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Archive of messages from June - August 2013

Title Merge fixes (patch 2013-91)

Title Merge has been improved in a couple of ways. First, you can now merge more than 17 titles at the same time. (In the past it looked like you could merge more, but only the first 17 records would be included in the submission's body.) Second, you can no longer merge combinations of REVIEW, INTERVIEW and regular records.

Please note that you can still merge two or more REVIEWs of different titles. There is an outstanding Bug report for this problem, which will be fixed in due course of time. We have 12 mis-merged REVIEWs, which will be addressed at the same time. Ahasuerus 05:23, 8 June 2013 (UTC)

Changes to the registration/editing process

Due to the recent increase in the number of spam attacks, we had to change the Wiki registration/editing process. Going forward, all editors will have to provide a valid e-mail address before they can edit the ISFDB Wiki. If you haven't entered an e-mail address on this Wiki page yet, you won't be able to edit the Wiki until you do. Once you have provided an e-mail address, the Wiki will send you a confirmation e-mail with a link. It should take no more than a minute or two for the confirmation e-mail to arrive. Please follow the link, which will immediately enable Wiki editing on your account.

Please note that we do not share users' e-mail addresses with third parties. The publicly available ISFDB backups have all user-specific data (name, e-mail address, etc) removed before they are posted online.

Also, please note that this change doesn't affect the database side. You can still create and edit ISFDB User Preferences without having to provide an e-mail address. Ahasuerus 23:37, 11 June 2013 (UTC)

Thank you. Mhhutchins 01:06, 12 June 2013 (UTC)
Something just occurred to me concerning the last line of your post. Does that mean that users have the option of registering as a non-editor? Do they have to provide an email address if they wish to edit the database? Or can they make the same mistakes over and over, and we have no alternate way letting them know that we've been leaving messages on their talk page, e.g. here? Somehow I thought that registration was one process and all new editors would have to provide a valid email address during that registration. Mhhutchins 20:03, 12 June 2013 (UTC)
Sort of :-) Pre-existing users don't have to provide an e-mail address until they try to edit a Wiki page. New users need to enter an e-mail address in order to create an account and a confirmation e-mail is then sent to that address. However, the new user doesn't need to follow the e-mailed link to confirm the address until he tries to edit the Wiki.
I guess it's possible for a new user to provide a fake e-mail address and ignore the Wiki, but it doesn't seem very likely. If it turns out to be a problem, we can add an extra check to the editing logic to make sure that the user's "e-mail confirmed" flag has been turned on. Ahasuerus 01:23, 13 June 2013 (UTC)

Project Gutenberg given editor credit?

I'm uncertain why the ISFDB records for the Project Gutenberg reprints of Astounding are credited as co-edited by Harry Bates and Project Gutenberg. Why should they receive credit when all they're doing is converting the original publication to electronic form? Wouldn't a reprint in any other form, print or otherwise, only be credited to Bates? The Adventure House pulp reprints are credited to the original editor. Is there any reason why these should be handled differently? Mhhutchins 06:28, 12 June 2013 (UTC) And the audio versions are being credited to LibriVox, causing an error because the author credit of the publication records doesn't match that of the title record. For example, here. Mhhutchins 06:32, 12 June 2013 (UTC)

Agreed. Project Gutenberg's transcribers (especially the Distributed Proofreading Team as in this case) strive to not change the text. They have less impact on the text than an editor of a novel (which we don't credit even when stated). In addition, the crediting doesn't match the actual Project Gutenberg credits (ex. the Aug 1931 version has "Produced by Sankar Viswanathan, Greg Weeks, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team"). If transcribing credit is to be included, it should follow our rules of matching the text. However, I recommend removing the Project Gutenberg credits. -- JLaTondre (talk) 12:35, 12 June 2013 (UTC)
I'm hoping the editor who entered these would offer an opinion before we make a final decision. Perhaps we're both overlooking something. Mhhutchins 18:42, 12 June 2013 (UTC)
I was kind of thinking the same thing... Ahasuerus 19:23, 12 June 2013 (UTC)
Since it's been more than a week without a response, I'm going to correct these publications to ISFDB standards. Mhhutchins 05:05, 24 June 2013 (UTC)
Fine with me too. And I have been one of the Distributed Proofreading Team. I don't expect credits for such here. BLongley 22:14, 24 June 2013 (UTC)

Note to Moderator added to Edit Author

You can now add a "Note to Moderator" when editing Author records. Ahasuerus 08:49, 12 June 2013 (UTC)

I've lost track a bit, I'm afraid. Is there anywhere else the 'Note to Mod' is still needed? I consider this invention one of my more successful ideas, might as well make sure it's everywhere it can be useful. 22:17, 24 June 2013 (UTC)
I can't imagine there's an edit where it would not be useful! Mhhutchins 00:20, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
Understood - it's just that I've lost track of which types of edit have it and which don't yet. I don't do much editing nowadays: existing books mostly packed away and I'm not buying the 400+ per year that I used to when I was working. BLongley 13:21, 25 June 2013 (UTC)

"Reviews" in academic essays

It is common in academic journals for an article to be an in-depth analysis of a single book, or small number of books. In some cases, several pages might be devoted to a single work, with shorter side-comments on related works. Do such essays qualify as a "Review"? For example, I'm looking at an essay titled "Solaris" and the Illegitimate Suns of Science Fiction. Much of this 16 page essay is a critique of Stanislaw Lem's novel "Solaris". The essay is arguing against books that keep us going by introducing a new idea "every 800 words", vs. books (which he approves of) that take a single idea and follow it thoroughly and completely. He uses Solaris as a prime example. This does, however, mean that he's not doing an overall "review" as we might find elsewhere. So should I list this as a review? The author also spends about a paragraph each on four other books (mostly saying they're good examples of this; and disparaging the 4th as not qualifying to be called SF). So assuming I count the essay as a review of the main target book, do I also list it as a review of these 4 other books? Chavey 06:27, 14 June 2013 (UTC)

It's a subjective call. If you believe any part of an essay could be considered a review of one or more titles, you can create a separate REVIEW record for the title(s). You should still keep the record as an ESSAY, especially if it is titled. Turning an ESSAY into a REVIEW loses the title of the essay. Mhhutchins 13:37, 14 June 2013 (UTC)
I would add that this applies to essays in all publications, not just academic journals. Mhhutchins 14:03, 14 June 2013 (UTC)


I was emailed earlier this morning by an author whom I had assisted with adding records to her ISFDB page. She pointed out that when someone goes to Google or Bing, and search for her (or any other author in our database), instead of a description of the page there's a note: "A description for this result is not available because of this site's robots.txt" I checked and it's true. I guess that's a result of the latest changes to our wiki, but why should it affect searches for the database proper? Mhhutchins 17:59, 15 June 2013 (UTC)

An explanation linked to the Google search states:

A robots.txt file restricts access to your site by search engine robots that crawl the web. ... You need a robots.txt file only if your site includes content that you don't want search engines to index. If you want search engines to index everything in your site, you don't need a robots.txt file (not even an empty one).

