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"W. Malcolm White"?

This byline was apparently used at least 4 times in the early 1950s. The ISFDB lists one occurrence when it was supposedly used by Don Wollheim, but I can't find this pseudonym either online or in Tuck. Anybody have a better source (like "Who's Hugh?") handy? Ahasuerus 15:51, 28 Dec 2006 (CST)

"Who's Hugh?" doesn't list it, unfortunately. Mike Christie (talk) 18:26, 28 Dec 2006 (CST)
Contento attributes White to Wollheim in his new FictionMags web site (see: [1]), as well as in Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Weird Fiction Magazine Index:
WHITE, W. MALCOLM; pseudonym of Donald A. Wollheim, (1914-1990) (chron.)
   * No Greater Glory, (vi) Dynamic Science Fiction Aug '53
   * Pallas Rebellion, (vi) Out of This World Adventures Jul '50
         o Perry Rhodan #22 '73 
   * The Poetess and the 21 Grey-Haired Cadavers, (ss) Dynamic Science Fiction Oct '53
   * Shoo Fly, (ss) Science Fiction Quarterly Feb '53
   * Signpost in the Sky, (ss) Science Fiction Quarterly Nov '52
   * War of the Marsh-Men, (vi) Out of This World Adventures Dec '50
Thanks, that does it! :) Ahasuerus 19:41, 28 Dec 2006 (CST)
P.S. And note that they are in the process of moving to a new Web site. Ahasuerus 19:42, 28 Dec 2006 (CST)

Renaming "Bibliographic Notes"?

Since we already have a "Note" field in the ISFDB proper, how about changing the name of the Wiki URL to something else, e.g. "Bibliographic Discussion(s)" or "Bibliographic Comments"? Ahasuerus 17:41, 28 Dec 2006 (CST)

Works for me; I suggest you just add it as a feature. Mike Christie (talk) 19:15, 28 Dec 2006 (CST)
I see that Al has already changed the label from “Bibliographic Notes” to “Bibliographic Comments:” for both authors and publications and that seems fine. I’m still uncertain about the need for the need for bibliographic comments in the wiki given pubs have a notes field. With authors there is no notes field and for titles there is no wiki and it’s only publications that offer both. Marc Kupper 20:43, 28 Dec 2006 (CST)
Ideally, the Note field should be used to capture objective and immutable information about the Pub's contents, e.g. misspellings, conflicts between the cover, the table of contents and what's inside, etc. What has now become "Bibliographic Comments" (thanks, Al!) should be used for discussing our cataloging activities and secondary sources. For example, it would be a good place to sort out a conflict between two secondary sources.
There used to be a Note field for Author records in ISFDB1, but it was eliminated when Al decided to move all Author-specific free text stuff to Wikipedia. I have since suggested that there are occasionally bibliographic notes that don't belong (or would get lost) within Wikipedia, e.g. pseudonym warnings and house name attributions, and Al said he would think about it. The danger here is that any kind of free text Note field can easily deteriorate into a place for authors to post their complete bios/biblios as we have seen in the ISFDB Wiki. I suppose we could always move this stuff to the Wiki and then (one day) to Wikipedia. Ahasuerus 21:20, 28 Dec 2006 (CST)

Logging in

It seemed to me initially that once I set up my account I could log in several times a day and my identity was remembered -- I didn't have to log in again with name and password. Now it appears to me that I have to identify myself every single time (if I want to make an edit, or view my account, that is). Could a memory be set up? Yahoo accounts, I believe, demand your password about every 24 hours but short of that you can log in and out without re-identifying yourself. Wikipedia, of course, remembers your login until you tell it not to. Hayford Peirce 14:15, 29 Dec 2006 (CST)

That's odd -- I never have to relogin. Al may have some ideas about what is going on, but in the meantime you might try logging out of both the ISFDB and the Wiki, and then logging back in to both of them, in case there is some cookie confusion going on. In any case, the feature you are asking for is supposed to already be there. Mike Christie (talk) 15:07, 29 Dec 2006 (CST)
I think the MediaWiki only remembers your session if you check the "Remember me" box (I just popped over to Wikipedia, and indeed it doesn't remember me as I didn't check the box last time). The ISFDB should pretty much remember you until the unix clock flips over (December of 2037). Alvonruff 15:39, 29 Dec 2006 (CST)
Apparent discrepancies in the ISFDB's login behavior may be browser- or LAN-specific. Some of my sessions never log me out while others force me to log in every so many hours. That's using both Firefox and IE from multiple different (often multi-tier) networks. Also, there was a report of login problems using Safari, but not Firefox - see for details. Ahasuerus 16:53, 29 Dec 2006 (CST)
I'll have to do some checking, but I *think* I was initially using IE7 to set up my account and log in. Since then I've mostly been using Avant -- which is an IE knockoff with some features I like better but also occasional quirks that show up from time to time. I'm pretty sure I did check off any "remember me" boxes that I saw. I'll experiment and see what happens. Hayford Peirce 17:17, 29 Dec 2006 (CST)

Incorrect and/or derived information

When I started out with the DAW list and book verification I was using the practice of filling in the DAW list and ISFDB fields with exactly what is shown in the book and then having notes/comments about those items that are wrong. For example, with Angado by E. C. Tubb published by DAW (0-87997-908-9) states the cover artist is “Ken W. Kelley.” I’ll assume this is a misspelling of “Ken W. Kelly” who created many covers for DAW. Initially I would have filed this as “Ken W. Kelley” (the misspelled name) and the record would have a note about the correct name. Lately though I have been leaning towards putting "Ken W. Kelly" (the correct name) in the cover artist field and putting a note that the name is spelled incorrectly on the book's copyright page and that the correct spelling was used in the ISFDB record. I believe this will result in better data for ISFDB.

A similar case exists with another cover artist, Kelly Freas, who from time to time gets credited as Frank Kelly Freas. In that case I believe it’s better to use “Frank Kelly Freas” but also to include a note that the name was stated as “Frank Kelly Freas” on the copyright page so that someone does not mistake me for a dope smoking penguin.

The third part of this post concerns derived information. Specifically, that from 1972 to November 1976 DAW did not state ISBNs in the books. Initially I was filing these books with the DAW Order # such as UY1261 in the ISBN field but lately what I have been doing is putting the derived ISBN in the ISBN field and including a note that reads something like “The ISBN is not stated in the book but was derived from the spine code 451-UY1261-125 for this ISFDB record.” My thinking behind this is that all of the early DAW codes could be translated directly into an ISBN and that Amazon (and thus nearly all of the Internet) has records for those books using this derived ISBN even though the ISBN itself was never printed on a book.

The questions I have are 1) Do people think I’m on the right track or if I should change some of my current practices? 2) Should these be documented as standard ISFDB practices? Marc Kupper 00:07, 30 Dec 2006 (CST)

For the first two cases, I would enter them as what's seen on the book -- I think there is a lot to be said for an invariant principle of documenting what you see in front of you. The problem with correcting mistakes is that it becomes much harder to draw a boundary between what changes can be made as corrections, and what are just deductions. Also, for new editors, it's easier to explain the rule that way (and easier for them to acquire the right habits).
However, where a data item is just plain missing, then I think you can enter it, and I think ISBNs fall into that category. If they listed an incorrect ISBN, that would be a harder case, because there could easily be other sources for the ISBN and reader might legitimately search for the correct ISBN. Even then I'd be disinclined to enter a corrected number in the ISBN field. But in the case you're talking about, there is no ISBN to correct, so you can derive it, enter it, and document it in the notes. Mike Christie (talk) 07:56, 30 Dec 2006 (CST)
One of the main reasons to enter Publication data as it was (mis)attributed by the publisher is that we want our users to be able to start with Publication data and quickly find Title and Author level bibliograhies. For example, the second issue of Dynamic Science Stories has Frederic Arnold Kummer, Jr.'s name consistently misspelled throughout the magazine as "Fredric Arnold Kummer, Jr.". If an ISFDB users reads this issue and wants to find out more about the author, he may well enter "Fredric Arnold Kummer" in the search box. If we hadn't documented the name as given in the magazine, then the user would have no way of discovering what Kummer's real name was or what else he wrote. The same problem would arise with the DAW artist Ken W. Kelly mentioned above. That's why we have the "as by" mechanism in place. Ahasuerus 09:46, 30 Dec 2006 (CST)
Thank you for the feedback. The current help for title and author fields already ask that data get entered exactly as shown but gives editors leeway for the cover artist and illustrators. I suspect what can get revised is if an artist is credited to enter the name exactly as stated in the publication. If you recognize that the name is misspelled you would still enter it exactly as shown but should also add a pseudonym link from the incorrect to correct spelling of the artist’s name.
Just a note to the effect that sometimes it's not clear whether the name was misspelled accidentally or on purpose. For example, Alex Schomburg occasionally did work as "Alex Schomberg" and it's not clear whether it was a misspelling or a "variant name" that he used for some reason. Anyway, just a minor point in support of the notion that we should capture whatever is stated in the book as accurately as possible, including artist names and ISBNs. Ahasuerus 19:11, 30 Dec 2006 (CST)
The derived ISBN still bothers me because it means there’s no way to show the actual book identification on the title display. For example, a book may be coded “Ace 22576 95¢” or “SBN 441-22576-095.” The derived ISBN for either of these is 0441225764 / 0-441-22576-4 and if that gets entered then user’s see 0-441-22576-4 in the title display and may not realize the record is for Ace 22576 until they click and see the publication notes. Having 0441225764 in the ISBN field though is handy because that’s exactly where you will find this book filed on sites like Amazon. I’ve been able to take books from the 1950s and find a record on Amazon for the derived ISBN. This mainly happens with publishers that keep the same code as they reprinted and if the book continued to get reprinted into the ISBN era then book listing sites will have a record using the ISBN rather than ASIN or equivalent. I suppose that’s a case for a new field, “Derived ISBN/ASIN” that could get used in cases like this. Marc Kupper 17:59, 30 Dec 2006 (CST)
I vote for what was on the book when published. That means we shouldn't see too many ISBNs before the early 70s (and even then they were pseudo ISBNs like 345-02671-3-125). I think if I have an ISBN for Carr's 1972 The Best Science Fiction of the Year, it must obviously be a reprint, as they weren't using ISBNs yet. The print bibliography for books published prior to the 70s should look a lot like Tuck's entries. Alvonruff 18:30, 30 Dec 2006 (CST)
Ok – I’ll drop a feature request into the queue for some way to link publications to Amazon that can bypass the ISBN field. I had started out putting exactly what was on the books in ISFDB but realized that, many sites, including Amazon are referencing the books using derived ISBNs. My experience has been that many publisher codes used from the 1950s on out can be translated into ISBNs and you will find a record in Amazon for it. Part of the reason this happened is publishers kept the same numbering codes as they reprinted and when they upgraded to the ISBN era they simply embedded the code they already had assigned to the title in the ISBN. Marc Kupper 21:22, 30 Dec 2006 (CST)


I see that Pagadan has submitted a number of fanzines. The Rules of Acquisition currently state:

1. In - Works of speculative fiction originally published in English, including works published within and outside the genre. "Published" is defined as published by:

  • ...
  • prozines
  • semi-prozines
  • ...
  • fanzines??

Which doesn't exactly amount to clear and unambiguous guidance, to say the least. Should we update the Rules to state that we do not list fanzines? And that any fiction found in fanzines would need to have been reprinted in semipro or professional publications in order to be included? And if it has been reprinted, do we give the (semi)pro publication date as the Title date (plus a note in the Note field about the original fanzine publication) or do we do a partial listing of the fanzine publication like we do with non-genre magazines and anthologies? This will have various ramifications for H. P. Lovecraft, James Blish and other folks. Ahasuerus 17:25, 30 Dec 2006 (CST)

As we all know, I do tend to be an inclusionist, so you may temper my response in that light, but I think it would be awesome to index fanzines. There is no such index that I am aware of, and I suspect that fanzines - many being memeographed - probably have a shorter usable lifespan than the pulps, as well as a smaller circulation (and a higher tendency to be tossed out when short on space). If someone is willing to punch in fanzines (and we can invent a new pub category if necessary, to segregate them into their own private ghetto), it would be a shame to put them off until some day after they've faded. They were an important building block of the genre, and they did give out Hugos for them, after all. Alvonruff 18:39, 30 Dec 2006 (CST)
Well, there is's (very) partial index, so we would be duplicating their work to some extent. On the other, one of the ISFDB's strengths is that it gives you a comprehensive and multifaceted view of the genre, and fanzines were certainly a big part of it at one point. I am not morally opposed to including them as long as we clearly label them as such.
Let's see. For Publication records, we would need a new type, FANZINE, right? Titles are publication-agnostic, so they don't really care whether they first appeared in Analog, Mimosa or hardcover. Other than that, I can't think of anything that we would need to add to the database structure. Display-wise, it shouldn't matter as long as the publication type is clearly displayed up top, although perhaps we would want to add a new fanzines-specific page to the ISFDB Wiki to mirror the Magazine page. Am I missing anything? Ahasuerus 19:08, 30 Dec 2006 (CST)
Well by grepping about for the MAGAZINE type, it took about 4 minutes to add FANZINE support (not online yet). The only question that arises is whether or not to treat the EDITOR title differently for FANZINEs that MAGAZINEs. At present ALL editor records would show up in the same place in the bibliography, although looking at a FANZINE would clearly show the FANZINE type. Alvonruff 21:12, 30 Dec 2006 (CST)
Personally I would not be very inclined to include fanzines -- I don't know that it does any harm, but it blurs the boundaries of what we include, to the point where we could never hope to be complete. If we do include them, though, I would suggest they show up at least in their own section in biblios. I also think that any of the contents of a fanzine should be marked in some way when displayed elsewhere in a biblio -- for example, if we list an essay by Damon Knight in a fanzine in the 1940s, it should not appear without any distinguishing marks in a list of essays in prozines. This is probably more important for fiction, than for essays but I think it should be done for both. I also think that fanzines will raise a lot of bibliographic difficulties that are likely to be more trouble than they're worth.
However, I could see us entering some specific fanzines, or at least some of their contents, in the same way we agreed we would enter partial contents of non-genre magazines if they contained material of interest to the ISFDB. So we might enter the issue of "Ancalagon" in which Leiber coins "swords & sorcery" as a term; or some issues of "Amra" in which well known writers appear. But generally opening up to all fanzines seems too much to me. Mike Christie (talk) 22:17, 1 Jan 2007 (CST)
As it has been the case with other "inclusionist vs. exclusionist" debates, my primary concern is not misleading our users. When I see that R._B._Cleary is currently listed as a "magazine editor" because we have a few of his fanzines on file, it makes me cringe. There is a great deal of difference between editing a fanzine and editing a prozine and blurring it is a Bad Thing IMO.
On the other hand, I think we crossed an important line when we decided to include self-published and vanity press-published stuff. That's when we basically threw "professional editorial oversight over the publishing process" as one of our criteria for inclusion out the window. And I still think we did the right thing because otherwise we would be trying to figure out whether to include 50% of what's currently (potentially) available to our users. However, once we crossed that Rubicon, it became hard to resist the inclusion of increasingly marginal items, including, now, fanzines.
As far as Titles go, it is true that there may well (although it doesn't always have to) be a qualitative difference between the stuff that Poul Anderson published in some random fanzine and what he sold to publishers, so I need to take my comment that Titles are Publication-agnostic back. We could probably classify Titles that have only been published in fanzines and never reprinted in "publications that you need to pay real money for" as "fan fiction" or "fan essay". I wonder if we can do this on the fly by looking at the Type of all Publication records that a given Title has appeared in? Ahasuerus 18:42, 4 Jan 2007 (CST)

Imaginative Sex

I see that under the John Norman listing "Imaginative Sex" is shown twice, once as fiction (1974) and once as non-fiction (1974). There's more info under the fiction entry than the non-fiction. My recollection, admittedly very vague, is that this was a non-fiction book.

