery continues to grow, with well over 13,000 images – last March it was “nearly 9500”. New entries are constantly being added: there are currently more than 15,700. As always, click the What’s New button on every page of the main SFE website to see the most recently added entries.

Lastly, we again urge all our readers to keep spreading the word about the SF Encyclopedia. Regular users know it’s a great sf resource, but although we’ve been public since October 2011, have won several awards and rank highly in sf-related Google searches, there are still people in the field who have somehow never heard of the SFE. Tell the world! Needless to say, donations are also always welcome.

Scheduled Downtime: 25 October

The main SF Encyclopedia and SF Gateway sites are scheduled for downtime on Saturday 25 October, probably beginning at 9am BST and lasting for much of the day, while Hachette IT instals a server patch.

Pages and features hosted at the editors’ site [now incorporated into the main site] will remain available. These include What’s New, On This Day and the ever-growing Picture Gallery (now with well over 12,000 images), though their links to main-site entries will fail during the downtime period.

So far we’ve been building up the Gallery mostly from our own collections. But if you have a cover we’ve missed, we’ll be happy to include it with credit (“From the collection of YOUR NAME HERE”). Read more about our criteria here.

October Country

We seem to have been too busy since the London Worldcon to issue one of these progress reports, but SF Encyclopedia progress continued steadily. Having reached 4,500,000 words in early August, we passed 4,600,000 in September, and on the same day the total entry count exceeded 15,000. As of today, 6 October, there are more than 12,000 images in the Picture Gallery. An awful lot has happened in the three years since the SFE launch in October 2011....

August Landmarks

We’d been hoping for some while to push the SF Encyclopedia text past 4,500,000 words in time for Loncon 3, the London Worldcon in August 2014. As revealed in today’s blog post, we passed this hurdle on 1 August ... and, coincidentally, John Clute’s personal SFE word count broke the 2,000,000-word barrier on the same day.

That blog post also reports the two major SFE events on the official Loncon 3 programme. The SFE will probably also get a mention or two in John Clute’s guest-of-honour talk, and will be on show as part of the John Clute’s Study display in the main Exhibits Hall.

As usual, more figures than anyone could possibly wish to know are recorded on the SFE Statistics page. However, two items of behind-the-scenes work don’t show up there. One is the result of our ongoing liaison with the invaluable Internet Speculative Fiction Database, which now routinely links to SFE entries and to which we are linking in return: as of today, 6570 of our entries link to a corresponding ISFDB page. Secondly, the SFE Picture Gallery continues to grow with well over 11,000 images. and 2785 of our entries now link to a relevant selection of Gallery images – an author’s book cover or covers, for example, or an artist’s jacket paintings. And thirdly, Roger Robinson (who does the great majority of our image uploads) very recently crafted his 10,000th Gallery caption.

Onward, now, towards 5,000,000 words ... and after that, the very special landmark number (for Alfred Bester fans) of 5,271,009.

Frank M Robinson (1926-2014)

Frank M Robinson died on 30 June at the age of 87. His long publishing career began in the 1940s and included such highlights as The Power (1956; filmed 1967), The Dark Beyond the Stars (1991) and the art book Science Fiction of the Twentieth Century (1999). His Technothriller The Glass Inferno (1974), written with Thomas N Scortia, was half the source of the film The Towering Inferno. He received SFWA’s Special Honoree life achievement honour (a rebranding of the former Author Emeritus) in 2014.

Daniel Keyes (1927-2014)

Daniel Keyes, author of the powerful and unforgettable sf tragedy Flowers for Algernon (April 1959 F&SF; exp 1966), died on 15 June 2014. He was 86. The short version of his masterwork won a richly deserved Hugo Award and the full-length book a Nebula. There have been many media adaptations including the film Charly (1968). SFWA honoured Daniel Keyes with its Author Emeritus life-achievement award in 2006. His last published book was The Asylum Prophecies (2009).

Giger and Woodroffe

We regret to report the deaths this month of two well-known – indeed internationally famous – genre artists: H R Giger on 12 May 2014 and Patrick Woodroffe on 10 May 2014. Both were born in 1940. Giger was best known for his disturbing “biomechanoid” designs, as most famously featured in the film Alien (1979); Woodroffe for sf/fantasy book and album covers. Both published numerous collections of their graphic work.

Although the SF Encyclopedia’s Recent Deaths page is semi-automatically updated from SFE entries, the “latest first” order of appearance makes it easy to miss deaths which take months to become publicly known. Losses to the sf field in 2013 which we learned about only belatedly include Alan Burns (1929-2013), John Clagett (1916-2013), Vic Ghidalia (1926-2013), the other Martin Greenberg (1918-2013), Donald Malcolm (1930-2013) and Hilbert Schenck (1926-2013).