So is what we did about the spammers also blocking Google and other search engines? Mhhutchins 18:04, 15 June 2013 (UTC)

The search engine descriptions remain for the title and pub records. Only the one for the author pages are hidden. Mhhutchins 18:11, 15 June 2013 (UTC)

No, it was a separate action taken to pinpoint our performance problems. Now that the database/software have been optimized and performance is better (except between 2am and 5am server time and every hour on the hour), I plan to gradually re-enable search engine robots starting with Googlebot. They should be able to catch up in a few weeks. Ahasuerus 21:38, 15 June 2013 (UTC)
It's been more than a week and neither Google nor Bing is displayinng our page descriptions. I thought they did updates more often than that. Mhhutchins 03:20, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
GoogleBot was re-enabled about a week ago and I can see its hits in our log files, but it's apparently still trying to catch up. The problem is that we have hundreds of thousands of pages and we limit each bot to about one hit every three seconds. At this rate (roughly 30,000 pages per day) it takes a bot a few weeks to catch up. And I haven't re-enabled Bing yet -- we'll see how well we'll do with Google. Ahasuerus 03:35, 25 June 2013 (UTC)

(Unindent) "...performance is better (except between 2am and 5am server time and every hour on the hour)" ... just how slow is it supposed to get on the hour? It just completely stopped for about 7 minutes [roughly 10:59 - 11:06 MST]. It's been getting worse for about a week. There seems to be a slowdown at ??:35 after the hour, too, but not as severe. --~ Bill, Bluesman 17:20, 17 July 2013 (UTC)

As far as I can tell, the hourly slowdown is due to the server. We have no control over it and the only remedy would be to move to another provider. Which is something that I have often thought of, but haven't had the time to pursue. Ahasuerus 19:39, 17 July 2013 (UTC)

Quick downtime

Due to technical problems caused by the Wiki purge two days ago, I need to bounce the database and perform a quick backup. ISFDB will be unavailable for about 20 minutes. Ahasuerus 22:19, 15 June 2013 (UTC)

Well, that didn't work. Let me try something else -- ISFDB may be unavailable for another 15-20 minutes. Sorry about the hassle, but the problems are potentially serious and causing our nightly backups to fail, so they need to be resolved quickly. Ahasuerus 22:46, 15 June 2013 (UTC)
OK, I think Marty and I have found the problem. I will need to rebuild one of the MySQL tables, which will take a few (10-20?) minutes. The Wiki will not be editable for the duration. I plan to start the operation shortly. Ahasuerus 01:35, 16 June 2013 (UTC)
OK, we are back and things look better. Hopefully... Ahasuerus 01:55, 16 June 2013 (UTC)

Patch 2013-93 (Add Pub changes and award editing improvements)

I am about to install a fairly big patch, so don't be surprised if Add Publication and Select/Delete Award look different. I will post the patch notes once I confirm that the changes were successful. Ahasuerus 06:19, 16 June 2013 (UTC)

Looks like it worked. Here is a summary of the changes:
  • Edit Award and Delete Award selectors for Award years have been changed so that they now group titles by award category. Within each award category, titles are sorted by award level and then by title.
  • Add Publication has been changed in various ways:
    • The page title now reads "Add Publication" instead of "Pub Editor".
    • Mouseover help has been added to each field -- if you hover your mouse over the little question mark (or over the field name), it will tell you what needs to be entered. If you click on the question mark, you will be taken to the appropriate Wiki template which will provide additional information.
    • A new field, "Source of the data", has been added. If you select "I own this publication", the pub will be automatically "primary verified" upon moderator approval. If you select "I am working from this publication but will not have it permanently", the pub will be "transient verified" upon moderator approval. If you select "Publisher's website" or "Author's website", a note to that effect will be automatically inserted into the Note field. If you select the default choice, "Other website, later printing/edition or another source (please explain in Note)", no additional action will be taken. In all cases the approving moderator will see what your choice was during the submission review process.
That's about it unless I am missing something because it's 3:30am and I am sleepy :)
Please post your comments and suggestions here so that we could all agree on the desired behavior before we make similar changes to the rest of the data entry forms. Ahasuerus 07:28, 16 June 2013 (UTC)
I see problem #1: The question mark icon appears in a weird looking square in IE10. I'll take a closer look tomorrow. Ahasuerus 07:43, 16 June 2013 (UTC)
Fixed. If you still see a border around the newly added question mark icons, please press Control-F5, which will reload all images on the page. Ahasuerus 08:26, 16 June 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for the work on the Award year options. Great when there's lots of categories.
I notice however, that the ordering of the categories has changed recently when displaying the Award year (for Aurealis & Ditmar which I've been working on, off and on). Some years the categories are now totally alphabetic (e.g. Artwork award first), but it's inconsistent - almost as if there's 2 tables and only the newest got ordered alphabetically?? (e.g. Ditmar 2013 and Aurealis 2012 which I entered all of recently, are now displaying alphabetically, but weren't a few weeks ago; however, Aurealis 2009, as one instance, now displays alphabetically after the first 4 categories. (The earlier Aurealis was started several years ago but I've added categories sometime on the past year.) Is there a way to set the display order? --clarkmci / j_clark 12:08, 26 June 2013 (UTC)
Some award categories are considered "important", so the software lists them first. Here they are in the order in which they appear:
  • Best Novel
  • Novel
  • SF Novel
  • Best SF Novel
  • Best Fantasy Novel
  • Fantasy Novel
  • Best Horror Novel
  • Horror Novel
  • Best Horror/Dark Fantasy Novel
  • Best First Novel
  • First Novel
  • Best Young Adult Novel
  • Novella
  • Best Novella
  • Best Novella/Novelette
  • Novelette
  • Best Novelette
  • Short Fiction
  • Short Story
  • Best Short Story
  • Best Collection
  • Best Anthology
  • Best Non-Fiction
  • Best Art Book
  • Best Editor
  • Editor
Any categories that are not on this list appear next and are alphabetized, hence your "almost as if there's 2 tables" observation. Category names are case-sensitive, so [2012 Aurealis Award's "FANTASY NOVEL" is not the same as "Fantasy Novel" and is not considered "important".
This is the way it has worked since 2006 and there has been no recent change to this logic, although it's possible that another change may have affected something on the page.
That said, we still need to implement a number of enhancements to the awards area and award categories are on the "upgrade list". I will make a note that we need to add the ability to control the display order of categories the way we currently control the display order of subseries in a series. Thanks for the feedback! Ahasuerus 20:19, 26 June 2013 (UTC)

Patch 2013-95 (0000 finally fixed)

Bug 341 has been fixed. I think this was the last place (or rather 2 separate places) where we still displayed 0000-00-00, 8888-00-00 and 9999-00-00 instead of "unknown", "unpublished" and "forthcoming". Ahasuerus 05:15, 17 June 2013 (UTC)

Patch 2013-96 (extra spaces on Author pages)

Patch 2013-96 has been installed. It eliminated all extraneous spaces in between tags and interviews. Ahasuerus 06:01, 17 June 2013 (UTC)

Charles Pellegrino -- above the threshold?

As per a recent discussion on a Talk page, Charles Pellegrino wrote 4 SF novels and 1 SF story in the 1990s. He has also written about a dozen (give or take) books about various topics, including NASA, evolution, Atlantis, biblical archaeology, and World War II.

My thinking is that he is not "above the threshold", but User:SFJuggler points out that "his work has very influential to SF. His (and Jesse Stoff's) models and theories of oceans under the ice of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn led Arthur C. Clarke to base the sequels to 2001 there. Jurassic Park is said to owe much to his writings."

So, should his non-fiction (or at least the more SF-relevant subset thereof) be "in" or "out"?

P.S. FWIW, some of his books have been controversial and one of them was withdrawn by the publisher, but if "influence" is an inclusion criterion, then the nature of the influence presumably shouldn't matter to us. Ahasuerus 05:23, 18 June 2013 (UTC)

