Most of them, so far, have not been able to keep the promise that they initially offered, to do at least a reasonably thorough job in serving as a guide to the entirety of what's sfnal in the world, but some have come closer than others, and the 1979 Peter Nicholls-edited volume here is the direct ancestor of the best attempt so far, The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (Third Edition) now edited by (among others) John Clute and David Langford, and being published online...finally, enough space for potential pages to cover everything anyone could want.
Phil Stephensen-Payne's Galactic Central have, at least somewhat, emulated in the years since.
The Tuck volumes were issued with no traditional dust jackets.
Contents, courtesy of ISFDB:
- 6 • Foreword (Encyclopedia of Science Fiction) • essay by Isaac Asimov
- 8 • Locations • essay by Robert Holdstock
- 18 • Marriage of Science and Fiction • essay by Brian Stableford
- 28 • Major Themes • essay by Douglas Hill
- 50 • Pulps and Magazines • essay by Mike Ashley [as by Michael Ashley ]
- 68 • Screen Trips • essay by Alan Frank
- 86 • Machine as Hero • essay by Harry Harrison
- 104 • Alien Encounter • essay by Chris Morgan
- 122 • Art & Artists • essay by David A. Hardy [as by David Hardy ]
- 142 • Fiction to Fact • essay by Patrick Moore
- 152 • Outer Limits • essay by Mike Ashley [as by Michael Ashley ]
- 162 • New Wave • essay by Christopher Priest
- 174 • Yesterday Today and Tomorrow • essay by Malcolm Edwards
- 190 • Catalog (Encyclopedia of Science Fiction) • essay by Robert Holdstock and Leroy Kettle and Mike Ashley and Alan Frank [as by Robert Holdstock and Roy Kettle and Michael Ashley and Alan Frank ]
- 220 • Index • essay by The Publisher
Don D'ammassa's 2005 volume for Facts on File, which he followed up with a 2006 companion on horror and fantasy fiction, and a 2009 entry on adventure fiction, is the only one of these I deal with here that I've not yet read at all. Facts on File books are not inexpensive, and are aimed at library and other institutional purchasers, and some are very much better than others...but I'll suspect that D'ammassa, who might be the most prolific reviewer in sf (if anything, he appears to read too quickly, but still manages to write intelligent and pithy reviews) has done at least an interesting and valuable job with these volumes.
Meanwhile, the 1979 Nicholls encyclopedia (with John Clute as an assistant editor) was followed by this volume in 1993, and both have been monuments within the field...the most useful and apparently the most accurate and truly encyclopedic volumes since the Tuck, and rather closer to up to date by the time of their publication; also not inexpensive, particularly the 2003 edition, but this second edition is essentially twice as long as the later D'ammassa. Even with that, as with the first edition, certain editorial decisions had to be made, not all of which I agree with...most annoyingly to me, in this edition as well as the previous, a writer of short fiction who didn't publish a book, no matter how prolific and perhaps once important in the field or at least to the magazines where the work was offered, is likely to be ignored, while anyone who published a novel or collection, no matter how trivial, is much more likely to get a listing. As noted above, in the third/electronic edition, with less physical limitation, is much more likely to offer citations to those who didn't receive collection between boards or in paperback. In generally praising the first edition (if I recall correctly), Algis Budrys also noted a certain tendency, which he described as particularly common among British writers and critics, to treat the subject matter at hand (sf, of course) as if it wasn't entirely serious, which tend to encourage the question of why are the authors/editors of a volume such as this thus spending their time...but, nonetheless, the information gathered in the two volumes (and website) devoted to sf primarily is impressively wide-ranging, and led to similarly impressive subsequent and related projects as Science Fiction: The Illustrated Encyclopedia (briefly reviewed here) and the similarly sizable volume The Encyclopedia of Fantasy (which has seen only one 1997 edition, though there's a page of corrections and updates to which I have contributed in very small part.).
Patti Abbott hopes to have a list of today's books up by the afternoon, or perhaps early evening.