Science Fiction Literature through History
An Encyclopedia
by Gary Westfahl
July 2021, 766pp, 7x10
2 volumes, Greenwood

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-6616-6
$204, £152, 176€, A276
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-6617-3
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Numerous astronomical objects and features have been named after prominent science fiction writers. These include asteroids named after Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert A. Heinlein, and Stanislaw Lem.

This book provides students and other interested readers with a comprehensive survey of science fiction history and numerous essays addressing major science fiction topics, authors, works, and subgenres written by a distinguished scholar.

This encyclopedia deals with written science fiction in all of its forms, not only novels and short stories but also mediums often ignored in other reference books, such as plays, poems, comic books, and graphic novels. Some science fiction films, television programs, and video games are also mentioned, particularly when they are relevant to written texts. Its focus is on science fiction in the English language, though due attention is given to international authors whose works have been frequently translated into English.

Since science fiction became a recognized genre and greatly expanded in the 20th century, works published in the 20th and 21st centuries are most frequently discussed, though important earlier works are not neglected. The texts are designed to be helpful to numerous readers, ranging from students first encountering science fiction to experienced scholars in the field.


  • Provides readers with information about written science fiction in all its forms—novels, stories, plays, poems, comic books, and graphic novels
  • Includes original interviews with major writers like Ted Chiang, Samuel R. Delany, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Connie Willis that are not available elsewhere
  • Features numerous sidebars with additional data about various subjects and key passages from several classic works
  • Includes hundreds of bibliographies of sources that provide additional information on various specific topics and the genre of science fiction as a whole
Gary Westfahl is professor emeritus at the University of La Verne and the author or editor of 30 books about science fiction and fantasy, including ABC-CLIO's The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy (2005). He earned a PhD from Claremont Graduate University and long worked at the University of California, Riverside, where he edited several volumes of essays from the university's annual Eaton Conferences, such as ABC-CLIO's Worlds Enough and Time: Explorations of Time in Science Fiction and Fantasy (2002). He also wrote the reference book A Day in a Working Life: 300 Trades and Professions through History (2015) and regularly contributed to the Pop Culture Universe website. He has published hundreds of articles, reviews, and entries in reference books, and now writes film reviews for the website Locus Online. In 2003, he received the Science Fiction Research Association's Pilgrim Award for his lifetime contributions to science fiction and fantasy scholarship.


"Westfahl’s clear and lively presentation and comprehensive knowledge and background will appeal to fans of the genre, as well as students (middle school through college) who are researching specific sci-fi authors, works, or themes."—Library Journal, October 1, 2021

"The mix of broad-scope essays and specific topical entries results in a satisfying and balanced sf encyclopedia that should have wide readership."—Booklist, December 1, 2021
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