I'd argue to include those books that had an influence on SF (or on Arthur C. Clarke's thinking) and those that are reviewed or discussed in publications of our field of interest. The reason for inclusion should be noted for each title. Stonecreek 08:34, 18 June 2013 (UTC)
I agree with Christian in this regard. But it's going to be hard to determine which nonfiction works have had an influence on SF. I know I'm not in a position to make such a determination. If it's a borderline subject (psychic phenomenon, ancient astronauts, etc.) I would accept it, but only if it's by an author who has published at least one work of undeniable speculative fiction. Mhhutchins 18:03, 18 June 2013 (UTC)
Well, reviewed non-fiction books are already "in" under the current rules, but I don't see any reviews of Pellegrino's non-fiction in the database.
As far as "influence" and "inspiration" go, that's harder to determine and would make our inclusion criteria vaguer and significantly more inclusive. For example, we may have to list Alfred Korzybski's works since he influenced a number of 1940s SF writers.
In Pellegrino's case, at least some of the reported influence is indirect, e.g. our record for Her Name, Titanic: The Untold Story of the Sinking and Finding of the Unsinkable Ship states that it was "[s]upposedly the inspiration for the James Cameron movie "Titanic"", but that's not exactly "influence on SF" except by virtue of the fact that Cameron has made other, SF movies.
Overall, I think that "influence" is too subjective a criterion for us to use. "Review(s) in genre magazines" is much better because it is objective and lets other people worry about the subjective stuff :) Ahasuerus 19:25, 19 June 2013 (UTC)
I used the review criterion to accept pub records for this author. Then a new editor came along and started adding records for the entire nonfiction pseudo-science series. I had no choice but to accept them, even though the author hasn't written a word of speculative fiction. That's why I think the "review in a genre magazine" should never have become a standard, and I argued against it at the time. But it's too late to fix that now. The only way I can fight against it is to make sure that when I enter reviews for nongenre and nonfiction "below the threshold" authors, I enter them as essays. That way the author's name doesn't appear in the database and tempt other editors to create pub records for non-eligible titles. Mhhutchins 20:00, 19 June 2013 (UTC)
Unless I am gravely mistaken, although under our current rules the fact that a book has been reviewed in a genre magazine makes it eligible for inclusion, it doesn't automatically make all other related books eligible. Surely we wouldn't want to list all Nancy Drew books if one of them were to be reviewed in Analog?
To go back to the question at hand, one advantage of using reviews as an inclusion criterion is that it shifts the burden of establishing "influence" onto the reviewing parties. For example, the reason that we list Charles Fort's non-fiction books is that they have been reviewed in various genre magazines. Thus we don't have to prove to our satisfaction that they were influential because other people (the reviewers in question) have done the job for us. Similarly, I would argue that we should only add Pellegrino's non-fiction books if and when they get reviewed in genre magazines. Ahasuerus 00:18, 20 June 2013 (UTC)
I like the idea of using "influence" to decide if someone is above the threshold, but only when it is clearly demonstrable. Reviews by other reliable sources is the most important way. I would suggest that alternative arguments for "influence" should be (i) presented and argued here; (ii) preserved in the "Bibliographic Comments" section of an author's page. Personally, I would like a more formal definition of "above the threshold", e.g. "done this well in awards, or this well in reviews, or have a bibliographic comments justification", but I seem to be a minority on this point. Chavey 14:39, 20 June 2013 (UTC)

Add Pub changes -- feedback?

The Add Pub changes have been live for a few days and hopefully many editors have had a chance to review them. What do you think? Does the mouseover help text make sense? Does the new approach to auto-verification seem logical? What do moderators think of the approval screen? If everything checks out, I plan to propagate these changes to New Pub and Clone Pub in a few days. Ahasuerus 07:17, 20 June 2013 (UTC)

I like the changes. The fact that tabbing hits the (?) elements means that some of my macros are broken, but I can fix them. I wonder if it would be useful for new editors to have a popup for the "Add Author/Add Artist" button to tell them to use that for books with multiple authors. I suspect new editors entering an author as "Jeff and Jean Sutton" (etc.) isn't common, but probably still happens. Chavey 14:53, 20 June 2013 (UTC)
Looks great. I've just got a chance to use it (don't use the "Add Pub to This Title" function much, since I rarely buy new editions of the same title.) And having the description of each field available with the mouseover is a great idea. (As an aside, and having nothing to do with these changes, I would suggest that in this function we not allow users to change the Title, Author, or Pub Type fields, otherwise they're entering the pub under the wrong title record. It should be pre-filled and uneditable. But that's another discussion.) Can't wait to see it rolled out for the "Add New..." functions. You've made my day! (BTW, I don't mind that the tabbing hits the description/help links. It's easy to see that the cursor doesn't appear until you tab again to go to the next field.) Mhhutchins 20:52, 21 June 2013 (UTC)
Excellent! I will see if I can make the requested changes tomorrow. Ahasuerus 04:36, 22 June 2013 (UTC)
Came across the new version today, for the first time. I was rather taken aback that it automatically primary-verified when I said I owned the book. I always like to do another check before I verify. Also, I wasn't actually finished, 'cos I needed to upload a cover scan, & add the illustrations/maps. Personally, I'm uncomfortable with an automatic verify, 'cos I tend to get side-tracked easily & not finish 'til much later. Also, I think it will be a trap with newbies. (I do like the earlier change of giving a verify option after moderation of an edit - saves lots of time cf scrolling down the menu.) Otherwise, re the new "Add Pub", I guess I'll get used to hitting the tab key twice to go between fields.
Re making the title uneditable on an "Add Pub": Not sure I agree, 'cos some publication titles have the series included (e.g. when it's blatantly large on the title page), but the series isn't usually part of the canonical title. Other editions might not show the series on the title page (or vice versa) & would want to change the title on an Add Pub. --clarkmci / j_clark 10:24, 22 June 2013 (UTC)
A second edit of the title field can easily make such changes. This slight inconvenience for a relatively small percentage of publications is well worth the trouble a moderator has to go through to correct an editor's error of entering a work under the wrong title record. Those of us who handle other editors' submissions will attest to that. Mhhutchins 10:36, 22 June 2013 (UTC)
Valid points re the title edit (i.e. should not allow in Add Pub). —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Clarkmci (talkcontribs) .
Back to the other features: I do use Add Pub fairly often, to add Australian editions mostly. As well as publisher's websites & occasionally author's websites, I use Worldcat a lot to add editions, such as first editions. So far, I've only tried the "I own", "publisher's website" & "Other" radio buttons in the new Add Pub. The auto-verify-if-I-own is my only real concern. --clarkmci / j_clark 11:24, 22 June 2013 (UTC)
There's a simple solution - if you don't want it auto-verified, don't click 'I own this publication'. The default option doesn't auto-verify at all. BLongley 19:31, 22 June 2013 (UTC)

(unindent) Thanks for the feedback! Let me see if I can address some of the concerns programmatically. For example, we should be able to make the Tab key skip the newly added question marks. Give me a few hours... Ahasuerus 17:44, 22 June 2013 (UTC)

The following changes have been made:
  • Title, Author and Pub Type are now ineditable.
  • When you access the Add Pub page, your cursor now lands on the first active field, Year.
  • Tabbing has been fixed so that you will always land on the next active field. (Please note that this is slightly different from the original behavior, so if you used macros to access the page, you may need to tweak them.)
  • Mouseover help has been added to the "Add Artist" button
  • The page should display appropriate error messages if you change the URL to specify an invalid or non-existing title number.
Hopefully this covers all the requests above. Ahasuerus 23:52, 23 June 2013 (UTC)
So, how does the latest version of the page look? Good enough to add the same functionality to the New Pub and Clone Pub pages? Ahasuerus 00:59, 26 June 2013 (UTC)
Looks good to me. Good enough to be expanded to the other functions. Mhhutchins 01:23, 26 June 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for fixing the tab sequence - very much appreciated, 'cos I am a keyboard person. I'm still a bit concerned about the auto-verify-if-I-own-the-book-radio-button-selected, as being a trap for newbies. --clarkmci / j_clark 11:51, 26 June 2013 (UTC)
Agreed, there is a small risk that an inaccurate record will be auto-verified, but most of such will be caught by the Moderator and corrected. Even if it slips through, the fact that the contributor's name is associated with it means we know who to explain the errors too. In mitigation, note that this isn't the default option, and the extra field-level help should improve submissions too. I'm happy to leave it as is. (Well, I would be, I coded it.) BLongley 13:38, 26 June 2013 (UTC)
After a few weeks of using this, can the existence of the Mouseover be a preference?? I still find it somewhat annoying when the cursor changes to a question mark if it moves outside of a certain range. I personally find the page clunky with all the little buttons but if it reduces errors .... still like to be able to turn that 'feature' off. --~ Bill, Bluesman 17:27, 17 July 2013 (UTC)
Yes, it's possible. Would you like to create a Feature Request? Ahasuerus 19:41, 17 July 2013 (UTC)
I have no idea how to do that! --~ Bill, Bluesman 19:54, 17 July 2013 (UTC)
Found SourceForge but how does one 'sign' the request? I did two and both came up as Anonymous. --~ Bill, Bluesman 20:12, 17 July 2013 (UTC)
No worries, they were filed successfully. The advantage of creating a SourceForge account and providing a valid e-mail address is that you will be automatically notified when "your" FRs are updated or commented on. Ahasuerus 05:02, 20 July 2013 (UTC)

