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Science Fiction: A Research Guide: Get Background Info


Cover from Planet Stories magazine, March, 1951. Public domain. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

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Cambridge Companions

Click the link below to see the essays in these works.The books they are from are contained in the Literature Online (LION) database. If you want to view these essays off-campus, you will need to enter your Multipass username and password when you click the link.

Contemporary Authors

A great database for getting biographical information on science fiction writers, especially those who are newer or lesser known, is Contemporary Authors. Click the link below to enter this database, then type the author's name in the search box and Click Search.

To access this database off-campus, you will need to enter your Multipass username and password when you click on the database link.


To visit the SFE, please click the logo above

This is a free online presentation of the  third edition of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. It aims to provide a comprehensive, scholarly, and critical guide to science fiction in all its forms.

For more about the Encyclopedia, please follow these links:

Literary Criticism: Online Reference Collections

Reference works are a great place to start research. Often, at the start of a research project, a student may not know much about the topic they have chosen. They need some basic information about an author, literary movement, or work of literature, in order to be able to intelligently define their topic and narrrow their topic to a manageable size.

The Gumberg Library provides access to two suites of electronic reference works geared to literature. Materials on all genres of literature, including science fiction are included in them. Using both will provide your with a great amount of introductory information on your chosen literary topic.

Both of these collections of resources can be accessed off-campus, but you will have to enter your Multipass username and password word in order to use them.

Gale Literature Resource Center

This database provides information on thousands of authors and literary works. It includes biographies, reviews and news, literary criticism, and topic and work overviews.

Literature Online (LION)

Along with the full text of of 350,000 English and American works of literature, this database provides articles from 200 full-text literary journals and other key critical and reference resources.

Using Wikipedia

Using Wikipedia is an easy and convenient way to begin gaining a working knowledge of a topic. If you choose to use it, be aware that there are two serious flaws with Wikipedia. The first is that anyone can write articles for it. You do not have to be an expert on a subject. The second is that anyone can edit the articles. Again, you do not have to be an expert on the subject. These two points raise doubts as to the accuracy of what you read there. Because of the problems regarding the authority of the writers of Wikipedia articles, gain what information you can from them, but do not use Wikipedia as a source for academic writing.

Print Reference Works