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Contents

Retro pricing or instant remainder?

I was in a bookstore yesterday and saw The Ancient by R. A. Salvatore. What got my attention was the $5.99 price. At first I thought it was a yellow sticker on the spine and pulled the book out to check this. It's printed on the spine. It looking at Dec-2008 it looks like this is the only $5.99 or less book aimed at the adult market though in reading about it on Amazon it may be a young-adult book. --Marc Kupper|talk 21:31, 29 December 2008 (UTC)

Some publishers (Tor and especially Baen come to mind) do promotional editions which they plan to sell at a loss (the first one is free, kid!), but this one looks normal. Interesting... Ahasuerus 04:34, 30 December 2008 (UTC)

Amber books

Harry recently added The Complete Amber Chronicles (1258pp!) and entered each novel the way it appears in the book, i.e. "Book One: Nine Princes in Amber", "Book Two: The Guns of Avalon", etc. Would you say that the addition of "Book N" makes them variant titles or would you consider them publishing conventions that we can ignore? Here is what Harry wrote on his Talk page earlier today:

Why create variant title. Firstly if an extra mark creates a variant title, how could this not?
Secondly the book is presented as a single volume not an omnibus at all. Therefore to parse the novel titles and pages, I had to thumb through using the headers. My thinking is if I have to show the separate novels, then I must use the story title page as presented, not as I would wish it to be. In essence to present the book as a novel, not an omnibus, they changed the title with the addition of Book number (small print) and then title(large print).
Third point. The book added numbers before each title to show definitively the relationships within the series. This is demonstrated by the title. Some small argument could be made that the change is at least defacto approved by the author. This goes to the intent of the publication.
If you do not wish it so, I will change it, but the question becomes when, if ever, do you make such variations apparent to the db users. At least in this case there seems to be clear intent to create a sequential reference. Awaiting your decision on this matter.
What ever this decision, I believe the title entry should be changed to this title as well as the initial story title, unless someone finds it otherwise.

Ahasuerus 04:34, 30 December 2008 (UTC)

Does it make things more confusing or less? I'd say more. Will the use of a variant be of any use the isfdb user? I'd say no. They are not going to type in "Book One: Nine Princes in Amber" when searching for the novel? If a stand-alone novel were titled this way it might be a different story.--swfritter 22:40, 30 December 2008 (UTC)
Actually, the answer below shows the 1-10 connection, while the current db series listing adds a sub-series the creators of the omnibus/novel did not use. Thanks, Harry. --Dragoondelight 21:05, 31 December 2008 (UTC)
I can't see any added value (we've already organised the Novels into series), and would consider this a publishing convention we can ignore. Notes only, I'd say. BLongley 23:06, 30 December 2008 (UTC)
Actually, the book's presentation does not agree with the Amber series presentation in the db. It only agrees for the first five books, there is no mention/connection to the db Merlin series for the last five books. Therefore the difference is that the book is recognizing the 1-10 connection with no sub-series. Thanks, Harry. --Dragoondelight 21:05, 31 December 2008 (UTC)
Keep in mind that -- unlike publication level data -- we don't always use Series level data as printed by the publisher. As Help:Screen:EditTitle says, "a series may have only one name, so if two or more series names are equally popular (e.g. one name is preferred by the author, another one by the publisher, and a third one is commonly used in SF encyclopedias), the only option that we have is to list them all in a slash delimited format." In this case, the last 5 books of the Amber series are sometimes split out into a separate "sequence", i.e. a sub-series (see, e.g., Clute/Nicholls), and sometimes they are not. I wouldn't make decisions about Contents level Title records based on what the pub says about the Series. Ahasuerus 01:35, 1 January 2009 (UTC)
I agree that it's a publishing convention similar to putting series-specific information on the title page and can be safely ignored. Ahasuerus 01:35, 31 December 2008 (UTC)
While you may not see need the need for the book 1,etc as used in the book, it establishes the series in a different way than the db has done. As above, it does not recognize the sub-series Merlin. In either case will not someone have to redo the series lineup? Thanks, Harry. --Dragoondelight 21:05, 31 December 2008 (UTC)
I see the "Book" prefix as similar to using "Chapter 5: The Infinity Box" or "5   The Infinity Box". The title is The Infinity Box and we don't include the prefix. Another clue would be to look at the page headers, for example, if it says The Infinity Box that would pretty much seal it that the title is The Infinity Box.
I don't see how this publication presents the stories any differently than the standard series order. There is some confusion as this omnibus title is similar to Doubleday's "Chronicles of Amber" which only covered the Prince Corwin (of Amber) stories. While Doubleday only had rights to, or chose to only print, the Prince Corwin books the entire "Amber Chronicles" would include the Merlin books as Merlin was Corwin's son. My Zelazny books are scattered around but I don't recall that they are numbered meaning the 1-5 currently used on ISFDB may have been added after the fact and the 1 to 10 added by this omnibus is more of a convenience for navigating a 1258pp book.
I would add a publication note explaining that the sections are titled "Book Four: The Hand of Oberon" etc. --Marc Kupper|talk 01:16, 1 January 2009 (UTC)
The Avonova "Knight of Shadows" and "Prince of Chaos" were numbered 9 and 10 in the Amber series on the covers (see verified entries), I suspect the other 3 Merlin books have been numbered this way as well. I'd be happy to number them 6-10 although I believe they currently display in the correct order by title date alone? BLongley 12:47, 1 January 2009 (UTC)
That's correct - if both the series and Series Num fields are empty then it sorts by date. The "gotcha" are title records with a blank series but Series Num is filled in. iirc, another "gotcha" is that Storylen influences this too as that's used with omnibus editions to indicate which copies of a numbered series are included in the omnibus. --Marc Kupper|talk 18:24, 2 January 2009 (UTC)

{Unindent} If no one objects, I will submit the title edit changes tomorrow morning, Jan 2nd, and then merge them after. Thnaks, Harry. --Dragoondelight 15:32, 1 January 2009 (UTC)

Well it is changed, great thanks to Mhhutchins for the assimilation. But, If you look at my verification you will see the the five story series split, which I told you was not in the omnibus. Since, I am the only with a copy, I get to say it this way, It looks NASTY and is not as presented in the book. Thanks, Harry. --Dragoondelight 22:39, 2 January 2009 (UTC)
Yeah, I agree that it does look rather nasty. Perhaps we could change the "Merwin" series to "Chronicles of Amber (Merlin)" or even better change the "Chronicles of Amber (Corwin)" to simply "Corwin"? MHHutchins 23:37, 2 January 2009 (UTC)

The Best American Mystery Stories 1998

I wonder how we ended up with The Best American Mystery Stories 1998? It seems to be a bona fide mystery anthology (see the Mystery Short Fiction Index for details) with perhaps one or two cross-over stories, but surely we don't want all of them? Any idea how we could determine which (if any) stories are SF before we delete everything? Ahasuerus 00:05, 2 January 2009 (UTC)

Actually, why have we got Sue Grafton at all? BLongley 23:07, 2 January 2009 (UTC)
I know I've let in some publications like Great Short Stories of Detection, Mystery and Horror, Second Series and ignored the non-genre half, but short of reading them all it's a bit difficult to decide, particularly as NONGENRE isn't suited for Short Fiction. BLongley 23:07, 2 January 2009 (UTC)
I'd say remove 'em all especially Sue Grafton. The only short stories we conceivably would want to keep are those by authors who would be in and there are a couple of marginals. It would interesting to know who entered them and how recently.--swfritter 00:52, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
It looks like Sue Grafton's bibliography may have been created by someone who had an interested in her work, but it doesn't seem to belong here. Ahasuerus 01:36, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
That's going to turn into a *project* as the anthology links to Joyce Carol Oates, Walter Mosley, John Lutz, Edward D. Hoch, and Mary Higgins Clark some of which have elaborate bibliographies and all of which seem to be non-genre writers. I'm sure as the strings are tugged further that more authors will fall into the net. --Marc Kupper|talk 08:20, 5 February 2009 (UTC)
Both Oates and Mosley have a number of works that qualify although it's unlikely that the stories in this anthology do.--swfritter 01:03, 6 February 2009 (UTC)

