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a critical list with discussions
How the "Great Science-Fiction & Fantasy" Site is Organized"Others, going about it in the opposite way, thought the first thing to do was eliminate all worthless books."
--The Library of Babel,
Jorge Luis Borges
As the Welcome page states, this site is at bottom simply a list of good science-fiction and fantasy authors and of good books by those authors, along with all sorts of possibly useful or entertaining subset lists. But it has grown in the making, and includes a lot I never originally contemplated. Having by now a page count in the five digits, the site wants a little introductory explaining, so you can better hunt up what you may find of interest here.
I will, for convenience, here repeat the overview you should already have read on that Welcome page.
We can, if crudely, compare this site with a solar system:
There is a pretty complete "Site Directory", which I have tried to organize logically and have tarted up with colors, at the bottom of this and every major page of this site.
(The incompleteness of the Directory is that it does not individually list all the many "planets", the per-author pages--though it does of course include the pages from which you can easily get at them: the full master list, and the 26 pieced-off alpahabetic sections of it--nor does it individually list any of the per-title "moons" or "moonlets"; you would normally go to a book "moon" from the corresponding auctorial "planet", and to an edition "moonlet" from the corresponding per-book "moon", though there is a complete book-titles list page for the stubborn).
But, even though the Directory is thus abbreviated, and color-coded and annotated, at a first glance it can appear daunting, so I'll go through it section by section for you.
(Note that if you put your cursor over any part of the Directory, you will see a little message at the cursor tip about that part of the Directory--try it in the samples below.)
Let me note in passing that in trying to keep the site arrangement coherent I have adopted the practice of using page border colors that are common to pages with something in common, and that roughly correspond (they are somewhat darker) to the colors used in the Directory display--for example, this page--as part of the Introductory material--has a blue border.
The Introductory Pages
These comprise introductory material that you normally need to read only once (though you may want to come back to it some time, especially this page.) This part of the Site Directory block looks so:
Of these, you should by now have already read both the Welcome, with its notes on basic mechanical matters, and both halves of the Apologia, which explains who and what is here and why they are and others are not. As I said on the Welcome page, this site was designed for civilized readers, not for the MTV generation: if you want to skip over the explanations, fine, but you do so at your peril. I do not take kindly to inquiry emails asking "but how can you leave out Robert Heinlein/Piers Anthony/Isaac Asimov/Terry Brooks/whoever?"--which sort I get regularly. (The other listed page, Site Organization, is of course the one you are on right now.)
The Author-Related Pages
These are the pages you will normally use as your targets. If you have a true fast internet connection, the Master List--the "sun" of this site--is the place to start; if your connection is a simple dial-up, the 26 alphabetical-by-author pages are your best bet. This part of the Site Directory block looks so:
This site is oriented toward authors. Although there are many authors of generally fine work who produce the occasional clunker, and many authors of indifferent or worse work who produce the odd gem, by and large it is by identifying writers of ability that we discover works of merit, and so this site is organized around the authors listed. The subheadings below tell you what's what with these author-related pages.
The Author List
The raw Author List is just that: a bare list, alphabetical, with some preliminary commentary (and my rough ratings, from one to five stars, which ought not to be, and likely will not be, taken too seriously). That page is chiefly meant as a quick summary list, just so you can see at a glance who is--so far--represented here and who not; it is not a page you are likely to want often.
The Master Authors/Books List
The real center of the site is this full Books-by-Author Master Authors/Books List, showing all books considered on this site, organized by author; but . . . that page is consequently quite large, over a quarter of a megabyte, and so--unless you have a true high-speed net connection--may take an annoyingly long time to fully load (up to a minute on a 28.8K connection). I thus also provide 26 other pages, each a subset of the full list--all authors whose names begin with a given letter--so those with slower connections can still get quickly to the lists. Those sub-list pages are, just as shown in the tabulation above:
The Individual Author Pages (not listed in the Directory table)
These, the "planets" to the Master List's "sun", are not shown individually in the Directory table owing to their numbers--you would normally access them from one of the inclusive pages--the Master List or some alpha section of it, as described just above.
Each individual-author page not only repeats that author's book list from the Master List (and alpha sub-list pages), but also contains--or will eventually contain, as I get to each--some discussion of that author and, in a general way, the listed books by that author (I say "a general way" because my purpose on those individual-author pages is to give you a sense for the author--a taste, one might say, not a detailed and scholarly analysis--and I take pains to not disclose information about any book that might short-circuit your enjoyment and discovery of it: in short, "no spoilers"); it also contains (or will soon contain) links to most of the other useful resources about that author available on the web or (as may be applicable) in print. As I said, I do not, owing to the length of the list, link those individual pages in the Directory, but they are linked at pretty much every place on this site that particular authors' names are mentioned (such as on the raw Author List mentioned above).
