Non-Fiction Reviews

Science Fiction
The Illustrated Encyclopedia

(1995) John Clute, Dorling Kindersley, 25 , hrdbk, 312pp, ISBN 0-751-30202-3


Following up last year's mammoth SF Encyclopaedia, this is a much-welcomed addition. Basically I would say that it's an overview of the entire genre, with a lot of historical context. It has short essays on genre tropes and over 100 author-mentions with complete bibliographies; a look at the top 'classic' SF titles, films and TV series from around the world; and there's even a (woefully brief) look at comics.

Of course the media side is not Clute's strong point, and there is far too much of the usual SF nostalgia for the pulps. This is fine, I suppose, from a historical/nostalgic point of view: but I have always considered it a bit dumb, since most of the pulps are either unavailable or horrendously expensive.

But overall I'd say this was a worthy attempt to place SF in some sort of context, not least in the section where SF "events" are presented chronologically alongside happenings from the real world. Talking of hideously expensive, this book is. However, it is lavishly-illustrated throughout, quite thorough, and the kind of Christmas Present/coffee-table-book that you wouldn't be unhappy to receive in your Christmas stocking. Either save up or con someone else into buying it for you... the review copy stays with me!

Tony Chester

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