2014 Clarke Award

The 2014 Arthur C Clarke Award went to Ann Leckie for Ancillary Justice, her much-praised 2013 debut novel which has already won the BSFA Award (a tied victory) and is shortlisted for this year’s Hugo.

BSFA Awards and Hugo Shortlist

Announced over the Easter weekend: the British SF Association Award winners, the 2014 Hugo shortlist for works published in 2013, and the Retro Hugo shortlist for works published in 1938. Both sets of Hugos will be presented at Loncon 3 (the 72nd Worldcon) in August 2014.

2014 Philip K Dick Award

The latest Philip K Dick Award, for the best genre paperback original published in the USA during 2013, went to Ben H Winters for his novel Countdown City.

See London, New York, Balloons, Authors ...

With the 2014 London Worldcon getting closer, we thought it would be fun to put together a slideshow of London cover-art images as a new feature of the SF Encyclopedia Picture Gallery – and here it is. Naturally, once the ever-obsessive David Langford had upgraded the Gallery with a themed slideshow option, we couldn’t stop at just one. John Clute and Roger Robinson scanned and uploaded more and more covers and invented new themes. “Images of New York” soon followed, and “Author, Author” with depictions of many authors from the front covers of books, not necessarily their own. (Back-jacket photos are too easy.) See below for the complete current list. There are more in preparation: for example, we haven’t yet unearthed quite enough images for “Talking Squid in Outer Space”.

These slideshows are accessible from the Gallery front page via a pulldown menu at the bottom of the upper right-hand display pane, titled (with cunning misdirection) “Themed Slideshows”. You can inspect any theme as a set of cover thumbnails by checking the “Show as list” box before selecting the theme.

The rule of the Picture Gallery is that all covers must come from SF Encyclopedia Checklists (including “about the author” and “further reading”), which do not show routine reprints but only first editions, first English translations, significant revisions, variant titles and so on. This disqualifies many covers. Also, some themes may be lacking an otherwise perfect cover illustration because it hasn’t yet been scanned for the Gallery – or, horror of horrors, is indeed somewhere among our nearly 10,000 images but has so far been missed by the purblind editors. Feel free to put us right.

As always, new SFE features are free but we don’t object in the slightest to spontaneous donations.

Lucius Shepard (1943-2014)

Lucius Shepard, one of the sf world’s most remarkable yet academically neglected storytellers, died on 18 March. Following early genre appearances in 1983, his debut novel was the richly magic-realist Green Eyes (1984). He won the 1985 John W Campbell Award for best new writer, a Nebula for the 1986 story “R&R” – which became part of Life during Wartime (1987) – and a Locus Award for his reimagining of Vampire myths in The Golden (1993). His 1992 sf novella “Barnacle Bill the Spacer” won the Hugo. Other awards followed, and many more tales with hauntingly exotic settings, perhaps most famously the Dragon Griaule sequence which includes that particularly fine short novel The Scalehunter’s Beautiful Daughter (1988).

To forestall further attempted corrections to the SFE entry: Wikipedia had long given the later birth year 1947, probably taken from the 1993 edition of SFE, but our amendment to 1943 is based on considerable additional research.

The Days of March

As usual, the SF Encyclopedia editors have been toiling away behind the scenes. In mid-February the total text size crept beyond 4.3 million words, although it’s probably not time to open more champagne until we pass the 4.5 million mark.

The Picture Gallery continues to grow, with nearly 9500 images currently available (most of the uploading and captioning done by our Research Editor, Roger Robinson). We’re on course to have over ten thousand Gallery scans in place by the time of the 2014 London Worldcon – whose guests of honour include John Clute, one of the principal SF Encyclopedia editors, and Malcolm Edwards, deputy CEO and publisher at Orion, whose Gollancz imprint publishes the SFE.

Further Picture Gallery developments include the introduction of thumbnail images as an alternative to the former text-only listings in the Gallery Search and What’s New listings, making both these features very much more visually involving. Also, a new Gallery button labelled Sampler offers a kaleidoscopic display of fifty thumbnails (or, if you prefer, text captions) taken at random from the whole Gallery.

An SF Encyclopedia reader in Italy, who’s researching nineteenth-century sf, asked whether it would be possible to extract a timeline of writers whose birth or death dates fall within any particular range of years. David Langford was sufficiently intrigued by the challenge to write a new SFE script for this – see Timeline link below – and went on to improve the handling of centenaries and other year-based anniversaries in the existing On This Day page whose button is a permanent fixture in the SFE Extras panel at the right (now including a Timeline link).

New entries are constantly being added – at last including the geographical theme article on California, long present only as an [[Entry to follow]] stub. As always, click the What’s New button on every page of the main SFE website to see the most recently added entries.