Raiders of the Lost Titles

Ahaseurus and I were discussing how we may be missing obscure titles because of the time and effort taken entering reprints and reissues of titles by the big names. That's why every once in a while I'll dip into the dark recesses of OCLC (gotta love those librarians!) Lately I've been working occasionally on retrieving titles published by Robert Hale, circa 1965-1980. And believe me, talk about obscure titles by even more obscure authors. Imagine my surprise at finding a title by a relatively big name, Andre Norton, which has not been recorded in the ISFDB. Sure it's a retitling of one-half of an Ace Double, but it's enough to humble you into not resting on your laurels or entertaining the false belief that the database contains "99%" of all titles (which I believe I read a couple of years back when I first became involved here, or maybe that was a goal.) Well, to get to the point, is there any way to estimate what percentage of spec-fic has been recorded in the database? Or is there even a point in trying? Locus does an annual listing of all pubs, with separate counts for new titles and reprints. Can that be used to make an estimate? And I suppose any pre-1969 titles can be reconciled with Tuck (another project that's been pushed to my back burner.) Something else along these lines: Al just uploaded new Stats-by-Year tables. Can anyone explain the doubling in novels from 2003 to 2004? All comments are welcome. Just thought I'd start a discussion about goals or the formulation of a, ahem, "mission statement". MHHutchins 02:14, 6 January 2009 (UTC)

Our coverage of obscure science fiction is spotty at best. For example, a few hours ago I added Thomas P. Kelley's The Face That Launched A Thousand Ships from The Gallery to Science Fiction, Fantasy, Weird & Occult as published by the British, Australians and Canadians. I then checked sfbooklist.co.uk and found 3 more specfiction books by Kelley: The Gorilla's Daughter, I Found Cleopatra (twice reprinted!), and Tapestry Triangle. Earlier today we had 0 out of 4, which is, unfortunately, not uncommon when it comes to obscure/old/non-US SF... Ahasuerus 04:49, 6 January 2009 (UTC)
I too go off on missing title hunts, although this is as often for Shortfiction as missing Novels - e.g. filling in Collections and Anthologies and even Magazines with missing contents often pulls in a few new authors. I get bored with that easily though, especially after a run of Poets and Horror authors, and have done searches by publisher - or by "title including Imprint", an Amazon UK speciality. There's probably a few easy scripts that would pull up foreign versions too - e.g. I suspect a "Bantam Books we have that we don't have a Corgi version of" (or vice-versa) script might be interesting. As for "99% of all titles" - well, ISFDB probably had 95-99% of my own US titles already when I started, but it was far lower than that for UK-only releases. I've found entire series by previously-unknown authors since - and I could still probably find a new author each evening if I tried. BLongley 20:41, 6 January 2009 (UTC)

Regarding the jump from 2003 to 2004. The raw data is

YearCount
20001,509
20011,595
20021,492
20031,294
20043,486
20053,242
20062,067
20071,773
20081,553

The distribution by month for 2004 is pretty even. There's only 221 titles that have a non-zero DD in the date and so here's a list of the ones that end in -00.

Date Count
2004-00-00288
2004-01-00310
2004-02-00300
2004-03-00332
2004-04-00320
2004-05-00289
2004-06-00205
2004-07-00170
2004-08-00223
2004-09-00316
2004-10-00253
2004-11-00161
2004-12-0098
Total3,265

Whoever, or whatever, added the titles used the YYYY-MM-00 format. I know Fixer does this but if a date on Amazon has the DD does Fixer include this? I then looked for long runs of near consecutive titles on the theory that they got added in a batch/import and found that titles 151678 (Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures : A True Story from Hell on Earth) to 157776 (Nightworlds) satisfied this. This isolated a clump containing 2727 titles that also has a curious property in that the dates are in long batches from 2004-06-00 to 2004-10-00 and then 2004-01-00 to 2004-12-00 before cycling back to 2004-09-00 to 2004-12-00. Obviously, whatever did this import also had their data sorted by date. I'll need to load up a full copy of the db to chase down who added titles like Emergency Sex, Consumption And Identity In Asian American Coming-of-age Novels, Narrative Voices and the Liberation Movement in the Mexican State of Chiapas, etc. It'll take a few hours to load up a full db backup but this spike is clearly explained by a data import. --Marc Kupper|talk 07:41, 6 January 2009 (UTC)

I just realized it's been a long time since we had title numbers below 200000 meaning this could be a really old import. My oldest db backup is from 05/27/2007 and there the title numbers were up to 598917 meaning this import likely pre-dates the submission queue. --Marc Kupper|talk 07:56, 6 January 2009 (UTC)
I have added a project page at ISFDB:Non-SF Cleanup 2004 listing the titles that need to be reviewed/deleted for 2004. I'll deal with other years later. --Marc Kupper|talk 08:25, 6 January 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for discovering the cause of the leap in titles in 2004. Just looking at that page makes me a little nauseous. It's hard not to imagine how many erroneous titles from "data dumps" that have polluted the database. Not only do we have to keep raiding for lost titles, now we have to stop the toxic-waste dumping! Where's Indiana Jones when you need him? MHHutchins 21:15, 6 January 2009 (UTC)
Lists like that are depressing, especially as removing a duff entry is much harder than correcting a slightly-off one ("delete pub, approve, delete title" rather than "edit pub"). I suspect I could write a script that would submit pub-delete and title-delete simultaneously without the warning that a title still has a pub in the database, but it would be better if ISFDB accepted a submission (if not an approval) for a title-delete if the related pub-delete was already in the queue. (Or multiple pub-deletes if the title really needs to be zapped despite multiple pubs.) Or better still, a title-delete that would take all pubs with it, with BIG warnings for the Moderator. Or is this data-import so bad we should just ask for titles 151678-157776 and all associated pubs to be removed (if they haven't been verified) and we'll go and ADD replacements for 2004? (Not a Vintage year for SF IMO, but others may disagree.) BLongley 00:01, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
I don't think we have to "stop the toxic-waste dumping" in future though, this does look like a past bad decision and Dissembler and Fixer and Data-Thief etc still have to go through Mod approval now, which is still a useful check. (Not perfect - and I could suggest Double-Mod-Approval for variant-Author or Author Merge approvals for instance, as too many unfixable errors are getting through for my liking.) The Blips by year suggest to me that Dissembler or some other tool Al used caused too much bad data in 2004, 2005 and some of 2006, but since we humans got involved we're doing a bit better now? BLongley 00:01, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
IIRC, Al once mentioned that he had "experimented" with mass imports earlier in the decade, which, in retrospect, appears to be an understatement :) Ahasuerus 01:30, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
Looked at the last dozen on the page. Two RPG sourcebooks, one suspense about a serial killer and one where the fantasy is apparently about committing adultery. The other eight seem fine. So we may have too few books other years. Dana Carson 03:27, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
I made the assumption that if someone had put the book in a series that it is a good entry. If that is reasonable might add that to the selection script to shorten the list. Dana Carson 03:27, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
I agree it's going to be hard work. I picked some random books and drilled down to the Amazon records to see what the synopsis and reviews said. A couple of times a seemingly non-specfishish title turned out to have at least *some* specfict. I believe whatever did the selection for this import was looking for words like "magic."
I saw a number of titles that were series members and yes, it seems reasonable to assume that as a human did that work that those are specfict. I may be able to narrow the list further but looking for titles where the author only has books in this import. In other words, if the author has titles added at some other time then the imported title would at least be non-genre but included in ISFDB if there's enough specfict. --Marc Kupper|talk 09:13, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
Two notes: First, dissembler is extremely picky now; it only accepts titles with a marque author, which means the author must be in the top 2% most-popular authors in the ISFDB. That might be too picky, but it makes a non-genre submission pretty rare nowadays. Second: I've already made significant passes on 2004 and 2005, and it's probably down 1/3 from previous levels. This was done by performing a pareto on the publishers during those years, determining which of them were not genre publishers, and whacking tons of RPG and comics. What's left now is a tad more difficult to prune in great swaths. Alvonruff 19:15, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
I think Dissembler may be a little too picky now, but Fixer isn't picky enough to interest me often either. Bloody bots, they never do what you want, only what you tell them. ;-/ . Glad to see you back though Al - if you have time for comments, maybe you have time for a little coding? As this project could really do with some super-zapping capabilities, which should probably be tempered with some serious double-checking by mods before they go through. Or just do big Zaps on request. Just look above - deleting Sue Grafton and all her works seems a popular choice. Jonathan Gash I could live without although I like the books. Some people have put Graphic Novels into series - if we really don't want them they're easy to find and blitz. (I'd let Graphic Novels stay if they're versions of works we'd include anyway, or aberrations by an author we'd include the Non-Fiction or Non-Genre for, but if we want a more rigid definition I'd sacrifice those too.) I can't agree that "as a human did that work, those are specfict" - they just mean someone ordered them without thinking, or did the thinking and left them for someone else to decide, or want to keep them here despite our definitions. What I would like is rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty. And a BFG for deleting the non-doubtful. BLongley 22:36, 8 January 2009 (UTC)

