Tue
Jul 5 2011 12:26pm

Encyclopedia of Science Fiction to be Available Online—for Free

Welcome news from Gollancz, that most distinguished of SF publishers:

The third edition of the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, the definitive reference work in the field, will be released online later this year by the newly-formed ESF, Ltd, in association with Victor Gollancz, the SF & Fantasy imprint of the Orion Publishing Group, whose support will enable the text to be available free to all users. This initial “beta” version, containing about three-quarters of the total projected content, will be unveiled in conjunction with Gollancz’s celebrations of its 50th anniversary as a science fiction publisher.
The first edition of the Encyclopedia, whose founder and general editor was Peter Nicholls, appeared in 1979, and contained over 700,000 words. A second edition, edited by John Clute and Peter Nicholls, appeared in 1993 and contained over 1.3 million words. Both editions won the Hugo Award from the World Science Fiction Convention, in addition to numerous other honours. The beta version of the third edition will contain some 3 million words, including about 12,000 entries and well over 100,000 internal links. The entries cover every area of science fiction, including authors, illustrators, movies, music, games, and fanzines. The text will be completed, through monthly updates, by the end of 2012.

The third edition has been overseen by John Clute and David Langford, along with editor emeritus Peter Nicholls and managing editor Graham Sleight, plus a cast of thousands, ranging from contributing editors wrangling entire categories to experts writing a few entries on people, stories, and subjects of their particular speciality. Both previous editions of the Encyclopedia Galactica of SF were outstanding (and immeasurably useful!) works of scholarship, so it’s great to hear that most of the third edition will be available soon, and for free.

5 comments
Stefan Raets
1. Stefan
Oh wow, that's excellent news. This will save me a few trips back and forth to the bookshelf where my copy sits. I hope they'll do the same for the Encyclopedia of Fantasy at some point too!
Narmitaj
2. Narmitaj
Good news. I'll still miss having a print edition, though. I got the first edition in Haigh and Hochland in Manchester as a student, the second edition in the Science Museum bookshop (8th April 1993, it says), and was looking forward to the third. But the 2nd edition was 1400 pages, so at the same print size this would presumably be 3200 pages and a bit of a tricky proposition! Not to mention hard to update.
Narmitaj
3. Scott Laz
This is a surprise, as Clute has said recently that, while much of this would be available freely, a subscription fee would be charged in order to get full functionality and content (which sounds reasonable, given the cost or preparing something like this). And for those who've never seen the earlier versions, this really is an amazing resource!
Narmitaj
4. Dennis M Lane
I would GLADLY pay for an ebook version.

Being able to carry the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction around on my Kindle would be a wonderful prospect.
Narmitaj
5. amendlocke
Online is the ideal format for the ESF - reading the print edition (which I have, lots) is like hearing a thousand pages whispering that they want to be hypertext.

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