Lastly, we urge all our readers to keep spreading the word about the SF Encyclopedia. Regular users know it’s a great sf resource, but although we’ve been public since October 2011, have won several awards and rank highly in sf-related Google searches, there are still people in the field who have somehow never heard of the SFE. Tell the world! Needless to say, donations are also always welcome.

Downtime Alert: 23 January

The main SF Encyclopedia and SF Gateway sites are scheduled for roughly three hours of downtime on Thursday 23 January, beginning at 10:30am GMT, while Hachette IT instals a server patch. Pages and features hosted at the editors’ site [now incorporated into the main site] will remain available. These include What’s New, On This Day and the ever-growing Picture Gallery (now with more than 8500 images), though their links to main-site entries will fail during the downtime period.

In other news, we regret the recent passing of US author Neal Barrett Jr on 12 January 2014 and Norwegian author Jon Bing on 14 January 2014.

Colin Wilson (1931-2013)

Colin Wilson, initially famous for his philosophical exploration of literary and real-world “outsiders” in The Outsider (1956), and later better known for very many nonfiction works on crime and the paranormal, died on 5 December aged 82. His ideas about the unexplored potential of the human mind took sf form in his Cthulhu Mythos novels The Mind Parasites (1967) and The Philosopher’s Stone (1969), and in more conventional sf terms in the late-1980s Spider World sequence. The Space Vampires (1976), a homage to A E van Vogt’s story “Asylum”, was filmed as Lifeforce (1985).

Doris Lessing (1919-2013)

Doris Lessing, the distinguished literary author who besides many other honours in her long career won the 2007 Nobel Prize for Literature, died on 17 November at the age of 94. Several of her novels had fantastic or futuristic content; she made unashamed use of science-fiction devices in the Canopus in Argos: Archives sequence which opens with Shikasta (1979). Doris Lessing was a guest of honour at the 1987 UK Worldcon held in Brighton.

November Note

On 4 November 2013, the ever-increasing tally of images added to the SF Encyclopedia Picture Gallery crept past 8000. This represents more scanning, captioning (by Roger Robinson) and uploading of book covers than we really like to think about. The main text’s entry and word counts keep rising too; we are now hovering on the very brink of 4.2 million words, but foresee a long haul before uncorking the champagne at the 5 million mark.

John Clute and David Langford will be at Novacon 43 in Nottingham, 8-10 November – not promoting the SFE especially, just hanging around in the bar. Though fearsome of aspect, they are really quite approachable.

We’ve reluctantly added a plaintive paragraph to the email feedback form, beginning “Please note that the SF Encyclopedia is a reference work, not an author contact agency.” This is meant for the all too many readers who want a private word with Neil Gaiman, George R R Martin or (someone who doesn’t even have an entry) J K Rowling.

William Harrison (1933-2013)

William Harrison, the US author and screenwriter known to sf readers for his 1973 story “Roller Ball Murder” – which became the title story of his Roller Ball Murder (coll 1974) and which he himself adapted as the film script for Rollerball (1975) – died on 22 October 2013. He was 79.

Downtime Alert: 8 October

The main SF Encyclopedia and SF Gateway sites are scheduled for up to six hours of downtime on Tuesday 8 October, beginning at 10:30am BST, while Hachette IT instals a server patch. Pages and features hosted at the editors’ site [now incorporated into the main site] will remain available. These include What’s New, On This Day and the ever-growing Picture Gallery (now approaching 7500 images), though their links to main-site entries will fail during the downtime period.

We initially announced “two or three hours”, but that turns out to be per server, and there are two servers to be patched. So it goes.

Frederik Pohl (1919-2013)

Another of the long-time sf greats has left us: Frederik Pohl died on 2 September at the age of 93. His granddaughter Emily Pohl-Weary tweeted the sad news. Pohl’s career was very long, dating back to his involvement in that influential 1930s fan group the Futurians. His SF Encyclopedia entry is lengthy too, listing many awards and honours (such as the SFWA Grand Master lifetime award) plus 150 published works. Who can forget such classic sf as The Space Merchants (1953) with Cyril M Kornbluth, the brief but disorienting “Day Million” (1966), the exhilarating perspectives of “The Gold at the Starbow’s End” (1972), or the multi-award-winning Gateway (1977)? And he gave us so much more. As recently as 2010 Pohl won the fan writer Hugo for his blog reminiscences (see below), which he continued to the last day of his life. His death leaves a huge hole in both the sf genre and its history.

August Progress Report

As of Monday 12 August the SF Encyclopedia has 14,000 entries. Not a round enough number to seem magical, but cheering all the same.

