The bibliographic control of science fiction and fantasy has a long and storied history, from its beginnings in the 1930s to the online tools of today. The works range from superb productions that serve as best practice standards to quick-and-dirty listings. Virtually all of them add a bit to the coverage of the field.
The last decade of the twentieth century ushered in changes in the bibliographic world, as publishing outlets for such works disappeared or became highly selective. Borgo Press, a key outlet and standard setter, closed its doors, and other publishers recognized the impact of the World Wide Web on the viability of printed bibliographic tools in the genre. Presses like Scarecrow, Greenwood, and McFarland became highly selective, or withdrew entirely. One press cited the World Wide Web as an insurmountable obstacle to the economical publication of bibliographic work. Specialty presses and publish-on-demand presses offer an outlet but at the cost of low volume and marginal marketing. They also suffer from their own version of poor bibliographic control.
Magazines such as Extrapolation, Science Fiction Studies and Foundation are occasional outlets for shorter bibliographies. However, their primary mission is the presentation of scholarship, not bibliographies. Other outlets include some of the professional science fiction magazines and some E-zines. Even the well-known presses like Greenwood or McFarland share the problem of low distribution volume and lack of scholarly access. This is compounded by the increasing demands faced by libraries, with resulting reallocation of acquisition funds to electronic resources, and decreasing funding for the purchase of highly specialized bibliographies, and of genre materials in general.
These factors combine to leave a void in bibliographic publishing, and, perhaps, in the creation of scholarly bibliographies. It is this void that the Center for the Bibliographic Control of Science Fiction is proposed to fill.
The Center for the Bibliographic Control of Science Fiction provides an online repository for bibliographic works on science fiction and fantasy. Bibliographies included in the Center are created and formatted following an established set of content and style guidelines. The bibliographic content can include single author bibliographies, thematic bibliographies, indexes to magazines, and other bibliographic works.
Sponsorship and Management
To meet the various needs of the field, and to ensure quality content, the Bibliography of Science Fiction and Fantasy is proposed as a joint venture, sponsored by the Science Fiction Research Association, The International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts, Extrapolation magazine, and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Research Collection, Cushing Library, Texas A&M University. The Editorial Board of Extrapolation is proposed as the initial review board of submissions, following their established reviewing mechanisms. Should a need for a separate board develop, the sponsoring organizations would jointly name such a board.
The following bibliography of science fiction criticism does not claim to be exhaustive. It does, however, gather together a large number of critical materials on sf that the editors of SFS deem to be important, influential, or historically noteworthy. We have listed the entries in reverse chronological order since such a format, we feel, affords a useful glimpse of the evolution of sf criticism from 1634 to the present. In those cases where items listed on the bibliography have either been reviewed in SFS or featured in our Documents in the History of SF series, we have inserted links to the relevant pages.
In consulting this collective bibliography, our readers should be aware of certain methodological and editorial assumptions we made in compiling it. First, there are very few references herein to critical works that focus primarily on utopias; these are treated quite extensively in scholarly journals like Utopian Studies and in books by Lyman Tower Sargent and others. Second, rather than citing numerous individual reviews and essays by well-known critics or authors, as a rule we have preferred to list relevant compendia--e.g., John Clute's Strokes (1988) or his Look at the Evidence (1995)--even though, in many cases, the material gathered in these volumes was written much earlier. Third, we have excluded from this list most anthologies of sf, author biographies and interviews, works of theory that do not focus primarily on sf, and general bibliographies of sf (which tend to date rapidly from the moment they are published).
The original version of this critical bibliography appeared in the special issue of SFS "A History of Science Fiction Criticism" (26.2 [July 1999]: 263-83), where it served as the collective Works Cited for survey articles on the topic by Arthur B. Evans, Gary Westfahl, Donald M. Hassler, and Veronica Hollinger.