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The New York Public Library attempts to collect comprehensively English-language reference titles on science fiction and adds more than 500 works of science fiction annually. Currently, the Research Libraries hold over 8,000 fiction titles, 500 reference volumes and 165 periodicals (including 79 "pulp" titles) in this area. Most hardcover editions of English language authors are available as well as works of major foreign authors, such as Stanislaw Lem and Italo Calvino, often in both the original language and the English translation. Most of the major authors of the "Golden Age" of science fiction publishing-approximately 1930-1960-are well represented in the retrospective Dictionary Catalog of pre-1972 Library holdings. However, the bulk of the science fiction holdings will be found in CATNYP, the online catalog, representing items acquired or cataloged from 1972 to the present, and including the addition of several large retrospective collections in the 1980s.
An important and unusual feature of the Research Libraries' collections is the availability, in microform, of early and contemporary paperback original titles. In addition, the General Research Division is currently building a collection of archival samples of "pulps," Ace SF doubles, and other unique American and British paperback editions. Information concerning this collection may be requested at the Information Desk in Room 315.
If you need further assistance, visit our reference desk, or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Using the Catalogs
General instructions for locating materials are given in How Do I Find a Book?. The following information is specific to the topic at hand.
In the Dictionary Catalog, fiction can be searched by author or title. There are cross references from pseudonyms. Periodicals should be searched by titles. The main subject headings for most material are:
- Science--fiction (vol. 651, p. 64- , where fiction is a sub- heading under the topic Science)
Fantastic fiction (vol. 251, p. 11- )
Supernatural fiction (vol. 698, p. 367- )
In CATNYP, in addition to searches by author or title, subject searches using
- Science fiction
will produce most of the holdings. Follow the instructions on the screen for further information.
NB: Because a significant percentage of the science fiction collection was acquired after 1971, titles with a pre-1972 publication date should be searched in both catalogs.
Anatomy of Wonder: a critical guide to science fiction, edited by Neil Barron. 4th ed. (New Providence, NJ: R.R. Bowker, 1995) *RS-NAL 95-6057. The most recent edition of this standard reference work, in addition to the usual comprehensive annotated bibliographical essays, includes new chapters on SF comic books, SF poetry and teaching classes on SF. Important appendices include Convention listings and a theme bibliography. The earlier editions (1976, 1981, 1987) each contain valuable information on the history of science fiction and can be found in CATNYP. Two titles, done in a similar format, cover areas closely related to science fiction; Fantasy Literature: a reader's guide, edited by Neil Barron. (New York:Garland Pub.,1990). *RS-NAL 90-1799 and Horror Literature:a readers guide, edited by Neil Barron. (New York: Garland Pub.,1990) *RS-NAL 90-2346.
Bleiler, E.F. Science fiction: the early years (Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 1990). *RS-NAL 91-4116. Presents story synopsis and brief critical commentary on over 3000 novels and short stories written before 1930. Scope includes dime novels, plays, Victorian periodicals and much more. Includes motif and theme index, date index, magazine index, title and author index and a bibliography of sources.
Encyclopedia of science fiction, edited by John Clute and Peter Nicholls. (London: Orbit, 1993) *R-NAL 93-9106. Earlier edition: Encyclopedia of science fiction: an illustrated A to Z, edited by Peter Nicholls. (London: Granada, 1979) JFF 90-1412. Both editions of this classic reference volume are valuable for coverage of authors, titles, themes, SF history, movies, comic books, awards and many other topics. Good for identifying and verifying information covering the early years of SF. Theme essays are particularly informative. Although the 1993 edition contains expanded essays and updated information the 1979 edition is valuable for its rare illustrations which were not retained in the 1993 edition.
Green, Scott E. Contemporary science fiction, fantasy and horror poetry (New York: Greenwood Press, 1989) *R-NAL 90-425. So far the only reference volume dedicated to this subject. Includes a brief historical overview, bibliography of major anthologies, biographical directory of major poets and a guide to publishers in the field. Appendix. Index.
Science fiction, fantasy and horror: a comprehensive bibliography of books and short fiction published in the English language, edited by Charles N. Brown and Willian G. Contento (Oakland,CA: Locus Press, 1986-) *RS-NAL 88-2860 An annual compilation based on review material published in the periodical Locus. Includes contents of new anthologies, and SF story magazines. Appendices include book, cinema, and short fiction summaries, and a publishers directory. Since 1990 cover artists of publications and updates of Hal W. Halls' Science fiction and fantasy reference index have been included.
Burgess, Michael. Reference guide to science fiction, fantasy and horror (Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, Inc., 1992) *RS-NAL 92-15470. A comprehensive annotated critical bibliography of reference titles, major and minor. Describes many out-of-print, hard-to-find titles. Consult the Information Desk in Rm 315 for information concerning interlibrary loan of certain titles.