Author-Related Specialty Lists
While the author pages just described are the kernel of this site, there is also what many may find of the most immediate interest on this site, a page with various specialty sub-lists of the authors; notably, it includes lists of the five-star and four-star authors, plus notable writers of limited output and a few other such things.
(The description below is now only partly correct, since I am removing each author's links to the individual page for that author, and greatly expanding the links to be a complete "Resources" list for that author, as mentioned a little earlier; to avoid confusion, though, authors already so processed are still shown on the Author Links page, with a link that jumps to the Resources block on that author's page here.)
For those who want to go on to find out more about any of these authors than my limited space or knowledge provides, I have provided a long page of Author Links to sites about these authors. For each author for whom I could find such a thing--and I have searched quite diligently--there is a site link (or, too often, a mere single-page link) provided: I usually give only one link because amassing a reasonably complete list would be silly, as the sites I link to themselves provide such lists, doubtless more complete and current than anything I could do (but I do give multiples when there is not even one good link). Indeed, I do not necessarily link to the "best" or "most complete" site about any author--only to the one that appeared to have the longest list of further links, to give you access to as much information as possible about that author.
Sadly, for too many authors there is not only no entire dedicated site, but not even a decent whole page. I have thus also included on that page a list of authors lacking decent documentation on the web, in the hope that some fans may be inspired to start such sites.
Because I have not recently been able to give this site as much time as I would choose to, I have created a More Books page that lists other books yet unread by me by authors already present in these lists, which books I cannot say with reasonable certainty will, on reading, end up here; that doesn't mean that they are "marginal" works, only that their authors are variable in the quality of their output--these lists very likely contain numerous gems. I have done this so that those who might occasionally drop in here looking for ideas on expanding their reading range may find some fresh material without having to wait on my slow reading pace.
Just as there are likely more wonderful books by the authors in these lists than are listed here (as explained just above), there is assuredly some number of comparably fine authors not listed here at all yet (owing, again, to my being one mortal human). As with the list page described above, I want to give those who might occasionally drop in here looking for ideas on expanding their reading range some fresh material without their having to wait on my slow reading pace. I thus, after diligent research into the opinions of folk whose opinions are likely to be meaningful, prepared this list page of Other Candidates for these pages, including at least representative selections of titles by each.
I am working as best life allows at sampling works by these authors--as I type, I have about three dozen volumes on my library table by such yet-untested writers--and am trying to place them ahead of unread works by authors already on the lists. So many books, so little time . . . .
The Book-Related Pages
While the actual per-book pages--the "moons" of this literary solar system--are something you normally reach from author-related pages, there are various specialty lists of books that you may find of interest. For the directly book-related pages, the corresponding Site Directory block looks so:
General Book Lists
Although there is a single particular-books All Listed Books page, on which all titles recommended in this site's Master List are listed, it is just for reference, and is not in my opinion of much immediate use: you are best advised to discover titles as you encounter them in context here and there on this site. (Besides which that single title-list page is awfully big, and so makes a long download at dial-up speeds.)
There is also a page with an evolving list of Preferred Editions of books that have such versions (a seriously incomplete list that I am still expanding, roughly in parallel with the progress of detailed individual-author write-ups).
Besides the actual speculative-fiction books comprised in the main author and book lists here, there are a few others--by now, quite a few--cited here and there on this site, some closely related to this field (such as books of speculative-fiction criticism), some rather farther afield; if you have run across such a citation and want to see it again but forget just where you saw it, simply jump to the Other Books page shown in the "Books" block above--that whole lot of odds and ends is collected in one place.
Specialty Book Lists
While this site is by and large organized around authors, there are also some few pages with speciality lists of particular sorts of books:
The Mandatory "Top 100" List
Finally, as far as book-oriented pages go, I have--perhaps unwisely--yielded to the temptation to throw in a version of an apparently mandatory in criticism "100 Best Books" list, except that I have made it a "100 Greats" list, not a "100 Best" list (even my arrogance has limits), plus I have made it a list of "works", not "books"; that difference is material, because I have used a rather expansive definition of what constitutes a "work" for these purposes (as explained on that page).