It's a roleplaying guide (of sorts) for the kinds of games that John Norman fans would play :) If you decide to merge the two titles using the "Title" button on the left, keep in mind that you will also want to convert the "Novel" Publication record to "Nonfiction". Ahasuerus 19:51, 30 Dec 2006 (CST)
Okay, I'll see if I can do it -- tomorrow, when my mind is unclouded by the Grape. If I mess it up, please fix it! Hayford Peirce 21:14, 30 Dec 2006 (CST)
That merge looks straightforward as everything is the same except for the type. I went ahead and added the other DAW printings so that one title has two and the other one publication so you can see how they get merged. Marc Kupper 22:27, 30 Dec 2006 (CST)Marc

(I always tried to imagine a meeting between John Norman and, say, Barbara Bova, hehe....) Hayford Peirce 19:30, 30 Dec 2006 (CST)

I am sure Lange would be as impeccably polite as always, at least according to second hand reports. Now, if he tried to convert her to his view that that's what women really want deep inside, well, things might get interesting :) Ahasuerus 19:51, 30 Dec 2006 (CST)
I'm sure he'd be polite, but with Barbara I dunno. Talk about strong-minded, outspoken, ball-busting wimmin! I think she'd chew him up and spit him out just on general principles.... Hayford Peirce 21:14, 30 Dec 2006 (CST)

Slave Girls of Gor

Somewhat to my surprise, I see that I've managed to remove the Imaginative Sex listing from the Novel section so that it now stands alone in the Nonfiction section. But while looking over the revised John Norman page I see the following: there is a lengthy intial section listing a couple of dozen "Gor" novels, along with their dates. Then, down below, in a separate section of about 5 or 6 other novels, there are two entries called "Witness of Gor, 1971" and "Gor#11: Slave Girl of Gor, 19-something or other". I know absolutely nothing about the Gor books beyond having glanced through a couple of them in bookstores years ago,

It started out as an OK Burroughs clone back in the 1960s. Somewhat racier than the original IIRC and not as good (Ken Bulmer would perfect the subgenre a few years later), it was your basic more or less readable teen fare. Then, around book 5-6, something happened and in the 1970s the series quickly (d)evolved into an S&M thingie of considerable notoriety, although in all honestly it was mostly talk. An awful lot of talk, actually, to the point where it read like a self-parody. Think of an Ayn Rand character interminably lecturing on the glories of submissiveness and you'll get the picture :)

but it seems to me, based solely on their titles, that these two items ought to be listed in the Gor section. Am I wrong on that?

You are quite right, they are both Gor titles. Moreover, we already have Slave Girl of Gor listed as a Gor title, so the two just need to be merged. Witness of Gor is the 26th installment, which continued the series after a 14 year gap caused by Don Wollheim's illness/death and subsequent change of direction at DAW. A lot of series and authors were dropped when Betsy took over, but Gor and Prescot were probably the two most prominent cases.

Also, in the Gor section, someone apparently once began numbering them: there are three books, down at end of the list, numbered 1, 2, and 3. Their publication dates would indicate that these were probably the first 3 books in the series. Should the other books be numbered as well, beginning with #4 for whatever appears to be the next book in order of publication? Hayford Peirce 10:40, 31 Dec 2006 (CST)

Absolutely! That's part of what we have been doing here for the last 8 months ever since moderator editing was enabled: cleaning up biblios, merging duplicate titles, asigning titles to series and numbering them, etc. Now that user editing has been enabled, anybody can do the same thing. The tools are all there: the "Title" button (which I have suggested we should change to "Merge Titles") lets you merge two or more titles; "Edit Title Data" (available whenever you look at a title) lets you add Series name and Series number data; etc. Feel free to experiment :) Ahasuerus 12:00, 31 Dec 2006 (CST)
Thanks for the various info. I've just taken care of "Witness of Gor", I think (waiting for Moderator approval), but I'm troubled about "Slave Girl of Gor" -- it seems to have been reissued with a different title: "Gor #11 etc", with a significantly different ISBN from the other one. In which case I suppose it should be listed as a Publication under the first one, but I'm not sure about any of this at all. It's *probable* that the two titles are the same book, but are we sure enough to go ahead turn the second one into a Publication listed under the first?
Okie, "Witness of Gor" is now in the Series list. But I'm troubled by something else. If we count up the Gor titles (beginning with the three numbered ones at the bottom of the list), and assume that the dates are all correct, then the so-called "Gor #11, Slave Girl of Gor" is actually the 12th book in the series.... Hayford Peirce 12:29, 31 Dec 2006 (CST)
The confusion was caused by somebody entering Witness of Gor, the recently (2001) published 26th book in the series, as having first appeared in 1971. There was a Note attached, "Book Club edition - never published a retail edition", which is incorrect. This caused Witness to appear in the series list before Slave Girl, which was throwing the whole numbering scheme off. I have adjusted the date and added a number to it, so it should be OK now.
The "somebody" was me but now I’m confused because I don’t see a DAW publication for Witness of Gor and it was the DAW version I had the note attached to. I guess I should add this to the list of things to research because now I can’t see any evidence on the web at this instant that DAW published the thing much less that it was published in 1971. Somehow it was on the DAW list as a 1971 book and when I was verifying copyright's I fixed that one to 2001. The "Book Club edition - never published a retail edition" note was terse - it should have been that DAW never published a retail edition. DAW did retail printings of Gor #8 (Hunters of Gor) on out but when I checked AbeBooks I would see listings for the first seven Gor books credited to DAW but often with very sketchy data. I have these in the DAW list as “Book Club?” until I can pin down if the books exists. Marc Kupper 03:27, 3 Jan 2007 (CST)
As far as the question of whether the two Slave Girls are one and the same book, the answer is an unequivocal "yes". Gor bibliography is well understood since at one point Norman was both popular and controversial. There are fan sites, e.g. this one, and his work has been cataloged by various and sundry sources. There are, thankfully, no quirks or gotchas, so I have updated the ISFDB with what we know (except for one omnibus edition, which I will add later) and everything should be fine in the land of Gor now.
However, I have noticed that two out of three Imaginative Sex editions had "0000" for years. Is this intended? Ahasuerus 13:18, 31 Dec 2006 (CST)
Yes, I added the publications that way as they are later printings. DAW’s practice is to only show the first printing date and never the publication date. At the time they were printing/reprinting Imaginative Sex DAW’s practice was to issue a new ISBN every time they raised the price when reprinting. There were three DAW “editions” of Imaginative Sex
  • UJ1146, No ISBN, $1.95, first printed Dec-1974, printings #1 and #2
  • UE1546, 0-87997-546-6 at $2.25, undated printings #5 and #7
  • 0-87997-912-7 at $2.95, undated later printings. The book may be coded UE1912 along with the ISBN.
I don’t know which edition printings 3, and 4 were done under nor have I spotted a listing for the 8th printing on up. Book sellers often say “later printing” or the listing contains a mash of data that I considered unreliable meaning the numbers above are the only ones I’m comfortable with. I can sort the DAW list by ISBN and estimate the publication dates for the later editions (June 1980 and February 1984) but generally for ISFDB I use 0000-00-00 for later printings as the publication date is not stated. Marc Kupper 03:27, 3 Jan 2007 (CST)

Moderator bits

How do we go about deciding who gets the moderator bit? The bureaucrats are Al, Ahasuerus, me, and Grendelkhan, who hasn't been active in a while.

Marc is a moderator too, although perhaps not a bureaucrat. The difference between bureaucrats and moderators is only important when it comes to making adminstrative changes in the Wiki (who can ban who etc), which is of little concern to us at the moment. Ahasuerus 13:37, 31 Dec 2006 (CST)

Do we need a discussion forum, or should we just make judgments and assign the bit? At the moment, I'd say Hayford's a candidate if he wants the bit. Mike Christie (talk) 13:25, 31 Dec 2006 (CST)

I think the three primary qualifications are "good intentions", "judgment" and "familiarity with the process". There is little doubt that Hayford meets criteria #1 and #2, but he may be a little too new to the software to wield the stick without pocking his eyes out :) What do you think, Hayford? Ahasuerus 13:37, 31 Dec 2006 (CST)
I absolutely agree with that last statement, hehe! Geez, I hardly dare to *breathe* around here yet! I don't yet feel at home with anything except, perhaps, adding completely new material, which seems to be pretty foolproof. Lemme play around for a while and see how I feel about it in a month or so. And thanks for the kind thoughts! Hayford Peirce 14:24, 31 Dec 2006 (CST)
On Wikipedia, I think the bureaucrat bit is what permits the setting of the moderator bit -- that is, bureaucrats can promote (though not demote, if I recall correctly). So I was assuming it's that way here too. You don't need many bureaucrats, in any case; we have enough. Mike Christie (talk) 14:37, 31 Dec 2006 (CST)
I'd like to add one more qualifier for moderators and that's an obsession for detail, said Marc, non-bureaucratically. I don't think ability or lack of to poke ones eyes out should be a (dis)qualifier. Marc Kupper 03:33, 3 Jan 2007 (CST)

Title merge restriction

I've seen several situations where a title merge had been done (at some time in the past) that led to a variant title being merged with the canonical title. This is a mistake on the user's part, but I wonder if we can make it impossible to make this mistake.

Suppose we could unambiguously identify the title that belonged to a given publication -- let's say there's an "I'm the publication's title" flag on pub_content, and there's a rule that there has to be exactly one title flagged in that way for each publication. Then we would know, on a proposed title merge, if we were going to end up with a publication pointing to a title record that didn't match the title string, and could forbid it. I can see that the flag is a prerequisite for this capability, but if we had that flag, would this restriction work? Would it have any negative side effects? Mike Christie (talk) 11:04, 25 Dec 2006 (CST)

Per a recent conversation on my talk page, I now realize this also has an impact on translated titles. If we regard them as variants, the scheme above would work; if we track them as pubs under a single title, then it wouldn't work. Mike Christie (talk) 12:51, 25 Dec 2006 (CST)
As per another recent discussion, another case where Publication titles and Title titles may differ is when the Publication title contains a subtitle while the Title title doesn't. Ahasuerus 12:59, 25 Dec 2006 (CST)
I had been operating on the idea that title records were more “meta descriptions” where you would not include detailed sub-titles, etc. that you might see in a publication. Just now I realized there is a case where we may want to restrict merging and those are titles listed in the contents of a Collection, Anthology, or Magazine. I had entered an Anthology and was going down the list of titles looking to see if anything needed merging when I found The Gift of the Magicians, with Apologies to You Know Who which has a slightly different title (it’s the same story) than Gift of the Magicians, With Apologies To You Know Who. I ended up making it a vt but also realized this is a case where we’d want to flag both titles as “do not merge in such a way that you will be changing the title.” Marc Kupper 14:14, 26 Dec 2006 (CST)
For some reason, UK/US publisher have a thing about articles. If a book is published in the UK with a leading "The", half the time the US reprint edition will drop it and vice versa. Unless, of course, the titles gets changed completely. Perhaps that's how reprint editors make their impact felt because there is not much else for them to do except change the spelling. Anyway, a couple of weeks ago we agreed that different articles do make for different titles, so you certainly did the right thing. Ahasuerus 14:23, 26 Dec 2006 (CST)

EDITOR records

Let me make sure that I understand the current EDITOR situation correctly as I may have missed some of the discussions earlier this/last month.

  1. Every magazine Publication should have the "Editor" field filled out, but this data element is specific to the Publication and doesn't affect Titles;
  2. Every magazine Publication should have a Title (type "EDITOR") associated with it and its Title_title should be the same as the title of the magazine issue and the author/editor is the magazine editor'
  3. This EDITOR Title is created automatically for newly entered magazine issues, but it is not displayed in the Contents area and not pulled up in Edit Pub;
  4. Some previously entered magazine Publications do not have this EDITOR Title associated with them, so they will be showing up as Stray Publications in their Editor's biblio until an EDITOR Title is added to them;
  5. We typically do a Title Merge on all EDITOR Titles for the same magazine/year so that someone like John W. Campbell or Stanley Schmidt doesn't have 300 "Editor" records in his biblio. This results in each Editor record in the Author/Editor's biblio fanning out into up to 12-13 Publication records when you pull the Title up;
  6. The way to fix pre-existing magazine Publications without this EDITOR Title (Open Display Bug 20036) is to go through affected Pubs one at a time, manually add an Editor Title to them, and them merge them when needed.