Rogow, Roberta. FutureSpeak: a fan's guide to the language of science fiction (New York: Paragon House, 1991) JFE 91-8167. An alphabetical listing of terms covering the worlds of science fiction, comic books, gaming, popular science, media and fandom. Useful for more current terminology but consult Wolfe (below) for greater accuracy.
Tymn, Marshall. Research guide to science fiction studies: an annotated checklist of primary and secondary sources for fantasy and science fiction. (New York: Garland, 1977) *RS-NAL 79-1912. The valuable part of this book is the list of 400 dissertations which represents some of the earliest scholarly research in the field. Consult the Information Desk in Rm 315 for information on obtaining dissertations.
Wolfe, Gary K. Critical terms for science fiction and fantasy: a glossary and guide to scholarship. (New York: Greenwood Press, 1986) *R-NAL 86-6468. An introduction to the language of science fiction. Defines and discusses the subgenres of science fiction, for example, "cyberpunk." Explains the subtleties of robots, cyborgs and androids and other unique information.
History and Commentary
A diverse sample of the many important titles in the collection. For further listings, consult the catalogs under the subject heading Science fiction-history and criticism.
Aldiss, Brian. Billion year spree: the true history of science fiction. (New York: Doubleday, 1973) *R-NAL 75-4859 and Trillion year spree:the history of science fiction (London: Gollancz, 1986) *R-NAL 86-4859. Mr. Aldiss is one of the most respected authors in the field. The 1973 title was the first critical history of science fiction; the latter title is completely revised and updated. Both volumes are valuable.
Ashley, Michael. The History of the science fiction magazines (London: New English Library, 1974-1978) 4 vols. *R-NAL 76-1510. A comprehensive history of the Golden Age of SF magazine publishing (1930-1960). Includes checklists of issues, illustrators, authors, editors and much more.
Benton, Mike. Science fiction comics: the illustrated history (Dallas, TX: Taylor Publications, 1992) JFF 92-2754. A brief history of a long neglected genre of science fiction. Illustrated in color and black & white.
Clareson, Thomas D. Some kind of paradise: the emergence of American science fiction (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1985) JFE-86-1377. A history of the development of SF in the United States with emphasis on the distinctly American contributions to the genre.
Fiction 2000, cyberpunk and the future of narrative, edited by George Slusser and Tom Shippey (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1992) JFE 92-5364. A collection of essays discussing the current trends in science fiction.
Ketterer, David. Canadian science fiction and fantasy. (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1992). JFE 92-5364. Covers English-Canadian and French-Canadian science fiction from 1839 to the present. Includes an extensive bibliography.
Lambourne, Robert, et al. Close encounters?; science and science fiction. (Bristol, England: Adam Hilger, 1990). JFE 91-2229. An analysis of the many ways in which scientific theory and scientists are interpreted and portrayed in science fiction films and literature. Major themes dicussed include time travel, religion, politics, ecology and more.
LeGuin, Ursula. The language of the night: essays on fantasy and science fiction, Rev. ed. (New York: HarperColllins, 1992). JFD 92-14388. Critical esssays on the theory and practice of science fiction and fantasy by one of the most honored authors in the field. This revised edition includes a checklist of LeGuin's works.
Matthew, Robert. Japanese science fiction: a view of a changing society. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989) *OSB 89-7443; available in the Oriental Division, Room 219.
Stableford, Brian. Scientific romance in Great Britain 1890-1950. (London: Fourth Estate Ltd., 1985) JFD 85-1325. A history of British science fiction with emphasis on the early authors of "scientific romances" such as H.G. Wells. Discusses the uniquely British contributions to the field.
Suvin, Darko. Victorian science fiction in the U.K.: the discourses of knowledge and power. (Boston: G.K. Hall, 1983) JFE 84-2225. Included here for its distinctly Marxist interpretation of SF.
Where no man has gone before; women and science fiction, edited by Lucie Armitt. (London: Routledge, 1991) JFD 91-3354. Essays on the role and influence of women authors in the field of science fiction.
See also Research Guide: "Book Reviews."
Clareson, T. Science fiction criticism: an annotated checklist (Kent, OH; Kent Sate University Press, 1972) *RS-NAL 73-726. Includes over 800 items from early popular and scholarly sources. Some annotations. Continued by Tymn (see Bibliography section, below).
Hall, Hal W. Science fiction book review index. (Detroit, MI: Gale Research). 1923-1979 *R-*GAA 88-2306; Science fiction and fantasy book review index 1980-1983 *R-*GAA 88-2306; SFFBRI: Science fiction and fantasy book review index 1984- *R-*GAA 88-2306. From 1923 to 1970, this series indexed most of the commercial SF magazines and fanzines. Beginning with 1970 the scope was expanded to include library journals and general interest magazines. To date over 53,000 reviews have been listed.