Return of the Spambots, part III

We seem to be under attack by spambots -- see the block log. I have blocked two spam accounts so far; I guess we'll find out how good this version's anti-bot features are shortly. Ahasuerus 04:25, 8 January 2009 (UTC)

I e-mailed DES a few days ago - no word back. Hopefully we'll figure out what's needed without him. --Marc Kupper|talk 07:16, 8 January 2009 (UTC)
Is autoblock safe to apply? I recall we had problems with blocking by IP before and locking out legitimate users too. I didn't risk it for the next two spambots. BLongley 19:44, 8 January 2009 (UTC)
Ok, I see Ahasuerus' latest edits - for fellow Whack-a-Mole participants, "expiry time of infinite, account creation disabled, autoblock disabled, e-mail blocked" seems to be the latest policy. Or best practice. Or an experiment. Do let me know ‎if there's a consensus. I tired of this game last time. BLongley 23:34, 8 January 2009 (UTC)
Just an experiment for now. I'll try a few more permutations next to see what happens... Ahasuerus 00:11, 9 January 2009 (UTC)
I tried "blocked Listeners (Talk | contribs) (infinite, account creation blocked, e-mail blocked)" this time, which also created the following block: "#10 (expires 20:13, January 9, 2009, account creation blocked) (Autoblocked because your IP address has been recently used by "Listeners".)" I don't think "#10" is right, but I'll leave it for now to see if it helps stop the malbots. Of course, if the baddies are using a botnet, it won't help, but it doesn't hurt to try. Ahasuerus 00:19, 9 January 2009 (UTC)

That ****ing H2O stuff... remind me why we need it?

I've just had an unpleasant three hours or so moving books and computers from under a nasty leak in my bathroom. The fact that I only noticed it due to the sound of running water in my "dining-room" below (aka Library Room number two) might indicate the level of distress actually involved. Repairs to house will happen soon. Book damage is yet to be assessed. Grumpiness on my part is assured. Apologies to all that get my bad mood inflicted upon them in the meantime. BLongley 01:27, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

Oh no, not the books!! :-( I suppose the only consolation is that a mini-flood is better than a mega-fire. Here is to a speedy (and dry) recovery! Ahasuerus 03:32, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Sorry to hear that. I hope nothing of value was damaged, and then only those that you'd already verified or packed away for a car-boot sale. Either way I'm sure the plumber will have you taking out a second mortgage for the repairs. MHHutchins 04:09, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Fortunately I don't even have a first mortgage - I rent. So my landlord and his family have sorted out a replacement radiator, cleaned up quite a bit of the mess, will return to clear up the rest when it's dried out, and have promised to redo all the plumbing when the weather gets warmer. (This is the second radiator that has rotted away in the last year, and while they don't care too much about my books they are a bit worried about the house still.) Overall, I've lost a few hours sleep, been cold for a day, had severely raised stress levels for a day, will be a bit concerned until they do fix the rest of the plumbing, but financially there's very little loss: unless I can hoodwink the insurance company into paying out for obsolete computer books at cover-price, it's not even worth making a claim - it's less than my excess. BLongley 23:18, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
That seems like a major and valid source of grumpiness. Good luck! --Marc Kupper|talk 08:14, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
My heart went thump for you. I remember that Southern England had floods a few years ago and that the Kenneth Bulmer manuscripts were in one of the affected homes in tea boxes. All the fans have tried to help, but there is just nothing you can do, but weep. When will the English realize they are on a wet island. I lost a collection stored in a large car trunk in boxes. The deluge went through the rear window seals and only into the trunk. It never leaked afterward. Be very caredul of DAW paperbacks as they are highly susceptible to damp rot. Sorry, Harry. --Dragoondelight 15:12, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
I seem to have been very, very lucky and only one "keeper" seems damaged beyond salvation - the water that came straight down the walls was slow and "Galactic Empires Volume 1" (RIP) absorbed most, protecting the book below it mostly and the one below that almost totally. The main flow seems to have gone to the other side of the bathroom before descending through the ceiling to the room below, so fell on the coffee table rather than on any of the bookcases. OK, there were quite a few books on the coffee table but those were the ones not worth shelving with the Spec-Fic: spares up for grabs on "Read it, Swap it" at best, and mostly old computer books I hadn't decided whether to send to a charity shop or for paper-recycling. All in all, a much better result than I expected. BLongley 23:07, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Congratulations on a narrow escape! See, galactic empires have their uses :) Ahasuerus 23:12, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
As Amazon UK says they have "12 used from £0.01" it's not going to be a major difficulty to replace. I'm tempted to write a review of the book, commenting on its exceptional absorption capabilities. ;-) BLongley
Are you at the point in life where you can compare Galactic Empires to Depends. :-) --Marc Kupper|talk 02:12, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
I have some L. Ron Hubbard cued up for the Drek/Depends analysis. Are you thinking of a 'Word' absorption rate. You never know it may blossom like the 'Darwin' awards. Glad you escaped so lightly. Thanks, Harry. --Dragoondelight 13:41, 23 January 2009 (UTC)

Richard Powers vs Powers

I've noticed a trend in putting covers that are signed "Powers" but not attributed in the book, under the Pseudonym "Powers", and not under Richard Powers. There are attributed works to Richard Powers, in which the cover is also just signed "Powers", and these are on the Richard Powers page. My opinion, is that this is just the way Richard Powers signs his paintings, and therefore "Powers" shouldn't be a Pseudonym and those works that are clearly signed as Powers, but not attributed inside the book anywhere, should just be put on the Richard Powers page. I welcome any discussion, either pro or con, before I deal with it, or even pointing me to a previous discussion on this topic that I may have missed is welcome too. CoachPaul 20:19, 23 January 2009 (UTC)