Is this about right? Ahasuerus 20:05, 27 Dec 2006 (CST)

Yes to all of the above. Some magazines are worse than others, and it's because the EDITOR titles were lifted directly from ISFDB1, which DIDN'T automatically do... anything. So Asimov's and Analog are in good shape, but I'm going through a period in the late 50's early 60's were F&SF didn't have any. Alvonruff 21:29, 27 Dec 2006 (CST)
Sounds good, I didn't mess 20036 up after all then! The only problem that I see with this scheme is that it's, er, not exactly intuitive. I'll update the bug report, thanks! Ahasuerus 21:51, 27 Dec 2006 (CST)
I can easily write a script looking for "MAGAZINE" Publications that do not have an associated EDITOR Title. Then we could add the missing EDITOR title to each issue manually. However, that would be rather time consuming and I am wondering if it would be possible to write a more robust program that would create these EDITOR records automatically? Ahasuerus 11:19, 28 Dec 2006 (CST)
I think that one's pretty easy (find pubs of type MAGAZINE with no associated EDITOR record, and if not create one). I have to go off to town now with the wife, but perhaps later today. Alvonruff 13:37, 28 Dec 2006 (CST)
This may be a higher priority issue than we realized. I just approved a new magazine submission and then found that it was already in the database, but couldn't be easily found since there was no EDITOR record. I have merged/deleted the data as appropriate, but we probably want to have it fices ASAP so that we don't have editors duplicating pre-existing data which they can't find. Ahasuerus 22:54, 30 Dec 2006 (CST)

ISFDB Message Board

I’ve been finding this wiki model of messaging pretty frustrating. It seems I spend more time trying to locate new comments, previously written comments, and messaging with wikisms such as adding == and changing the /* comment */, dealing with that you can’t leave an edit window open, than I do actually read/writing content. Plus people are leaving comments on random moderator talk pages which then get replied to (without a link) on that person’s talk page. I’d like to propose using some form of forum site ( /, usenet (rec.arts.sf.isfdb), yahoo, pigeon droppings, postal mail, anything other than this wiki thing! Marc Kupper 12:34, 28 Dec 2006 (CST)

rec.arts.sf.isfdb would be hard to do since it would require a formal process and a lot of votes in favor. An alt.*.isfdb newsgroup would be easy to create, but would suffer from propagation problems like many other low traffic alt.* groups do. I have created as a placeholder and a backup solutions for the times when the ISFDB and its Wiki are down. Whether we want to move the Community Portal and/or other boards there is a different question. Ahasuerus 14:17, 28 Dec 2006 (CST)
I'm not convinced the wiki model is a bad thing yet. Wikis certainly have some downsides, but they do have some big advantages too. I am feeling something of the same strain you're feeling on trying to keep track, but I think that's because we're in transition from being able to track via "Recent Changes" to tracking via a watchlist. If the ISFDB becomes as populated as we would like, with perhaps ten or twenty active editors on a given day, then there is simply no way any one person can manage to track everything going on. Wikis are good at hiving off areas of interest for a given editor. So I'd rather not jump to another model yet.
What I'm doing to manage the overload is simply take a deep breath and resolve that I'm not going to be able to read everything, and that's fine. I try to read the Community Portal, and Biblio Rules, and the rest I judge by the page name and the edit summary. Mike Christie (talk) 18:32, 28 Dec 2006 (CST)
I've done a test post on the google-groups model and will see how that develops. My problem is I'd like to at least be able to keep a casual eye on all of the traffic and from time to time things pop out. For example, I monitor several newsgroups and for many things all I need to know is the subject line and I can move on. I also filter based on people, there are some forums where I can delete just about every message unless specific people post and I read those. I believe the wiki model is useful if someone has a question about a page's content and it gets answered. You end up with a FAQ of sorts for each page which is handy. The Wiki turns into a PITA when it's used for casual/meandering discussion, particularly as text gets inserted multiple times in a large page meaning I'm constanly flopping between the normal and history/diff modes trying to see what was added. Marc Kupper 20:04, 28 Dec 2006 (CST)
Basically, MediaWiki's implementation of threading is via indentation and that's a poor substitute for real threading when traffic volume is non-trivial. I almost feel guilty when I post here because it means people have to spend more time sorting everything out :( Ahasuerus 21:12, 28 Dec 2006 (CST)

Login problems

Another thing, before I went much further, I'd sure like to get my login function working again. I've spent two days now using IE7, Firefox, and Avant trying to login and then *remain* logged in after I quit. Nothing seems to work. I've tried reentering myself as a newcomer, where there's the box "check here to stay remembered" or whatnot, but that doesn't work either. What I *suspect* is happening is that the three different browsers on my computer have some sort of subtle conflict between them, even though 2 of them are not enabled at any one time, and that this is preventing the memory function from working in whichever browser it is that I'm using at that particular moment. This problem never arises in Wikipedia, however. If, say, I always use Avant to go to Wikipedia, 3 or 4 months can go by before I have to login again. Verra strange, and another kick in the rear for Bill Gates.... Hayford Peirce 14:24, 31 Dec 2006 (CST)

One of the computers that I use has Firefox and IE6 installed. I use Firefox to edit the ISFDB/Wikipedia and IE for everything else. My Firefox ISFDB sessions stay logged in for weeks at a time. On the other hand, one of my other computers (behind the Superclick monstrosity) has IE only and my ISFDB sessions time out every day or so. So it sounds like there is something else going on in here, probably some boxes checked or not checked under Advanced Options. Ahasuerus 15:08, 31 Dec 2006 (CST)

Likely house name attributions

I was entering one of the "obscure" magazines in my collection, and ran into an interesting case. The cover story "Fire Ray Invaders" was by "Hamilton Donne", which was, according to Tuck, a house name. Tuck only lists one person who is known to have written under this name, Norman A. Lazenby, but presumably there were others since otherwise it wouldn't be a house name. How/where should we document this information? Create an article in Wikipedia, link to it from the Author page in the ISFDB and hope that it will not be deleted for lack of notoriety? Ahasuerus 15:08, 31 Dec 2006 (CST)

I think the ISFDB Wiki Author comments are the best place for this sort of information. They're linked from the author display, after all. Mike Christie (talk) 16:09, 31 Dec 2006 (CST)
Oh! I was fixating on the lack of an "Author Notes" field in the ISFDB and forgot all about the Wiki pages that we have. Call it a page fault : ) Ahasuerus 16:37, 31 Dec 2006 (CST)

Foreign language editions of short stories

We may have a problem with our support for foreign language editions of short fiction pieces. As I wrote on Hayford Peirce's Talk page:

Thanks for submitting the German translation of "Iceback Invasion"! I used the submitted data to create a record for the Heyne Science Fiction Magazin 5 anthology, but then I discovered a pretty big hole in our support for foreign language trabslations: while we list translated books as additional Publications (or editions, if you will) under the original English language title, we don't have quite the same level of support for translated short fiction. Currently, the only choice is either to make the German title into a "Variant Title" (which would make it appear on the main page) or to merge the two titles, which would cause the German title to disappear.

First of all, is my understanding of the currently available options correct? And if it is, what can we do about it? Ahasuerus 14:41, 28 Dec 2006 (CST)

I have been thinking about this issue. I am beginning to suspect that the easiest way to handle this problem is not via some kind of kludge but rather by adding the kind of more extensive support for foreign language titles that we talked about earlier.
When you break the task down into its constituent components, it doesn't sounds as bad as I thought it would be. We would need another field added to the Title table, "Language", with the MARC21 language table as the list of allowed values. We would then need a new field added to the User table, "Do you want to see Variant Titles in all languages?" And finally, we would need a new user-specific table for the languages that the user is interested in if he/she didn't check the "all languages" checkbox. If you are not logged in, I suppose you get to see all titles and a little note to the effect that you need to log in/create an account to be able to select your languages of choice.
On the app side, we would need a new "User Preferences" page with one "all languages" checkbox and 5 (10?) fields where the user can whitelist his/her languages from a dropdown list. Obviously, changes would need to be made to the Edit Title form and the Variant Title display logic in the Summary Bibliography, but they seem to be fairly limited. Primary (non-Variant) Titles would always be displayed regardless of the language. We would want to display non-English languages next to the title, which would also help with some of the oddball stuff that we currently have like the German/Dutch-only Asimov/Dibell/Bulmer Titles. The Title app would need to be changed to display language information, but again the change appears to be quite modest.
Am I missing anything major here or is it as relatively straightforward as I think it is? Ahasuerus 15:55, 31 Dec 2006 (CST)

Taking info from ISFDB to Wikipedia

Yesterday, for no particular reason, I looked at the ISFDB page for E. C. Tubb -- staggering how much he's written! I then looked at the Wiki article about him. A lot of the ISFDB info is there (the complete Dumarest series, for instance,) but by no means all. Is there any practical means of doing the rough equivalent of a "cut and paste" to transfer info, such as a long list of short stories, from ISFDB to Wiki? A dumb question, probably, but I might as well start out the New Year on an unassuming note, hehe.... Hayford Peirce 11:48, 1 Jan 2007 (CST)

What I've done a couple of times is to put together a separate bibliography article and link to it from the author page: Campbell and Knight are the two I've done. However, I don't see a good way to cut and paste -- I was trying to do an authoritative "first editions" biblio, and for that you need a fair amount of human organization of the data.
If you're just after a list of titles, then going to Tubb's author page and clicking on "Titles" brings up this page. If you select the table, bring up Excel, and choose Edit->Paste Special->Text, it will paste the data right into cells, where you can sort by type to collect the novels together and so on. Mike Christie (talk) 12:00, 1 Jan 2007 (CST)
Ah. I figured that if it were possible at all that it would have to be something along those lines. Lemme me mull it over for a while.... Hayford Peirce 12:42, 1 Jan 2007 (CST)

Awards data referring to deleted titles

Hayford just pointed out to me that Gore Vidal's biblio shows "Burr", which Hayford successfully deleted. It appears to be still showing up because it has award data associated with it. Hayford tells me it is not SF at all, which is why he deleted it.

Now that I look at it, I guess there are two questions. First, is it a bug to have the award data cause a biblio display? I would assume so, but I guess we don't want to auto-delete the award data. Second, should we include the book if it was nominated for an sf award, even if it does not fall within our inclusion criteria? Mike Christie (talk) 12:29, 1 Jan 2007 (CST)

Geez, this is really weird. Burr is a historical novel that was written in *1973*. And then someone nominates it for a SF award in *1985*?! What on earth does that mean? I'm just baffled by this! Hayford Peirce 12:40, 1 Jan 2007 (CST)

Arthur Conan Doyle

I've just looked at his entry and I see that all of his Sherlock Holmes stuff is listed as if they were SF genre works. Just to make sure that this is incorrect, I looked at my own page: All of my mystery novels and/or collections are listed under a separate heading called Nongenre. I then went back to the Doyle page and went to The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes and changed the genre listing from Fiction to Nongenre. Mike then approved the edit. But when I go back to the Doyle page, the Case Book is still listed where it was before. Which leads me to another question: Is there a way to go to the Doyle page and change a whole *group* of works, such as the Sherlock Holmes stories from Fiction to Nongenre without having to do it one by one by individual titles? I'm sure there is, but I can't figure it out. Hayford Peirce 12:51, 1 Jan 2007 (CST)

The answer to your last question is "No, there is no way to do a mass change at this time" unless you have programmer access to the database. It may be possible to implement something like that via a checkbox mechanism similar to the Merge Titles screen, but I don't think we have ever considered it.
As to why Sherlock Holmes stories are currently listed as SF and not "nongenre", the answer consists of two parts. The first part is that Doyle's titles were entered a while back, before "nongenre" became widely used (or perhaps support for it wasn't even there at the time). The second part of the anwer is that the ISFDB doesn't display "nongenre series" at this time, so if we were to reclassify the Holmes books as "nongenre", the series data would no longer be displayed, which would amount to functional loss of data. To see what this means, pull up Lloyd_Biggle,_Jr.'s biblio and check out his "nongenre" works: two of them are a part of the "Sherlock Holmes" series and are marked as such, but they are not displayed as a series at this time. Once we have support for "nongenre series" -- which has already been requested -- things will be much easier to juggle. Ahasuerus 20:39, 1 Jan 2007 (CST)
Well, I gotta say that even though I understand the issues as described above, as things now stand the Doyle entry is just plain *wrong*! What it's doing is telling anyone who comes to look at it that just about *everything* Doyle ever wrote is SF! My own suggestion, radical perhaps, is simply to axe the Sherlock Holmes stuff and anything else that isn't SF related. For instance, I, myself, used to know a lot about the Holmes stuff but have never read *any* of the Professor Challenger stuff. I really don't have a clue as to whether any or all of it falls within the SF-related genre. My impression is that it does -- but does *all* of it? Every single story? Those stories that do, should be listed here. Those stories that don't, shouldn't. It's as simple as that. And ditto for all the other Doyle entries. If readers need to get a list of Sherlock Holmes stories, either let them go to some other source. OR, relist the Holmes stories here as NOT being in a series. What would it cost in terms of info lost if all of these books were simply relisted under Nongenre fiction in chronological order with the series numbers missing? Not very much I would say. Short of doing that, then I repeat: the Holmes stories should be banished. Hayford Peirce 11:07, 2 Jan 2007 (CST)
Oh, I agree 100%! Sherlock Holmes entries definitely need to be changed to "nongenre" to avoid confusion even at the cost of temporarily losing series information in the Summary Bobliography page. As to whether we want to eliminate them completely, well, ISFDB Policy states:
Out - Works that are not related to speculative fiction by authors who have not published works either of or about speculative fiction over a certain threshold. This "certain threshold" is hard to define, but we need to draw the line in a way that would exclude Winston Churchill, who published at least one work of borderline speculative fiction. The goal here is to avoid cataloging everything ever published by James Fenimore Cooper, Robert Louis Stevenson, Honore de Balzac and other popular authors. Instead, we would want to catalog their speculative fiction works only.
I think Doyle is over this "certain threshold" since all Professor Challenger stories were SF, so we would want to include his nongenre works, although I can see how it could be debatable. Also, note that there have been recent discussions about possibly expanding the scope of the project -- see above. Ahasuerus 11:24, 2 Jan 2007 (CST)

Libertarian awards

I've just checked out the Libertarian SF awards for 1985 or 1986, whatever it was for the Burr nomination. All I can see is that these characters don't have their heads screwed on very tightly. Besides Burr, there is also a nomination for Ken Kesey's "One Flew Over the Cuckoo Nest", which is *obviously* not SF. Plus one for something called "Moscow Rules" by Robert Moss. I think I've thrown away my copy, but I did read it years ago, probably about the time it came out, and it is just a spy-political thriller. It's *conceivable* that it might even be a low-level techno-spy thriller but even so it should be excluded, according to the ISFDB definition rules that I read a little while ago. I'd delete both of them, but, as I've said above, I apparently have to be a moderator in order to do so.

A large question arises here, however: If this one particular year has *three* flagrantly non-SF books listed, what about all the other years for these awards? This would lead me to come down on the side of anyone who wants to remove all these award links from automatically going to the main list. Hayford Peirce 14:08, 1 Jan 2007 (CST)

Actually, Prometheus awards are not as bad as these examples make them sound. They typically go to bona fide SF/F works and nominations generally do not diverge from the "reasonable person's" definition of speculative fiction. The problem lies with the fact that the ISFDB lists not just Prometheus winners and regular nominees, but also "preliminary nominees", and that area can get messy. I think there is value to displaying this relatively hard to find information (which Locus doesn't give you), but the downside is that you never know what you may find at the bottom of the barrel. Ahasuerus 00:26, 2 Jan 2007 (CST)

Newbie help?

