Resuming SFADB Development

I’ve had concepts for what I want to implement on my science fiction awards site, what was first the Locus Index to Science Fiction Awards (http://www.locusmag.com/SFAwards/) and which has been superseded by the Science Fiction Awards Database (http://www.sfadb.com/), since at least 2000, when I first posted the former site and when I started to play with the idea of tallying up entries in Bill Contento’s Locus Index to Science Fiction, the entries for how many anthologies and collections any particular short story was reprinted in. I specifically remember jogging around the running track at the North Hollywood Bally’s (acquired three years ago by LA Fitness) thinking about it. Contento at that time had a crude tally of the number of such reprints, with stories by Ellison and Clarke and Keyes topping the list, but my vision was to scale those data by the kind of reprint book, and combining those data with the awards data already compiled, in order to come up with a balanced set of data about the most essential SF/fantasy novels and short fiction of all time.

(My motivation is not a technogeek issue about statistics. It’s about trying to identify a set of novels and stories that are at the core of the SF/fantasy genres, a set of titles that can be objectively identified as those that anyone interested in these genres should aspire to be familiar with. This notion of a common core of SF/F literature is perhaps an old-fashioned idea, but one which I still think is worth pursuing.)

This project is huge and I wish I were more efficient about implementing it. (And I’m boggled by all the work that’s gone into the vastly larger project of the Science Fiction Encyclopedia.) Currently, with no day job but while dealing with the sale of our house here in LA and the search for a new home in the San Francisco Bay Area, I have lots of free time, though it’s difficult to focus on a big project like this with these other matters in the foreground.

Despite which, I have resumed work on sfadb today, on one of the three major open threads on the site. (One: citations. Two: anthologies. Three: Tallies and rankings of novels and stories by year. And four, only barely begun: selected bibliographies in my preferred format.) I haven’t posted another round of ‘Citations’ (http://www.sfadb.com/Citations_Directory) since April, though I’ve off and on been working the next round of a couple three dozen additional sources. The issue for adding new citation references is verifying bibliographical information on the titles cited by each source. That is, if some citation source links to some title, I need to have the year and country and publisher of that title’s first edition in my database, before I can include those data in the dataset for sfadb, and update all the citation and title pages. (And I’m also revising the way in which I indicate first publication for books that were first published in non-English languages in some year, and published in English in some later year.)

As of today, I have 256 Books Records to verify in that way. In the past couple years I’ve taken the Science Fiction Encyclopedia as being the primary source for such bibliographical information (superseding my traditional sources, such as L.W. Currey’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors: A Bibliography of First Printings of Their Fiction, and other sources by St. James and Robert Reginald and Donald H. Tuck). The only problem with SFE is that it does not include some specifically fantasy authors, and for those, I resort to Bill Contento’s Locus Index, or Wikipedia, or Abebooks.com, or as a last resort a general Google search, to identify first publication data. So far, there are only a handful I’ve not been able to verify even through those methods. It should take only two or three full days to work through those 256, so another general update of Citations references on sfadb should be forthcoming in the next week or two.

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