In recent weeks we’ve been busy adding a new facility for easier access to the bibliographic Checklists in SF Encyclopedia author, editor and artist entries. These listings are often long and complex, and a lot of downward scrolling was formerly needed to reach a lengthy entry’s Checklist. Now each relevant entry has three new buttons at the top, on the same row as the buttons for Previous entry, Next entry and Incoming (what links to this entry, plus contributor and citation information). The new buttons are:

(1) Checklist – which takes you straight to the biographical information at the top of the Checklist. Just below you will find new buttons labelled Alphabetical and Chronological, which have the same effect as the other two new buttons at the head of the entry (where button labels had to be abbreviated for space reasons) ...

(2) Alpha[betical] – shows all Checklist titles in alphabetical order.

(3) Chron[ological] – shows all Checklist titles in chronological order.

If there are series subheadings in the Checklist, the alphabetical or chronological display page lists all these in a panel at upper right. Click any series name to show just that series in alphabetical or chronological order. You can switch from one order to the other at any time. For convenience we treat “About the author” (if present) as a series heading, so these listings too can be singled out. When you have zoomed in on a particular series, a Show All Titles button appears: click this to restore the full list.

The total number of entries which have Checklists and to which these new buttons have been added is more than 6400. We haven’t yet checked every one! Oddities of entry format may produce occasional strange results (for example, items in which no date can be found currently register a date of zero and rise to the top of chronological lists). Obviously, one-book author Checklists will not give excitingly different results when reformatted. The alternative views are most useful with monster listings containing many series: Poul Anderson, Isaac Asimov, Martin H Greenberg, Andre Norton, and so on.

Progress Report and SFE Team Activity

A couple more small landmarks. On 1 August, after a fairly hefty SF Encyclopedia site update, John Clute’s personal total of entries written solo passed the 5000 mark. On 2 August, the Picture Gallery count went past 6000 images (most of the uploading and captioning having been carried out by Roger Robinson). Another six entries and the overall SFE total will reach 14,000. Onward, ever onward ...

Although the SFE may feel like a full-time job or life sentence, team members are usually very busy elsewhere too. John Clute recently reviewed Christopher Priest’s The Adjacent for Strange Horizons, and Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane for The Los Angeles Review of Books. David Langford relentlessly publishes Ansible and writes for SFX; his small press Ansible Editions has released the first book versions of all Algis Budrys’s “Books” review and essay columns as published in F&SF, 1975-1993.

Several Contributing Editors have also been hard at work:

  • Mike Ashley hopes despite many distractions to complete The Cyber Chronicles, fourth and final volume of his Story of the Science Fiction Magazine, by the end of 2013.
  • Jonathan Clements has been toiling at his doctoral thesis on the history of anime, to be published by the British Film Institute (Autumn 2013).
  • John Grant deserted us to work on his massive solo project A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir (October 2013).
  • Nick Lowe continues to write his “Mutant Popcorn” film review column in every issue of Interzone, and promises more SFE film entries some day.
  • Neal Tringham has published Science Fiction Hobby Games: A First Survey, based on a subset – tabletop sf gaming franchises – of his immense array of Games entries for the SFE, which gets a welcome credit.
  • Gary Westfahl’s critical work William Gibson is published this month by Illinois University Press as part of the Modern Masters of Science Fiction series, and the book’s bibliography – “it really is the first comprehensive bibliography of the author” – is available online.

Richard Matheson (1926-2013)

Another of the genre’s grand old men has gone. Richard Matheson died in Los Angeles on 23 June. As our entry says, he was a master of artfully evoked Paranoia – the most famous examples being his novels I Am Legend (1954) and The Shrinking Man (1956) along with their various film incarnations, especially The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957), which was scripted by Matheson himself and won him a Hugo. Several of his fourteen scripts for the first series of The Twilight Zone are also vividly remembered.

Iain Banks (1954-2013)

Iain Banks died on 9 June 2013, all too soon after his terminal cancer diagnosis earlier in the year. He was only 59. Many long obituaries and appreciations of his vast talent will follow; here is an early report in the Guardian.

Downtime Warning

It’s that time of year again. The main SF Encyclopedia site (the one you’re looking at now) will be unavailable from some time early in the morning on Saturday 25 May until 6pm or so. If hideous problems develop, this downtime may even extend into Sunday. So we are informed by Hachette IT. The SF Gateway will be down for the same period.

However, not all is gloom. Our recently added SFE Picture Gallery – now with nearly 2500 images, about seven hundred more than when it was launched on 15 May – will remain available, along with a few extra features such as Anniversaries. We hope the Gallery at least will provide a Saturday diversion for SFE addicts. After all, if it’s true that one picture is worth a thousand words, this month we’ve added the equivalent of 2.5 million words to the current SFE text’s 4.1 million.

Gollancz will love the fact that you can use the Gallery search engine to report all Gollancz covers in the archive ...