Attempting to find/follow directions for Beta entry editing, I find myself at the usual ISFDB site, choosing "Edit This Pub", and then getting into an infinite loop of "Login required to edit" - "Login" - "Logged In" - "Login required to edit". I suspect that I'm missing the step of starting at the correct (beta) URL? DavidWGoldman 16:22, 1 Jan 2007 (CST)

Possible problems:
  1. The ISFDB and the ISFDB Wiki are in different domains, so they can't share login cookies. After logging into the ISFDB Wiki (for registration purposes) you will then need to log into the ISFDB. This means first time users need to log in twice on two different login pages).
  2. You must have cookies enabled, or there is no login. Since you posted here, I'm assuming that's not the problem.
  3. What browser are you using? I've heard of problems with Safari.

Alvonruff 16:33, 1 Jan 2007 (CST)

Apparently it's Safari. Switching to IE solves the problem.
Thanks! DavidWGoldman 11:43, 2 Jan 2007 (CST)
Hmm. Except that I'm attempting to provide the Content entries for an anthology, and there's only space for a single entry, and clicking the "Add Title" button seems to do nothing. DavidWGoldman 11:54, 2 Jan 2007 (CST)
Ah. "Add Title" does work under Firefox.
Perhaps the FAQ should explain (if it doesn't already) that Mac users should use a browser other than Safari or IE, such as Firefox. DavidWGoldman 11:56, 2 Jan 2007 (CST)
I wonder if it might be a browser configuration issue. For example, does your IE have Javascript enabled? Although the ISFDB tries to stick to plain vanilla HTML when displaying data, it needs to use more advanced facilities for its data entry forms. In any case, I will add a note to the FAQ to the effect that Safari has been known to have trouble with ISFDB editing. Thanks! Ahasuerus 12:27, 2 Jan 2007 (CST)
Note that my IE is Version 5.2 for Mac (the final release for Mac). Re Javascript, let's see . . . Well, Java is disabled, but it looks like Javascript is enabled (if that's what either the "Execute scripts" or "Execute scriptlets" permissions refers to). DavidWGoldman 00:49, 3 Jan 2007 (CST)

List of moderators

I don't think we have a page that lists all ISFDB moderators, do we? If not, then I think it would be useful to have it created so that we didn't have to type "please contact me or X or Y or Z" every time. Ahasuerus 17:51, 26 Dec 2006 (CST)

Special:Listadmins comes to mind but that the other night I wanted to respond to someone to ask about something they had submitted but I realized they were new enough that Mike had not done the {{welcome}} yet and I was undecided if I wanted to put the welcome in worded with “Contact Mike” etc. or if it should be “contact any of the moderators.” Marc Kupper 18:36, 26 Dec 2006 (CST)
Reviewing that list reminded me of the fact that not all moderators are currently active. Leaving a message on PortForlorn's or Grendelkhan's page may not be something that our editors would want to do if they need a quick response. Have we heard from our MIA moderators lately and/or sent them an e-mail about the beta phase starting? So far, I have sent 3 e-mails/Wikipedia Talk page notices to a couple of former users and fellow online bibliographers, but they must be still recovering from the holidays. Ahasuerus 19:39, 26 Dec 2006 (CST)
An email sounds like a good idea, just to let them know we're running -- do we have the ability to email from the ISFDB Wiki, as Wikipedia does? Or do you have email addresses for them? Mike Christie (talk) 20:17, 26 Dec 2006 (CST)
And how about User talk:JVjr as well? Not a moderator, so in some ways more interesting to him to know we're live. Mike Christie (talk) 20:21, 26 Dec 2006 (CST)
I have left JVjr a message on his Talk page, but I am unaware of any way to send e-mail from within the ISFDB Wiki. Doesn't it let you request a password reminder of some sort if you have forgotten your password? If it does, auto-mailing should be possible, although we still wouldn't want to spam all users. Ahasuerus 20:34, 26 Dec 2006 (CST)
In a related development, a new editor recently commented that it's hard to figure out where to ask questions. Should we have a separate "Ask Newbie Questions Here" page or make the pointer to the Community Portal on the front page bigger and brighter? Ahasuerus 00:30, 2 Jan 2007 (CST)
This particular page should be for announcements of some sort (if it's used like Wikipedia). I wouldn't mind having a separate information desk that also refers to the FAQ that could answer the common questions. Alvonruff 05:17, 2 Jan 2007 (CST)
I think a "reference desk" would be useful. I have left a bunch of standard "welcome" template message on our new editors' Talk pages over the last few days, which by default tell them to ask any questions on my Talk page. Then today I find out that I will be likely completely swamped for a few days and may not have time to check the Wiki. It would be much safer to have a centralized place to refer new editors to. Ahasuerus 01:49, 3 Jan 2007 (CST)

Burr by Gore Vidal edit

Yesterday, I think, I tried to delete the Burr entry from the Gore Vidal page as being palpably non-SF. A message came up saying that only Moderators could delete a title. So I left a message on Mike's discussion page telling him about this and asking him to make the deletion. He replied by saying that the deletion by *me* had worked perfectly. I'm really baffled by this. I've been looking at the Vidal page ever since, including a couple of reboots, and using different browsers, and the Burr book is *still* there, at least on *my* monitor. Hayford Peirce 11:07, 2 Jan 2007 (CST)

Award data is currently non-editable by regular means (see the feature roadmap, which lists it as one of the first things for Al to work on in 2007) and as long as the award record is there, the display logic will display the title, so I think we are stuck with it until we can delete the award record. Ahasuerus 12:03, 2 Jan 2007 (CST)
Two things:
  • We are not going to delete awards data simply because we don't approve of a book. The awards data should be an accurate representation of historic fact. It is what it is. Take it up with the Libertarians. If you dare.
  • Award data will not force a book to be listed on the bibliography. Only titles found in the titles table are displayed. If Burr was displayed after deletion, then there must have been another copy of the title lying about (in fact, the ea.cgi application doesn't load any award information - it's only loaded during the author's award bibliography). Perhaps only the publication was deleted? I know for a fact that there are titles in the awards database that have no corresponding title in the titles table, and that I have written applications to generate title information from the awards database, so that they would show up. Alvonruff 13:06, 2 Jan 2007 (CST)
There is indeed still a title out there -- I was wrong earlier to say that Hayford had successfully deleted it. I don't know what I thought I was looking at, but now a search for title=Burr finds one. As far as books on award lists that are out of scope, it seems to me that perhaps the right compromise is to record only the title but not bother with any publication data. Ultimately we might even want to mark such titles so they don't show on biblios, only on listings reached via the awards displays. Mike Christie (talk) 13:23, 2 Jan 2007 (CST)
Thanks for the clarifications, Al! The point about not deleting award nominations in order to preserve the integrity of our award data is well taken, I should have thought of that. As far as Burr goes, if you try deleting the record, you will get the following error message:
Error: 1 awards still refer to this title
*** Cannot delete title
That's what I meant when I wrote that you can't delete a Title with an associated award record, I just didn't remember the exact error text. Ahasuerus 13:31, 2 Jan 2007 (CST)
Ahhh. I didn't recall being clever enough to not delete the title if there is still an award reference. Are we saying that we'd like to be able to delete these titles? Alvonruff 14:03, 2 Jan 2007 (CST)
I think the idea that Hayford proposes below, i.e. change them to "nongenre" and let them live is the best way to resolve the conundrum. Ahasuerus 15:04, 2 Jan 2007 (CST)

I also did a test edit on the Doyle page, removing the series number from The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes and changing its category to Nongenre. This edit was approved (by Mike, I believe). And yet when I go to the Doyle page, I see that The Case Book is still listed under the Series.... Anyone know what's going on here? Hayford Peirce 11:07, 2 Jan 2007 (CST)

I have changed all Holmes titles to "nongenre" and now they appear in the Nongenre section of the Summary Bibliography page. Apparently, as long as at least one title in a series is considered a "novel" or a "collection", the whole series will be displayed together up top. This may actually be desirable behavior when you have one or two nongenre books in an otherwise sf series, but we would want to label them as such just like we currently label short fiction series entries as "SF" and collections as "C". I will create a new feature request for it tonight. Ahasuerus 12:03, 2 Jan 2007 (CST)
Okie, I've read all of the above and hope that I understand the various points. I'm glad to see that at least the Holmes titles have been moved. And that other Doyle books such as The White Company have been relisted as Nongenre. Are *all* the other Doyle books truly SF?
Nope, most Doyle titles that we currently list are nongenre, they just haven't been properly categorized yet. Ahasuerus 15:04, 2 Jan 2007 (CST)
I can do a little research on them, but "Micah Clarke" is certainly a non-SF historical novel. I can relabel that one, I think, as nongenre. He also wrote a series of shorts about a French army guy, Brigadier Gerard. These don't seem to be listed, but I can put them in as new Nongenre collections.
Doyle wrote quite a bit of nongenre stuff, which I am sure we will add eventually, but I think the priority is to make sure that his SF is clearly listed as such and vice versa. Ahasuerus 15:04, 2 Jan 2007 (CST)
Regarding "Burr" and the awards, I see the issues involved in out-of-hand deleting all the award references. So I would think that at least one possible, perhaps temporary way of dealing with this would be to recategorize Burr as Nongenre, with a note explaining why it's listed here. Ditto with the two other books I mentioned, "One Flew Over" and "Moscow Rules." Hayford Peirce 14:39, 2 Jan 2007 (CST)
But that seems so... sensible and non-controversial. Alvonruff 14:51, 2 Jan 2007 (CST)
Hehe. Done and done! as Harold Ross would say Hayford Peirce 14:39, 2 Jan 2007 (CST)
Yes, very sensible! Ahasuerus 15:04, 2 Jan 2007 (CST)

More info on the login situation

I have apparently discovered a way of staying logged in at the ISFDB data page, at least when I use the Avant browser. When I go to the site, it tells me that I am NOT logged in. But if I click on one of the names shown in the Today's birthday list or one of those links elsewhere on the page, I am then shown as being logged in. And I am -- I can then edit as if I had logged myself in. Verra strange.... Hayford Peirce 16:19, 2 Jan 2007 (CST)

What URL are you using to get to the site? (,, etc...) Alvonruff 16:35, 2 Jan 2007 (CST)
Hah! I think you've solved the problem! I orginally used one of the browsers to save the URL to the desktop and it made an .mht file on the desktop. I've now used IE to "Send to" (which is SO non-intuitive!) a desktop shortcut, which is "". When I click on this new icon, the site opens and I'm still logged in. Thanks for the v. astute question -- I *always* forget how to save a URL to desktop! Hayford Peirce 17:12, 2 Jan 2007 (CST)

Procedures, Images etc...

Just edited the basic info for Stephen Tall's "Stardust Voyages". The book is a collection of standalone stories, not a novel. Unfortunately, when converting from "novel" to "collection", there's no obvious way to add the individual shorts. Any suggestions?

Goofed and forgot the info in the editing instructions re: storing images (i.e., that ISFDB does NOT). Any experience with Image Shack? They seem to do quite a bit of storage for Fark ( in support of photoshop contests and the like.

Some (really old) PB's don't have pub dates. They DO include the latest copyright info. Is that an acceptable substitute (the data edits won't allow a pub submission without a date)?? Dave Sorgen 21:45, 2 Jan 2007 (CST)

Hi; good to have you on board. Re your first question; now you've converted it to a collection, you should find that editing it will give you the opportunity to add stories. For dates, no, please don't use the copyright date -- very often that's quite misleading, especially for undated reprints. Just use "0000-00-00" for anything you can't date confidently. You can use external sources to date things, if you have access to bibliographic encyclopaedias such as Donald Tuck's -- make a note in the notes field that that's where you're getting your date from, though, if you do that. I'll let Al respond on the images.
Any other questions, post here or on my talk page -- we are thinking of starting an "information desk" page and will post a link on the main page and in the Help pages if we do that. Mike Christie (talk) 21:52, 2 Jan 2007 (CST)

Series Numbering

(Spun off from Lovejoy thread.)

  • Marc - Is the series actually numbered? In looking at the covers ( I don’t see any numbering but maybe it’s on the spine or elsewhere in the books.
  • Hayford - No. But I have Hubins crime bibliography for 1790 through 1980 and he lists the first 4 or 5 books in the series and gives the dates. So I have numbered those as being the beginning of the series. I haven't yet had time to track down the chronological order of the others -- there are about 20, I think.
  • Marc - It turns out I had a misunderstanding wrt series numbering (poke self in eye). I would only number a series if the publishers were numbering them on the books. If a series was un-numbered and instead presented as a succession of sequels then I would not number them and instead relied on that unnumbered series items get sorted by the title's “date” field. Template:TitleFields:SeriesNum seems to indicate that in ISFDB we number all series but let's see what others say about this. Marc Kupper 13:06, 3 Jan 2007 (CST)
Righto. I'll wait to see what develops before I go anything further with the Lovejoy stuff. Somewhere I'm sure a chronology of his books exists. And in any case, I want to make sure that it's considered SF.... Hayford Peirce 13:18, 3 Jan 2007 (CST)
The main reason that SF series without publisher-assigned numbers typically get numbered in the ISFDB is that you can have more than one book published per year, which makes relying on dates for ordering purposes a dubious proposition. For example, Simon_Hawke published 4 books in the Steele series in 1990 alone and since that series is currently not numbered, there is no way to tell which one should be read first. This is a particularly common problem with downmarket and YA series.
If and when the recently proposed "series ordinals" (see earlier discussions) have been implemented, the problem will fade away. We will have one field for "series order" and another field for "publisher-assigned number". For now, however, omitting series numbers in cases when the publisher decided not to make it explicit would result in losing very valuable information IMHO. Ahasuerus 15:29, 3 Jan 2007 (CST)
I believe what I’m looking for is clarification on if and when a series should be numbered. I was using the following mental rules to decide on if I should number a series.
  1. If it was numbered by the author or publisher.
  2. If a series is not numbered by the author or publisher, a certain order matters, and using the first-published-date alone would get the books out of order. The “a certain order matters “ is subjective and should be documented with an explanation that states that the books are not numbered but that we are numbering the titles to get the books sorted.
  3. This is similar to #2 in that the books were not numbered by the by the author or publisher but it’s felt that emphasizing a particular order is important. This is a subjective numbering that did not change the order as first-printed would work that should be documented.
  4. If certain books in a series are considered “core” and there are a bunch of other titles (usually by other authors). The numbering serves to highlight the core novels though this could also be dealt with via sub-series.
What caught my attention is that Template:TitleFields:SeriesNum seems to be worded that we would number any series where someone “knows the order in which the books in the series are supposed to be read.” This usually falls into case #3 above and the question is – should numbering be a standard/common practice or something that’s rare? Many books in a series seem to work fine as standalone novels meaning you can enjoy them without needing to have first read the previous books and it’s these types of series that I don’t think need to be numbered. Marc Kupper 14:20, 4 Jan 2007 (CST)
One of the reasons why I tend to number all series is that if there are missing entries, then it becomes immediately obvious that there is a gap in ISFDB coverage. Also, although it's certainly true that there are series where the order doesn't matter, it can be a very subjective call. One could argue, for example, that even though there are no spoilers or plot dependencies in later novels in series X, there were subtle character development elements that are important to watch unfold in the right order. It's a can of worms that I am not particularly eager to open :) Ahasuerus 14:52, 4 Jan 2007 (CST)

Associational SF -- tough calls

What do we do about things like the 11th Matt Helm novel, The Menacers? The cover blurb says: "What better man to track down a flying saucer scare than a hardhead like MATT HELM?" Helm goes to Mexico, through the usual counter-agent stuff, and discovers, of course, that the flying saucer in question is an elaborate hoax, mounted, as I recall, by the Soviets.

