Geek Heaven

I’m in a bit of geek heaven today because of a new online discovery. The British publisher Gollancz has launched a new website ( to distribute classic works of science fiction and fantasy as ebooks. That’s pretty nifty, especially if you’re a fan of Golden Age SF that might not be available new in print anymore, but what really makes me excited is one of the carrots they’re using to draw traffic to the site.

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction has been a fundamental reference work in the field since publication of the first edition in 1979. A second edition followed in 1993, but it’s been twenty years since that work arrived. Now a new third edition is in beta online at  Access is free. Some links are not yet active, but the final work, projected at 4.2 million words, is due for completion by the end of 2012.

The encyclopedia includes authors, artists, editors, films, comics, music, games, awards, publications, and major motifs, themes, and terms. There are entries on some major characters, but not on specific books.

The site will serve as a fine tool for people in book groups looking to find author information, discussion material and support for research on particular themes and titles.  You might be surprised by the breadth of coverage. For instance, a glance at themes under the letter “A” shows not just the expected aliens, androids, and artificial intelligence, but also articles on Adam and Eve, advertising, amnesia, and anthropology.

In a time when it sometimes seems that all of the free scholarly Internet (at least according to Google) has been condensed down to a few sites, it’s refreshing to see a new major resource constructed with traditionally rigorous standards become available.



About the Author:

Neil Hollands is an Adult Services Librarian at Williamsburg Regional Library in Virginia, where he specializes in readers’ advisory and collection development. He is the author of Read On . . . Fantasy Fiction (2007) and Fellowship in a Ring: a Guide for Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Groups (2009).

2 Comments on "Geek Heaven"

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  1.' Shelley says:

    Just wanted to mention that the NPR Books page has an article on some of the best new bookclub possibilities.

  2.' Katherine Redwine says:

    I find that many of the books on SF Gateway are not available in the U.S.

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