I pretty much agree, but I've try to stay clear of the issue about whether an artist signature can be used as a credit and how to establish a canonical name. Such debates kick up a lot of dust, but when it clears, nothing concrete has been established. I've seen (and accepted) submissions crediting "EMSH" knowing fully well that the system will make it "Emsh". So here goes some dust-kicking: if the work is not credited by name, and the signature is visible, and the style is undeniable, I credit the work to the CANONICAL artist name. E.G., if I see the signature "SF" in Fabian's style, I credit "Stephen Fabian". If the work is actually credited to "Steve Fabian" I credit it to "Steve Fabian" and create a variant to "Stephen Fabian". I don't credit "SF", "EMSH", "Powers", and "JG". I credit Stephen Fabian, Ed Emshwiller, Richard Powers and Jack Gaughan. Let the rumble begin. MHHutchins 22:04, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
One of the most avoided issues ever. A canonical name can not really be determined unless all the data is entered as credited. I pretty much agree with the response except for Emsh. Since as much as 95% of his work may have been credited to or signed EMSH and that is the name most readers are familiar with EMSH should be the canonical. Canonical for artists should not necessarily be the most commonly used credit but the one users are most likely to look up. I usually go with the fullest credit that is is consistent with possible canonical names. If Finlay is credited editorially but does not sign his work I go the variant route. If he is credited editorially as Finlay but signs his name Virgil Finlay I go with Virgil Finlay with no variant relationship. In any case, if a name is entered is at odds with the credit, is based upon secondary sources, or is based upon editor recognition then the editor should so document.--swfritter 22:24, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
An issue I coping with right now. Artist Don Martin of Mad fame did a number of illustrations for Galaxy. Only once is he credited as Don Martin. He signs one piece D. Martin and the rest is credited to Martin. His style is perhaps more recognizable that any artist of the history of the Earth. I will probably use Don Martin as the canonical name. Adding to the complication is the fact that there are credits for at least one other artist named Martin.--swfritter 22:30, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
You're right, it's one of the most avoided issues. I personally don't approve any submission with artist initials only and leave those to other mods. I would prefer that we regularise such (e.g. "P. E." rather than "PE") if we find we need to have them - but I'd much prefer that we use a longer name. Not necessarily the "canonical" one - I have no particular preference on that, and so don't try to create one, but I probably indicate my preference by expanding an "F" sig on my books to "Chris Foss" and "PE" to "Peter Elson" - I don't create a "Christopher Foss" or "Pete Elson". But initials and variants are bound to cause collisions if we try and convert "exactly as stated" sigs into full author credits. Often, we can't even be sure what the sig actually says. (See recent discussions on "WDB" or "WOB", or "C. W. Celly" versus "K. W. Kelly" or "Ken W. Kelly".) If it was MY database, I'd separate artists and authors totally and leave the artists as someone else's problem, but I guess I have to put in my 2.1 [1] cents worth while they are shared. BLongley 23:06, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
[1] I think my tuppence (English currency) is still worth slightly more than two US Cents, but as even the Euro is catching up this may change. BLongley 23:06, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
I credit as stated in the publication and then variant title to the longer name. I believe the longer name should be canonical simply because there are many book sellers and such that expand the name to the longer one when noting the cover artist (and sometimes for the author too). Thus many databases and bibliographies will have the longer name. For Powers publications that credit him on the copyright page will probably credit Richard Powers while credits derived from the signature will be Powers. In the long run we'd be able to look at Richard Powers and be able to see which works are credited vs. signed.
Expanding initials gets more complicated. For example, I recently had a book that was clearly signed "CM" and also had the bottom tail of the C looping right into the M meaning the letters were joined cursive style though the artist used print rather than cursive lettering. A person looking at this and wondering who CM was is likely to search for that and not "C. M." I ended up entering it as C. M. anyway as that's the ISFDB standard. --Marc Kupper|talk 05:55, 24 January 2009 (UTC)

It's clear that the reason we avoid these issues is that we can't come to agreement, nor consensus. One mod wants to do it one way, while another says to do the opposite. I'm kind of sorry I brought it up. Maybe we should switch to "Verification" standards instead. :-) CoachPaul 23:53, 24 January 2009 (UTC)

Actually, thanks for bringing it up. I think you can see from the above that most of us do not want to create a canonical artist name any time soon. (Although I can't tell from the above alone as to whether Marc is creating such or just creating variant titles when the pseudonym already exists.) We're also mostly not keen on entering initials from a signature and will expand when we're sure or note when we're not. (Part of this opinion is based on seeing what Don Erikson and Bluesman, for instance, are doing in the sig-identification area, it's not just from what people state above.) I think I'm going to expand my notes on how the artist credit was actually derived (much as Bluesman already does), while realising that such notes are going to be of little use to anyone trying to justify a canonical name programatically. (If anyone here has fool-proof methods of reading notes about how "F in a rune" becomes "Chris Foss" or "PE in a box" becomes "Peter Elson", I can direct you to certain Government Agencies requiring those skills.) What I am not going to do is put my "best guess" at a sig in the cover-artist field. (I also don't put companies in there, but that's another issue - I prefer it to remain for individual human beings only, as suggested by birth-date/place etc fields for such.) BLongley 23:02, 25 January 2009 (UTC)
It's rare but I have canonicalized some artists. Mainly when the "pseudonym" is initials or when a credited name gets mangled into into a non-standard form that the average person is not likely to recognize. Sometimes I add a pseudonym relationship but not variant titles. The goal is to let people know there's another version of the artist name available. For example, I see that Jody Lee is linked to Jody A. Lee though I can't recall If I'm the one that did the linking. --Marc Kupper|talk 07:54, 5 February 2009 (UTC)

Strange Tales of Mystery and Terror

We have only one complete and one partial issue of Magazine:Strange Tales of Mystery and Terror on file, which is pretty bad considering how important the magazine was in the 1930s. I wonder if someone with access to secondary sources (Contento/Miller?) could add it to his project list? Ahasuerus 00:40, 25 January 2009 (UTC)

I don't have the Contento/Miller index, though eventually I'm going to have to get a copy of the CD-ROM from Locus. It goes up through 2005, and I was holding off hoping they'd be another update soon. (Does anyone know their policy about providing copies of updates to previous purchasers?) I have to do something to compensate Charles Brown for 25+ years of free Locus. Well, almost free. When I paid for a lifetime subscription I don't think either one of considered how long that would be (and I'm only 54!) MHHutchins 02:08, 25 January 2009 (UTC)
The current release is updated through 2007. I think there is only a discount if you have purchased the CD-ROM in the last couple of years. Unlike many other mag titles, there is no readily available source other than Contento/Miller for the data and I usually like to have a couple of sources even if I have to dig through the Day index a title at a time. You would really have gotten a bargain if you had gotten a lifetime subscription to F&SF. They were going for as little as $70 in 1973. Of course, now it's starting to look like the lifetime in question is that of the magazine itself.--swfritter 22:18, 25 January 2009 (UTC)


I have the Day index, but that leaves out more than a few horror and fantasy titles. I'm looking at the latest issue of Locus, and it states that the years covered by Miller/Contento index is 1890-2005, selling for $49.95, and for the same price the CD-ROM of the Locus index is 1984-2006, the same that's online. Does anyone have this last CD-ROM and how much different is it than the online version (except for combining the years) that makes it worth the cost? (About the F&SF lifetime subscription: I inquired in the mid-80s, because I noticed the offer in back issues from the 70s. They replied that the current price was $300, a little high for my income at the time, but adding up all of the years' subscriptions since, it would still have been a bargain.) MHHutchins 23:34, 25 January 2009 (UTC)
There are two s-f CD-ROMS - Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Weird Fiction Magazine Index: 1890-2007 is the one I have - apparently they haven't updated the website entry. I have an older version of the other one. I would suspect they use the same database to generate both versions but I don't know. Weird Tales is also in need of work but it is not covered by Day either.--swfritter 00:02, 26 January 2009 (UTC)
I think part of the reasoning behind "lifetime subscriptions" is that by the time you can afford them, or are convinced they're worthwhile, you are already of an age at which the actuaries think it will pay off in their favour. There is a short story out there somewhere about the long-respected magazine that offered lifetime subscriptions to raise funds and then went bust when immortality (or as near-as-dammit) was discovered/invented - I guess the life-extension aspect makes it Spec-Fic, so can anyone remind me of the title? BLongley 23:25, 25 January 2009 (UTC)

Contacting new editors

Something occurred to me in the middle of working on the (appallingly bad) submissions of a new editor. Is it possible to require new editors to provide us with a contact e-mail address? That way we can let them know to check their user talk page for messages. Or after a new editor registers can they be sent directly to their wiki page before they're allowed to start editing the db? Anything to let them know how we communicate with them. It's so frustrating to keep getting the same errors time and again, when you know full well that all of your messages are floating somewhere out there in the ether. MHHutchins 23:06, 26 January 2009 (UTC)

Good point. Everywhere that I go and join wants an email address and I was surprised this did not. Thanks, Harry. --Dragoondelight 01:26, 27 January 2009 (UTC)

Black Coat Press and Stableford

Black Coat Press http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/publisher.cgi?17405 has lots of books that should be in the ISFDB. Quite a few old French works translated by Stableford among others. Should be gone over, we only seem to have 4 listed although several others seem to be listed as by other publishers such as Tales of the Shadowmen 2: Gentlemen of the Night listed as from Hollywood Comics. That's Amazon data apparently as found by Fixer. Dana Carson 05:19, 27 January 2009 (UTC)

