Cover of the first edition
|Editor||Peter Nicholls, John Clute; |
David Langford from 2011
The first edition, edited by Peter Nicholls with John Clute, was published by Granada in 1979. It was retitled The Science Fiction Encyclopedia when published by Doubleday in the United States. Accompanying its text were numerous black and white photographs illustrating authors, book and magazine covers, film and TV stills, and examples of artists' work.
A second edition, jointly edited by Nicholls and Clute, was published in 1993 by Orbit in the UK and St. Martin's Press in the US. The second edition contained 1.3 million words, almost twice the 700,000 words of the 1979 edition. The 1995 paperback edition included a sixteen page addendum (dated "7 August 1995"). Unlike the first edition, the print versions did not contain illustrations. There was also a CD-ROM version in 1995, styled variously as The Multimedia Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Grolier Science Fiction. This contained text updates through 1995, hundreds of book covers and author photos, a small number of old film trailers, and author video clips taken from the TVOntario series Prisoners of Gravity.
All print and CD-ROM editions are currently out of print.
In July 2011, Orion Publishing Group announced that the third edition of The Science Fiction Encyclopedia would be released online later that year by SFE Ltd in association with Victor Gollancz, Orion's science fiction imprint. The "beta text" of the third edition launched online on 2 October 2011, with editors John Clute, David Langford, Peter Nicholls (as editor emeritus until his death in 2018) and Graham Sleight. The encyclopedia is updated regularly (usually several times a week) by the editorial team with material written by themselves and contributed by science fiction academics and experts. It received the Hugo Award for Best Related Work in 2012. Though the SFE is a composite work with a considerable number of contributors, the three main editors (Clute, Langford and Nicholls) have themselves written almost two-thirds of the 5.2 million words to date (September 2016), giving a sense of unity to the whole.
The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction contains entries under the categories of authors, themes, terminology, science fiction in various countries, films, filmmakers, television, magazines, fanzines, comics, illustrators, book publishers, original anthologies, awards, and miscellaneous.
The online edition of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction was released in October 2011 with 12,230 entries, totaling 3,200,000 words. The editors predicted that it would contain 4,000,000 words upon completion of the first round of updates at the end of 2012; this figure was actually reached in January 2013, and 5,000,000 words in November 2015.