Yup, it's the Scooby Doo syndrom, which has caused many a "hoax supernatural" book to be listed as SF by Amazon and their army of faithful dope smoking penguins. Ahasuerus 15:50, 3 Jan 2007 (CST)

He takes care of all of that with his usual dispatch, then, on the last page, sees what apparently is a *real* flying saucer lifting out of the ocean and into the sky. And then there's a later Helm book in which an old Mexican shaman apparently really *does* have occult powers. Powers that play an important role at a crucial moment in the narrative. In The Menacers, the real UFO doesn't really contribute to anything vital, but in the other book the occult stuff is important. So, does The Menacers rate an inclusion (with a Note)? What about the other one? And what about other "associational" items that are more or less like these two examples? Hayford Peirce 14:11, 3 Jan 2007 (CST)

Currently, the ISFDB:Policy states that "speculative fiction" encompasses "the supernatural (with an inclusionist bias)", so I would be inclined to include these books. Nothing prevents us from changig the policy, of course.
From the process perspective, we probably want to have a separate place where these borderline issues could be raised and discussed. Another use for such a place would be to decide what writers should have their nongenre works included (Doyle?) and what writers shouldn't (Stevenson?) Ahasuerus 15:50, 3 Jan 2007 (CST)
Well, I'll stick these two in, with a Note explaining their inclusion, and if, in the future, I run across any more like these I'll either ask your (collective) opinion or just stick them in with an explanation. But I do think it would be useful to have either a Borderline discussion area OR a Borderline category itself to go with NOVEL, NONGENRE, and whatever. Hayford Peirce 16:09, 3 Jan 2007 (CST)

Inconsistency in entering dates

When one wants to create a New Title, the date entry can apparently consist of nothing but 1956, say, instead of 1956-00-00 and that date then appears when the book is posted. But, as I have just discovered on my own (and Marc has pointed out to me) if one wants to *add* a date to an already existing Title, then one *has* to use the YYYY-MM-DD format in order to get anything at all to show up. A very minor quibble, to be sure, but life is tough enough without one more inconsistency to remember, hehe.... Hayford Peirce 18:53, 3 Jan 2007 (CST)

Thank you for the heads up on that Hayford. I already had a ISFDB_Feature_List request (Feature:90089 Validate or correct date formatting) in the queue but will add your note about add vs. edit being inconsistent to the feature request. I suspect that since the date field in contents listings is pretty small that it also accept YYYY. The field used to be used for the copyright date meaning only YYYY was needed but was redefined to instead hold the title's first book publication date but not all of the YYYY logic must have been changed to YYYY-MM-DD. Marc Kupper 23:39, 3 Jan 2007 (CST)

A couple of suggestions for new categories

I haven't been editing very long now, but I already have a couple suggestions based on my own experiences and some discussions that I've seen.

1.) Along with NOVEL, NONGENRE, etc. how about a category called MARGINAL or BORDERLINE or ASSOCIATIONAL? Then the titles like the Matt Helm and Lovejoy books that I've recently been entering could be stuck into a place where there would be no argument about their inclusion. Along, of course, with a Note for each book explaining just why these books *are* marginal.

2.) Another category called MISTAKEN CLASSIFICATION OR I.D. This one would take care of the books like Tai-Pan and Noble House and Burr and Cash McCall that clearly have no business being listed, even by the most all-embracing inclusionist reasoning.

Obviously, I have no idea how onerous this process would be to create and implement and whether it is even feasible, not to mention practical. But I thought I'd at least throw these ideas out (or throw them to the wolves). Hayford Peirce 19:02, 3 Jan 2007 (CST)

One issue here that I think has been discussed elsewhere is that this "type" field is overused -- a book may be a COLLECTION and also NONGENRE. A separate genre type flag or field might be better; then Conan Doyle could have NONGENRE novels, and NONGENRE collections. However, if we have more than a binary flag -- "in genre" vs. "non-genre" -- I think we'll have difficulty policing internal boundaries; who will say whether "The Dying Earth" is sf or fantasy? This probably belongs over at the Feature requests page, but maybe a simple separate flag to say nongenre, on the title level, not the publication, would do the trick. We could convert all existing NONGENREs to novels, as the best guess.
I'm less keen on the MISTAKEN idea; and I actually think calling them NONGENRE takes care of the problem. If someone scans the list of Prometheus award nominees and sees a bunch of NONGENRE books, that tells them as much as a list of MISTAKEN ID books would tell them. I don't think it would add much to have a separate category for this situation. Mike Christie (talk) 23:42, 3 Jan 2007 (CST)
Sorry, folks, I am pressed for time at the moment and can't comment at length, so I'll just chime in that I agree with Mike. We will probably want to split the Type field into two/three sooner rather than later and also add support for Nongenre short fiction. Ahasuerus 00:08, 4 Jan 2007 (CST)

Editing Contents of Publications

Help:How_to_update_a_publication makes it seem like people can change anything in the record including the contents. I currently have a pup-update on hold because I saw that the editor made some minor changes to story titles (presumably so that they would exactly match what’s stated in the publication). I took a look at the publication and nearly all of the stories are sharing title records with other publications. Only one title, A Star Called Cyrene, had not been merged at some point in the past and that one would be safe to edit as it’s dedicated to the publication we are updating.

I’m guessing the “best” way to fix this would be to add new titles to the publication for the records you want to change, copy/paste/edit the data, submit that, then do “Remove Titles From This Pub” to unlink the old titles, and finally set up variant titles between the old titles and the new ones we added? Ideally ISFDB would do all of the above automagically unless people know of an easier way. Marc Kupper 23:30, 3 Jan 2007 (CST)

Your method sounds right, and I agree that the help should be updated -- maybe a how-to. It also occurs to me that a feature request might be suitable, to request that an editpub display an indication that a content title is shared with other publications. That would tell you the impact of changing it. Does that sound useful? Mike Christie (talk) 23:46, 3 Jan 2007 (CST)
This is a fairly common situation, unfortunately. The Contents data for many older collections and anthologies was added from secondary sources years ago and much of it is off, one common occurrence being pseudonym misattribution. I have been looking for an efficient way to have these problems addressed and what Marc has come up with is about as good as I have seen. We definitely want to document this because the current behavior is not particularly intuitive.
I have also seen editors run into problems while trying to change Novels to Collections. They would pull a Novel up in Pub Edit and change the first/only "Novel" Title to the first story in the collection, then add the rest of the stories. Of course, the resulting Collection Pub didn't have an associated Collection Title. This is another quirk that I suspect we want to document and explain that you first need to convert the Novel Title to a Collection and then enter that Collection's Content data. Ahasuerus 00:05, 4 Jan 2007 (CST)
Would it be useful for the editing tools to warn the editor if they are editing a title that refers to multiple publications? I wouldn't think this would be necessary for the straight title edits, but when titles are edited as part of pub contents, perhaps a confirm screen that says something like "Please confirm -- changing title "Foo" to "Bar" will change it for these other publications: <list of pubs>"? Mike Christie (talk) 06:50, 5 Jan 2007 (CST)

Login Problems

I cannot log in to the main part of the ISFDB (; when I try to log in using the username and password I created for the wiki, I get an error saying "Login failed: Bad user name". I am having this problem both from work and at home, although both computers are WinXP, and Firefox and IE7 do not work from either. I tried making my browser settings as permissive as possible, per Ahasuerus' suggestion, but it didn't make any difference.Jefe 12:12, 4 Jan 2007 (CST)

Jeff, could you try another user name? Create another one (TestJP or something) and see if you can log in with that. You could also try clicking on this link [2]; that will ensure that you're going to a URL that solved the problem for Hayford Peirce, who was having some related problems.
You can evidently log in to the Wiki with your user name. Another option would be for you to temporarily set the password to something like "test", and let one of us try logging in as you, to see if we run into a problem. Mike Christie (talk) 21:50, 4 Jan 2007 (CST)
I created a new account (jeffprucher), but I can't log in using that one either (using the link above). I tried logging in from my wife's Mac (with Firefox) but got the same result. Very wiggy. I've changed the password on my first account (jprucher) to "test" if you want to try logging in as me.Jefe 23:49, 4 Jan 2007 (CST)
Of all the newbie errors to make.... The username is case sensitive AND the username is automatically changed to have an initial capital. So although I thought I had created a username of "jprucher" I actually had one of "Jprucher". This is further complicated by the fact that the log-in to the wiki is not case-sensitive. I recommend adding a note in the error message that the username is case-sensitive.Jefe 00:00, 5 Jan 2007 (CST)
Thanks for the update, adding to the "login problems" section of the FAQ :) Ahasuerus 00:07, 5 Jan 2007 (CST)

Jonathan Gash and Lovejoy the "divvie"

I've just done a little googling and +Lovejoy and +divvie turn up a number of hits, including reviews from the NYT that describe him as such. "Divvie", at least as used by Jonathan Gash, is short for diviner.

As an antique dealer/fan wrote on his/her site: "Beginning in 1977, and continuing for many years, the English author Jonathan Gash wrote a series of mystery novels whose main character was a down-in-the-heels East Anglican antique dealer known simply as Lovejoy. Lovjoy suffered from more than a few character flaws, but he was also a divvie. A divvie is someone antiques communicate with. Lovejoy could walk into a room filled with expensive antiques and one or two of them would literally scream at him - 'I'm a fake, I'm a fake.' He could enter a room filled with junk and the one valuable item in the room, buried under boxes of dross would scream "here I am, here I am" to him."

I haven't read more than 2 titles in the series -- there are about 21 of them -- but this seems clear enough to me that this talent of his extends across the entire series. And to me, anyone who has the above talent is clearly a SF character, so, by definition, these are SF books, even if somewhat marginal, that should be on the list. I've already entered 6 of them, I think, but before I go any further, I want to make sure that everyone here is in agreement with this -- I don't want, at some future date, to have all 21 entries deleted because it's been decided that these books aren't SF. So I'd appreciate your thoughts on the inclusion of the rather unlikable Lovejoy (no first name). Hayford Peirce 12:41, 4 Jan 2007 (CST)

I keep wishing for series notes but in the mean time it could get explained in the series wiki that at first glance that Lovejoy appears like a crime/mystery series and this non-genre for ISFDB but is being included in the speculative fiction database because the main character is a “divvie” (is that the official spelling?) or “diviner” that has (had?) a talent for being able to “know” with complete confidence if a piece of art was the original or a reproduction/fake. Marc Kupper 12:58, 4 Jan 2007 (CST)
If I understand what you're saying, you wish that there was a place on the main Jonathan Gash page that somewhere, either on the Series header or in a general statement, would be able to contain some info about this series. Short of that, however, each book in the "series wiki" would have the same explanation in its Notes section. (I'm not really clear what you mean by "series wiki".)
Yes, "divvie" is the spelling that is apparently used. I have rewritten the Notes section to incorporate some of your above comments. Subject to approval, I will change the text in existing entries to read:
Lovejoy, the main character of this series, is an unscrupulous antiques dealer who leads a shady and somewhat marginal existence. At first glance the books appear to be crime/mystery and non-genre for ISFDB. They are included in the speculative-fiction database, however, because Lovejoy is a "divvie" (English slang for diviner) who has a psychic talent for being able to “know” with complete confidence if any piece of art is the original or a reproduction/fake.
And, unless you can think of some other way to do it, I will put that text into all future additions to the series. (And, of course, feel free to edit this proposed text to make it clearer/better/more accurate). Hayford Peirce 14:10, 4 Jan 2007 (CST)
By series wiki I meant Series:Lovejoy but that is in a rather obscure place. From Gash' page click on Lovejoy (the series name) and from that page click on Bibliographic Comments: Series:Lovejoy. I already have a feature request in for ISFDB to check to see if a wiki page exists and if not to show the link to it in red or something similar. For now, information you put in Series:Lovejoy would be a bit off the beaten path. How about this – Rather than putting the full note about the Lovejoy series in each title add this as a note in each title.
This is a title in the <a href="">Lovejoy</a> series.
That would allow you to put a detailed description at Series:Lovejoy and to be able to revise it without needing to edit each of the titles. Your note looks fine - I had already copy/pasted your previous note to the Lovejoy page and so you can just update it.
BTW – you had asked about where to verify a series. I use a lot for this as the site owner has done a good job of staying on top of series. He also has cover images and I always look at those to double check the series data. That’s why I had asked about the Lovejoy’s numbering as I could not see them on the cover images. Marc Kupper 19:29, 4 Jan 2007 (CST)
While I'd love to recommend all the Lovejoy books to anyone that generally enjoys reading, having read almost all of them I cannot say that I recall that any of them really has any major SF or Fantasy content. The "divvie" ability is only mentioned in these books as far as I know, it's not a common British phrase. (In fact, calling someone a "div" could lead to fights at school, but that was so long ago I can't recall why.) There MAY be some links to Fantasy Legends though: no "Wow, the Holy Grail turned up in Essex!" things that I recall, but there are references to things such as the cup the Last Japanese Emperor/God drank from before he "renounced his divinity" (i.e. surrendered after WWII). And I think there are references to other artifacts that may be considered "Fantasy". I'd hate to see all this content lost though, so if people don't mind, I'll verify the publications when I get time/find my copies, and if I can find a saving reference from re-reading I'll mention it. (I must claim a major interest in this - although it's never mentioned, the main town that Lovejoy lives near is obviously Colchester, where I grew up, and a lot of the geographical locations that ARE mentioned are places I knew.) So save it for now please? BLongley 17:25, 15 Jan 2007 (CST)