That's right, it was a part of the Chris Roberson submissions that Fixer uploaded the other day. I believe Bill is still massaging them. Ahasuerus 12:35, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
Massaging? I'm whacking them about with virtual baseball bats! The Publisher website doesn't agree with Wikipedia which doesn't agree with Locus. And Locus doesn't seem to be the most reliable either: e.g. they have "The Trot of Fantômas" whereas everywhere else has "The Tarot of Fantômas". But only they have the essays, only the website lists the interior artists, etc. These will remain true FrankenPublications for a while - although I'm tempted to buy them just to get a definitive answer! BLongley 20:42, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
Anyway, there's no problem with the publisher - "Black Coat Press" is a division of "Hollywood Comics", it's not an "other" publisher: so I've made that more specific, mainly as "Hollywood Comics" keeps getting identified as a publisher we ought to check for deletion as it publishes guess what - comics! BLongley 20:42, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
The big problems for me have been inconsistency between the sources (or even within sources), lots of "funny characters", author websites in foreign languages, and the sheer numbers of new authors - I normally do one anthology at a time and see where it takes me in spin-offs. These needed doing in concert (there's a multi-part story going across two volumes for instance) but I think there's a lot of interesting stuff to come of it. I just don't want to deal with the next couple just yet! BLongley 20:42, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
If anyone is interested the Lofficiers seem to be behind Hollywood Comics, and therefore Black Coat Press. And Riviere Blanche. Any French-speakers want to take this on? BLongley 22:39, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
I have Myths for the Modern Age: Philip Jose Farmer's Wold Newton Universe on my to buy list, might add others. But so are 200 other books and I try to keep it to a low budget, really need to find a stable job instead of consulting. I wasn't looking at them to work on the ISFDB, I'd been looking at Wold Newton stuff for a RPG campaign and double checked if it was in the ISFDB. Dana Carson 21:47, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
The joy of secondary sources is that you can contribute to ISFDB without actually buying more books. The pain is realising that secondary sources (even ones we're encouraged to verify by) are fallible. I'd love to win a big lottery prize, hand someone all the Tuck volumes and say "Go find all these books, and verify them on ISFDB. Buy them if you need to. Recruit others as necessary - Tuck did cover an awful lot of books. If you can't find them - Tuck may well have been wrong". Same for Locus - I'm sure they're wrong at times, just from examples in my paltry collection. (Or "massive overkill" collection. "You can't possibly READ all those can you?" "I think I can - IF you stop bothering me...") BLongley 23:58, 28 January 2009 (UTC)

Slow server response time

Is it just my internet connection or has the server been sluggish the last week or so? It seems I have to wait at least 5-10 seconds before getting a response, and sometimes having to resort to reloading. Anybody else having these problems? MHHutchins 21:02, 28 January 2009 (UTC)

I have intermittent slow-downs, much like on our previous host while a backup was taking place. But whereas that happened at a time of night that indicated I should go to bed, now it's several shorter periods of delay during the evening. With my IT consultant hat on, but no actual specialist access to the server, I'd personally suspect some badly-tuned queries. Which, as we can't perform truly ad-hoc queries, would probably mean that people are doing some rather vague Wildcard queries. I don't get these problems when I'm the only visibly active user. BLongley 22:12, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
A night or two ago the moderator queue was terrible and was taking 5 minutes (it seemed) to load up. The rest of ISFDB was fine. Maybe we need to go on vacation to Scifi? http://www4.ncsu.edu/~tenshi/index2.html --Marc Kupper|talk 07:59, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
"Driving directions to Scifì, Forza d'Agrò ME, Italy: 1,632 mi – about 1 day 3 hours". Strangely - "2,623 km – about 1 day 3 hours" on the way back. Seems a long way to go to get a novelty picture, although I'm sure the weather is better. (I've only been home a couple of hours, and already my car is covered in snow.) But getting metricated on the way back - no, no, no! BLongley 20:42, 12 February 2009 (UTC)

Bujold signed edition

For the attention of any Lois McMaster Bujold fans: Powell's is hosting a signing of her novel Horizon on Sunday, February 1 at its store in Beaverton Oregon. Or you can order a signed copy at list price plus postage. MHHutchins 02:17, 30 January 2009 (UTC)

Cataloging news

There is a new cataloging site in town, Biblios.net. They position themselves as a free alternative to OCLC, which may seem attractive after the recent fiasco with OCLC's now-shelved attempt to, er, "refine" its data sharing policy.

Also, OpenLibrary.org now provides a way to access their data programmatically, although their performance is not all that it could be. Well, it is a beta... Ahasuerus 03:34, 5 February 2009 (UTC)

Strange submission

I have this submission on hold, and want some other moderators to look at it before I zap it. First it's attributed to Dragoondelight in the queue listing, but if you open it you'll see it attributed to "unknown". Also, the submission wants to remove all authors. Is that even possible? I don't think that was Harry's intention and that something weird happened between his computer and our server. Anyone have any idea about how this may have happened? MHHutchins 05:09, 12 February 2009 (UTC)

If you look at the underlying XML data, you will see that Harry was trying to delete all authors except Norman Winski, which is probably the right thing to do. The XML looks fine, but I am sure something minor is wrong with, which confuses the approval form. As you said, probably a client-server glitch, so safe to delete and resubmit. Ahasuerus 06:25, 12 February 2009 (UTC)
I think Harry was following advice I gave here. There's a bit left to do, e.g. move the Wikipedia link to title level. But the removal of all but Winski was my suggestion, and that seems to have worked. BLongley 19:53, 12 February 2009 (UTC)
I wasn't questioning the contents of the submission (which I had no doubt was a good edit after seeing the XML data that Ahasuerus provided above), just the way it was displayed in the moderator's queue. MHHutchins 20:08, 12 February 2009 (UTC)
Don't worry, I'm not questioning whether you're questioning: just trying to link the various threads together so anyone else wondering about this submission (and I still am) can get a full picture about what we might have been attempting. I still can't see how that XML got submitted - it's valid, it doesn't look truncated. But obviously isn't displaying right in some places, and I'm wondering where the loss is, or what was lost. BLongley 20:24, 12 February 2009 (UTC)
I was able to replicate this by hitting the space bar to wipe out an author name rather than Delete. I think it's on the bug list as I got a Python error trying to approve the test submission. --Marc Kupper|talk 09:52, 25 February 2009 (UTC)

List of non-vts for pseudoyms updated

The list of non-vt Titles for pseudonymous Author records (kept at ISFDB:Data Consistency/Pseudonyms With Titles‎) has been updated. Have fun with it :) Ahasuerus 00:11, 15 February 2009 (UTC)

