March 11, 2007


Science Fiction and Fantasy
The SF collection is shelved separately from other fiction and so you should check the catalog before roaming about to search for a book that could be in the SF section. Time-travelling with Connie Willis? Go to SF. With Jack Finney? Try general fiction. Why? Decisions made long ago for reasons lost in mist.
The call number prefix in the catalog will tell you where a book is located.
TPML-Adult-Fic SF WILLIS c.1 (Book) 39803500017019 AVAILABLE (in SF)
TPML-Adult-Fic FIC FINNEY c.1 (Book) 39803100133075 AVAILABLE (not in SF)

So what is in SF? A mix.

  1. Science Fiction: technology, robots, space travel, aliens, future civilizations, etc. Landscapes may be desolate or highly metallic. Interesting architecture.
  2. Fantasy: magic, dragons, unicorns, elves, wizards. Landscapes may be thickly forested and dripping damp. Any metal is apt to be filigreed. Huts and stony tors.
  3. Other Stuff: for example alternate history, fairly straight history with time travel, etc. Gore Vidal's The Smithsonian Institution might be placed here (but isn't).
Many famous authors write both "hard" science fiction and fantasy, or mix elements of both within a single work.

And remember - a book that seems to be science fiction or fantasy may be in general fiction instead.

To make things even more confusing, genre cross-over books are increasingly common. You could have a highly romantic mystery set in 2083. Where do you put it?

Want to see short reviews of a lot of recent SF books? Go to Booklist Online. We have a paid subscription which you are welcome to use.

The next time you are in the library browse through any (or all) of three wonderful reference books:
R 809.3 ENCYCLO The Encyclopedia of science fiction
R 809.3 ENCYCLO The Encyclopedia of fantasy
R 809.93372 MANGUEL The dictionary of imaginary places

In the J room we have no separate SF collection. Look for the little blue Science Fiction stickers on the spines of books.

Posted by library at March 11, 2007 12:49 PM
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