Listing authors in a mass collaboration

I've recently added the book The Altered I, which is the outcome of a writing workshop done by Ursula K. Le Guin in Australia. It has lots of essays about the process, and lots of short stories by the participants. I have an author question for one of the essays, "The Workshopping". In this workshop, Le Guin gave them a short story she had written, and they critiqued it as a group. The essay is "a concise rendering of that extraordinary two hours". Officially, the essay is uncredited, although the editing down was almost surely done by the editor of the volume (but it never says that, so I doubt I can give him credit). At one level, this essay is "authored" by the 19 participants in the workshop, plus Le Guin, who wrote the last 3 pages of it as a response to the critique by 19. (But that part isn't separated out, so I can't give her a separate credit.) My question is: Do I list this with all 20 contributors, or with a single "uncredited" editor? Chavey 19:02, 22 June 2013 (UTC)

I should note that the 1976 edition of the book lists them as 18 separate essays with the same title. This seems wrong to me. It's true that most of the titled essay consists of sections labeled by the individual participants, but they are not separated out by anything more than paragraphs and the next participant's name. (These consist of prepared critiques before the back-and-forth began.) Then there are two pages of the essay which consist of a continuous flow of "he made this point, then she suggested this". So, IMHO, it just doesn't feel like 19 separate essays. (The verifier of that edition is no longer active here.) Chavey 19:20, 22 June 2013 (UTC)

Barry Malzberg Novels

Two books which Malzberg published under the name K.M. O'Donnell ("Dwellers of the Deep" [Title Record # 6621] & "Gather in the Hall of Planets" [Title Record # 6622]) were reprinted under his own name in the collection "The Passage of the Light: The Recursive Science Fiction of Barry N. Malzberg" [Title Record # 38203]. Each of these works are under 45000 words and are technically novellas. Should the O'Donnell works be reclassified as novellas or the reprints in the collection be upgraded to novels? MarkStackpole 23:34, 24 June 2013 (UTC)

Let the war between the Bookists and the Lengthists begin! (Sorry, old business.) Some editors believe that the works first published as Ace Doubles should be considered NOVELs, regardless of their length. Others felt word-count should prevail regardless of the form in which the work was published. We've sort of balanced that by creating the CHAPTERBOOK type to handle single work publications, but the Ace Doubles aren't covered by that type. I personally see no problem with changing one of the contents to a novella, if it is later reprinted as part of an ANTHOLOGY- or COLLECTION-typed record (as in this case.) They're the same works and should be merged, and the only way around it is to make those Ace Double halves (at least for these titles) into SHORTFICTION with a novella length. We'll wait to see if there are any dissenting opinions on the matter before making a submission to merge them. Mhhutchins 00:27, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
Well, it has been done, at least in this case: what's now considered uniformly a novella, was in the database as novel and novella, published under different titles, but being essentially the same text (as far as we know). Stonecreek 08:37, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
The situation with that title is somewhat mitigated due to the story being published in a magazine before it was an Ace Double Novel. With original "novels" the situation may not be so clear. Either way, I'd want to see the Malzberg works merged regardless of how we type them. Mhhutchins 15:55, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
45000 words is not our threshold for novels, 40000 is. Both titles are around 40000 words (one a little less, the other a little more), so technically one definitely is a novel, and the other almost. I would say upgrade the reprints. --Willem H. 16:28, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
I won't defend the Ace Doubles situation, too much stress. The Chapterbook solution has definitely helped but there's plenty of dubious decisions left - e.g. if a work has genuinely been expanded from short story to novelette, or novelette to novella, or novella to novel, then we should allow them to appear as separate titles but it would be nice to show the 'expansion of' relationship. There's a newcomer to the 'what is a novel' debate - Armchair Fiction are publishing many 'two complete novels' books which are mostly too short by length to qualify. It's been a pain to enter them and have to rework what should be an Omnibus into an Anthology. (Conflict of interest declaration - they send me free books which I feel honour-bound to make sure are represented here.) BLongley 13:35, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
I've merged both pairs as NOVEL records. Mhhutchins 19:19, 2 July 2013 (UTC)

Patch r2013-101

In case some of you may be wondering what the last patch did, it fixed a couple of bugs in the Web API used by third parties like Fixer to get publication data from ISFDB. There should be no impact on regular users/editors. Ahasuerus 07:17, 26 June 2013 (UTC)

Patch r2013-103 (import/export and make variant changes)

The Import/Export and Make Variant pages have been changed to accept full record URLs in addition to record numbers. It should make life easier for those who still copy and paste URLs. Ahasuerus 21:53, 28 June 2013 (UTC)

Make Pseudonym has been changed to behave the same way when using Author numbers (not that we use them very often, but still.) Ahasuerus 02:03, 29 June 2013 (UTC)

Bug Report

With the temporary death of my primary computer, I'm using a backup, and no longer have access to my bookmarks -- including my bookmark to where to file a bug report. Attempts to locate that URL via our FAQ or our help pages, searching for "bugs" or "bug reports" through our Wiki pages, and similar tactics fail to locate that URL. (So that's a bug in and of itself.) So I'll resort to posting a bug report here. Chavey 03:24, 30 June 2013 (UTC)

Good point, I have added the links to the FAQ. Ahasuerus 05:42, 30 June 2013 (UTC)

If you go to the title series Gulliver's Travels, then go to existing Series Comments, you should then see an option to return you to the series itself. That link fails, due to something weird about the apostrophe in the series name. Chavey 03:24, 30 June 2013 (UTC)

That would be Bug #232 SeriesHeader template fails. I expect that it will become a moot point once we move all Series comments to the ISFDB proper. Ahasuerus 05:42, 30 June 2013 (UTC)
Thanks on both accounts. (Since I couldn't find the bugs, I couldn't check if this one was registered.) Chavey 18:49, 30 June 2013 (UTC)

Regularizing spaces in "LeGuin"

I have a book written "as by Ursula LeGuin", no "K.", no space after "Le". My memory is that we automatically regularize spaces in names, so that there can never be a "LeGuin" or an "L. Sprague DeCamp", but I am unable to find any rule or discussion thread that agrees with that memory. The Author name rules discuss regularizing capitalization, initials, suffixes (such as "Jr."), but there is no listed exception in those rules made for spaces. So AFAIK, I'm supposed to follow the overarching rule to enter the name exactly as it is credited in the book. Is that right? Chavey 02:15, 1 July 2013 (UTC)