SFE Picture Gallery launch

The SF Encyclopedia editors have long wanted to add a little tasty eye candy to this website’s massive textual presentation. Now at last we have a new page for this purpose, the Picture Gallery, which when visited shows a randomly selected image from our growing visual archive – mostly book covers, but with occasional surprises. Once on the Gallery page, you can search to reveal everything the archive contains for a particular author, title keyword, illustrator or publisher; you can select Slide Show for an ever-changing presentation of available pictures, more than 1800 of them on launch day; or you can simply click on Lucky Dip for another unpredictable image, to be replaced by further visual serendipity as often as you care to hit the button again.

A new Gallery button has appeared in the Extras panel at the right of the main SFE page, so this feature is only one click away from any entry.

Customized Gallery links for artists and authors well represented in the image archive have been added under links at the ends of the creators’ entries. More and more of these Picture Gallery links will appear as the months go by and the archive grows.

There are several further entertaining (we hope) Gallery features, some self-explanatory and others described in more detail on the About page which is the second link below. The Gallery itself is the first. Have fun!

Ray Harryhausen (1920-2013)

Ray Harryhausen, one of the pioneering greats of sf/fantasy film effects – he was particularly famed for his work in stop-motion animation – died in London on 7 May 2013. We fondly remember his appearance as a guest of honour at the 1987 Worldcon in Brighton, England.

Easter Bulletin

EightSquaredCon, the 64th British Eastercon, is currently taking place in Bradford, Yorkshire. Editors of this Encyclopedia are somewhat thin on the ground (John Clute is in the USA, David Langford is ill, Peter Nicholls is in Australia, and so on) – but our Research Editor, Roger Robinson, can probably be found in the dealers’ room.

Recent deaths of genre notables include James Herbert on 21 March, who as a horror novelist doesn’t have an SFE entry (although enough of his works have sf elements that he’s on our list for inclusion [and has since been added]), and Paul Williams on 27 March. Though better known for rock music criticism than sf, Williams was instrumental in nurturing Philip K Dick’s posthumous career in times when it might have fizzled, and edited (most of) the definitive collections of Theodore Sturgeon’s short fiction. Malcolm Edwards remembers them both in Gollancz blog posts: Herbert, Williams. [Now linked to Internet Archive snapshots because the Gollancz Ministry of Truth deleted all the old posts.]

New developments at the SFE website have been relatively low-key. Following our January trumpet-blowing and cymbal-banging at having reached four million words, another 78,000 have been quietly added. Sharp-eyed users of the site may have noticed that the Connect with SFE box (front page, right-hand panel) now has extra links, e.g. to John Clute’s prolific SFE tweets and the email feedback form that some of you found less than easy to locate. Behind the scenes we’re testing a Picture Gallery option that will add a little tasteful eye candy in the form of sf book cover images from the mighty Clute Collection, the L W Currey dealer site, and anywhere else we can scrounge them.

Richard E Geis (1927-2013)

Richard E Geis, novelist and publisher of the fanzine Psychotic and the long-running semiprozine of sf criticism, opinion and controversy, The Alien Critic (both also known at different times as Science Fiction Review), died in Portland, Oregon on 4 February 2013; this sad news did not reach sf circles until March. Geis won six Hugos for best fanzine and seven (one tied) for best fan writer. He continued to publish, latterly online, until 2010: see the link below.

Four Million Words

As subtly hinted in the headline, the SF Encyclopedia site update of 21 January 2013 took us comfortably past 4,000,000 words of text. It’s tempting to produce a tasteful infographic tracking the third-edition word count since we began to record it in February 2008 (1,892,881 words), through the public launch in October 2011 (3,222,920 words) and so on to the present day (4,009,844 words) ... but we’ll spare you that, and will merely keep updating the comparisons between past and current editions on the editors’ home page [now incorporated into the main site]. However did the primitive, cave-dwelling editors of 1979 manage to summarize the sf field in just 730,000 words?

Onwards ad astra. Keep watching the skies! Five million words may seem a long way off, but after that milestone we can look forward to the utterly science-fictional total of 5,271,009.

Gerry Anderson (1929-2012)

Gerry Anderson, creator of the much-loved Thunderbirds and other popular children’s sf television series using his “Supermarionation” puppet techniques, died on 26 December at the age of 83. He will be much missed.

Boris Strugatski (1933-2012)

The Strugatski or Strugatsky brothers, Arkady and Boris in collaboration, were Russia’s best-known and most-translated sf authors. Both were guests of honour at the 1987 UK Worldcon in Brighton. Arkady died in 1991; now Boris has gone too, on 19 November 2012. He was 79.