The Book-Buy Pages
Because people who read about books often want to read the books themselves, I offer several convenient ways for you to locate--and, of course, to buy--new and used copies of the books mentioned on this site (or, for that matter, any book whatsoever). Here's how the directory of the pages about book-buying works. While there are literally many thousands of actual individual "buy" pages on this site--first one for every title (the "moons" in the solar-system analogy of this site's layout) and then one for every edition of each of those many titles (the "moonlets")--the pages listed in the Directory are just explanations of all those other pages, which you normally find and reach in the course of reading here about particular authors and books. (Or you can also, going beyond what I list here, browse several thousand other speculative-fiction books in the site's "general stores"--one per Amazon division--of SFF books.)
New Books and Amazon
Of the three Amazon-related pages, the first explains some things about buying new books from Amazon, and about my relations with them--all six national divisions of them--and how those relations do and don't affect you and this site. Then, for for each of those six Amazon divisions, I have provided (besides the direct, one-click links for all available editions of each of the individual books listed here), six unrestricted-search pages; while, as you see, there's only one search page listed in the Directory, it in fact functions as six different pages, depending on which Amazon national division you call it for (which you can easily change once you're at that search page). The six effective pages are:
This way, you can locate any book that each division may carry, not just books listed on this site. (Incidentally, those searches will always locate editions in English, regardless of the native language of any Division.)
Finally, because some now-scarce editions may only be available from a division other than your own, I have tried to help ease the complications of figuring international shipping costs with a set of tables (on which I spent many dreary hours) in the listed page on international book-buying considerations.
Used Books and Abebooks
Another book-buying information page explains some things about buying used books through this site and about the Advanced Book Exchange (Abebooks); that page also provides a free-form Abebooks search capability, so you can find and buy used copies of any books whatsoever--not just the ones listed on this site. If you don't already know, Abebooks is an "on-line storefront" for something over 13,000 individual used-book sellers around the world--many being small, mom'n'pop operations.
Though Abebooks is international, I have, for convenience, set its used-book search page up like the Amazon new-book search page: that is, it is actually six pages in one. (In fact, you can actually, by using simple settings available on that page, effectively turn it into many dozens of "national" pages--but, for simplicity, the initial set-ups are just the same six as correspond to Amazon's national divisions.) The start-point nationalities available on that used-book search page are thus:
Unlike the Amazon searches, though, these settings are for where you are, not where the booksellers are--though you can control that, too, from the pages. In fact, you can customize your used-book searches in a remarkable number of useful ways: details are on the search pages themselves.
The Speculative-Fiction "General Stores"
Paralleling the by-Amazon-national-division scheme are the "general store" bookshops; these each list several thousand speculative-fiction books from Amazon's current list of such titles, so you can browse generally what's out there beyond the particular recommendations on this site.
The Science Fiction Book Club
Another page about book buying gives you some information about the Science-Fiction Book Club (which also handles a lot of fantasy, the name notwithstanding) and a link to the introductory-offer page of their site, where you can sign up on line. (I am myself a member of long standing.) Low prices and all, though, to my mind the Club's big draw are its unique editions, volumes printed for them alone, because those volumes are often tidy omnibuses of related books not elsewhere available in omnibus editions. All that and more is described more fully on that Club-related page here. (There are also links to some of what seemed to me the more possibly interesting other book clubs the same organization runs.)
And Those Non-Directory-Listed Pages
For all of that, the most important pages on this site related to book buying remain those individual book pages, one per title (and per alternate "aka" title); clicking on the link just given will open a new tab or window on your browser where you can see and have explained all the details of those pages (or you can wait and later read the new books page in full). The used-book results are especially important in the light of the sad circumstance that the majority of books recommended here are no longer in print, which says something about this world of ours.
(There are several books with edition pages on this site which books are not speculative fiction--some are speculative-fiction criticism or history, others are English-language-related books--and that are hence not on the "master" book list; those edition pages are reached either from in context on the particular site pages here on which you find them mentioned and linked, or from The Other Books list page described a bit above.)
The "Miscellaneous" Pages
As the TV ads often say: "But wait! There's more!" In this case, quite a bit more--please do not, because these pages are tucked away under "miscellaneous", overlook them (my own experience is that "miscellaneous" is often the most interesting category on a web site). Continuing the solar-system analogy, these pages are the "asteroids" and "comets" of this site--and they are, like their celestial counterparts, both numerous and often quite interesting.
First of these is Musings, a collection of pensées on science fiction and fantasy that have occurred to me from time to time; some of them augment or expand topics already covered in the Apologia, while others explore independent topics. The collection will grow as time passes, so if you find any of interest, it's worth checking back occasionally to see if there's anything new here.