I'll make sure I get zzz - oops already gone.--swfritter 00:50, 15 February 2009 (UTC)
I've seen a few marked as "Unfixable" - some of which I took as a challenge, and fixed. It's not impossible, it just might be more work than you want to take on. The thing to remember is that if all titles and pubs by an author are gone, that author gets deleted. So if "A" has a pseudonym "B", and "B" has a pseudonym "C", it's not impossible to fix - just adjust all pubs and titles by "C" to "C (temp)" (or some other useful name [1]), and "C" will get deleted. Then you can rename "C (temp)" to "C", and make it a variant of "A" [2]. BLongley 22:32, 16 February 2009 (UTC)
[1] I found it more reasonable to leave the Rebecca Browns with date of birth suffixes. Neither seems likely to be used much more. BLongley 22:32, 16 February 2009 (UTC)
[2] This may not be ideal - e.g. Thomas Locke should probably be the pseudonym of T. Davis Bunn rather than vice versa, but it was far less work to sort them out that way. I did say "might be more work than you want to take on". BLongley 22:32, 16 February 2009 (UTC)
Any guidelines? On the first one I did I did not change the ones with 0000-00-00 dates because the date would have to be updated in both canonical and variant title when/if a date is determined. The same logic might hold for titles with monthless dates. Are we assuming that all the pseudonyms have been defined correctly? I am thinking here specifically of EMSH but there are many other artists who have been arbitrarily assigned as pseudonyms before attributions were updated from the source material rather than secondary sources.--swfritter 22:37, 16 February 2009 (UTC)
Guidelines? Well, I've specifically left Artists alone until how they are recorded (from credits or signatures) is clearer. I've only done "obvious" regularisation for authors that I believe could not be confused - e.g "Mercedes R. Lackey" and "Mercedes Lackey" - I don't think there's a single other "Mercedes" that we could get confused with. I wouldn't do that with "Russell Davis" and "Russell T. Davies" though, they're different people. There are people with similar names that might get confused in which case I recommend just add more data till we're sure. (E.g. the Rebecca Browns.) And people might look at an "S. Perry" and think "Steve" whereas it might be his wife "Stephani" (and many British editors would automatically think "Stephani" was missing a final "e" anyway). I guess the guideline is "don't assume, research". Sometimes my research has led to no actual adjustment of pub/title data, just a few more links to author's home pages or fan pages or even Wikipedia links they hadn't earned in the past. Still an improvement, in my opinion, although not necessarily what was intended. Just don't "fix" everything based on current pseudonyms - they're not all complete, and some may never be. Some "House Names" may be forever unknown. BLongley 01:19, 17 February 2009 (UTC)
Agree with Artists. They probably shouldn't even be in the list. To me it is obvious that 0000-00-00 dates should be resolved before assigning a pseudonym. But what about dates without a month in book pubs? Titles appearing in magazines should definitely should have month data.--swfritter 02:36, 17 February 2009 (UTC)
Dates without month in books is not unusual, and a lot of months are actually coming from Locus (one of my more common notes now). I'd be happy with a complete year, dates will have to be synchronised at some point anyway, and detailing down to a month is not going to help separate two similarly named authors any further. I wouldn't worry too much about magazine month either for this project, although I agree a magazine isn't finished without it (except for those pesky quarterlies - I can't do anything with their dates programatically). I guess you can save a little effort if you're having to create the canonical title rather than link to an existing one if you wait for the variant to be correctly dated, but if you're merging or linking to sort titles out then there's no major saving of effort. BLongley 18:56, 18 February 2009 (UTC)
Nearly every magazine story with a variant title was wrong at one time and probably 90 per cent are still wrong because the titles in the magazines were not given a month originally. As far as publication dates for the quarterlies - apparently Contento, Ashley, Tuck, and common sense aren't good enough as sources for fairly accurate approximations. I guess we have to wait until another set of stone tablets are sent down from above.--swfritter 21:17, 18 February 2009 (UTC)
We're definitely going off-topic - for this project alone, I think having the links is good, even if it does mean we're pointing out there's going to be two or more records to adjust dates on at some point. I certainly haven't "fixed" any magazine dates during it - I don't know enough generally, or have the sources, to determine whether a magazine is reprinting a story or publishing a story that will get reprinted in a book. Just creating the link helps, I think, or I wouldn't bother doing so. So I may have left a book variant title with year, and magazine title with year and month, or occasionally vice versa. BLongley 22:38, 18 February 2009 (UTC)
As for quarterlies - I would like something to end up in the date field, or a new field, to order them by if I ever do something with magazines SQL-wise. (OK, I already have done some SQL on magazines to fill in a few British magazine's Wiki-pages, but it was painful and I don't intend doing it again any time soon.) But even though you can define types and lists and sort orders for many things in many computer languages and even some variants of SQL, it wouldn't help here. If we defined "Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall" as the right order, we'd still have problems where Winter issues of some magazines were published in the previous year. (And of course, I'd object to not having "Autumn" as an alternative to "Fall" ;-) .) BLongley 22:38, 18 February 2009 (UTC)
For once, I'd suggest a bodge where you can add a "sequence within year" field to deal with quarterlies, "Mid December" extra titles, etc. And I don't suggest bodges lightly. (I can't afford to - I've just been given a FIFTH set of rules to become compliant with at work - and as some are completely at odds with each other, and others say "use the strictest definition of any of the rules you have to follow" it's worse than having a user say "do what I want: no, I can't explain it, but I'll tell you if you do it wrong.") BLongley 22:38, 18 February 2009 (UTC)
Unless there is only one issue, it is easy to figure out whether a Winter quarterly is at the beginning or ending of a year based upon Volume and Issue No. Knowing whether it was published at the end or beginning also helps to determine more accurate dates for the other issues. A Winter issue published at the end of the year (when winter starts) would have a month of 12; at the beginning (when most of winter takes place) would have a month of 1. In any case, the sources I listed above document approximate publication months.--swfritter 23:15, 18 February 2009 (UTC)
Feel free to suggest (or enact, as far as I'm concerned) dummy months. I believe you've already started dummy days for some Mid-December titles. I know Mike Cross queried the seasonal titles not getting a month - which reminds me, I should go find out how he's doing with all the BSFA data I was asking him to add... BLongley 23:28, 18 February 2009 (UTC)

Stuart J. Murphy (Math Starter books=spec-fic?)

So far all of the books I've looked at by Murphy[1] are Math Starter books. Other then the connection to some artists that have done mostly covers for children's books does anyone see any reason to save this authors works?Kraang 04:00, 23 February 2009 (UTC)

"same(save) this author's works"???? BLongley 18:53, 23 February 2009 (UTC)
I'd certainly like to see 26535 gone, the title might have unfortunate connotations to some UK readers. See definition four. BLongley 18:53, 23 February 2009 (UTC)
Haven't you lost a few politicians over the years when they've been nicked in a sticky situation. :-)
There's lots of good links to other non spec-fic authors from this page.Kraang 23:47, 23 February 2009 (UTC)
That's very common with our erroneously entered non-genre and non-fiction authors: people who design RPG modules tend to collaborate with other RPG designers, comics folks tend to collaborate with other comics folks, etc. However, there has been so much cross-pollination between speculative fiction and other areas lately that you have to be very careful with these authors or else you may accidentally zap legitimate specfiction books. Ahasuerus 01:41, 25 February 2009 (UTC)
I'm doing each book and author on a case by case basis, i.e. no mass deletions. Some of Murphy's books are remaining because the illustrators are linked to cover artists in the data base (most are children's books). One author/artist leads to another and so on. Some of the book are meant to be used as a teaching aids for young readers and others are your basic talking animal book for small children. When in doubt I leave the record as is, put a comment in notes and move to the next author/book.Kraang 02:27, 25 February 2009 (UTC)

Niven's Laws

Someone has merged all pubs of this title into one record, and titled it "Niven's Laws, 2002". It was probably done when working on Analog, November 2002 where a new version was published. There appears to be at least three different versions in the database: the 1984 version (Owlswick collection), the 1990 version (N-Space collection), and the 2002 version (Analog). I removed the one published in my verified copy of N-Space and retitled it so no one would try to re-merge it. There are several printings of this title still tied to the 2002 version, which should be removed, some of which have been verified. Tpi verified the Analog issue, Dcarson verified the US pb of N-Space, and Blongley verified the UK pb of N-Space. Those last two should be unmerged and then merged with this title record (I'll unmerge the other N-Space reprints). After that we can create variants. I believe the original list was published some time in the 60s or 70s in a fanzine. MHHutchins 04:42, 11 March 2009 (UTC)

I did mine, but it's not a plain unmerge / merge as it's a content rather than container level title. Lots of work on the Add Content / Remove content level. It still needs doing though. BLongley 01:34, 14 March 2009 (UTC)

Concise Listing

You could have blown me over with a feather. I was doing a Google search and there was a link to one of the pubs I'd recently entered into the database. Surprised by how fast it had appeared on Google, I opened the link and there was the record...but it was an incomplete listing. Somewhat puzzled and perplexed, I opened a new tab, went to the ISFDB and searched for the same record. There it was, the complete record. Comparing the two open windows, I noticed that the Contents header stated "Contents (Fiction and Essays Only)", something I'd never seen before. Then I compared the URLs and noticed the "+c" at the end of the address. It was an "aha" moment, as I'd never known there was such a function here and quickly learned it can be brought up using the "Concise Listing" link under the "Other Bibliographies" menu of the pub record. Is this something new, or have I just missed seeing that function? I'm not sure of its purpose, but it's made me realize I should take some time to explore the site. After all, it's only been two years... MHHutchins 20:47, 13 March 2009 (UTC)

It's been there for ages, but I'd never been clear what it does and don't use it myself. I mostly use the default views. There's other presentations available for many things: e.g. for an author you get "Other Bibliographies For This Author: Summary, Awards, Alphabetical, Chronological". Does anyone use them? It's difficult enough to get someone to look at "Titles" when you need to merge variants, people depend on "Dup Candidates" a lot. But yes, go explore the site. Don't get too upset with the "Advanced Search" breaking a lot (especially in "ISFDB Publication Search Form") - but there's a lot more than we typically use and we should probably be a bit more aware of some of it. BLongley 22:19, 13 March 2009 (UTC)
It's very useful when there is a great deal of artwork in a magazine. It would be even nicer yet if it were the default in a user's configuration.--swfritter 23:09, 13 March 2009 (UTC)
Default views in user preferences would be nice, but in that case really I'd prefer more options than we already have. "Without Essays as well" or "Fiction Only" might be one of mine. I can't see "Awards" being of any use to me - the only time I look at Awards are when I'm trying to fill in missing ones. If/when we get our programmer back, maybe I'll suggest a few of the things I do offline as options we could have online. But a lot of those are severely techie and probably not much use to anyone else. BLongley 23:38, 13 March 2009 (UTC)