Another milestone

Today, 8 November 2012, the SF Encyclopedia reached and passed the 3.8 million word mark. The 3,800,000th word was written by Contributing Editor Gary Westfahl, who wins a free lollipop. These round numbers may not mean anything in particular, but like the turn of a century or millennium it’s a harmless excuse for celebration. If you feel inclined, please raise a glass.

Today we also celebrate the availability online of the almost 1.2 million words of The Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997). This appears with the permission of its principal editors and authors John Clute and John Grant, to whom huge thanks. Please note that this isn’t a new edition of the EoF, although it does include a great many corrections, restorations of last-minute cuts from the book, and minor updates. Now, whenever an SF Encyclopedia entry rather annoyingly refers you to an Encyclopedia of Fantasy term or theme, you can follow the link at the bottom of the SFE entry and read what its sister volume has to say.

Alan Hunter (1923-2012)

Alan Hunter, who died on 1 August 2012 after a long illness, was not only a fine artist but a generous man who drew covers and interiors for very many fanzines, semiprozines and small presses which could offer little or (more usually) no payment. Below is a Hunter drawing published in Ansible 260 (March 2009).

Those awards

Now we have photographs of them all, we’ve added a discreet page for the Encyclopedia’s 2012 awards. Normal modesty will shortly be resumed.

2012 Hugos – SFE Win

The SF Encyclopedia team is enormously thrilled to have been voted the Hugo Award for Best Related work at the 2012 ceremony during the Chicago Worldcon on 2 September. Graham Sleight accepted the award (since for various reasons the other principal editors John Clute, David Langford and Peter Nicholls couldn’t make it to Chicon), and reports “a great deal of general goodwill towards the SFE before and after the ceremony.” Thank you all. And congratulations to the rest of the Hugo winners!

Although for the sake of sanity the Hugo is presented to the front-line editors, it’s important to remember the huge efforts of the Contributing Editors listed in the Introduction, and of all the other Contributors to the first, second and current editions. The present 3.7-million-word edifice was built by a lot of people on the solid foundation of the second edition’s 1.3 million words. We’re still building.

The 2014 London Worldcon

Today it was confirmed that the unopposed London bid for the 72nd World SF Convention in 2014 was, as expected, successful in the site selection voting at the Chicago Worldcon. As the third Worldcon to be held in London, the 2014 event is named Loncon 3. The guests of honour are Iain M Banks, John Clute, Malcolm Edwards, Chris Foss, Jeanne Gomoll, Robin Hobb and Bryan Talbot.

SFE site makeover

Several long-planned SF Encyclopedia website improvements went live on 21 August 2012. These include:

  • A new “widget” (as the technical people call it) in the right-hand column, with buttons giving extra options as follows. A “Random” lucky-dip entry or a “Random New” entry – where “new” here means “added since the 1993 book and 1995 CD-ROM editions. A ”What’s New" listing of the most recently added entries. A “Shopping” option at last allowing control of affiliate links (which originally all went to Amazon UK). An “SFE Facts” shortcut to the editors’ home page, where various other extras are available: these include an Anniversaries page showing births and deaths for today or any selected day.
  • New buttons in all entries to improve the browsing experience. “Previous” and “Next” move to the alphabetically previous or next entries, skipping over cross-reference entries without significant content. “Incoming” lists all entries that link to the present one, as with Wikipedia’s “What links here”. This is a major key to the structure of the SFE.
  • Some smaller fixes. Selected text in entries no longer shows in a garish “hot pink” background colour. Entry headwords now appear as we wrote them without forced capitalization: eXistenZ and .hack rather than EXistenZ and .Hack. “All news items” does what it says rather than showing only the latest three such items. (News items are dated SFE bulletins like this one.)
  • Some overall changes to the text. We now come clean with “binding unknown” in Checklist entries rather than using the cryptic “??” or “na” standing for “not applicable” (the latter is still used for ebooks. CD-ROMs and so on where the hb/pb distinction genuinely doesn’t apply). Dates are now given as CE and BCE rather than BC and AD. The asterisks used in previous editions to mark spinoff works like film novelizations – e.g. Star Wars * (1976) – no longer appear, since the information is noted as “tie” or “tie to ...” in author Checklists. And, as always, much more text has been added: we are now approaching 3.7 million words.

Our thanks to STEEL of London, Darren Nash of Gollancz and Hachette IT for working with us on the website changes.

Harry Harrison (1925-2012)

There is general mourning in sf circles for the loss of Harry Harrison, who died on 15 August (circa 1am) in the East Sussex nursing home where he’d been ill for so long. He was 87. His best-loved creations were the Deathworld, Stainless Steel Rat and West of Eden series, plus Bill, the Galactic Hero (first book only). Standout solo novels include Captive Universe and Make Room! Make Room!, the latter loosely adapted to film as Soylent Green. There are many more, plus a mass of notable short fiction. Harry’s wisecracking presence – usually with Brian Aldiss as his stand-up comedy partner – enlivened a great many UK conventions over several decades. Farewell.

