After years out of print the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction has roared back to life with a new website. The venerable publication is a massive directory of games, books, and other media that fall under the rather large banner of Science Fiction. Perhaps more importantly, the SFE also has a fairly extensive catalog of fan-zines and chronicles other delightful bits of SF culture that might otherwise have slipped away.
Getting the work back in the public eye has been something of an uphill struggle. Originally published in 1979, it was updated once in 1993, and again with a CD-ROM version in 1995. Despite winning Hugo awards for it’s ’79 and ’93 printings, work on the book went quiet for over a decade. In 2005 it was announced that the third edition or the encyclopedia would be revived as an online affair, but is only just now coming to these great wide Internets.
While it’s always good to see this stalwart member of the SF community find a new home in the 21st century, one wonders how it will fare against Wikipedia. That humongous online encyclopedia has the benefits of age and the benefit of having the SFE available as a resource for years. It can also be argued, perhaps justly, that Wikipedia also benefits from having links to subjects outside of SF, which can provide a larger context for the articles. The SFE, however, has the advantage of a set group of editors and its own editorial standards. This gives it a particular point of view, different and valuable in its own right from Wikipedia.
Currently released in a Beta version, the new edition of the SFE is still about a million words short of completion. According to the site, they are only 75% complete with text, but hope to have it all up and browsable soon. In the meantime, it’s yet another fascinating labyrinth of geek history to get lost in.
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