Interviews

I've never really worried about "Interview" entries in ISFDB as they're only pointers to contents of publications I probably don't have. But I keep seeing more and more Interviews of Authors that I do like to read: or just plain articles by our authors, that don't get published in any form we normally record. For example - the BBC has this Bruce Sterling piece that, if it was in scope for recording here, would refer to Islands in the Net and MirrorShades. It's probably going to be a stable link, but if I add it as another webpage for the author it's a small piece that will overload that - or I could add it to the Wiki (and thus admit the database isn't ready for such yet). I think I'd rather like it to appear in the "interviews" section on the author page, but in a "you can read it right now!" way rather than a "you can buy something with this interview in" way. Any suggestions on where to put such in a way that will make it clear it's online, probably stable, worth reading, and yet not the same as all other Sterling Interviews we have? BLongley 01:53, 14 March 2009 (UTC)

There's also Charles Stross, Alistair Reynolds and Ian McDonald, if you want some more evidence. Or free reading material. BLongley 02:13, 14 March 2009 (UTC)
Putting it in the database as an interview? How would that be any different from adding webzines or even individual stories from webzines? which almost nobody wants to do. Webpage links in the authors biblio are by their very nature considered to be potentially unstable so would be more appropriate but displaywise can get messy. The wiki itself is transient so it might be the best place for links to transient data.--swfritter 15:59, 14 March 2009 (UTC)
I think the BBC news site is hardly "transient data". They're certainly more reliable and stable than any other site we link to. The only concern I do have is that it might become inaccessible to non-UK residents at some point. I hear that they now foist adverts on people perceived to be reading it without paying the TV license fee. BLongley 00:12, 15 March 2009 (UTC)
Well, there are 'webzines' (monthly? small organizations? limited lifetime history?, etc) and then there are bonified online publishers. While not downloadable... do we really want to classify news.bbc.co.uk as merely a webzine? Do we need another category (In order to separate stable industry recognized websites (not downloadable) from the traditional 'webzine' (not downloadable) perspective)? Kevin 17:01, 14 March 2009 (UTC)
A further thought on possible implementation. We could enter a single title "News.bbc.co.uk" with all of these as contents (each with it's own date) and date the title date as the most recent entry.... and then when another one occurs, update the title date to reflect the most recent addition. That would allow us to 'approve' largish publications like bbc, cnn.com, Foxnews.com etc on a case by case basis with all works contained in a single container title. Just some random firings that passed through my grey matter. Kevin 17:07, 14 March 2009 (UTC)
An interesting idea, thanks for sharing it. I don't think we'd want to adjust the overall title date, just date contents as needed. How many sites could be considered stable I don't know - as the BBC is a British National Treasure and publicly owned it's unlikely to be taken over by Fox News or CNN or suchlike, but many other news sites aren't that stable. With the BBC, I can go back to about 1998 reliably - they seem to keep everything. BLongley 00:12, 15 March 2009 (UTC)
The BBC never removes content?--swfritter 00:50, 15 March 2009 (UTC)
I'm sure they do in some areas, but news seems to stay forever. BLongley 13:00, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

The Space-Time Juggler by Brunner - novella instead of novel?

The story has been verified by five different people. It is only about 80 pages long in pb and has never appeared as a standalone. Verifiers are Kraang, Dcarson, Blongley, and Bluesman. I have changed the magazine version from (Complete Novel) Serial. Truly an incredibly bad story; I am just amazed that Brunner allowed it to be reprinted.--swfritter 17:58, 27 March 2009 (UTC)

If it had not been published as part of an Ace Double (with its own title) I'd agree that it should be classed as a novella. Wasn't there a discussion some time ago that came to the conclusion that both parts of an Ace Double would be classed as novels? If we looked closer I'd bet we'd find some that were close to this length. MHHutchins 19:21, 27 March 2009 (UTC)
I don't think we finally agreed on Ace Doubles, and our help is still inconsistent. I once offered to change it to what we actually DO do with Ace Doubles: see here for the original proposal]. (That wasn't controversial at the time, it was a year later that the arguments started when other Double types were mentioned.) One version of help does allow for Novellas in Ace Doubles, and I believe we do have examples still. BLongley 19:53, 27 March 2009 (UTC)
I've no particular objection to this one changing as it won't hide a complete Book in Shortfiction. But as Length categorisations really only matter for Awards, and this story will never win one, I don't see any urgent need TO change it either. ;-) BLongley 19:53, 27 March 2009 (UTC)
We have had to expand many definitions and "omnibus" is one of them. It is the term that most nearly describes Ace Doubles. I think the proposal above is fine. As far as length categorizations. I think there is a much bigger difference between a novel and a novella than there is between the various types of short fiction. As to urgency, well it's on my mind right now and I'd rather not think about it again. It would be different case if "The Space-Time Juggler" had been published separately. The most logical way to convert the title to a novella would be to enter it as a Chapbook. Ayn Rand's "Anthem", for instance, is only 20k words but has been published and received awards as a novel and that's the way it is treated in our system. As for awards, I would gladly nominate both stories for worst story published in the 50's.--swfritter 21:11, 27 March 2009 (UTC)
In award terms, Novella/Novel is the least significant difference as a Novella published stand-alone is eligible for a Novel award. In my terms, a Novella is something I can read for and in one good bath-time - a much more useful definition!. :-) "Chapbook" just doesn't work for me for "Short Novel". "Chapbooks" to me are shorter still, Novelette if only one work, but may be Collections, Anthologies, poetry collections, samples of longer works, etc. Probably bound differently to most other "Book" publications as well. Still, we'll cross that definition bridge when we get software support. In the meantime, I'm happy to have Short Novels like this and this still look like Books. I'm a bit surprised that "Anthem" is only half-novel length though, I'd never have guessed that from the page-counts. Is the guidance really that far out? BLongley 22:18, 30 March 2009 (UTC)
I have changed all variant titles to novella. I was mainly concerned about technical issues. Otherwise I probably would not have pre-notified. The story is obviously a novella.--swfritter 20:27, 30 March 2009 (UTC)
The technical issues will probably remain for some time, and this uneasy truce can continue a lot longer yet, I hope. Maybe if/when "Short Novel" is introduced for books that technically just contain a Novella, we'll also get a "Tome" category. I'd like that as a nice warning label for books I don't ever want to buy in one volume. BLongley 22:18, 30 March 2009 (UTC)

The Green Mile -- novel vs. omnibus?

In working with my copy of The Green Mile, I found this omnibus title, whose pubs are all omnibus, and this novel title, having one omnibus The Green Mile (THGRNMLNZN0000, see below), one novel The Green Mile: a Novel in Six Parts, and one entry for a Bag of Bones / The Green Mile / The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon omnibus. It doesn't look to me like the two titles are linked to each other, although THGRNMLNZN0000 shows up in both pub lists but seems to be the same physical entry. I'm not sure what's up with that; neither of the other two pubs under the novel title behave that way. Would anyone care to comment on whether anything's wrong here and, if so, what might be done to fix it, if not, how do I decide whether my copy should be a novel or an omnibus? --MartyD 16:39, 29 March 2009 (UTC)