We already have the nospace version as a pseudonym, so yes, it seems we do not regularise. BLongley 06:57, 1 July 2013 (UTC)
That's only because it was just done to accommodate the publication Chavey just verified. Mhhutchins 18:34, 1 July 2013 (UTC)
That's my recollection as well. Ahasuerus 17:51, 1 July 2013 (UTC)
Sorry, but editors have been regularizing this author's credit for years. Do a wiki search and you'll find several conversations about the subject. In one such conversation, an editor mentions that some of Le Guin's early stories in Fantastic were credited without the space. It was determined that in several publications, the space was only slightly detectable. So instead of having the editor decide whether the space was sufficient to create a pseudonym and variant, many editors and I chose to add a space regardless. There are several authors whose name have been regularized. All stories by "A. E. Van Vogt" are entered as "A. E. van Vogt". All stories by "Philip Jose Farmer" are entered as "Philip José Farmer". All stories by "L. Sprague De Camp" and "L. Sprague DeCamp" are entered as "L. Sprague de Camp". All stories by "Lester DelRey" and "Lester Del Rey" are entered as "Lester del Rey". I don't think the regularization was ever formally documented in the Help section (but then there are so many standards that aren't either.) If it's determined that this should not be the standard, someone's going to have to go back and make a lot of changes in verified records. Mhhutchins 18:34, 1 July 2013 (UTC)
Capitalisation is a bit of a red herring here, I think we're mostly agreed now. Accents over letters are slightly different as they may or may not lead to broken searches: Jose/José doesn't matter but some of the Eastern European names cause problems. Spacing DOES cause problems. I thought I'd entered one or two nospace 'LeGuin's myself but I may be wrong or maybe they've been 'corrected' for me. No biggy, but it would be nice to have a definitive answer. BLongley 19:20, 1 July 2013 (UTC)
I, for one, can assure you, I've never "corrected" any LeGuin to Le Guin in a publication record. I have changed it in reviews as was discussed here, based on ISFDB standards for correcting review credits to canonical author names. Mhhutchins 15:14, 2 July 2013 (UTC)
As my post mentions, I know that we regularize capitalization, and that is documented in the Help section. Similarly, we regularize the initial "K" to "K.", and "Smith Jr" to "Smith, Jr." and those are documented. We don't need to regularize "Jose/José", and that's documented. But it seems that we regularize "LeGuin" to "Le Guin", and that is NOT documented. A Google search for "LeGuin" (with quotations) at "" found NO threads that discussed this issue (which seems weird). I know a previous "LeGuin" submission of mine was "corrected" to "Le Guin" although the notes about the missing space were preserved. So it seems that we do have a de facto rule of regularization here, but it's never made it to the help page. Chavey 14:17, 2 July 2013 (UTC)
As was discussed here, you "heartily approved" of the policy and made the "correction" yourself. Mhhutchins 15:14, 2 July 2013 (UTC)
See, I knew I had seen this discussion recently. I still don't understand why my Google search for "LeGuin" (no space) didn't find anything. Chavey 04:49, 4 July 2013 (UTC)
Clearly, we all understand that the author's name is "Le Guin". If a book's designer chooses to add a smaller space than normal between the parts of her last name (or even none at all), does the editor decide whether the book should then be credited to "LeGuin"? How about this case where there is the same spacing between each letter in the last name? Or here where the spacing is perceptibly smaller than between the other names? My point is that we shouldn't let a designer or typesetter determine how the ISFDB credits a publication. We don't use it when all caps are used, so we shouldn't let arbitrary spacing be a factor in crediting ISFDB records. And it's clear that after all these years, there are no records for LeGuin, VanVogt, DelRey, or DeCamp in the database (even though there must have been publications that were credited that way). Obviously some editors are using an undocumented, yet de facto, standard of entering these into the database, crediting the author's canonical name. Mhhutchins 15:14, 2 July 2013 (UTC)
I'll try to write up a description of this standardization, for inclusion in the Help pages, and submit it to the Rules & Standardization forum. Chavey 04:49, 4 July 2013 (UTC)
We don't have a Rules and Standardization forum. Standards and Standardization are not the same thing, regardless of the current 'trend'. --~ Bill, Bluesman 02:19, 19 July 2013 (UTC)
Correct. I misspoke. Chavey 04:30, 19 July 2013 (UTC)
The winner of the "standards vs. standardization" death match will meet the winner of the "use vs. usage" duel in a battle to the death! :) 06:37, 19 July 2013 (UTC)
Retirement has fostered your 'instigator' tendencies, I see! --~ Bill, Bluesman 03:53, 20 July 2013 (UTC)
I blame it on the dozens of young adult dystopias ("In order to save the world, she must choose between the boy she loves and everything she holds dear!") that I have processed lately. It's enough to make one's trigger finger itchy. Only 191 to go before I can go back to software development... Ahasuerus 04:58, 20 July 2013 (UTC)
The professor wouldn't be much of a challenge, even to an old tradesman .... but who are the combatants in the UvsU brouhaha??? --~ Bill, Bluesman 03:53, 20 July 2013 (UTC)
Oh, it's an old (50? 60? years) joke among linguists that they always object to anyone *else* using the word "usage" :) Ahasuerus 04:58, 20 July 2013 (UTC)

Visco down ?

I've just had a strange webpage when accessing Visco "This account has been suspended", any infos ? Hervé Hauck 18:07, 2 July 2013 (UTC)

Looks like someone failed to pay the rent. Now the problem is how to fix the hundreds, if not thousands, of broken links. Mhhutchins 18:36, 2 July 2013 (UTC)
1,725 at last count. Hopefully the owners will get the situation straightened out before the data is deleted. Ahasuerus 18:43, 2 July 2013 (UTC)
The loss of Visco would be a big one. Has anyone archived the covers? They appear to be available via still. I hope this doesn't mean that something bad has happened to Terry Gibbons. BLongley 20:14, 3 July 2013 (UTC)
Most of the covers could be replaced through Galactic Central.--Rkihara 17:10, 4 July 2013 (UTC) is running again. --Marc Kupper|talk 04:12, 30 July 2013 (UTC)

Patch r2013-105 - NewPub changes

A fairly big patch was installed a few minutes ago. The behavior of the NewPub forms has changed as follows:

  • Mouseover help was added to all field labels and buttons. In the Content section, only the first block of each sub-section had the little question marks added because otherwise the page looked too busy. If we decide that they should be displayed next to all labels instead, I can easily change the behavior.
  • The "Source" button has been added.
  • The title separator in the Content section was streamlined. In the Interviews section we were using a thin blue line to separate interviews while the regular Content section and the Review section were using equal signs. The new version of the page uses thin blue lines throughout.
  • The New Anthology page now correctly says "Editor2" when you click on the "Add Editor" button. Ditto Magazines and Fanzines.
  • New Omnibus and New Nonfiction no longer display "Omnibus" and "Nonfiction" twice in the drop-down list in the Content section.
  • Tabbing has been streamlined to skip inactive fields. (There are still some issues if you click one of the "Add" buttons while entering data.) When you access the data entry form for the first time, the "Title" field becomes automatically active.

Please note that the underlying changes were fairly extensive, so bugs are possible. Please report any unexpected behavior here. Also, if you think that the newly added mouseover help text for the Content section could be improved, please post your proposed text here. Ahasuerus 02:33, 3 July 2013 (UTC)

Award search added

The main search box has been enhanced to allow award searches. Ahasuerus 18:24, 3 July 2013 (UTC)

Fantastic! This is a very nice feature, especially to draw people to our site. I am impressed! Stonecreek 19:15, 3 July 2013 (UTC)
Well, it was easy to implement once it dawned on me that it would be desirable :-) There is still more work to be done in the award area, e.g. add a "description" field, linkable categories and a weighted search (which Bill is currently working on), but I expect that we should be in pretty good shape by the end of the year. Ahasuerus 19:19, 3 July 2013 (UTC)
For most of the awards, we have somewhat comprehensive information about the award on the "Awards" page, e.g. for the British Fantasy Award. It would be nice to be able to include more of that information in the results of the Award search, or at least provide a link to that description. Chavey 04:53, 4 July 2013 (UTC)
That's what the aforementioned "award description" field will be for :-) Once it's been implemented, we'll also add an award directory. Ahasuerus 15:13, 4 July 2013 (UTC)
Glad to hear that. I spent a reasonable amount of time on those descriptions, and would be glad to help migrate that over when the system is ready for it. Chavey 17:39, 4 July 2013 (UTC)

Patch r2013-107 (auto-focus for edir pages)

Patch r2013-107 has been installed. From now on, all edit forms should automatically place the mouse cursor on the first active field on the page. The exceptions are:

  • Make Pseudonym, which places the mouse cursor on the second field (since it is more frequently used)
  • the second page of the Import/Export option, where the first active field is typically at the bottom of the page

The required software changes were fairly straightforward, but they had to be applied to 18 scripts, so typos and other glitches are possible. If you see anything unusual, please report your findings here. Ahasuerus 07:34, 5 July 2013 (UTC)

Grandville's "Un autre monde", in or out?

