SELECT * FROM uv_BookReviewRollup WHERE recordnum = 626 Essential SF: A Concise Guide, by Jonathan Cowie, Tony Chester Book Review | SFReader.com

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Essential SF: A Concise Guide, by Jonathan Cowie, Tony Chester
Genre: Non-Fiction
Publisher: Porcupine Books
Published: 2005
Review Posted: 7/21/2005
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 10 out of 10

Essential SF: A Concise Guide, by Jonathan Cowie, Tony Chester

Book Review by David A. Olson

Have you read this book?

Essential SF: A Concise Guide is a listing of popular science fiction books, movies, TV shows, magazines, and authors. Each entry gives enough information that a reader can decide if they are interested in that item while at the same time not spoiling the plot.

Which pieces of science fiction are included is based on the results of the voting of science fiction fans, meaning that they looked at the Hugo Award and the annual Locus poll and other similar awards and included the winners. Their system means that notable awards like the Nebula are excluded when deciding what works to include because that award is based on the votes of a small number of authors. The guide also includes several older works that came before such awards, like "Frankenstein." Their system largely works, but they have included such works as "The Princess Bride" and "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" because they each won a Hugo, even though both of these are clearly fantasy and not science fiction. So, calling this guide concise is a misstatement since it includes works which are not science fiction. However, these are the rare exception, and the vast majority of the works clearly should be included.

The organization of this book is alphabetical, so it is relatively easy to find any particular work. However, there is only one giant list. So, if one wants to browse the authors, one must also page through endless books and movies as well. This makes the book harder to use than is necessary. The lack of an index adds to this problem.

The book ends with a checklist of every work listed in the guide. This may be useful to a collector who is looking to complete their collection of science fiction.

The small size of this book would make it easy for carrying to a bookstore or library to help in searching for something to read.

Overall, this book would be useful for becoming familiar with science fiction. However, a well-seasoned science fiction reader would probably be better off buying the "Encyclopedia of Science Fiction" by Clute and Nicholls.
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Comments on Essential SF: A Concise Guide, by Jonathan Cowie, Tony Chester
Posted by Jonathan on 8/16/2005
Hi

Because Porcupine is a small press (spin off from a specialist Sf book dealer) the link below may help those seeking out copies of Essential SF.