Richard Condon's "Emperor of America"

I think I managed to get the Condon entry under control. But I still can't figure out why Emperor of America is there in the first place. Someone obviously put it there but I can't delete it because it must be linked to something (like the Prometheus Awards). But I can't find any links. Could someone either point me in the direction of the link (and original entry), or could they just delete this item? There's absolutely no reason for it to be here -- unless it's inextricably linked to something else, as has already been explained to me regarding Burr and some of the other Nongenre items. Thanks. Hayford Peirce 11:46, 5 Jan 2007 (CST)

Well, there are two publications attached to it, which explains why you can't delete the title. On the other hand, I'm growing more concerned about the focus on deleting material from the database. For Condon specifically, "Emperor of America" is listed in his entry in the Clute/Nicholls Encyclopedia, but more importantly there are numerous books listed there in his article that we don't index, such as "Winter Kills", "Mile High", "The Star Spangled Crunch", "The Whisper of the Axe", "Death of a Politician", and "The Final Addiction". "The Manchurian Candidate" is not only mentioned under Condon, but has it's own article as a film of note for the genre. Tuck also lists "The Manchurian Candidate", and calls it "A fertile hybrid between sf and a suspense thriller". The rationale for the inclusion of "Emperor of America" in Clute/Nicholls is listed as: "So extreme is RC's rendering (and rending) of the US political scene that it is fair to think of much of his work as occupying a series of alternate worlds, as in...", followed by a detailed list of his books. In particular, Clute wrote about "The Whisper of the Axe": "which augurs a successful overturn of the US Government, as does The Emperor of America". Sounds similar in scope and tone to Sinclair Lewis's "It Can't Happen Here", whereby the US government falls into a fascist dictatorship.
One could make a similar argument about Vidal's Burr. While on the surface it appears to be a historical novel, it in fact is an imaginary memoir from Burr, and in the afterword Vidal describes which points of reality he deliberately chose to change. The work is speculative (by introducing events that did not actually happen), has elements of alternate reality, and has an inverted tone which draws the founding fathers (like Thomas Jefferson) as villians. It's probably that tone which got it a nomination for the Prometheus, which provides "encouragement to science fiction writers whose books examine the meaning of freedom". The Hall of Fame award tends to be broader reaching than the Best Novel award, and includes works which are non-SF at first glance like James Clavel's "Tai Pan", or Forrest Carter's "The Outlaw Josey Wales". Once a writer starts mucking with reality, or introduces a tone so dark or inverted that it alters the reader's sense of reality, he starts toying with the boundaries of speculative fiction.
I've recently been updating and adding books from Locus' Books Received section, which as "The Magazine of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Field" should be focused on those books which align with the scope of the ISFDB. And while entering them, I've come across at least 10 books from last month's issue that I'm sure someone will delete in the next few weeks. It's interesting that Cormac McCarthy's latest book "The Road" is getting tremedous buzz in the SF world; Gary K. Wolfe said in the December Locus: "The Road may be the most merciless post-apocalypse novel yet written, and it's significant to readers of SF and fantasy in some important ways". But Cormac's entire bibliography was deleted (even though "Blood Meridian", arguably a western, has been mentioned by numerous horror critics), and until I punched in "The Road", all mention of him was gone. There are numerous bibliographies that I have personally worked on that are now gone. I see very little difference between a typical 1930's Space Opera and Tom Clancy's "The Hunt For Red October" other than the fact that one happens in space and the other under the water. Both are high-adventure, techophilic stories, which have a central theme concerning man's relationship with technology, and who controls that technology. I'm sure Delillo is next on someone's list for deletion.
At any rate, I realize that cordoning off the genre is an interest for some. So the point I want to make is that we should leave some padding around our cordon points. Otherwise people are going to start being hesitant about entering a book in the database unless there's a picture of spaceship on the cover. Although Condon's works are mentioned in a major SF encylopedia, I'm not sure I should enter them in the database, as they're likely to not be here next week. Alvonruff 13:16, 5 Jan 2007 (CST)
Lots of interesting points, Al, that I am sure I will comment on at length once I catch this wascally wabbit, but just a point of order for now. Do you think we should move these "scope" discussions to the ISFDB:Policy Talk page? Ahasuerus 14:39, 5 Jan 2007 (CST)
Thanks for all the interesting, well-reasoned points you bring up. I myself am *not* interested in "cordoning off the genre" in an overly restrictive way -- I'm just concerned about making this database as accurate as possible. First, by adding stuff that isn't already there. Then by removing any items that don't clearly fall within the field. It is, obviously, a very slippery slope we start down when we start considering what falls within the field or not. You mention all the other Richard Condon books -- and, to me, this actually illustrates my own point of view *exactly*. Which is to say: "If Emperor of America" is considered SF, then why not all the others? All of them are somewhat over-the-top, somewhat daffy, part horrific, part comedic treatments that Condon alone could write -- he was, I think, truly sui generis. In fact, given Cluth/N's list of 5 or 6 Condons, I think that almost *all* of his books could be argued for inclusion. (They're wrong about "Whisper of the Axe", incidently -- the plot to overthrow the U.S. gov't is NOT successful. Think of this book as being a revamped "Manchurian Candidate" -- I'm surprised no one else seems to have ever mentioned it; it's practically a steal of the same plot.)
But in this path, I think, lies madness. ALL fiction is, in a sense, a depiction of an "alternate reality". "Advise and Consent" is a great political novel -- but about a Washington that didn't actually exist at the time it was published in that none of the real political figures of 1959 are in the book. So is *that* an alternative-universe book? If the answer is yes, then what about all of the wonderful Ross Thomas books that are combination political thrillers-mystery-espionage-adventure? "The Mordida Man", for instance? Clearly an alternative universe. What about one of the very last of the Matt Helm books, in which conspirators have stolen an atomic bomb and are planning to set it off in the Philadelphia Naval Yard?
Sure, the last 3 or 4 of the "Advise and Consent" series can be included -- Drury has introduced futurist devices, plus Moon landings, atomic wars, etc. that are clearly not part of present-day "straight" political novels; but, as I recall, Drury is also clearly presenting the *date* of these books as being in the future.
As far as "Burr", I think you're wrong on your reading of it. I've lent my well-thumbed copy of it to someone for the moment so I can't refer to it right now but as I recall, Vidal's afterword really only pointed out a few cases in which, for novelistic purposes, he moved trivial things around a bit. And if you read much of Vidal's political (and historical) views, I think he genuinely believes the point of view from which he wrote the book. Let's say that I, myself, really *really* truly believe that FDR connived to cause the attack on Pearl Harbor, and wrote an elaborately researched, heavily documented and footnoted novel purporting to show how he did so -- or at least how he did so within the context of this particular novel, which for the sake of a smart-ass novelist showing off, is actually written from the point of view of the head cook at the 1938-1945 White House. (Remember, there really *are* people who believe this FDR stuff, and who have written "non-fiction" books about it.) But I think that this purported book by me is *clearly* different from "It Can't Happen Here" or the recent Roth alternative-history novel. And it's clearly different from my own "The Burr in the Garden of Eden", which is *real* SF. And how different would it be from "The Winds of War"? Even there, dealing with events that purportedly are all factual, Wouk is picking and choosing his *own* historical events. A dedicated Marxist writing the same series would undoubted find *other* "facts" to make up the basis for the story and his interpretation thereof.
Please note: I've already put in the Jonanthan Gash books, as well as a number of others that are, on the surface, outside the SF canon, and I can think of some others that I'm going to check up on and then add if necessary. But I think there's got to be *some* rigor to the definition of what is and what isn't includable here -- otherwise, every work of fiction ever penned will have to be entered. Hayford Peirce 14:48, 5 Jan 2007 (CST)
Here's another example of an item that is *clearly* wrong: a short story by Evelyn Waugh called "The Man Who Liked Dickens". It was originally a chapter or so in his novel "A Handful of Dust" and was eventually slightly rewritten to become a stand-alone short. As such, it is famous: it was made into at least one TV show and maybe more. It has also been reprinted in various anthologies and magazines as shown in its entry. BUT it is *absolutely* NOT SF by any conceivable means! It's about an English artist who is exploring the back-country Amazon. He encounters an eccentric, illiterate old Englishman who lives deep in the jungle. The second man then keeps the first man his prisoner for the rest of his life -- in order to have him read the collected works of Dickens to him over and over. Macabre, noir, black humor, chilling, yes, yes, and yes. But speculative fiction -- absolutely not! I realize that it can't possibly be expunged from the ISFDB but it really should be. On that I hope you would agree.... Hayford Peirce 15:21, 6 Jan 2007 (CST)
In this particular case there's another reason for not expunging it: it appeared in Fantastic. We index everything in magazines that are basically f/sf magazines; that means that a story that is not sf which appears in one of those magazines is going to get indexed. I think this is a very necessary criterion for inclusion. I wouldn't disagree in this case that the story is not genre, but its appearance in Fantastic makes the argument moot.
Okay, I agree that if one were to try to pick and choose among the magazines in that way would lie madness. I wonder why they published it, though? Had a blank 10 pages to fill, I suppose, and Waugh's agent let them have it for 5 bucks.... I'll put in some sort of Note or Synopsis saying it ain't sf. Hayford Peirce 15:43, 6 Jan 2007 (CST)
I think there is plenty of debate we can have about the boundaries and how to police them, but I'm not convinced it's the most productive thing to do right now. I think we ought to pick areas and clean them up -- my preference would be to pick an author and work on them; I've done some of that with Le Guin, for example. I suspect we'll find the boundaries by bumping up against them as we expand the amount of clean data. Mike Christie (talk) 15:33, 6 Jan 2007 (CST)
As I think I've tried to say somewhere above, although maybe not clearly enough, I'd rather be an inclusionist and have too much material listed rather than omitting some questionable items -- AS LONG AS clearly non-genre stuff is then labeled as such and, if possible, explained why it IS included here. I certainly don't feel like an extended dialogue about what should and shouldn't be here, particularly with people who are a lot smarter and more knowledgeable than me. Hayford Peirce 15:43, 6 Jan 2007 (CST)
Well, I'm sure you're being too modest there; this place functions best with a lot of overlapping knowledge sets. But it does sound like we're in agreement. Mike Christie (talk) 16:17, 6 Jan 2007 (CST)

(unindent) As promised, a few points. First, I don't think we will ever have consensus re: what is and what isn't "clearly speculative fiction". If a major SF encyclopedia can include statements like "So extreme is RC's rendering (and rending) of the US political scene that it is fair to think of much of his work as occupying a series of alternate worlds" -- which, by implication, pushes the boundaries of the genre in all kinds of directions -- it means that there will always be otherwise apparently sane people who will disgaree on the issue. Since it's highly unlikely that we will reach consensus, we will need some kind of decision making mechanism put in place to adjust the Rules of Acquisition (which I put together in a hurry last may-June, deliberately leaving many things up in the air) as well as to judge individual works in borderline cases. And I am sure there will be a lot of borderline case, from technothrillers to borderline "imaginary histories" to our grandfathered subgenres (e.g. the pre-historicals).

Second, I am not sure that we can - or want to -- use the author's intent as one of the guiding principles that help us distinguish sf from non-sf. Richard Shaver reportedly thought that his stories were not SF, but rather thinly fictionalized accounts of the dangers presented by deros. His editor, Ray Palmer, presumably had other ideas, which had more to do with increasing Amazing 's circulation than with saving humanity. Still, the end result is that the stories are generally regarded as SF. The same Ray Palmer milked the UFO craze for all it was worth in the 1950s and at some point we will probably have lengthy discussions re: whether some of the stuff that he published in Other Worlds (especially later on) were specfiction or non-fiction. We have already run into a related problem with some 1930s pulps that published what they called "semi-fictions".

Third, unless I am missing something, at this point there is no way to record "nongenre" short works in the ISFDB the way we can record nongenre book length works. We already support two different Title types for non-fiction works, "NONFICTION" for book length non-fiction and "ESSAY" for short non-fiction pieces. We may want to add a similar breakdown for nongenre fiction.

Fourth, Mike's point that we may want to leave borderline and/or complicated cases alone for now is well taken. There is plenty of stuff in the ISFDB that doesn't belong in it regardless of which definition of "speculative fiction" we end up using, e.g. RPG accessories, Star Trek calendars, comic books and even toys. There are a few ongoing projects dedicated to hunting them down and exterminating them with extreme prejudice -- see the Projects page linked from the main page. Ahasuerus 23:17, 6 Jan 2007 (CST)

One more thing. Undoubtedly, the review columns of Locus and other major specfiction managzines can serve as useful tools when looking for speculative fiction to be included in the ISFDB. That's why I added a row for reconciling reviews with the ISFDB content to the Magazine template a couple of weeks ago. However, specfiction magazine editors and reviewers are under no obligation to review only what they consider specfiction. Science Fiction Age, for example, happily reviewed computer games. Analog may well review some non-fiction books that its reviewers and editors find of interest to its readers. I wouldn't advocate the inclusion of computer games and/or science books in the ISFDB based on that alone :) Ahasuerus 23:30, 6 Jan 2007 (CST)