I would appreciate other opinions (especially from those who read French) as to whether this title should be included. It strikes me as a surrealist fantasy comparable to Alice in Wonderland, which would argue for its inclusion. The book appears to have been influential in later science fiction and fantasy artwork, which would also argue for its inclusion. But many of the stories are the sort of "anthropomorphic animals" that we usually do not include. For your consideration, the first link on that title page discusses the works later influence; the second link has a collection of just the artwork, and the link in the notes takes you to the entire text. There is fantasy art throughout; the often-reprinted "fantastical SF" art is on pp. 139-142. So far, I have only included the contents of the first 50 pages, figuring if others thought the book should not be included, I wouldn't want to spend too much time on this. Chavey 06:04, 6 July 2013 (UTC)

I have no issue with its inclusion. But there are other problems. Who is this "Anonymous"? We only use that credit if the work is actually credited that way, and I couldn't find such a credit on the scan. If the text is uncredited, it should be entered as "uncredited" according to ISFDB standards, and then make variants to the author if a reliable source confirms the credit. Even if the art inspired the text, the artist would not usually be credited as the author of the text. The book also appears to be credited to "Grandville", not "J. J. Grandville". (You can always create variants to a canonical name.) Also, you shouldn't link to Flickr pages. They aren't stable. If the uploader decides to remove the photos tomorrow, we'll have a bad link. And since the photos are the same as the scan, it's an unnecessary duplicate. Mhhutchins 22:54, 6 July 2013 (UTC)

Candidate for the Awards List - Sir Julius Vogel Awards (NZ)

Hi all,

I wonder if the NZ spec fic awards - The Sir Julius Vogel Awards could be added to our awards (only the awards since 2002 - see the history of the award on the page referenced below). So far, I've only found winners lists (no short lists, yet :-( ), see [here]. Most of the novels & young adult novels on the winners list are already in ISFDB. Some of the short fiction, art & other items, also. --clarkmci / j_clark 22:05, 6 July 2013 (UTC)

Sure, we can add this award, give me a few minutes. As far as nominees go, the official site has (somewhat confusingly arranged) lists of nominees by year. The same information is also made available by the Science Fiction Award Database. Ahasuerus 02:28, 7 July 2013 (UTC)
Are you ready to add new awards? Because I'd be glad to offer you some to add. More precisely, I listed 99 such awards HERE, one of which was the Sir Julius Vogel Award. Chavey 02:52, 7 July 2013 (UTC)
At this time new award types can only be added manually, i.e. via a patch. We still need to create a menu option to allow moderators (or perhaps just bureaucrats to avoid collisions) to create new award types; it is already documented as a Feature Request. By the way, I don't see The Norma K. Hemming Award awarded by The Australian Science Fiction Foundation -- did you miss it, by chance? Ahasuerus 02:59, 7 July 2013 (UTC)
Yes, please add Norma K. Hemming, too. It's a fairly new award - started 2010. The winners are here [1]. I have a link the 2013 short list, but not to the earlier years. --clarkmci / j_clark 04:23, 7 July 2013 (UTC)
OK, Sir Julius Vogel has been added and should be available in the drop-down list. Knock yourself out :) I will add Norma K. Hemming shortly. Ahasuerus 04:28, 7 July 2013 (UTC)
The Norma K. Hemming Award has been added as well. Ahasuerus 05:04, 7 July 2013 (UTC)
Thank you. Another for the list - someday - is The Australian Shadows Awards - [2]. I'm not into horror, so would be well down on my list to add the awards. Thanks again. --clarkmci / j_clark 06:49, 7 July 2013 (UTC)

Reporting errors on SourceForge

When reporting an error on SourceForge, please make sure that you are signed in. That way you will get an e-mail notification when others comment on the ticket. I have just closed Bug 358 because it's a duplicate of Bug 321, but the person who created the bug won't be notified because the bug was entered anonymously. TIA! Ahasuerus 06:20, 7 July 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for this. I missed seeing the log in bit. --clarkmci / j_clark 06:50, 7 July 2013 (UTC)
No problem! :) Ahasuerus 07:55, 7 July 2013 (UTC)

One Ordinary Day, with Peanuts

I once read this short story by Shirley Jackson, and I did not notice what made it speculative or fantastic. Could someone explain it to me? I don't get it. RR 05:49, 8 July 2013 (UTC)

It's been awhile since I read the story, but I think the subtext is that the husband and wife are modern day gods, each dispensing kindness or cruelty to ordinary humans. Of course, it's very subtle, so it's possible some readers would miss it. Maybe someone who has read it more recently will be more familiar with the story. And using ISFDB standards, it's speculative fiction because it was published in a speculative fiction publication (the Magazine of F&SF). Mhhutchins 14:06, 8 July 2013 (UTC)
Yes, you seem to have a good remembrance! The SFE entry summarizes the same meaning, as I read it. Stonecreek 14:48, 8 July 2013 (UTC)

Anthony Burgess

Is there any reason to keep non-genre novels by Anthony Burgess in the database? Less than a third of his fiction output could be consider sf, and most of those are borderline. SFE3 lists 10 novels and 1 collection out of 34 works of fiction listed by Wikipedia. (We only have 8 novels as sf and the rest as NONGENRE.) Mhhutchins 01:49, 9 July 2013 (UTC)

I can't see any reason to keep them. Burgess is not over any threshold i.m.o. --Willem H. 11:13, 9 July 2013 (UTC)
I'm not so sure in the following cases: One Hand Clapping (see this question), Napoleon Symphony and Earthly Powers, all of which do contain more than a passing nod to the fantastic, as I seem to remember (the nagging question remains from where this remembrances do come — I'll try do my best and try to dig into it). Stonecreek 14:47, 9 July 2013 (UTC)
Well, a short visit to wikipedia gives some possible speculative contents for the latter two:
Napoleon Symphony does seem to be an alternate reality yarn: In Napoleon Symphony, Burgess brought Bonaparte to life by shaping the novel's structure to Beethoven's Eroica symphony. The novel contains a portrait of an Arab and Muslim society under occupation by a Christian western power (Egypt by Catholic France). There was a tried invasion of Egypt by France under Napoleon, but it was fought back by the British.
Earthly Powers is decribed as an apocalyptic vision of devastating changes in the Catholic Church – due to what can be understood as Satanic influence – in Earthly Powers. Stonecreek 14:58, 9 July 2013 (UTC)
Based on the entry on Burgess in The Encyclopedia of Fantasy I changed Any Old Iron into NOVEL and would like to do so for the Enderby series. Clute & Grant claim only the fourth volume as fantasy but that should suffice, shouldn't it? In addition, a german review states some loose connection of vol. 3 of the series, The Clockwork Testament, Or, Enderby's End, to A Clockwork Orange in that it has some defendance against critics of the earlier novel. Stonecreek 18:01, 9 July 2013 (UTC)
I changed the Enderby series to NOVELs.
While Burgess only seldomly has written science fiction, Bibliographisches Lexikon der utopisch-phantastischen Literatur in the entry for Burgess states that many of his novels have a fantastic setting or fantastic elements. Alas, only a fraction of his work is discussed. According to this source Devil of a State (which we do recognize as genre) and M/F (which we don't) both are set in fictive states, but otherwise are recognized as of timeless actuality. Man of Nazareth is Burgess' version of Jesus Christ's life; wouldn't that make it into a historical speculative novel? On the whole I think we should be cautious to delete his NONGENRE novels, because they might turn out to be (partially) genre. Stonecreek 09:45, 18 July 2013 (UTC)
We should err on the side of inclusion, so I don't see a problem with keeping the titles. I would object to adding further publication records to titles which are currently typed as NONGENRE, until someone can determine if they have speculative elements and change them to NOVELs. (And aren't all historical novels "speculative", especially those involving Christ? In these cases we have to narrow the definition of "speculative" to a work that contains fantastic elements.) Mhhutchins 16:17, 18 July 2013 (UTC)
Your slam on a religion was TOTALLY uncalled for. And people wonder why more people don't contribute to this site. Normally I just bite my tongue. Not this time. Al

Pub Series: Dozois/Dann themed anthologies

In adding links back-and-forth to/from Wikipedia, I see that they have a special category of pages on Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois Ace anthologies. This page collects "a series of themed science fiction and fantasy anthologies, published by Ace Books. The series has been published since 1982, usually with one or two volumes per year, with 35 volumes as of 2007. The series was originally known as the "Magic Tales Anthology Series" until 1995. Before that time, each of the volumes was themed around a certain type of "magic" entities; this guideline was abandoned in 1996 when the series switched its focus to more strictly science fiction themes, beginning with Hackers."