Next is one I call obiter dicta, a collection of other, more peripheral thoughts than the Musings that did not seem to fit well on any other site page. But on it--this miscellaneous of the miscellaneous--there are, for example, a list of some books listed here that you can download free; an explanation--for those who have insisted on skipping over the heavily recommended introductory material here--of why this or that "master" author is not listed here; a few premier general-reference speculative-fiction and general-literature web sites; and some other stuff.
Because, in my not inconsiderable experience, speculative-fiction aficionados are also often interested in crime/mystery fiction, there is a little page here on That Other Genre, describing some outstanding (and literate) series in that genre. (Actually, I now have an entire separate site on that topic, and the link in the Directory will take you direct to that site, in a new browser tab or window.)
And, though the topic of this site is words, art, too, can be a significant aspect of speculative thought, and a page of Science-Fiction & Fantasy Art and Illustration seemed a useful and interesting addition.
On the theory that sites that link to this one are likely above the average to be of some interest to visitors here (and because it is an internet courtesy to reciprocate linking), there is a page of Other Sites, being all the sites that link to this site that I can readily discover.
As an on-and-off heavy contributor to the alt.english.usage usenet group, I felt compelled to put in my two cents' worth of angry comments on the terrible degradation of the English Language over the last half-century or so, and its whys and wherefores.
Then, and critically important for everyone--read this one page if you read nothing further whatever on this site--is some information on the horrid and disgusting stuff called Scumware that you could have on your computer right now and not know about.
I have, of course, the traditional site Change Log listing all nontrivial changes made to this site.
And I have provided the also-traditional scant few words about Your Host on this site.
There is also a "beg" page, from which you can, if you are feeling particularly big-hearted, Donate toward the upkeep costs of this site (it's all handled through PayPal and is as safe as an internet transaction can be, which is usually a lot safer than ordinary transactions).
Finally, there is a page of kindly Comments that visitors here have put up on their pages or mailed to me--those from recognized authorities in the field, including some authors, are especially pleasing, but they're all delightful--there are few rewards to running a site like this, and these are they.
Attached to this site is a Discussion Forum, or--more peoperly put--a set of Discussion Forums. (I presume you are familiar with such things, but if not you can read up on them at, among other places, Wikipedia.) The part of the Site Directory that lists the current forums here looks like this:
That is rather self-explanatory, save that I suggest always starting at the forums main page.
Searching the "Great Science-Fiction & Fantasy" Site
At the bottom of each page of this site, right above the Site Directory we have been looking at, is a little grey block containing two things, the chief of which is a Google-powered site-search box, which is self-explanatory.
In that same grey block is a "beg button", by clicking which you go to a page here explaining how you can make a simple, Paypal-safe donation toward the upkeep of this site. The (To whom? Why? How? Click here to find out.) link takes you to a page that explains donating more fully.
As with the Directory, helpful messages pop up if you place your cursor within the box. The block looks like this:
"Site Info": Other Works, Making Contact, Copyrights, and Good Browsing
Right below each page's Site Directory is another block, titled "Site Info"; it is small, but nevertheless addresses a number of distinct points. As with the Site Directory, placing your cursor within the box will pop up a helpful message at the cursor tip. That block looks like this:
Other Works From the Same Hand
The white-backgrounded box-within-a-box contains two distinct messages. The left-hand one points you to my "master site", owlcroft.com, where you can see all the many (and diverse) sites I maintain; if, after looking around here, you think this site interesting or useful, why not pop over there and see what else I've done? Something there may also be of interest or use to you.
The right-hand message in the white box tells you about the hosting service I use. If you have a web site (or sites) that is important to you, you should have it on a host service that is technically sound, reliable, and user-friendly, and Pair Networks is all of that and more; you don't have to take my (or their) word for it--read what others say about them (for which Google Is Your Friend).
Emailing the "Great Science-Fiction & Fantasy" Webmaster
Right below that white box is a link by means of which you can one-click email me if your browser, as most do, supports that--if not, it shows the email address to use. (If your browser does handle email, the email form should open with not only the address but the subject line and salutation already filled in.)
All of the text on this site--excluding, of course, credited quotations--is copyright, with a copyright notice appearing on every page, and I strongly resent any breaches of that copyright. I am very generous with permissions to copy, asking only a modest attribution statement somewhere, but I much advise against copying material from here without such permission. I used to own and manage a corporation called The Lawsmiths; take that for what it's worth.
HTML Standards and Conformity
I try to scrupulously check all my site pages for complete compliance with the established coding standards set by the W3C (the World Wide Web Consortium, the international HTML standards-setting body). This area of the Site Info box gives you a link to find out more about the standards, or the W3C itself, as well as providing a click-on image link that will instantly run the page you are reading through the W3C's checker and verify on the spot that it is indeed conforming.
