The Internet is a wonderful place for science fiction and fantasy readers, isn't it? Just about all the information you'd ever need about the genre is a few simple keystrokes and clicks away. The trick is that you have to know where to look. Sure, you can try your favorite search engine, but they usually return a hodge-podge of scattered results, making it difficult to determine a good starting point. Better are these following websites that serve as useful, organized and well-maintained sources of information about the science fiction and fantasy genres.

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and The Encyclopedia of Fantasy

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction website is the online counterpart to the classic, door-stopping print reference The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction edited by John Clute and Peter Nicholls. The online version is considered the third edition. The first edition was published in 1979 and the second edition was published in 1993. There was also a CD-ROM edition in 1995. A lot has happened in science fiction since then, so it's great to see that the website is up-to-date with recent developments in the genre.

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction offers a seemingly limitless treasure trove of information about authors, artists, magazines, science fiction themes, culture and community, as well as insightful commentary on the books we know and love. It's a must-stop destination if you're looking for genre-related information, especially of the historical variety. But be warned: Enticing links abound and it's very, very easy to while away the time wandering from page to page.Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

Worth noting: The Encyclopedia of Fantasy, the web-based version of the also-huge 1997 print edition edited by John Clute and John Grant, has also made its way online. It has been integrated with the online version of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction since there is overlap between the genres. But surfer beware: These entries have not yet been updated beyond the last print version, so those portions of the site are not as recent as one would hope. Even so, it's an invaluable resource to be able to access for free.

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The Internet Speculative Fiction Database

As a book lover, do you ever wonder about author bibliographies? Or publication histories? Or content listings for magazines, single author collections or multiple-author anthologies? Then you need to know about The Internet Speculative Fiction Database, also referred to as ISFDB. ISFDB is a community-driven effort to catalog all this data and more.

Your entry point into ISFDB might be a simple author search. You're likely to find the information you were curious about...probably the name of a novel that has escaped your memory. But in addition to the comprehensive bibliographies and series information, you'll also happily find biographical info, links to interviews and essay listings. Should you click on the name of an individual novel, you'll find information about its specific publication history, including variant titles and review information. Dig deeper and click on a specific edition and you'll find ISBN numbers, page counts and the name of the cover artist (itself a link that shows their body of work in the genre). All told, another fascinating resource.

Locus Online

If you are a science fiction and fantasy aficionado and you like reading magazines, chances are you've heard of Locus, the award-winning news magazine of the sf/f field. They follow the latest industry news and releases, as well as provide informative articles, revealing interviews and insightful reviews. The magazine also has an online counterpart. It's called Locus Online and it's as much fun as the print version.

There's lots to explore there, like their timely news coverage, companion online magazine content and the insightful Locus Roundtable posts. But of particular interest to this article are the huge amounts of useful reference information it provides. Proprietor Mark R. Kelly has done an outstanding job, including tasty information like notable forthcoming releases, artist listings and cover galleries, author/editor listings, publisher links and bookseller links. For those who read and die by awards, there's the most amazingly comprehensive Science Fiction Awards Database companion site, where you will again find yourself jumping from one page to the next. For folks looking for real-world interaction, you'll find listings for conventions, sortable by date and location, where you can rub elbows with authors and like-minded fans. You will also find author events so you can see if your favorite author is coming to a bookstore near you.

John DeNardo is the editor of SF Signal, a Hugo Award-winning group science-fiction and fantasy blog featuring news, reviews and interviews. He also like bagels and the sound of soda fizz.