Our Exclamatory Series includes 21 of these titles (and 1 not in their list). The other 14 are listed with general "anthologies". Their suggestion for viewing these anthologies as a series of "Themed Anthologies" seems like a good idea, and would allow more linking between them and us (i.e., linking from their list of anthologies to ours, since few of theirs have Wikipedia pages of their own). So I suggest a "Themed anthology" series, with two sub-series, the "Exclamatory" series, and a "themed" series. I don't like the name "Exclamatory Series", especially since many of those anthologies don't have an exclamation mark in their title. So I propose using the original "Magic Tales" for the pre-"Hackers" series, some other name for the continuation, and some inclusive name for the full series (Dozois/Dann Themed Anthologies?). But I don't really know what names to use for these. Suggestions? Chavey 06:36, 18 July 2013 (UTC)

I have no opinion one way or the other about whether to split the series or what to name them. Does anyone know what Dozois or Dann calls it? Or even if they consider it a series at all? Is there any interior evidence that the publisher handles them as a series (other than the exclamation point)? The connection (various themes) could be used to place any number of editors' anthologies into a series. I also don't see that it's necessary that our database conform to the Wikipedia article. The editors here are as qualified to make these judgements as anyone who edits Wikipedia. Mhhutchins 15:57, 18 July 2013 (UTC)
I have a number of these anthologies. The fantasy titles all have a list in front of the book that states "Magic Tales Anthology Series from Ace Fantasy Books". I only have one of the SF titles, Future War. This one also has a list in front, but only states "Edited by Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois". No series title anywhere in the book. I think the suggestion of a "Themed anthology" series, with two sub-series is valid, and indeed, the first sub-series should be called "Magic Tales", and should also include Fairy! by Terry Windling, that has the same list. --Willem H. 20:15, 18 July 2013 (UTC)

Loss of the Amazon links

It seems for many publications I'm now seeing the following in the left margin of a publication record:

  • Amazon CA
  • Amazon DE
  • Amazon FR

There's nothing nor Is this by design? I checked the Community Portal page but did not see a conversation about the main Amazon sites getting banned.

For example, this happens with all of the publications for Wave Without a Shore that have an ISBN. I'd like to see the link to plus as that's what I have been using 99% of the time along with I assume linking to Amazon DE and Amazon FR was added by request. I myself use (China) and (Japan) quite a bit but already have a web page that does the translation of an ISBN into links for the various web sites and so don't need that to be part of ISFDB. --Marc Kupper|talk 17:41, 22 July 2013 (UTC)

Have you updated your "My Web Sites" under the preferences link? You may not have chosen or to be listed on the pub records page. This preference may have a default if you've not set it up yourself. (I don't know if there is a default.) Mhhutchins 18:02, 22 July 2013 (UTC)
I'm often not logged in as I use ISFDB from various machines. I logged in and now the list shows
  • alibris
  • Amazon US
  • Amazon UK
plus the sites that are listed when you are not logged in. When someone is not logged in there's no link to the preferences. I logged in, learned the URL is, logged out, and went to that URL. Everything was checked under "Web Sites" except the first four items. As a test, I changed the preferences to only show the first four sites and saved them. I then pulled up the same publication record from a different computer and now it's only showing links for, alibris, Amazon US, and Amazon UK.
It looks like there's a bug where the preferences for not-logged-in users can be saved and then apply to everyone using ISFDB who is not logged in. I also was able to change the language selection. That one shows the SQL and I learned it's updating the settings for user ID 0.
I've restored the standard defaults for user 0. --Marc Kupper|talk 04:52, 24 July 2013 (UTC)
Sounds like a nasty bug, I'll take a look. Thanks for finding it! Ahasuerus 20:24, 24 July 2013 (UTC)

"Virgin" by F. Paul Wilson / Mary Elizabeth Murphy

We have two versions of this book: one as by F. Paul Wilson, and one as by his wife, Mary Elizabeth Murphy. According to the F. Paul Wilson FAQ, p. 7, F. Paul Wilson "once wrote a novel with his wife called Virgin. This was published under his wife’s maiden name Mary Elizabeth Murphy, but F. Paul Wilson did about 90% of the writing.". I added title notes, but presumably, we should set up a variant relationship. But I don't know which way it should go. Usually, the older version is the "canonical", but this would (apparently) take it out of the biographical listing of the person who wrote most of the book. Recommendations? Chavey 00:25, 24 July 2013 (UTC)

Create a new parent record which credits both authors, and then variant both of these titles records to that single record. Even though no book was ever published which credited both, based on your evidence, it's fine to create such a parent record. Mhhutchins 01:09, 24 July 2013 (UTC)
Thanks, that sounds like a good solution. Parent title record is now here. Chavey 13:55, 24 July 2013 (UTC)

Link Review fixes

Link Review has been changed to accept full title URLs the way Make Variant, Import/Export, etc do. In addition, entering a non-integer value should no longer generate a Python error. Ahasuerus 02:46, 28 July 2013 (UTC)

Secret histories redux

Because of an ongoing discussion of Robert Ludlum's "The Scarlatti Inheritance" and whether it should be listed in ISFDB, the question of "secret histories" has resurfaced. A fair number of them is currently on file, but it's not clear how big the "secret" or the conspiracy in the book has to be before it is "in". An earth-shattering conspiracy along the lines of Farmer's "Secret Nine" (even without the SF elements that Farmer added) is presumably in while a minor one is presumably out, but where do we draw the line? Ahasuerus 06:59, 28 July 2013 (UTC)

"Secret Histories" = "Historical Novel?" If so then most prehistoric fiction, like "The Clan of the Cave Bear, would fall in that category. Maybe Neal Stephenson's "Baroque Cycle" (judging from half of the first book) or stories about Atlantis or Lemuria, considering the people who believe they existed;>).--Rkihara 17:34, 28 July 2013 (UTC)
Well, imagine a novel or some other type of work -- as long as it is presented as a work of fiction and not as an expose -- about the Illuminati and how they have been secretly running human affairs for the last 250 years. Or the Knights Templar, the Freemasons, the Rosicrucians, the Assassins, the Secret Nine or another completely fictional entity. I think we would want to list these types of novels (like we already list Dan Brown's books) because, as far as we know, they are counterfactual the way alternative history is counterfactual. However, if the counterfactual element, which is of necessity present in all historical novels, is minor, like in the Lanny Budd novels, then it doesn't make sense to include them. The question then is where do we draw the line ... which seems to be a perennial question with us :-) Ahasuerus 04:53, 30 July 2013 (UTC)
Maybe we could examine the boundaries? Two of the books that we list in the ISFDB, Umberto Eco's "Foucault's Pendulum," and "The Name of the Rose," would appear to fall into the category of "Secret Histories." In the former the secret society that drives the story is a fiction created by the main characters as an intellectual game which gets out of hand. "The Name of the Rose," has only one seemingly mystical element derived from Borges, the library, which turns out to be a clever labyrinth. Jean Auel's novels would also seem to be in the category of a "Secret History," as most prehistoric novels. Joseph Kanon's "Los Alamos" is definitely a secret history and is not listed. None of these appear to me to be counterfactual, though Auel's novels occurring in prehistory might as well be myths.--Rkihara 16:16, 31 July 2013 (UTC)
It's been decades since I read Jean Auel's The Clan of the Cave Bear but I recall one of the premise was that their memories also included the memories of their ancestors. The remembered and "knew" everything that had happened back to the beginning of time. The wikipedia article for that story mentions this as "genetic memory." The next book in that series, The Valley of Horses did not have that speculative element but it comes back for one character in The Mammoth Hunters. I have not read the three remaining books. The wikipedia articles for them don't seem encouraging in terms of their specfict content. Much of the story line is about Neanderthal interaction with Cro-Magnons. They apparently overlapped for a few thousand years and so that aspect is not specfict. --Marc Kupper|talk 01:51, 1 August 2013 (UTC)
(Sorry about the delay, I have been fighting the flu the last few days.)
I think pre-historic fiction is different because our Rules of Acquisition explicitly include it. As far as Umberto Eco's books go, they seem to be only borderline SF, but they were reviewed in SF magazines and are listed in SFE3, so presumably a fair number of people see them as SF-related.
For now, I will reject The Scarlatti Inheritance and perhaps we will revisit the subject at a later point if/when a more precise inclusion criterion coalesces. Ahasuerus 23:26, 4 August 2013 (UTC)

