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From A to Z Akers and Asimov to Zebrowski and Zelazny from the first astounding magazine to DUNE A READERS GUIDE TO SCIENCE FICTION is an invaluable reference work chronicling where science fiction has been and where you the reader can travel next in the most exciting literature of the cosmos


10 thoughts on “A Reader's Guide to Science Fiction

  1. says:

    Pretty comprehensive for it's time but even though it's now out of date I still refer to it and it's sister book on Fantasy if I'm in too busy to go check out the online version of the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction or the Wikipedia


  2. says:

    This reference book to science fiction authors and their novels looks really interesting It's too bad it was written in the 70's however instead of something current


  3. says:

    The late 1970s and early 1980s were boom years for science fiction; the twin mega successes of STAR WARS and CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND in 1977 in the cinema helped spur on a huge growth in the field in film TV games comics and of course in literature the foundation of the genre Along with this came a surge in interest for popular reference works guidebooks and the like; as a kid just getting into the field at the time I accumulated quite a few of them and some of those early books even the outdated ones remain very useful Probably the two best that I've used are The Visual Encyclopedia of Science Fiction from 1977 and The New Encyclopedia of Science Fiction first published in 1979 and updated in the early 1990s These books are of course out of date but still contain a wealth of great information on the genre's authors themes and works some of it not that easy to find now even in the internet ageThe same can be said of this work from 1979 by longtime SF book critic and bookseller Baird Searles and coauthors Martin Last Beth Meacham and Michael Franklin but unlike the other books I mentioned this is short very accessible and readily and cheaply available It's a good starting point if you're interested in some of the great names and obscure and forgotten names from the genre's rich past Like its companion volume A Reader's Guide to Fantasy published a couple of years later it's divided into several short sections a rundown of SF book series a list of the authors' personal favorites a brief history of the field from Frankenstein to the then present a listing of awards and one large section which is the bulk of the book an alphabetical guide to major authors with short descriptions of their careers and work The authors receive anywhere from a short paragraph to 2 12 pages I believe HG Wells and Olaf Stapledon have the largest entries In the interest of thoroughness and to give the reader of this review a good idea of what's included here are the writers coveredMark Adlard Alan Burt Akers Brian Aldiss Poul Anderson Piers Anthony Christopher Anvil Isaac Asimov JG Ballard TJ Bass Barrington J Bailey Greg Benford Alfred Bester Lloyd Biggle Jr Eando Binder Michael Bishop James Blish Ben Bova John Boyd Leigh Brackett Ray Bradbury Marion Zimmer Bradley Fredric Brown John Brunner Edward Bryan Algis Budrys Kenneth Bulmer Edgar Rice Burroughs FM Busby John W Campbell Terry Carr Angela Carter Lin Carter Jack Chalker A Bertram Chandler CJ Cherryh Robert Chilson John Christopher Arthur C Clarke Hal Clement Stanton A Coblentz DG Compton Michael G Coney Edmund Cooper Arthur Byron Cover Richard Cowper John Crowley Ray Cummings Avram Davidson L Sprague DeCamp Samuel R Delany Lester Del Rey Philip K Dick Gordon R Dickson Thomas M Disch Arthur Conan Doyle George Alec Effinger Gordon Eklund Harlan Ellison George Allan England Ralph Milne Farley Philip Jose Farmer Mick Farren Jonathan Fast Homer Eon Flint Alan Dean Foster Raymond Z Gallun Randall Garrett Jane Gaskell Jean Mark Gawron Hugo Gernsback David Gerrold Mark S Geston HL Gold Felix Gotschalk Ron Goulart Charles L Grant Joseph Green James Gunn H Rider Haggard Joe Haldeman Austin Hall Edmond Hamilton Charles Harness Harry Harrison M John Harrison Robert A Heinlein Zenna Henderson Frank Herbert William Hope Hodgson Fred Hoyle L Ron Hubbard Zach Hughes John Jakes Laurence Janifer D F Jones Neil R Jones Raymond F Jones Colin Kapp Daniel Keyes Otis Adelbert Kline Damon Knight Dean Koontz CM Kornbluth Michael Kurland Henry Kuttner RA Lafferty David J Lake Simon Lang Sterling Lanier Keith Laumer Tanith Lee Ursula K LeGuin Fritz Leiber Murray Leinster Stanislaw Lem CS Lewis Frank Belknap Long HP Lovecraft Sam J Lundwall Richard A Lupoff Barry N Malzberg George RR Martin Richard Matheson Anne McCaffrey JT McIntosh Vonda N McIntyre Richard C Meredith Judith Merrill A Merritt Sam Merwin Jr Walter Miller Naomi Mitchison Michael Moorcock CL Moore John Morressey Larry Niven John Norman Andre Norton Alan E Nourse Philip Nowlan Andrew J Offutt Chad Oliver Edgar Pangborn Alexei Panshin H Beam Piper Doris Piserchia Frederik Pohl Jerry Pournelle Fletcher Pratt Christopher Priest Marta Randall John Rankine Mack Reynolds Keith Roberts Spider Robinson William Rotsler Joanna Russ Eric Frank Russell Fred Saberhagen Margaret St Clair Pamela Sargeant James H Schmitz Thomas Scortia Richard Shaver Bob Shaw Robert Sheckley Mary Shelley Robert Silverberg Clifford D Simak John Sladek Cordwainer Smith Clark Ashton Smith EE Doc Smith George O Smith Norman Spinrad Brian Stableford Olaf Stapledon Bill Starr Christopher Stasheff Arkadi Boris Strugatsky Theodore Sturgeon John Taine Stephen Tall William Tenn James Tiptree Jr EC Tubb Wilson Tucker Jack Vance Sydney Van Scyoc AE Van Vogt John Varley Jules Verne Vernor Vinge Ian Wallace Stanley G Weinbaum Manly Wade Wellman HG Wells James White Kate Wilhelm Jack Williamson Gene Wolfe S Fowler Wright Philip Wylie John Windham George Zebrowski Roger ZelaznyA big list eh? One thing to note is that the earliest writer mentioned is Mary Shelley this history then only reaches back to her publication of Frankenstein in 1818 Of course there is little dating from before this date that is remembered or considered science fiction but it's instructive to notice that much of the earlier work would fall into the utopian vein starting with Thomas More's 1516 Utopia and if there's a huge gap in this book's coverage it is in fact a lack of attention paid to the many mainstream writers who tackled utopian and dystopian themes particularly from the mid 19th through the mid 20th centuries A large percentage of these excluded writers are known primarily for such worksEdward Bellamy Pierre Boulle Samuel Butler Karel Capek George Griffith Aldous Huxley SP Meek William Morris George Orwell Ayn Rand MP Shiel Kurt Vonnegut Evgeny ZamiatinStill one can't be too fussy it's a short book meant to be inexpensive and useful for the novice in the field and it accomplished it's goal in that regard as far as I was concerned Plenty of the obscure writers on the big list above I discovered through this book; some I still haven't discovered Even in this era of seemingly unlimited information about everything there are writers that you'll find little about beyond what's in this modest volume and it's nice to have some professional learned guides to sort it all out Maybe it's even useful now Certainly I wouldn't mind seeing this volume and it's companion updated or redone with the richness in the field over the last 30 years noted but with the older writers given their due and brought to new light


