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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars All we need is a new edition
The hours and hours of brousing you can do with this text may it worth the price alone, and its a great reference to fill in the gaps in your sci-fi knowledge. The mayor let down is that its age is now showing, as it was last updated in 1993. All the major tv shows and movies that have come out over the last near decade are missing and so its writing can often seem...
Published on 26 Jun 2001 by C. W. Bell

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Misguided and outdated
In its favour, this is the most comprehensive available encyclopaedia of Science Fiction.

Against it? I bought it when it was first published (at a price of around £45), assuming it would in turn be an update on Nicholls' previous, smaller and far better Illustrated Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (indeed, this is what it claims to be on the inside cover,...
Published 8 months ago by markw


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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars All we need is a new edition, 26 Jun 2001
This review is from: The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (Paperback)
The hours and hours of brousing you can do with this text may it worth the price alone, and its a great reference to fill in the gaps in your sci-fi knowledge. The mayor let down is that its age is now showing, as it was last updated in 1993. All the major tv shows and movies that have come out over the last near decade are missing and so its writing can often seem obsolete. Sci-fi up to 1993 is however brilliantly covered, with critical but not overly cynical reviews, often with a gentle level of personal opinion that will make you smile. It will also appeal to all levels of fans, with easy surface skimming and greatly increasing depth if you wish to go deeper.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Something you don't know about SF? It is probably in here., 25 Sep 2009
By 
R. F. Stevens "richard23491" (Ickenham UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (Paperback)
This Hugo award winner is a gold mine, a treasure trove of useful, or useless, information about all aspects of SF, be it books, films, authors, history, whatever. They say only 4360 entries, but the depth of detail, the love and care that has been instilled in this extends to nearly fourteen hundred pages in this much revised 1999 paperback edition.
Brian Stableford has also contributed his valuable expertise.

It is a true Encyclopedia, and one Christmas when I was quite ill and just wanted the world to go away, I started reading it from the beginning. After several fuddled days and 260 pages of very small type I was feeling much better! And I had only got as far as finishing the fascinating article on Conceptual Breakthrough (no irony, it really is fascinating). The rest of the alphabet beckoned, but I was well again, and the summons of work was more powerful. So since then I have only been able to dip in, in the normal fashion, but it always comes up with something I did not know, and then the next item catches my eye...

It is expensive, and takes a lot of shelf space, and the other two reviewers have have been accurate in their appraisals. So all I need add is that is an essential reference book for an SF enthusiast or author, but maybe not for the average SF reader, and certainly not for non-SF readers.

A much lighter alternative approach might be found in Jakubowski and Edwards Complete Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy Lists
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Misguided and outdated, 26 April 2014
By 
markw (Farnham, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (Paperback)
In its favour, this is the most comprehensive available encyclopaedia of Science Fiction.

Against it? I bought it when it was first published (at a price of around £45), assuming it would in turn be an update on Nicholls' previous, smaller and far better Illustrated Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (indeed, this is what it claims to be on the inside cover, repeating praise from Frank Herbert and Isaac Asimov for the 1979 edition). This book was - and remains - in many respects a disappointment. Gone are the illustrations of the previous edition. The newer book is densely packed with essays, by the editors and their contributors. Most are unreadable. In particular, the emphasis is shifted firmly to Science Fiction in film. The book's introduction admits this, citing in its defence that film sci-fi only covers 10% of the book, while making it at the same time the most comprehensive coverage of film SF.

But the first consequence is that any SF film (or TV series), of whatever critical value, receives its own entry, while this honour is accorded to no book, irrelevant of its significance. David Lynch's deeply flawed adaptation of Dune has its own entry (itself not a particularly useful one, and which doesn't include previous attempts to adapt the material). Frank Herbert's masterpiece does not get an entry. The two (at the time) schlock films based on Richard Matheson's I Am Legend each get their own entry. No entry for the book. And so on.

To be fair, this was also the format of the 1979 book, in a period when film SF was relatively rare. I think the editors should have rethought their approach when it came to this edition.

The second consequence is that the book has dated far more quickly than it should; given rapid advances in special effects and the changing trends in film-making, the focus of the encyclopedia makes it effectively a snap shot of the industry at the time it was published. Equally, by approaching written SF through biographical entries, obviously those writers who were still living at the time of the original publication are due an update either because they have produced additional material, or in some cases because they have sadly passed away. Had the editors concentrated more on the written works themselves, it would have remained far more relevant.

Clute, in his own reviews, is a didactic and often (to my mind) a particularly pretentious reviewer. Much of the remainder of the book, beyond the biographies and the movie reviews, is taken up with sometimes strangely chosen essays. Why is the entry, for example, on SF in Belgium, wrapped into one on the entirely fictional country of Benelux (2.5 pages, which covers Luxembourg in its final paragraph - "virtually nothing is known about sf in tiny Luxembourg").

If you strip all of this away, it's a mainly useful* if outdated set of critical biographies for Science Fiction (the biographies make up the majority of the book) and if you can find a cheap edition (I felt ripped off when I originally bought it) and have the shelf space, by all means buy a copy. But a properly balanced encyclopedia of SF, which gives due weight to the written form, has yet to be produced.

* the critical biography of John Frederick Clute is written by one JC.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reunited with old friend, 27 Mar 2014
This review is from: The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (Paperback)
Fanboy, academic and furiously eclectic all at the same time. A milestone work.Worth reading by anyone who might want to read it!
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The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction
The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction by Peter Nicholls (Paperback - 25 Nov 1999)
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