Price format recording guidelines revival

I have revived an old price format discussion here. The old discussion seemed to reach a conclusion but sort of died. The short form of the proposal is: periods for decimals; currency info at the front; no space after non-letter symbols; space after letter symbols. And one new item: no more "L" for "£". Examples: $1.85, £1.85, €1.85, DM 1.85, and zł 1.85. Please comment there. Thanks. --MartyD 11:42, 29 July 2013 (UTC)

Moving the discussion to the Rules and Standards page to avoid fragmentation. Ahasuerus 00:37, 31 July 2013 (UTC)

'Welcome' template

Something appears to have become borked within the 'Welcome' template, and I am not able to correct it. I was leaving a Welcome message for new editor MBroaddus, the tildes didn't register, and when adding them again it appears to have added my name to the template itself, resulting in a loop message. I don't know if this is how others will see it, but could a coding Moderator address this, please? With my apologies, PeteYoung 22:52, 29 July 2013 (UTC)

Template:Welcome looks ok - I see from the history that you fixed it. I suspect you entered [[Template:Welcome]] ~~~~ rather than {{Template:Welcome}} ~~~~ and then did a click-edit trying to fix it. I've protected the template as I see this was the third time it was edited by accident. --Marc Kupper|talk 03:47, 30 July 2013 (UTC)
Cheers, sorry for the extra work. PeteYoung 06:57, 30 July 2013 (UTC)

August 2013 development update

Sorry about the hiatus on the development front. For a while I thought that I was fighting the flu, but it appears to be somewhat more serious and perhaps neurological in nature. For now, I am supposed to be getting plenty of rest, so development is likely to be slow until I get better. Ahasuerus 00:14, 10 August 2013 (UTC)

"Aram Dik" Anyone heard of him?

Hey guys! Sorry if this isn't the best place to post, but I figured you'd be the best gang to ask. I'm researching actor Richard "Dick" Miller [3] b.1928, who wrote science fiction short stories in the 1950's (and perhaps late 1940's) under the pseudonym Aram Dik, the phonetic writing of his first two initials "R.M." followed by an abbreviation of his nickname. He was published in a number of magazines, but also had work purchased and put out under the name of other authors. He can't recall which specific publications at this point, and my searches have come up cold. If we can find any info about this, it would be a great/cool addition to the database. Anyone run into this name (or something similar) in your research/collections? If so, you can contact me at Take care, all! —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Elleschneider (talkcontribs) .

Maybe you should try contacting him. The IMDB link in your post had a reference to his web page, which contained a lot of info and links to other sites referencing him, like the Wikipedia.--Rkihara 08:58, 12 August 2013 (UTC)
There were no stories credited under either of these names published in any science fiction magazine, at least according to the definitive resource, Miller/Contento's Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Weird Fiction Magazine Index. Although it is possible that he published stories under a pseudonym, or even more likely a house name. And that's going to be impossible to uncover at this date. What is the source for your information? Mhhutchins 18:51, 12 August 2013 (UTC)


What is this page for? A relic of a distant past? Or something about these 8 authors that makes them different from all other authors? Chavey 02:23, 15 August 2013 (UTC)

It's a Wiki thing (don't ask, I have no idea either.) Supposedly, each time someone created an Author page (linked to the database author summary page as Bibliographic Comments), they should have added this template to the page: [[Category:Authors]]. Doing so would have automatically linked the Author page to this list. No one got around to actually telling us to do that, or if they did, I didn't read it. Obviously no one else did either! Mhhutchins 03:13, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
As a test I added the template to a random author's Author page (Eugie Foster). Now she's on the list, but for some unfathomable reason it's under "A". Go figure. I guess the template doesn't work. I noticed a few other names are also misplaced. Maybe there's another parameter which must be added to the template to alphabetize them correctly. Mhhutchins 03:20, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
OK, I see now. According to the note at the top of the category, you're suppose to enter the template with the following parameter: [[Category:Authors|<LASTNAME>, <FIRSTNAME>]] in order for it to alphabetize properly. I say that's too much trouble for a category list that no one knows even existed, except for the person who created the template and category. Hope this explains it. Mhhutchins 03:23, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
Should those template entries be removed from those authors? Is it possible to redirect "Category:Authors" to the Author Directory? Chavey 05:39, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
Since that wiki category isn't being used to its full potential (whatever that may be), then it wouldn't mean much to redirect it to the database directory. And since so few authors, relatively speaking, have Bibliographic Comments pages, I don't see much purpose in finding them and adding the template in order to populate the list. There's been an effort over the last few years to move as much data as possible away from the wiki, and some of it has migrated to the database proper (the location of the Author Directory). It wouldn't pay off to put much effort into this or any other directory on the wiki. Mhhutchins 07:25, 15 August 2013 (UTC)

Used book store in Honolulu

Any suggestions for a used book store in Honolulu that has a good SF section? I'll be there until Friday. I have googled a bit, but the results where rather doubtful, so I thought I might ask here, for the off-chance that somebody knows his or her way around in Hawaii. Patrick -- Herzbube Talk 21:33, 21 August 2013 (UTC)

You're in Hawaii! WTF are you doing looking for books?? :) (Sorry, just had to get that out of my system.) Mhhutchins 21:41, 21 August 2013 (UTC)
You may not believe it, but whenever my travels take me to a country where English is the main language one of the things I do is hunt down a couple of local used book stores. Usually the greatest souvenir I take home is a bag (or two) full of used SF books. Thus, the second-most happiest moment of my trip to Hawaii was when I entered that book store in Kona and realized they had three and a half aisles full of dusty, old SF&F !!! (the happiest moment was seeing the observatory domes at the top of Mauna Kea opening to the rays of a glorious sunset). Patrick -- Herzbube Talk 06:33, 22 August 2013 (UTC)
Apparently there are 51 used book stores in Honolulu, listed [here]. Happy hunting! --~ Bill, Bluesman 20:40, 22 August 2013 (UTC)
For posterity's sake: Don't bother with Bookoff in Ala Moana Center, the SF section is minimal and centers on current bestsellers. A much better choice is the pleasantly chaotic Bookend's store in Kailua, 1.5 hours away from Waikiki by public bus: The SF section is substantial, although not very well assorted, but browsing the shelves is a pleasure and they have a stand full of old Ace and Ballantine paperbacks, presumably first editions. If you make it to Kona on the Big Island, Kona Bay Books is a must: Theirs is a big and very well assorted SF section. Patrick -- Herzbube Talk 03:34, 24 August 2013 (UTC)
Evelyn C. Leeper maintains worldwide listings of bookstores here. They contain notes on store specializations, hours, etc. -- JLaTondre (talk) 14:49, 24 August 2013 (UTC)


Is anyone attending LoneStarCon next week and interested in meeting for a meal or a drink? --Ron ~ RtraceTalk 14:17, 24 August 2013 (UTC)

Alas, no Worldcon for me this year... especially peeved because I'm also on the Hugo ballot. Vote! ;) PeteYoung 15:14, 24 August 2013 (UTC)

Database optimization

Please note that I will be optimizing the database in the next 30-40 minutes, which may cause the display to freeze for a minute or two. I will also have to disable editing when optimizing larger tables. Ahasuerus 16:23, 28 August 2013 (UTC)

Done. Hopefully things will be a tad faster. Ahasuerus 16:46, 28 August 2013 (UTC)