What the Hugo Voters Saw

Now it can be revealed, with 2012 Hugo voting safely closed: we were encouraged to provide some exclusive SF Encyclopedia extras for inclusion in the Chicon Hugo Voter Packet, and here they are. Some of these special features should soon be properly integrated into the SFE website.

[The previews of planned new features long since added to the SFE website now seem a little redundant but of course didn’t in 2012.]


Welcome to the SF Encyclopedia Hugo Voter Packet page. We, the editors, are thrilled that the SFE has been shortlisted as Best Related Book. We feel there’s no substitute for the more than three and a half million words of interlinked entries in the present state of the SFE, so instead of providing a limited sample for the Chicon package we invite you to plunge into the encyclopedia itself. The entire text is free to read online.

Exclusive to this Hugo Voter Packet page are some features which have from the beginning been part of our strategy for the SFE site and which we hope to see implemented soon, including a random “lucky dip”, a “what’s new” feature to show the most recent additions, and a demo version of an “incoming” option equivalent to Wikipedia’s “What links here”.

  • Click here to see a randomly selected entry.
  • Click here for a random new entry – that is, one of the more than 4000 full entries which have been added since the second edition of 1993 and its 1995 CD-ROM version. (Of course, very many entries from the second edition have since been heavily revised for the third.)
  • Click here for a “What’s New” listing of the latest entries to be added.
  • Click here for a demonstration of our “What links here” (plus other entry information) based on John Clute’s entry.
  • Click here for a full list of links to the 3655 new entries which appeared before 2012 and thus count towards Hugo eligibility.

The Introduction is a good place to read about our current state of play as a work in progress, while the latest figures on entry and word counts can be found on the Statistics page.

Thank you for sampling the new SF Encyclopedia.

John Clute, David Langford, Peter Nicholls & Graham Sleight

Gore Vidal (1925-2012)

Sad to record the death of Gore Vidal (1925-2012) on 31 July at the age of 86. A gifted mainstream novelist, he used sf and fantasy devices without embarrassment and also wrote notable criticism: his essay on Italo Calvino, for example, is very fine. Farewell.

Also gone, on 29 July: Chris Marker (1921-2012), creator of the classic time-travel film La Jetée (1963) which inspired Terry Gilliam’s Twelve Monkeys (1995).

July update

Another small milestone: the editors are modestly pleased that the latest SF Encyclopedia site update has taken us past 3.6 million words.

Unfortunately the SFE site still has several bugs and omissions that we’re trying to get fixed. In some cases we’ve worked out detailed solutions which we hope to have installed on the site (mere editors not being allowed to do this for themselves).

One minor issue is that the front-page “All news items” link, which should give a full list of all bulletins like this one, shows only the latest three. So we’ve set up our own page, as below, of links to the older news items.

[Superseded, and link removed – the problem was fixed with the 21 August 2012 site makeover.]

Ray Bradbury (1920-2012)

Ray Bradbury, one of the best-known sf and fantasy authors in the world, died in Los Angeles on the morning of 6 June 2012. The Martian Chronicles (coll of linked stories 1950) is among the great mythmaking works of sf. Bradbury’s honours include the World Fantasy Award and SFWA Grand Master Award for life achievement, and inclusion in the SF Hall of Fame.

Leo Dillon (1933-2012)

Leo Dillon, who with his wife and collaborator Diane Dillon formed a remarkable sf/fantasy artistic team, died on 26 May; Diane Dillon survives him.

Notes in May

Regular SF Encyclopedia updates continue; there is still much work to be done. The 2 May presentation of the Arthur C Clarke Award to The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers naturally led to a new entry for this author. The BSFA Award, James Tiptree Jr Award, Philip K Dick Award and Pilgrim Award articles have also been updated with the 2012 winners, with more to come as this year’s award season continues.

One award that gave us great pleasure was the European SF Award as Best Promoter (of the sf genre), presented to the SF Encyclopedia at the recent Eurocon in Zagreb and accepted on behalf of the editors by Martin Hoare.

Later. We’ve been talking – for some weeks – about having nearly three and a half million words of SF Encyclopedia text on line; this threshold was actually passed with the 16 May 2012 update.

Ernest Callenbach (1929-2012)

Ernest Callenbach, author of Ecotopia, died on 16 April.

Hugo Nomination

We are, of course, deeply thrilled to be included in the 2012 Hugo shortlist, Best Related Book category. The day after the Hugo list was announced, the SFE won the BSFA Award for Best Nonfiction.