I've never read it or own any, so can't really comment from experience, but I think the work overall is definitely a novel. How we represent it here though is tricky: I suspect it should have six Serial entries, but each part has its own title as well as "The Green Mile (Part n of 6)". That would require variants. And those part publications are probably Chapbooks. Which we don't support properly, e.g. The Two Dead Girls doesn't link back to a title like it should. I suppose treating the Chapbooks as Novels for now would help, and then the overall title would have to be an Omnibus, but without knowing whether the "Complete Serial" books have identifiable sub-sections I can't be sure if that would mislead. Just don't make me buy them for research purposes! BLongley 22:39, 30 March 2009 (UTC)
I empathize. I have them because what's hers is mine and all that.... Anyway, each section is clearly delineated with an inner title page, "Part One" in smaller italics over a line over "The Two Dead Girls", etc., and an illustration on the next page. The subtitle is "The Complete Serial Novel". Looks like I could do it like THGRNMLTHC1996, and I see there's already a skeleton omnibus entry for this ISBN and date, so maybe going that route is best. Thanks. --MartyD 00:58, 31 March 2009 (UTC)
Once (if) it's approved, the end result is in THGRNML1999. I made it use the existing shortfiction titles for the content. I'm not sure if that's best or not, but I suppose anyone looking for it will find it and probably understand it. How much they will be misled, I don't know. --MartyD 11:44, 31 March 2009 (UTC)
It'll do for now, I guess, and someone seems to have approved it. One thing - you now have 6 SHORTFICTION titles to merge. I guess this means you haven't learnt how to Import the contents from one pub to another yet? BLongley 18:17, 31 March 2009 (UTC)
Yes, but it didn't occur to me. Not enough coffee at the time, I guess. Since adding a new pub to an existing title makes me go back and do the contents on a separate pass, I tend to forget import when I'm editing an existing pub. --MartyD 10:14, 1 April 2009 (UTC)

Clive Cussler part 2

I was experimenting with Fixer the other night and noticed that he submitted a large print edition of Cyclops, volume 8 in the Dirk Pitt series of action-adventure novels by Clive Cussler. As I recall, we had a list of Cussler's books on file, but they were deleted as non-SF a few months ago. However, Wikipedia's plot summary mentions that "a covert group of U.S. industrialists has put a colony on the moon, a secret base they will defend at any cost", which presumably makes it SF. Also, User:MartyD verified a paperback edition of Night Probe!, book 5 in the series, which, according to Wikipedia is half near future SF (as of 1981) and half secret history. Rules of Acquisition exclude "Techno-thriller, political thriller and satire works set in a future indistinguishable from the present", but these novels are set in a future that is clearly distinguishable (from was then) the present.

Do we know if the Wikipedia plot summaries are accurate? Do we want to keep the more SF-flavored entries in the series and perhaps add "tags" that would clarify what kind of SF it is to make sure that they don't get deleted again? Ahasuerus 16:34, 1 April 2009 (UTC)

I not only verified Night Probe!, I entered it, so here's a little background. I did give more than a little thought before entering it. The Wikipedia summary is accurate. The story's premise in my mind is an alternate history (three copies of a treaty, two of the bearers coincidentally die, the third copy is destroyed, leaving the existence of the treaty unknown -- all in the early 1900s; this all written as a prologue). Switch to the near future (1989 relative to 1981) where now this treaty is the potential cause of a war. Also, the conditions of the "near future" as presented in the book are not, at least in my opinion, "indistinguishable from the present". All-in-all, I think this particular title really is speculative fiction. FWIW. --MartyD 16:52, 1 April 2009 (UTC)
Marc Kupper zapped them originally, see User_talk:Don_Erikson#Clive_Cussler_and_specfict. We almost deleted the author entirely, as only a review of "Raise the Titanic" kept him from going automatically. But this was mostly because none of us had actually read "Night Probe!". I'm not averse to the Spec-Fic titles returning, just don't open the flood-gates and bring them all back: he's not "above a certain threshold" and I think Fixer shouldn't submit them, only people that have read them. BLongley 18:30, 1 April 2009 (UTC)
I was unaware of the history (maybe Rules of Acquisition should have an appendix listing who's been voted out), and my heart wouldn't be broken if the pub were deleted. I have it and was trying to do the right thing at the time. That said, supposing it is deemed worthy of surviving, I can see a problem with series where some entries are deemed specfict and some are not and the author is below "a certain threshold" so the other titles in the series are excluded. --MartyD 20:06, 1 April 2009 (UTC)
There are a number of series like that, e.g. Nancy Drew. While typically any ostensibly supernatural elements in Nancy Drew novels turn out to be fake, this one features a real ghost, so it's included while other volumes in the series are excluded.
As far as Fixer is concerned, he uses Amazon-provided browse nodes and subjects to determine what is to be submitted. If Amazon thinks that an ichthyology textbook is speculative fiction, Fixer has no way of telling that something is fishy :) Ahasuerus 21:16, 1 April 2009 (UTC)
No criticism of your actions intended, Marty - nor of Marc. IMO, there are times when it's better to delete an entire series or even author and start over again: e.g. will someone delete Robert Louis Stevenson for me? I know a FEW should come back. Likewise for G. K. Chesterton. We can probably improve help to point out that we don't need an entire series filled in just because we have some entries that are Spec-Fic, nor an author's entire bibliography, but we could improve explanations of WHY we only want some of a series, or some books for an author. Defining that "certain threshold" remains elusive though. In the meantime, telling Fixer and Dissembler what we don't want might be a start. I believe Kraang is still fixing Dissembler mistakes from 2004. :-/ BLongley 21:38, 1 April 2009 (UTC)
In the process of fixing 2004 I'm finding a lot in 2005(plus links to other authors and publishers) which appears to be just as bad. At the end of this project I'll have some questionable authors left and a couple of large series that will need some discussion, one of the larger pages has to do with "Elfquest"[2]. For awhile I worked on the Stevenson page and found it an interesting exercise in how to organize stuff that was a complete mess, at some point I'll return to it and complete the cleanup of the remaining titles and then delete all the remaining rubbish. If anyone sees any suspect authors or publishers just let me know and I'll have a closer look at the work.Kraang 01:05, 2 April 2009 (UTC)
Well, I can certainly ask Fixer to ignore Cussler and any other author that we want to be done exclusively by oxygen breathers, but then he will need a list/table of authors to exclude. By the way, here are the Cussler books that Amazon US/UK think are SF or related:
  • Golden Buddha (some editions flagged as SF and some are not)
  • Cyclops (see above)
  • The Adventures of Vin Fiz
  • Atlantis Found (some are not flagged)
  • Valhalla Rising
  • Blue Gold
Is this more or less on target? Ahasuerus 04:14, 2 April 2009 (UTC)
I don't have any of those, so I can't offer an informed comment. FWIW, I don't know where the LOC gets its Form/Genre classifications, but it has:
Cyclops Adventure stories
Night Probe! Adventure stories
Golden Buddha Spy stories
Sea stories
Atlantis Found Adventure stories
Fantasy fiction
Valhalla Rising Adventure fiction
Science fiction
Blue Gold Science fiction
And The Adventures of Vin Fiz isn't classified, although two of the "Subject" entries are "Magic". --MartyD 15:17, 3 April 2009 (UTC)

Robin Cook

Is Robin Cook "above a certain threshold"? I entered Fatal Cure, whose specfictness is at least debatable, but I have at least one other title that would certainly be out unless Cook fell under that clause. --MartyD 20:11, 1 April 2009 (UTC)

I'd say he's below. I used to own a few myself, but got rid of them as non-SF I'm unlikely to reread, or even read in the first place. (OK, maybe a few are still in my pile of swaps for "Read-It Swap-It", but I'm not going to resurrect them from there for ISFDB purposes if it means reading them.) Several have been reviewed in SF Magazines though, which sort of justifies his appearance here, but those few could be marked NONGENRE as far as I'm concerned. And I wouldn't mind if all reviews of such got changed to ESSAY type to keep the reviewing publications accurate but not lead to unwanted links. Has he ever done something truly Spec-Fic we need to preserve? I haven't seen any, but as I said, I've not read all that I had and might have missed some SF. BLongley 21:59, 1 April 2009 (UTC)

Barry Norman or Nathaniel Malzberg

I'm updating author records according to info in Reginald2, and he lists Malzberg's middle name as "Norman". Reginald's info was based on questionnaires completed by the authors themselves. So should we accept Wikipedia's "Nathaniel" or Reginald's "Norman"? MHHutchins 04:08, 2 April 2009 (UTC)

FWIW, Clute/Nicholls and Reginald-3 vote for "Norman". Ahasuerus 04:50, 2 April 2009 (UTC)
"Norman" gets 123 hits on Google, while "Nathaniel" gets 511, but... most of the latter are probably from sites that leech info from Wikipedia. I say buck the percentages and go with "Norman". Thanks. MHHutchins 05:19, 2 April 2009 (UTC)
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