Magill, Frank. Survey of science fiction literature: five hundred 2,000 word essays and reviews of world famous science fiction novels. 5 vols. (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Salem Press, 1979). *R-NAL 82-2133. Covers nineteenth and twentieth century novels, book series, plays and short story collections of major SF authors. Entries include plot synopsis, critical commentary and some bibliography. Recommended for the beginning researcher.
Magill, Frank. Survey of modern fantasy literature. 5 vols. (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Salem Press, 1983) *R-NAL 84-2363. Similar to the preceding title, covering some 300 fantasy authors. One improvement is volume five which includes 15 theme essays, a chronology, an annotated bibliography of secondary literature and a detailed index. Also for the beginning researcher.
Curry, L.W. Science fiction and fantasy authors: a bibliography of first printings of their fiction and selected nonfiction. (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1979). *RS-NAL 81-562. Included here for its bibliography or reference titles printed before 1979.
Erlich, Richard. Clockworks: a multimedia bibliography of works useful for the study of the human/machine interface in SF. (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1993) JFD-93-14436. Includes over 9000 annotated entries on books, journal articles, films, TV shows (even commercials), records, audiotapes, musical works, graphic arts and plastic arts. The comprehensive coverage extends the research value of this book far beyond the theme suggested by the title. Indexed.
Reginald, R. Science fiction and fantasy literature: a checklist 1700-1974, with contemporary science fiction authors. (Detroit: Gale Research, 1979) 2 vols. *RS-NAL 80-1660. Over 15,000 English language titles are listed. The biographical directory includes 1,442 authors, editors and critics. Considered one of the definitive bibliographies of the early years of SF.
Reginald, R. Science fiction and fantasy literature 1975-1991. (Detroit, MI: Gale Research, 1992) *RS-NAL 93-11011. Continuation of the above with the addition of horror and nonfiction categories. Also included are more than 1,000 older titles not covered in the first edition.
Tymn, Marshall, and Ashley, Mike. Science fiction, fantasy and weird fiction magazines. (Westport, CT: Grenwood Press, 1985) *R-*D-87-4492. Covers the "pulp" era to the 1980s. Each entry includes publication history, critical commentary, indexing sources, sources of reprint or microform copy and, most valuable, location in libraries.
The General Research Division attempts to collect most of the scholarly and popular periodicals which specialize in SF fiction and commentary. A selection of scholarly journals is listed here. Current issues are available in Room 108.
Foundation, JFK 80-298
Riverside Quarterly, *ZAN-4522
Science Fiction Chronicle, JFL-85-155
New York Review of Science Fiction, JFM 92-59
For a complete listing of titles consult the catalogs under the subject heading Science Fiction Periodicals, which will also list the popular titles such as Galaxy, Omni, etc.
Golden Age SF "Pulps"
A major collection of SF pulp magazines published during the 1930s through 1950s is available on microfilm. A CATNYP search by title or keyword will provide holdings and call numbers. A few titles can also be found in Dictionary Catalog.
Some of the major SF journals are now indexed in standard literary sources such as the Bibliography of the Modern Language Association. The following are specialized sources:
Science fiction and fantasy reference index 1878-1985, edited by Hal W. Hall (Detroit: Gale Research, 1987) 2 vols. *R-NAL 75-4677 and Science fiction and fantasy reference index, 1985-1991, edited by Hal. W. Hall (Englewood , CO: Libraries Unlimited, 1992). *R-NAL 93-11061. An international author, title, and subject index to the history and criticism of SF. Covers mainstream literary sources and general interest periodicals including European and Asian language publications. It is updated annually in the series Science Fiction, fantasy and horror by Brown & Contento (see General Works section).
Finding Short Stories
Index to science fiction anthologies and collections. (Boston: G.K. Hall, 1978) *RS-NAL 78-5128. Index to science fiction anthologies and collections 1977-1983. (Boston: G.K. Hall) *RS-NAL 78-5128. Together these works cover over 20,000 stories, poems, and plays by more than 5,000 authors. Access is by author, story title and anthology title. A good retrospective tool.
Index to science fiction magazines. 3 vols. (1926/50-1966/70) *RB-NAL. N.E.S.F.A. index to the science fiction magazines and original anthologies (1971/72-1986) *RB-NAL 83-760. N.E.S.F.A. index to short science fiction, 1987- *RS-NAL 91-2176. All include author and title indexes and a checklist of periodicals covered.
The subjects science fiction, fantastic fiction, and individual authors' names can be searched in the electronic version of such sources as MLA Bibliography and Humanities Index. Consult the librarians at the Information Desk in Room 315 for other possible sources.