Peter Phillips (1920-2012)

Peter Phillips, author of the pioneering Dream Hacking story “Dreams Are Sacred”, died on 28 March.

Christine Brooke-Rose (1923-2012)

Christine Brooke-Rose, the critic and experimental novelist who wrote several unusual works of sf, died on 21 March aged 89.

M A R Barker (1929-2012)

M A R Barker (Muhammad Abd-al-Rahman Barker), an important role playing game designer who created the world of Tékumel, died on 16 March.

Jean Giraud/Moebius (1938-2012)

Jean Giraud, the major French sf/fantasy artist who also published as Moebius, died on 10 March.

John Christopher (1922-2012)

John Christopher – known to friends by his real name Sam Youd – died on 3 February at the age of 89. His books include the classic disaster novel The Death of Grass (1956; vt No Blade of Grass 1957) and several notable works for younger readers, of which the partly-televised Tripods sequence is the best known.

The Guardian obituary is by Christopher Priest.

Ardath Mayhar (1930-2012)

Ardath Mayhar died on 1 February 2012, as reported here.

Her SFE entry has been slightly updated.

The official author website is here.

BSFA Award shortlisting

We are very pleased (and also surprised, since this is still a work in progress) that the SF Encyclopedia has been shortlisted in the Best Nonfiction category of the British SF Association Awards for 2011 work.

Other contenders in the same category include works by our Contributing Editors Mike Ashley and Abigail Nussbaum, plus a book co-edited by Managing Editor Graham Sleight. Another SFE Contributing Editor, Adam Roberts, is shortlisted for Best Novel.

Here is the full BSFA Awards shortlist. Winners will be announced at Olympus 2012, this year’s UK Eastercon.

see also: Paranoia; Secret Masters.

Progress Report: 9 January 2012

It’s now three months since the SF Encyclopedia site was launched. We, the editors, and the website experts at STEEL have made a great many changes since October 2011, adding new material, correcting text errors and omissions, and fixing problems with the site.

The SFE now contains about 138,500 more words than the launch version – a whole long novel’s worth – spread over existing entries and more than 300 new ones, while approximately 4900 new internal links have been added. (Figures taken from the introductory Statistics page.) Also, nearly 300 magazine entries now have links to checklists with cover scans at Phil Stephensen-Payne’s Galactic Central.

Reader feedback – which for a while became overwhelming when we were linked from Slashdot – was strongly in favour of a switch from all-capitals links to upper and lower case: not 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY as inherited from the book editions via the CD-ROM, but 2001: A Space Odyssey. After some struggle to change all the headwords and links in 3.36 million words of text, this new look is now in place. Other suggestions for improving the appearance, like removing underlines from links, are in the request queue. Senders of text corrections (via the email contact form) and PayPal donations, unless anonymous, are gratefully listed in the Acknowledgments. Our thanks to all.

Early problems with the search engine have been fixed, and notes on search refinements added. There is now a Frequently Asked Questions page. Both can be reached from the SFE home page and through the About us link always visible at top right.

Graham Sleight of the SFE team and Darren Nash of Gollancz talked about the SFE and SF Gateway in a pair of Starburst magazine interviews. Later: Peter Nicholls was also interviewed, by The Independent.

We’re still aiming for four million words by the end of 2012. Keep watching the skies.

John Clute, David Langford, Peter Nicholls and Graham Sleight

T J Bass and Russell Hoban

Sadly, the authors T J Bass and Russell Hoban (of Riddley Walker fame) both died on 13 December 2011.

Their entries will be updated as soon as possible. (Now done.)

You can read more at the Guardian:

SFE Beta Text launches

On October 3rd, the beta text of the third edition of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction went live.

To answer some Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: What exactly is a beta text?

In this context, it means a text of the SFE that isn’t yet complete. We think we’re about 3/4 of the way through compiling the Encyclopedia. Our current 3.2m wordcount will probably expand to 4.2m by the time we’re done at the end of 2012. So there will be some entries missing in the beta text, and some cross-reference links that aren’t yet working. Of course, we hope that 3.2m words will be enough to occupy everyone for a while....

Q: How are you going to update the text?

Updates will probably happen monthly, and be flagged through our blog, our Twitter feed, and Facebook page.

Q: My favorite author/film/TV programme doesn’t have an entry. Is this because the SFE is still a beta text?

In all probability, yes. We know there are a lot of missing entries at the moment. These gaps will be filled over the course of the next year or so.

Q: You say you’re going to “be done” with the SFE at the end of 2012. Does that mean you’ll stop updating it?

No. We intend to continue updating the SFE for as long as we’re partnered with our friends at Gollancz. End-2012 simply marks the point at which we’ll be able to claim the Encyclopedia is as comprehensive as we want it to be.



x
This website uses cookies.  More information here. Accept Cookies