Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, The

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The present encyclopedia was first conceived by Peter Nicholls in the mid-1970s and was published as The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction: An Illustrated A to Z (1979; vt The Science Fiction Encyclopedia 1979). The title page listed Nicholls as General Editor, John Clute as Associate Editor, Carolyn Eardley as Technical Editor, and Malcolm Edwards and Brian Stableford as Contributing Editors. Numerous others were involved, including John Brosnan who wrote many film entries. Besides the expected coverage of authors, artists, Cinema, publications (SF Magazines and Fanzines) and Television, the encyclopedia offered an extensive network of entries on sf themes and Terminology. It won a 1980 Hugo for best nonfiction book. This first edition was published as a single volume illustrated with author photographs, magazine covers, film stills etc and ran to some 730,000 words. Further statistical detail on this and later editions may be found in the Statistics entry; see also the Introduction to the First Edition.

The second edition, co-edited by John Clute and Peter Nicholls, was The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (1993; rev 1995; further rev vt Grolier Science Fiction: The Multimedia Encyclopedia of Science Fiction 1995 CD-ROM; further rev 1999). The title page also listed Brian Stableford as the sole (and very extensive) Contributing Editor and John Grant as Technical Editor. As before, there were numerous other contributors, but most entries were written by the editors. Again the encyclopedia was published as a single volume, with illustrations now omitted for reasons of space; the length was some 1.3 million words, with over 65,000 words of additional material added for the CD-ROM edition. The book version won a 1994 Hugo and Locus Award for best nonfiction book. See also the Introduction to the Second Book Edition; Introduction to the CD-ROM Edition.

In the twenty-first century it became apparent that further expansion in book form was no longer practical for such a specialist reference work. The third edition was conceived from the outset as an online resource, developed intensively from 2005 onward using a corrected and expanded version of the CD-ROM text as a starting point, and first launched in October 2011 as The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (2011 web) edited by John Clute, David Langford, Peter Nicholls (who subsequently adopted the role of Editor Emeritus) and Graham Sleight (Managing Editor). Again the coverage was greatly expanded, with an initial text size of some 3.2 million words which has since steadily increased (again see Statistics for current figures): the word count reached four million in January 2013 and five million in November 2015. With improved bibliographic resources now available, the encyclopedia now routinely gives full publication details for cited book-length works (in authors' and editors' bibliographical Checklists) and referenced magazine or anthology stories. See also the Introduction to the Third Edition.

In 2012 this third edition of the encyclopedia received the Hugo as best related work, the BSFA Award for best nonfiction and the European SF Society Award for best promotion of the genre. In May 2013 the visual element not included since the illustrated first edition of 1979 was restored by the institution of the SF Encyclopedia Picture Gallery [see under links below], a now very extensive and still growing archive of cover images from books cited in the above-mentioned bibliographical Checklists. [DRL]

see also: Contributors; The Encyclopedia of Fantasy.

publishing history


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