Most current science fiction authors should be listed in the standard sources such as Contemporary Authors. Information on early writers can be found in the general works at the beginning of this guide. The most current specialized source is Twentieth-century science fiction writers, 3rd ed. (Chicago, IL: St. James, 1991) *R-AB 92-8643.
Art & Illustration
This area has begun to receive a great deal of interest. At present there are few major specialized resources. In the catalogs consult the subject headings Science fiction--illustration, Science fiction in art, and Fantasy in art or the names of specific artists, e.g., Virgil Finlay. For journal articles consult the Art Index. Additional information may be available in the Art Division, Room 300. Some pertinent titles are:
Weinberg, Robert. A biographical dictionary of science fiction and fantasy artists. (New York: Greenwood Press, 1988) *R-AB 88-3269. Provides biographical information for about 250 artists; also bibliographies and checklists of their works. Includes an historical overview and a discussion of the current interest in collecting SF art.
Aldiss, Brian. Science fiction art. (New York: Bounty Books, 1975). 3-MDTT+ 76-2649. Consists mostly of full color illustrations from the covers and the text (b&w) of rare early SF pulps. One of the first monographs on the topic.
Fantastic science fiction art, 1926-1954. (New York: Ballantine Books, 1975) 3-MDW+ 85-1870. A compilation of color cover illustrations from Astounding and other famous pulps. Not much text but an interesting representative collection.
Sadoul, Jacques 2000 A.D.: illustrations from the Golden Age of science fiction pulps. (Chicago: H. Regnery, 1975). JFF 77-638. A thematic approach to the pulp illustrations. Chapters cover aliens, robots, spaceships, women, weapons, exotic beasts, machines and cities of the future. Illustrations in color and black& white.
Theme Research In Science Fiction
Researching the development of a particular theme such as time travel or alien invasion is still not an easy task because there are few comprehensive theme indexes available. The sources listed in the General Works and Indexes sections of this guide will prove useful. Other helpful titles are :
Index to stories in thematic anthologies of science fiction. (Boston: G.K. Hall, 1978). *RB-NAL 78-2153 . Covers 181 theme anthologies printed before 1978.
Clareson, Thomas. Many futures, many worlds; theme and form in science fiction. (Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 1977) JFE 77-2342. Scholarly essays demonstrating that the major themes in science fiction are essentially the same as those in mainstream literature.
Many fine theme bibliographies and theme anthologies of short stories can be found in CATNYP, by using subject heading or keyword searches. For example:
Subject searches: Imaginary Wars
Voices prophesying war, future wars 1763-3749 JFE 93-791.
Uranian worlds; a guide to alternative sexuality in science fiction, fantasy and horror. JFE 91-2199.
Afterlives: an anthology about life after death. JFC 87-69.
Keyword Search: fantasy beasts
Zoo 2000: 12 stories of science fiction and fantasy. JFE 80-3134.
Selected Internet Sites
- (Le Guin, Ursula K.) Ursula K. Le Guin
Official web site. Biographical and bibliographical material, excerpts from her work, links to online stories, information on public appearances.
- Alpha Ralpha Blvd.
Site contains biographical and bibliographical information concerning numerous science fiction and fantasy authors. Includes links to other web resources.
A collection of links reflecting cyberpunk as both a science-fiction subgenre and a reflection of the evolving digital culture.
- Feminist Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Utopia
Site designed for scholars, fans, and readers of feminist science fiction and fantasy. Includes reviews and author resources. Online since December 1994.
- Internet Speculative Fiction Database
This site is "an effort to catalog works of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. It links together various types of bibliographic data: author bibliographies, publication bibliographies, award listings, magazine content listings, anthology and collection content listings, yearly fiction indexes, and forthcoming books."
- Science Fiction and Fantasy Book List Site
"This site is a comprehensive bibliography of science-fiction and fantasy authors and their books. The database also contains links to official and fan sites of various authors where they exist. Updated monthly with the latest books and new authors. . ."
- Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. (SFWA)
This is the site of "one of the most effective non-profit writers' organizations in existence. Over 1200 sf and fantasy writers, artists, editors, and allied professionals are members."
- Science Fiction Resource Guide
This diverse directory of science fiction sites includes art and artists, authors, awards, comics, animation, conventions, costuming, magazines and e-zines, fandom, movies, music, television, and more.
With more than 10.000 pages of Science Fiction and Fantasy related content, this site features stories, articles, book reviews, excerpts and synopses, author interviews and profiles, television and movie reviews, and discussion forums.
- Ultimate Science Fiction Web Guide
Features almost 6000 links to science fiction web resources.
Picture of the Day
An automatic razor strip for sharpening the two edges of a Gillette blade (1911). NYPL Manuscripts and Archives Division.
One of 700,000 pictures in the NYPL Digital Gallery