Information on the Web

I just posted a letter from Neil Barron soliciting inputs about worthy websites to list in the next, 5th, edition of his reference book Anatomy of Wonder. It is interesting to compare his list of criteria for what makes a website worthy to those I expressed back in February. I told him I would respond with *my* opinions on the subject within the next week or two, but as his letter indicates, your feedback is welcome too.

Meanwhile, I spent some time this weekend initiating the final phase of the Locus Online website, or of the Locus Index to SF Awards, or perhaps both, as I’ve vaguely envisioned it for several years now. This would be a superset of the author and book and story information currently in the Awards Index, in part to document those books and stories that are truly ‘canonical’ (which awards can only partially indicate), and in part to provide a more *useful* set of bibliographic data that seems to be currently available anywhere on the web. (Here is where this topic dovetails with the previous item.) As an example, if you happen to hear the new Grand Master Robert Silverberg has written 74 novels, where on the web is the best/quickest/more authoritative list of those 74 novels? Bill Contento’s Locus Index is invaluable, but it does not collate entries about various editions of each book into any kind of handy list–its chronological lists are cluttered with all the short fiction entires, omnibusi, anthologies, etc., and the Index has only spotty entries for books published before 1984. The ISFDB has lots of data, but its coverage is patchy, and any lengthy list of author’s books is likely to list novels that are not actually novels (they’re collections), and so on. Similar comments could be made about SciFan, about, and every other site offering such data that I’ve been able to find. (Several of these sites are obsessed by identifying *series* of books, to the detriment of simply identifying novels, collections, etc.) My favorite model for useful, simple bibliographic listings are those found in John Clute’s Illustrated SF Encyclopedia (though I do have a quibble or two about his categorizations), and so now I’ve started boiling data from my various databases down into such listings, to serve as entry points, or expansions, of the Awards Index listings. Not sure how this will work out, but perhaps I’ll post some ‘works in progress’ sample listings in the next week or two.

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