One of the reasons that I had left the NONGENRE support fallow for so long is that, unlike the other types, it does not describe an objective type of work. If I look at a book I can objectively tell if it is a NOVEL; I can look at the table of contents and ascertain whether it's a COLLECTION, ANTHOLOGY, or MAGAZINE; you can usually tell the difference between an ESSAY and a work of SHORTFICTION (especially so if the table of contents tells you so). But you cannot, without reading the text, or referring to a secondary source, determine whether or not a work is NONGENRE. In fact, two people can read the book, and then have an argument about whether or not it is NONGENRE. It's a subjective analysis of the text which attempts to categorize the subject matter of the book. We've had the NONGENRE discussion about NOVELS, ANTHOLOGIES, and now SHORTFICTION. I think that makes it obvious that "genre-ness" is a trait of a NOVEL, ANTHOLOGY, COLLECTION, or work of SHORTFICTION - not a fundamental type in itself.
Rather than continually carve up the data type space, I think we would be better served with supporting tags or keywords that describe the record. For instance, everything in the database would be marked "sf", except for NONGENRE (which would be demoted back to a NOVEL, or whatever it should be). Since every work would support more than a single keyword, we can further specialize a work by adding categories, like "science-fiction", "fantasy", or "horror". We can subspecialize by adding keywords like "space-opera", "cyberpunk", "hard-sf", "dystopia", or "steampunk". The presumption is that people come to a reference like this to find works of a type that interests them.
The point of the NONGENRE type is to bluntly carve up the bibliography space into works that probably interest us, and works that probably don't (but are included because their inclusion is less painful than their exclusion). Likewise, there are people who love Hard SF, but don't give a rat's ass about Fantasy, ,and they probably wish there was some way they didn't have to wade through the fantasy data. Once keyword support is in place, it would be possible for people to set a preference for which data they would see. Don't want to see "nongenre"? Turn it off. Don't like "horror"? Turn it off. Want to see what the universe would look like if everyone only wrote "space-opera"? OK. I think that over time, my particular interests in what I want to read are becoming more specialized, and the information I need to find those works isn't present here. But it easily could be.
So the bottom line is that subjective data like subject matter, shouldn't cause the map of a bibliography to shift about. If person A removes a title because he feels it is nongenre, and person B comes along 2 years later and adds the title because he feels it is genre, then we can spend a lot of time adding/deleting works. Person B doesn't know he shouldn't add the book - because there is no mention of it anywhere in the database. If a work is present in the database, it can at least be annotated, and we can argue about the annotation, but at least we have a place to discuss it. Once a work is deleted, someone else coming along will simply presume that we never got around to adding it. If I'm going through a Clute/Nicholls article, my presumption is that the books they mention are genre - and if not present in the ISFDB, I'm adding them. If they are already there, then at least we know the titles have been addressed. Alvonruff 05:42, 7 Jan 2007 (CST)

Grooming Gene Wolfe

I've been going through the Wolfe data, and there seem to be several instances of duplicate publications (not duplicate titles, although there is that, too), but I couldn't find any discussion on how to deal with them in the help files. One of them is The Wolfe Archipelago, which lists two publications -- one with only sketchy info, an another with more complete info. Is there a way to merge these? The first entry doesn't add any information, and is in fact confusing since there were only two editions of this book (limited and trade), and it isn't obviously either -- it looks like it was entered from a bibliography or something, and whoever entered the later publication added a new one, rather than editing the existing one. The other instance is with The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories and Other Stories, which I think I accidentally caused -- I meant to edit the 1980 Pocket edition, and I think I cloned it by accident, creating a duplicate 1980 Timescape edition (they were the same publisher at the time). Any thoughts on how to proceed? Jefe 17:57, 5 Jan 2007 (CST)

At one point we had a "Merge Publications" option, but it turned out to be more trouble than it was worth. Currently, the standard way of handling a duplicate pub is to delete it and then add any relevant details to its surviving sibling by hand. Note that Publication-specific Notes are not visible on the Title page and can be easily lost if you don't check carefully. And, of course, always try to make sure that you are not deleting a publication that is subtly different from the one that only looks like its long lost twin. Ahasuerus 18:08, 5 Jan 2007 (CST)
This is definitely the best way to go. The only other caveat I'd add is that since we try to capture each separate printing, you'll find people have entered a later printing using the first printing info (dates etc.) since the later printings are often undated. You can usually tell because the price is inappropriate for the year entered. In this case I generally zero out the date (0000-00-00, meaning unknown) since the price is a genuine bit of info. But if there's truly no different info between the two pubs, just delete one of them. Mike Christie (talk) 18:28, 5 Jan 2007 (CST)
What was the trouble with merge publications? I do wish there was some sort of diff facility so that the machine, rather than my eyes, could compare fields to see what's different and if the records should be merged. There are many duplicate pubs in ISFDB at the moment and this would help. Marc Kupper 11:26, 6 Jan 2007 (CST)
I have one in the works, but have had a few distractions the last few days. :) Alvonruff 11:46, 6 Jan 2007 (CST)

Unprotecting help

Any reason not to unprotect the help pages that are protected (not many are)? Seems like anybody who wants to update and improve those pages should have the chance. Mike Christie (talk) 19:06, 5 Jan 2007 (CST)

I believe the only reason they were protected was spamming. Marc Kupper 11:23, 6 Jan 2007 (CST)

Help needed (or at least an explantion) with the Lovejoy Publications

I'm baffled. I've done everything that people have suggested about clearing out the Notes in the individual Lovejoy novels by Jonathan Gash. I've fixed it so that if you go to the "Jonathan Gash Summary Bibliography" you'll see a "Fiction Series" called "Lovejoy" with 6 or 7 books listed. If you click on the #1 book, "The Judas Pair", for instance, the "Bibliography: The Judas Pair" comes up. If, under "Publications", you then click on "The Judas Pair" again, the "Publication Listing" then comes up. And here you see, under Notes, the long thing I wrote a couple of days ago that reads: "This series concerns an unscrupulous antiques dealer named Lovejoy who leads a shady and somewhat marginal existence in spite of his preternatural gift of being able to infallibly determine whether any work of art or antique is genuine or not." What baffles me is that I have now gone through this list of books, book by book, TWICE today, and DELETED all of this last Note info. Because, in theory, we've redone it so that if you click on any one of the books initially listed and go to, say: "Bibliography: The Judas Pair" you'll see, beside Note: "The Lovejoy series link explains why this book, and others in the series, is considered speculative fiction." And if you *then* go to the Lovejoy link you'll see: "This series features an unscrupulous and somewhat unlikeable antiques dealer named Lovejoy who leads a shady and often marginal existence in spite of his apparently unique psychic gift of being able to infallibly determine whether any work of art or antique is genuine or not. For this talent he is called, both by himself and many of the other characters in the books, a "divvie", slang for diviner. Aside from this single paranormal element, however, the books are straightforward mystery thrillers, not SF. For more information see" I don't understand why my deletions of this now-superfluous info under Publications don't take effect. The two times I've purged it, all my edits have been approved. Can anyone correct this, or just explain to me what I have to do in order to fix it myself? Thanks. Hayford Peirce 21:34, 5 Jan 2007 (CST)

This is a bug in the update; if you update with a completely blank field, the update doesn't take. I thought this had been fixed, and in fact I can't find it in the open bug list now. I just tested it again, and you're right, it doesn't take. I then updated with a "." instead of a blank, and that worked. I'll raise a bug over at Open Editing Bugs; in the meantime, I suggest you update with a "." instead of a blank. Sorry about the inconvenience on this one, but at least you know you were doing the right thing. Mike Christie (talk) 21:45, 5 Jan 2007 (CST)
Gotcha. Glad I wasn't being an idiot about this. I'll take care of it tomorrow. Hayford Peirce 22:53, 5 Jan 2007 (CST)
This may have been fixed as I was able to delete the notes for a test publication without needing to use a dot or other special character. Hayford, what field were you trying to blank out? (I saw the bug report about publication notes...) Marc Kupper 00:44, 6 Jan 2007 (CST)

Result when verifying a book?


   * insert into verification(pub_id, reference_id, user_id, ver_time, ver_status) values('38440', '1', '2021', NOW(), '1') 

Is this what I should get? User:Dcarson

(discussion started on the community portal talk page and moved to this page) yes - it's not a particuarly user friendly respopnse at the moment but it is correct. Marc Kupper 18:45, 10 Jan 2007 (CST)
Feature request added to navigate back to the publication's page. Marc Kupper 00:32, 16 Jan 2007 (CST)

Short Story Paperbacks and Boxed Sets

How should books that contain only a single short story modelled? As novels? It seems weird, but that'd be my guess.

Also, what about boxed sets? I saw some discussion on one of the biblio pages, but no conclusion was made. I have a Kerosina edition of Gene Wolfe's "Storeys from the Old Hotel" that was slipcased with his poetry collection "For Rosemary". However, there's no unit ISBN -- each book has a separate ISBN for the slipcased and non-slipcased version. Should I just enter them as separate pubs and include a note about slipcasing?Jefe 00:21, 6 Jan 2007 (CST)

I'd like to hear other opinions, but my suggestion would be to make the short story book a CHAPBOOK, and give it contents of a single short story (as well as the CHAPBOOK title that automatically gets created). Note that CHAPBOOKS currently don't display on the bibliography pages; Al's aware of that and it will be fixed at some point.
For the boxed set I think your approach is exactly right. I'd make the note at the publication record level for each of the two. Mike Christie (talk) 07:06, 6 Jan 2007 (CST)
Actually, chapterbooks do display now - there's only one of them, in Ursula K. Le Guin's biblio. Alvonruff 09:05, 6 Jan 2007 (CST)
To change the subject entirely, why are they listed as "chapterbooks"? In bookselling parlance, a chapter book is usually a book for young children that is divided into chapters. Whereas I usually think of a chapbook as just being a small book. But maybe that's just me?Jefe 11:53, 6 Jan 2007 (CST)
From Wikipedia[3]: "Chapbook is a generic term to cover a particular genre of pocket-sized booklet, popular from the sixteenth through to the later part of the nineteenth century. No exact definition can be applied. Chapbook can mean anything that would have formed part of the stock of chapmen, a variety of pedlar. The word chapman probably comes from the Anglo-Saxon word for barter, buy and sell."
Also (from the same page): "Because of their flimsy nature such ephemera rarely survive as individual items. They were aimed at buyers without formal libraries, and, in an era when paper was rare and had many uses, were used for wrapping or baking. Paper has also always had hygienic uses and there are contemporary references to the use of chapbooks as bum fodder (i.e. toilet paper)." DavidWGoldman 02:42, 8 Jan 2007 (CST)
I think we borrowed the term "chapbook" from Clute/Nicholls' Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, where it is used to describe any book under 100 pages long. I don't have it here, but I believe they used the abbreviation "chap" throughout, so my guess would be that we had a glorified transcription error, "chapterbook" for "chapbook", at some point in the distant (1990ish) past. Ahasuerus 12:45, 8 Jan 2007 (CST)
I think "chapbook" and "chapterbook" mean different things. Chapbooks that I have are all 16-64 pages and are folded and stapled with a cover thats either regular paper or slightly heaver but not coverstock weight. Chapterbooks are childrens books for children that are just starting to read longer books. Just entered Sirinta's Dragon for example, 32 pages, 16 regular 8.5" x 11" paper folded and a yellow sheet of regular weight as the cover, all stapled in the fold. Similar with Lee and Millers chapbooks that I'll enter in a while. Dcarson 00:23, 11 Jan 2007 (CST)

Special Projects

OK, I've done a few that looked fast - Robert Rankin, James Blish, Terry Pratchett etc - but it seems people are doing others? E.g. Michael Moorcock, Ursula K. Le Guin. Can we declare them a bit better? I've added a few Moorcocks tonight, more tomorrow if they're useful. Or ask me for help on some subjects - I'm just picking a shelf-full of books at random sometimes, if you need a concentrated effort just say so. The worst I can say is "Who?". ;-) BLongley 17:28, 29 Jan 2007 (CST)

Wrong Publication Types

There have been numerous questions and confusion about display listings and editing behavior that stems from publications that have the wrong type (collections that are marked as novels, etc). I wrote some scripts that located pubs that were marked wrong and found that there were about 6000 of them. Rather than set up a page of targets to edit (which would take weeks to go through), I have done a wholesale update of the database, converting these types. The types that were changed were (in this order):

  1. Titles that were marked COLLECTION had their associated pubs marked COLLECTION.
  2. Titles that were marked ANTHOLOGY had their associated pubs marked ANTHOLOGY.
  3. Titles that were marked OMNIBUS had their associated pubs marked OMNIBUS.

By doing OMNIBUS last, that should correctly mark publications that include a COLLECTION in an OMNIBUS. The change will have no effect on the display of bibliographies as no title types were touched. Alvonruff 08:14, 6 Jan 2007 (CST)

Hmm, that means nearly 7% of the publications were updated. I suspect it would be helpful if the orignal list of 6000 pubs was available old with the old/new pub types. Marc Kupper 11:22, 6 Jan 2007 (CST)

Ace Double cover art

A while ago, Al took the "COVERART" title type out of the pub contents pulldown in edit pub. This was at my suggestion, because the app had integrated the cover art title into the field at the top for artist, on the parent title, so there was no need ever to enter something down in the contents section.

I'm now wondering if there is a reason to bring it back, for Ace doubles. The consensus on Ace Doubles was that they should be entered as an OMNIBUS, with the author uncredited; they should then have contents of two NOVELS, each crediting the appropriate author. The difficulty with cover art is just the same as with the authors; entering two artists makes it look as if they collaborated on the artwork. So I think there should be two COVERART records for a dos format book. Al, would that cause display problems?

If it wouldn't (and I could understand if it did, because of the integration with the Artist field) then I think dos format books should have two COVERART records. For the one I've been working on, for example, "The Silent Invaders" cover is by Emsh, but the flip side, "Battle on Venus", is unsigned. I think this should have a COVERART with a title of "The Silent Invaders", so that there is no apparent implication that Emsh did both covers (of course he may have, in this case, but I don't want to assert that).