  4. says:

    I've been indulging my nostalgia feels recently and this is the last item up for reconsideration My favorite book as a kid this is limited in appeal to the contemporary reader by its age However it is the superior guide to its subject namely sci fi published before the release of Star Wars a movie which had a profound effect on sci fi publishing Before SW there were only a few sci fi books published every year though by 1975 there were annually than in all of the 1950s Sci fi was growing popular slowly until Lucas Spielberg and Scott made it cool and after about 1980 annual sci fi book production exceeded all previous sci fi book production everThis book remains what I consider the only reference guide anyone could ever need to sf books published before the deluge There really isn't anything comparable for today's sf There are many websites and a few large references but not a single one stop portable guide to the sf of the 21st century I think you could do worse than use this fine book as a guide to producing a new guide to new sf for new readers Maybe someone will It's also possible that the internet and social media make this sort of book unnecessary It was a different time Sometimes I feel like it was a different planet I sure felt like an alien back in the 1980sThe beauty of this beauty is its succinct coverage and focus The authors were booksellers; they were utilizing their experience to produce an essential guide to the basics They provide a thumbnail history of the genre a list of series and a canon and a brief annotated bibliography to the most important work of hundreds of writers This is a place to start They allow for readers to develop beyond the basics on their own recognizance The result is a short useful personal guideIn retrospect I understand why this was my favorite book I always wanted to produce something in its spirit for others That's as good a sign that a book is good as I know you want to make one of your own


  5. says:

    The one problem with this guide and admittedly it's a big one is that it was published in 1979 and given how long it takes to put out a book probably the cut off is somewhat earlier You won't find Orson Scott Card here Or William Gibson Or Douglas Adams Dan Simmons Lois McMaster Bujold John Scalzi You will though on the Seven Parsec Bookshelf find many seminal writers in the genre that many a list neglect Not just HG Wells and Jules Verne and Edgar Rice Burroughs but such writers as Olaf Stapeldon and E E Smith I certainly found many a writer to love through this book So although I might be reluctant to recommend it to someone looking for a guide to science fiction it's keeping it's place on my shelves


  6. says:

    Probably fairly dated at this point but still interesting I stole it from my mom when it first came out well it was still in her house for awhile but she bought it and I now own it I spent TONS of time poring through this book the things we had to do before goodreads but didn't actually get THAT many recommendations out of it The authors ran The Science Fiction Shop in NYC for many years


  7. says:

    This is an old book but I loved it when I used it when I was a kid and thought Heinlein was the man It introduced me to a number of authors I had never heard of seeing as no one else I knew read SF Thankfully we have the Internet now


  8. says:

    Science FictionAnthology


  9. says:

    An entertaining and useful especially for its time guide to the work of the bestmost popular authors in science fiction


  10. says:

    Great reference book for SiFi writers Recommended