Getting a web page to look in your browser the way its maker intends can be a battle. For a webmaster like me to carefully keep to standards is only half the battle: the browser itself must reliably render conforming pages in accordance with the standards. Not all do (can you spell "Micro$oft"?). Even with Google's new "Chrome" browser entry, by far the most reliable and serviceable browser around is Firefox; if you're not using Firefox, you're not using the best--it's that simple. By just clicking on that Firefox logo image in the Site Info box, you can find out about, and even download, a free copy of the Firefox browser.
(And while I'm making recommendations, let me make a somewhat larger-scale one: if you are not already using some variant of Linux as your operating system, you owe it to yourself to check out the Ubuntu Linux distribution. It is, of course, totally free, and 100% open-source, and professionally maintained, and breathtakingly simple to keep updated, and a lot of other wonderful things. I can scarcely recommend it enough. Right now, I myself still use OS/2 on my main computer, because I have so much legacy code I wrote for OS/2 use, but I have Ubuntu on my laptop, and wow. I loved OS/2, but it's falling ever further out of date--not the OS itself, but the ancillary applications and, worse, device drivers--but Ubuntu is a delight. Take a good look--it's easy to try it from a CD to see if you like it before making a switch.)
Linking To This Site
If you want to provide a link to this site, thank you. I very much prefer links to the site front page, so unless you have a definite reason to link to some other particular page, I ask that you please use this exact HTML:
<a href="http://greatsfandf.com/">Great Science-Fiction & Fantasy Works</a>.
Well, you know enough about the site to decide for yourself. Or, as a refresher, scroll down a bit more to this page's copy of the Site Directory. I'd say perhaps either the master authors/books list or perhaps the specialty lists page, which include things like the highest-ranked, the Top 100, and suchlike. Or just poke around and explore.
(Note that if you try to use the "site directory" jump-to link on this page, it won't take you to the real directory, but rather to the sample piece in the discussions above--because it jumps to the first instance of the anchor, and the extracts used as samples here exactly duplicate the real thing, including the anchor mark; sorry for the confusion.)
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it was last modified on Thursday, 1 January 1970, at 00:00 GMT
The site's Front Page
(essential one-time reading)
a quick site overview and some mechanical details
the criteria used to make these lists
(A long page, so also available in two parts for those with slow internet connections.)
· Apologia: Part 1
· Apologia: Part 2
what's where, and why
(the heart of the site)
(just a lightly annotated list of the authors here--not the best place to start)
Master Authors/Books List
(the centrum of this site, but a big page--there are alpha subpages available)
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
several author "sub-lists" (such as the 5-star greats)
links to useful external pages or sites for each listed author
yet-unread candidate books by authors already in these lists
authors, and books, that--pending actual reading--seem likely candidates for these lists
(typically gotten to
All Listed Science Fiction & Fantasy Books
(a long file to download)
for those books having such (a work in progress)
The Other Books:
all cited books not in the master fiction list, collected in one place
Overlooked Gems of Science Fiction & Fantasy:
wonderful works sadly under-known
Light-Hearted Science-Fiction & Fantasy:
there's more than you might think
Religiously Themed Science Fiction & Fantasy:
something the field handles wonderful well
Science Fiction & Fantasy For Younger Readers:
a selection from these lists of appropriate works
100 Great Works of Science Fiction & Fantasy:
using an expansive definition of "works"
"Guilty Pleasures" of Science Fiction & Fantasy:
sometimes even gourmets just want a big bag of potato chips
(new, used--find any book, anywhere in the world)
|About Buying Books From Here:|
Buying Books New:
· about buying books from Amazon
· searching for new books at any Amazon division
· international book-buying considerations
Buying Books Used:
searching for used books anywhere in the world
|Our Speculative-Fiction "General Store":|
About the Science-Fiction Book Club:
info & online signup
(often the most interesting part of any site)
|Miscellaneous Topics & Info:|
an ever-growing collection of, yes, musings
"That Other Genre":
Science-Fiction & Fantasy Art and Illustration:
online galleries of diverse works
sites that have noticed this one
The English Language:
a few thoughts on its modern rape
read this if nothing else whatever
what was done when
a comically little about me
you can help support this site
some things said about this site by others
(on- or off-topic, there's a forum here for you)
|The Discussion Forums on This Site:|
the forums "front page", with a menu of forums--or jump to one direct:
Comments? Criticisms? Questions?
Please, e-mail me by clicking here.
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