I'm hoping that the only problem would come up if there were two COVERART records, both of which matched the pub title. Under the approach I'm suggesting, neither COVERART record would match the pub title. What do you think -- is this the right approach? If so, Al, you'd have to add the COVERART back to the pub contents pull down. Mike Christie (talk) 09:08, 6 Jan 2007 (CST)

I’d agree with that – I just grabbed three random doubles and for all of them the cover artist was different on the flip side. Marc Kupper

Diff Tool Online

A rudimentary tool for diffing publications is now online. It is available in the navbar whenever you're viewing a title, under the link "Diff Publications". You will be presented with a checklist of publications. You may select 2 pubs, and after submitting, it will display the differences in the content between the two pubs. Alvonruff 14:05, 6 Jan 2007 (CST)

Very nice. I see it checks the contents records but doesn't worry about differences in the pub fields such as publisher and price and so on. Can you provide a list of exactly what it checks so we can write the help page for it? Mike Christie (talk) 14:10, 6 Jan 2007 (CST)
At present it doesn't check the publication metadata. It might be useful to at least see the metadata before deciding to delete one of the records.
  • The app constructs two lists, each in alphabetical order, of all the titles in each publication.
  • It then traverses the title list for publication #1, and looks for a match in the title list for publication #2. Titles match if their titles and types match.
  • If there is a match, both titles are printed in a table row in green. Page numbers are printed if available, but are not considered in the match. The matching title is removed from the publication #2 list.
  • If there is no match, the title is printed in red in the left column.
  • After the title list for publication #1 has been traversed, the title list for publication #2 is examined for remaining titles. Any left over titles are printed in red in the right column. Alvonruff 14:31, 6 Jan 2007 (CST)
When I brought up the pub-diff I was thinking more about the meta-data rather than the contents list though it's excellent that the contents are diffed. For example, I picked up a random title and see that it has what looks like two sets of duplicate publications. I can eyeball them and see that I could delete the duplicates but I'd much rather see a field by field diff much like the merge screen so that I don't overlook something like a small change in the ISBN. Marc Kupper 00:34, 7 Jan 2007 (CST)
Yes, this is a huge time saver. Many a time I would have two Publications in two separate windows, comparing their contents line by line and it never occurred to me to suggest that it could be automated. Ahasuerus 02:53, 7 Jan 2007 (CST)

Sam Ferron, Time Scanner

There are 5 or 6 Ferron stories, all of which are stand-alone Analog stories. They were, however, conceived of, and written as, part of a structured outline in which the Time Scanner itself was discovered, then used in various ways. It was the start of an ambitious project that was supposed to have at least another 4 stories (as I dimly recall) and would culminate in a *long* novel. The project got derailed when Stan Schmidt rejected the last story submitted to him and the novel project was also not greeted with enthusiasm by various editors and/or agents. I was wondering, however, if it were worthwhile going into this list of stories and numbering them as a Series? Ditto with the Chap Foey Rider stories and the Jonathan White stories. They're all stand-alones, but most of them clearly build upon the background and events detailed in the earlier stories. Also, is there a place where I can stick in the info that "Chap Foey Rider" is an anagram of my name? The first story started out as a joke letter that I wrote to Ben Bova -- he told me to turn it into a series.... Hayford Peirce 12:08, 7 Jan 2007 (CST)

Absolutely, make it a series. No reason not to. As for the "Chap Foey Rider" note, it could go here, though that's not ideal. Maybe that's more something that should go in the Wikipedia entry on you? Mike Christie (talk) 14:08, 7 Jan 2007 (CST)

Stories noted as having been published under a pseudonym

Rudam submitted an update that led to an interesting question regarding a Tiptree collection. That publication lists the stories as being "by Raccoona Sheldon". I have a copy; mine looks like a Tiptree collection, but Sheldon is mentioned in a footnote on the table of contents saying that asterisked stories were originally published under that name. I don't think this count as a publication under that name for this book, does it? Mike Christie (talk) 16:57, 7 Jan 2007 (CST)

There are quite a few books being published as by "X writing as Y" these days, especially in the futuristic romance area. My gut feeling is that if the original pseudonym is mentioned in the footnotes, then it doesn't count, but if it mentioned on the cover or in a similar high visibility place, then it does. But whatever we decide, we definitely want to standardize it to avoid confusion. Ahasuerus 00:20, 8 Jan 2007 (CST)

A question for all you inclusionists

What about country songs that are clearly science fiction? There were two major hits in the 1980s by the one-time country superstar Randy Travis. Here are the lyrics:

There'll Always Be a Honky Tonk Somewhere

There may not be a Superbowl in 2083, Cars and trains and video games will all be history, The world just keeps on changing, things come and then they go, Nothing lasts forever except one thing I know,

There'll always be a honky tonk, With a jukebox in the corner, And someone crying in their beer, And one old hanger-oner, And a lady looking lonely, From a losing love affair,

Yeah there'll always be a honky tonk somewhere,

Yeah there'll always be a honky tonk somewhere,

There may be factories on the moon and farming out in space, It seems there's nothing here on earth, That something won't replace, But as long as there's a broken heart there'll be a place to go, Where good ole boys meet good ole girls, And the wine and music flow,


Operator please connect me with Nineteen-Eighty Two. I need to make apologies for what I didn't do. I sure do need to tell her that I thought the whole thing through. And now it's clear that she is what - I should have held onto.

They say hindsight's 20-20 but I'm nearly goin' blind. From starin' at her photograph and wishing she was mine. It's that same old lost love story - it's sad but it's true. There was a time when she was mine in Nineteen-Eighty-Two.

Postman can you sell me - a special kind of stamp. One to send a letter from this crazy lonely man. Back into the wasted years of my living past. I need to tell her, now I know - how long my love will last.

They say hindsight's 20-20 but I'm nearly goin' blind. From starin' at her photograph and wishing she was mine. It's that same old lost love story - it's sad but it's true. There was a time when she was mine in Nineteen-Eighty-Two.

Losing my mind, going back in time - to Nineteen-Eighty Two.

Variant author names

I know ISFDB has logic that makes if rather hard to set up authors that have different capitalization than the canonical name. Here’s something similar. Gérard Klein is a French writer whose name is translated as Gerard Klein. I’m having a battle with ISFDB trying to get a title record to have Gerard Klein though. Any thoughts? Marc Kupper 13:57, 8 Jan 2007 (CST)

As a follow-up I looked through the archives found ISFDB:Community_Portal/Archive/Archive02#Accented_characters_in_authors.27_names which is similar to the issue I have though does not offer a solution other than the statement that "ISFDB is doing the right thing." I suspect this is similar to the situation of two different authors that share a name though in this case it's the same author with publications [4] [5] that use unaccented versions of his name. Overall, ISFDB does the "right thing" in that if you search for or try to display Gerard Klein bibliography ISFDB will reference Gérard Klein's works and biobliography. The main issue is I can't get the publication record to show what's stated in the books and ideally the variant title records could also be updated so the bibliography will show "by Gérard Klein [as by Gerard Klein]". One "solution" that does seem to work is that I changed the name to Gerard, space, space, Klein for the English translations. The downside of that is things like title and publication searches for Gerard space Klein will not find the space, space versions of the name meaning the only way to get to the English translations by author name is via the author's bibliography. Marc Kupper 17:00, 8 Jan 2007 (CST)

Foreword, Preface, Introduction, Afterward

In dealing with an editor’s submission I realized that Template:TitleFields:Title is not clear about how to handle Forewords, Prefaces, Introductions, etc. in the contents list. I did some title searches and learned that while things like “Introduction (story title)” is the most common format that we’re all over the map on this from using just “Introduction” or “An Introduction” on to combining the word “Introduction” with the story title in various ways. There is a minor inconsistency in that covert art records are formatted as “Cover: story title” rather than “Cover (story title)” but I’m proposing that for things like the Introduction and related elements that we define the standard to be “Introduction (story title).” Marc Kupper 03:39, 9 Jan 2007 (CST)

There was a discussion of this a while back, and I don't think we reached consensus at that time. I would prefer just "Introduction", since I think the publication fields should reflect exactly what's in the pub. Ahasuerus (I think it was) suggested that the biblios display "Introduction (pub title)" when they saw "Introduction" as the title; this could be done for a defined list of titles. I'd prefer waiting for Al to have time to implement this approach. Mike Christie (talk) 07:22, 9 Jan 2007 (CST)
I thought about the "defined list of titles" aspect yesterday and noticed, particularly with introductions, that authors would get creative with the titles.
  • A Sort of Introduction
  • A Brief Introduction to authorname
  • An Autobiographical Introduction
  • An Introduction
  • Author's Introduction
  • By Way of Introduction
  • Editor's Introduction
  • etc.
Thus if we wanted ISFDB to automatically append or display the nested publication’s title after the introduction’s title then we should add a new title type to flag that it’s an introduction. That in itself is probably not a bad idea as catalogues such as Locus use specific codes such as (ai) and (in) in their title types. At the moment there is a wide variety of title types used for introductions within ISFDB with ESSAY being the most common but SHORTFICTION, NONFICTION, and even POEM were used at times.
I do agree that it would be better if editors stuck to noting in ISFDB exactly what's in the publications. People have gotten creative as they attempted to deal with a generic title such as "Foreword" and have put the story title in front or behind the word "Foreword" in various ways. Thus I was proposing “Foreword (story title)” as a standard though it would seem better from a bibliographic view if the editor could enter the title “as is” and then to flag it as a foreword, introduction, etc. Marc Kupper 12:26, 9 Jan 2007 (CST)
I like Marc's suggestion. One new(?) problem though - "reprise". Having looked at the Merovingen series, this can occur several times per book. I'm glad I didn't buy the rest... BLongley 16:57, 22 Jan 2007 (CST)

Why can't we put Series info into the initial New Novel data input?

I'm starting to put in the rest of the Lovejoy books in order of publication, starting out with the most basic info. But I'd sure like to be able to put in the fact that each book is #8 in the series and so forth. I guess it's easy enough to do if you're a Moderator and can approve your own edit as you do it. But I have to first do the New Novel edit, then wait for a Mod. to approve the edit, then go back to the same item and add in the Series info. Couldn't this be streamlined somehow? Hayford Peirce 17:11, 10 Jan 2007 (CST)

That idea had been brought up before and I believe it was felt it would make the new-publication page too cluttered. In thinking about it though, it's likely people will be entering several books of a series as a batch and I agree it's painful to have to wait for the moderator approval. With publishers like DAW it seems these days nearly all of their new books are in series and so I suspect the series fields will get added to new-publication. One short term solution is to put a note (in the notes field) to the moderator who could approve, edit the publication to remove the note, edit the title to add the series, and to approve the updated publication and title. Marc Kupper 17:31, 10 Jan 2007 (CST)
This has annoyed me before too, although I can't recall exactly where. I know I gave up on one set of edits and just posted a Biblio comment - Mick Farren's Phaid the Gambler stuff. I'm learning a BIT about Series and such - I think I've got "Plague of Pythons" sorted out a bit better than before - but really, they are not fun to deal with as a newbie. BLongley 16:21, 22 Jan 2007 (CST)

Novel vs. shortfiction

I had put one of Unapersson’s submissions on hold as I saw that it was a title-merge of a shortfiction and a novel and I was concerned about unintended data-loss. In discussion with Unapersson it turns out this is a single 70 to 80 page work that has been published in a magazine, several collections, and a standalone novel (several editions). The question I want to run by everyone is – how should this best be represented in ISFDB? At the moment I’m leaning towards calling it a SHORTFICTION/novella and the standalone novel publication would include the SHORTFICTION in its contents. It will make the publication’s contents list look a little strange as people will see Contents

  • Wall of Serpents • novel by Pratt Fletcher and L. Sprague de Camp
  • The Wall of Serpents • (1953) • novella by L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt

Another way to represent this is as a single NOVEL title that happens to be included in the contents list of the magazine, collections, etc. It would not show on the author’s shortfiction pages and testing finds that the Shorylen value is ignored for type NOVEL entries meaning when it’s listed in the contents it’ll be as a NOVEL and we can’t insert “Novella” into the description.

If you want to look at the existing ISFDB data there are four title records. FWIW - I believe the variant title for The Enchanter Completed is incorrect as The Enchanter Completed seems to be an unrelated collection. Marc Kupper 17:25, 10 Jan 2007 (CST)

  1. 1960, NOVEL, The Wall of Serpents (variant title The Enchanter Completed (1980 UK)), no publications
  2. 1979, NOVEL, Wall of Serpents, one publication
  3. 1953, SHORTFICTION, The Wall of Serpents, short story in two collections
  4. 1972, SHORTFICTION, Wall of Serpents, short story in one collection

I'm having a similar issue with Mervyn Peake's Boy in Darkness. I can add it as a collection, and put a single entry for the contents so it just contains the novella. It might be useful to add a novella type, as well as novel etc., as novellas are often published on their own. --Unapersson 15:18, 11 Jan 2007 (CST)

I have also just run into this, with Le Guin's "Buffalo Gals Won't You Come Out Tonight". It was the title story of "Buffalo Gals and Other Animal Presences", but was published as a standalone 79pp hardcover as well. I think this is best represented as a CHAPBOOK, since a CHAPBOOK doesn't predefine whether the contents are single items or multiple. For now that's what I'm going to do, anyway. Mike Christie (talk) 22:01, 12 Jan 2007 (CST)

Collections of nonfiction

Entered The Universes of E.E. Smith. This has Concordances for Lensman, Skylark, a biliography and a couple of shorter fact articles about his works. Do you tag it as nonfiction or as a collection?

Also found a data entry bug. I'd started to enter all the interior art as seperate entries and than noticed the comment to me From Edison's Conquest of Mars about only having one entry and listing them in the notes. When I blanked out the entries and submitted the data it cut off the data at the first blank entry. Just did a reedit to reneter the rest of the book. Dcarson 02:36, 10 Jan 2007 (CST)

(discussion started on the community portal talk page and moved to this page) I'll leave the nonfiction vs. collection to others. The can't blank issue is known. It was fixed the other day which introduced other problems and so the "fix" was removed for the moment. Marc Kupper 18:48, 10 Jan 2007 (CST)

Book Review Collected in a Book

Gene Wolfe's collection [Castle of Days] includes a reprint of a book review he wrote for the Washington Post. It's entered as both an essay and a book review, which is a tad bit confusing, but I'm not sure which is the correct way to list it. As an item in a collection, it makes intuitive sense as an essay, and also is given a title ("The Outline of Sanity"). However, it is also a book review, and would be expected to appear as such if the book it reviews were ever entered (it's a bio of G. K. Chesterton, so it's quite possible). How do people think this would best be handled? It will come up again if someone starts entering the contents of, say, John Clute's or Gary K. Wolfe's collected reviews.Jefe 20:56, 10 Jan 2007 (CST)

I’d vote for including it in the contents as a review but have also added a feature request that the book reviews link to their title records just like the other title types. Marc Kupper 00:52, 11 Jan 2007 (CST)

Gurps source books based on books

There are some Gurps source books in the db. They are role playing source books and don't belong. However the ones based on book series like Norton's Witchworld, Foster's Humanax etc tend to be very good references on the series with a minority of the space actual gaming material. Discworld Roleplaying Game is one of those and also has Pratchett as one of the writers.

Also The Steve Jackson of Gurps and the Steve Jackson of The Worlock of Firetop Mountain are different people. The Worlock of Firetop Mountain is a choose your own adventure and should also go. Dcarson 06:00, 11 Jan 2007 (CST)

I'll have to confess that at times I have added "role playing" books to ISFDB when they seemed directly tied to published sf. Most recently I added The Black Road War though with a note that it probably qualifies as non-genre. My thinking is of someone's really interested in the the series then they should at least be aware that this book exists and hopefully my note explains enough that people will understand if they want to get this book as part of an "Amber" collection.
I believe in the long run ISFDB will have some non-genre data in it but for each title or publication hopefully there's a note that explains how/why it's non genre but also still fits within ISFDB. I feel that the notes field is a valuable component for the database and I have been thinking of a feature request that the notes pages be fed through a wiki interface like this one so that formatting could be used and also to give an audit trail of who entered notes, revisions, etc. Marc Kupper 14:23, 11 Jan 2007 (CST)