Massive science fiction encyclopedia's third edition will be digital

Graham Sleight writes, "The third edition of the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, the definitive reference work in the field, will be published online beginning later this year. Thanks to support from publishing partner Gollancz, the text will be available free. The Encyclopedia is overseen by editors John Clute and David Langford, with help from Editor Emeritus Peter Nicholls, Managing Editor Graham Sleight and a range of specialist editors from across the field. About 75% of the text will be online by the end of the year, with the rest being added in monthly updates to the end of 2012. Interested users can sign up at the website or follow us on twitter at @SFEncyclopedia."

SFE: The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (Thanks, Graham!)

(Disclosure: I have done some free consulting for the SFE)


  1. Among all your other talents, Cory, you’re a mind reader. Just yesterday I was thinking of a SF reference I saw about 15 years ago, couldn’t think of the name of it, and wondered if anything like that still exists. Thanks for the post! And I hope you can’t read the other thoughts buzzing around in my noggin.

  2. Great news that it will be available free!

    That it will be digital is hardly surprising. Is there any major or mid-level encyclopedia that isn’t digital these days?

  3. This makes me unaccountably happy! I love the ESF and I hope with Clute and Langford still in charge it has kept its idiosyncratic and polemic edge.

    1. Flying_Monkey, John Clute and Peter Nichols are the originators and current editors. David Langford has contributed substantially to all editions. They are all still very involved, not to mention idiosyncratic….

  4. I picked up the last print edition of the encyclopedia earlier this year. It’s a giant tome, but well worth it. The only thing that could’ve made it better was more photos and if it were in colour (and updated of course).

    The digital edition will address those things, I hope.

  5. Digital? (I say, not reading past the title) That’s going to be an awfully thick book.

  6. Monthly updates up until 2012. They’re stopping there because there won’t be anything more to add after the world is destroyed as predicted by a bunch of white guys who really don’t understand the concept of a calendar.

  7. How can it be definitive? Are they going to kill all science fiction writers hereafter?

  8. My dad had the first edition of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (the one that came out in ’79, with the worlds most awesome cover) in our bookshelf when I was growing up, and I could read that thing for hours at a time. I later got the second edition as a birthday present, and I think I read that thing cover to cover. My favorite articles were the ones about science fiction concepts (like on time travel or mind-altering drugs, for instance) which would trace the history of those concepts and the major authors and works you should read. I would never have known about lesser known guys like Olaf Stapledon without it.

    When the third edition comes out, I’ll be there, day one, picking it up. None of this “free on the internet” crap, those dudes deserve my money, and I need to have it in book form. You know, in case of Zombie apocalypse.

  9. Thanks, all for comments. (And thanks to Cory for the original post.) Some specific comments.

    @Flying_Monkey: Yes, we hope the tone/approach will continue from previous editions. We are very much *not* a neutral point of view – we think the SFE represents an argument about the shape/history of the field.

    @Daemon, @Philbert: the press release may have slightly misled you. The plan is to complete all the entries in the basic Encyclopedia by end 2012. After that, we continue monthly updates to reflect changes in the field – deaths, new movies, etc etc.

    @Oskar: I think we’ve all been a bit surprised by the number of people who’ve said since the announcement that they want a print edition. We’ll look into the economics of it; I strongly suspect the books would be large and heavy enough for defensive use in case of zombie apocalypse.

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