SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY LITERATURE: A CHECKLIST, 1700- 1974, WITH CONTEMPORARY SCIENCE FICTION AUTHORS II compiled and edited by R. Reginald. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1979. xii, 1141 pp. (in two volumes) ISBN 0-8103-1051-1 $64.00
Locus, Issue 231, Vol. 13, No. 3, March 1980, p. 15
[Titles are capitalized as Locus was produced on a typewriter; italics were unavailable.]
Reviewed by Lawrence I. Charters
Scratch a reader of science fiction and you will usually draw blood or some android equivalent. You will also find that you have uncovered a science fiction collector. Readers and collectors of science fiction will welcome R. Reginald’s work, and should try and ignore the price. SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY LITERATURE (SF&FL) costs about the same (or less) as thirty paperbacks, and weighs the same (or more). And if you have thirty volumes of sf, you are a collector and need this work.
SF&SF is a massive endeavor, the Author Index alone totaling 585 pages of double-column listings. Reginald intended the Author Index to be a checklist of all works in the field from 1700 to 1974, and he certainly gave it his best effort. There are 15,884 numbered entries, plus around 2000 additional entries for retitlings. Entries are grouped under the name (or pseudonym) by which an author is best known, and cross-references are included when necessary. The standard format includes the author’s name, birth and death dates, title, publisher, place and date of publication, number of pages, type of book, and any relevant series or bibliographic sketches in Volume 2. Only English-language first editions of novels, story collections and anthologies, and non-fiction writings on the field are included. Poetry, drama, and works in a foreign language are excluded.
In addition to the Author Index, Volume 1 also includes a simple Title Index, a Series Index, an Awards Index, and an Ace and Belmont Doubles Index. The Awards Index includes lists of the World Science Fiction Conventions, officers of the SFWA, name index of award winners, some very basic statistical tables of award winners, and lists of awards. Awards covered include the Hugo, International Fantasy, John W. Campbell Memorial (best novel), Jupiter, Locus, Nebula, Pilgrim, and World Fantasy. Only recipients are given, not finalists or nominees.
Volume 2 is devoted to Contemporary Science Fiction Authors II and a Pictorial History of Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing. The pictorial history is composed of thirty-two pages of black and white plates of book jackets, with a curiously high number of Borgo Press covers. (Guess who is the publisher of Borgo Press?) Contemporary Science Fiction Authors II is a revised, expanded version of Reginald’s STELLA NOVA: THE CONTEMPORARY SCIENCE FICTION AUTHORS (Los Angeles: Unicorn & Son, 1970) and includes 1,443 biographical sketches of living and deceased science fiction writers of the modern era.
First announced by Gale in 1977 (at $45.00), it is not surprising that this reviewer did not receive a copy until the very last day of 1979. SF&FL is thorough. Reginald has a broad definition of fantasy and science fiction (detailed in an Afterword), and he went to considerable effort to make this work the most complete checklist to date. Allen Drury’s ADVISE AND CONSENT series is included, as are two Linda Lovelace novels by D.M. Perkins, a “Flying Nun” and “Get Smart” series by William Johnston, and Richard Bach’s JONATHAN LIVINGSTON SEAGULL. Checking SF&FL against other reference works, several conflicts were found, and invariably it was the other work which proved to be in error. The only odd omission noted was L. Frank Baum’s OZ series. How can flying nuns and philosophical seagulls be considered fantasy and THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ as something else?
Reginald has done such a good job on the checklist that only a few petty criticisms can be levied. He states he checked, whenever possible, his findings against the NATIONAL UNION CATALOG, yet he does not include LC or ISBN numbers. These added bits of information would have made the work even more useful for libraries, and he should include such information in any supplements. He also chose to overlook the traditional practice of filing names beginning “M’”, “Mc”, and “Mac” together, as if written “Mac.” As Reginald is, himself, a librarian, this practice is most curious indeed. It appears at first glance as if Anne McCaffrey and her alphabetical neighbors have been subjected to some cruel literary purge, when all the while she was hiding between “Mazzeo” and “Mead.”
While the checklist is superb, the biographical section is merely good. Reginald has limited this section to “contemporary” authors, so you will not find anything on H.G. Wells or Jules Verne. “Contemporary” is at best an imprecise term, and leads to frustrations. Someone interested in the lives of the writers of THE SPACE MERCHANTS will find useful information on Frederik Pohl, but C.M. Kornbluth (d. 1958) is not listed. The Big Three of modern science fiction (Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein) are all included, yet Reginald devotes twice as much space to his own listing as to any one of the Big Three. Sam Moskowitz, by virtue of an autobiographical essay of staggering length, claims almost three times as much space as Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein, and Reginald combined. A little careful editing would give a more balanced view, and probably leave room for Kornbluth, Wells, and Verne.
Like most Gale Research titles, the book is printed in typewriter-quality characters — most agreeable in Locus but inelegant in a book priced at $64.00. Also in keeping with Gale’s past practice, supplements are planned, possibly covering five-year periods. Who knows — maybe in the meantime they’ll buy a snazzier typewriter…
Don’t expect to find SF&FL in a general bookstore. Few except stores specializing in science fiction and fantasy will carry it, yet almost any store will gladly order it for you. And order it you should, for you can then learn Isaac Asimov’s middle name, why Robert Reginald uses a pseudonym, what underground films have to do with the Dragons of Pern, and get a complete list of every Robert Silverberg science fiction title through 1974. What more could you possibly desire?
–Lawrence I. Charters