Internet Speculative Fiction Database

Last updated
ISFDB: The Internet Speculative Fiction Database
Type of site
Online database
OwnerAl von Ruff
Created byAl von Ruff and Ahasuerus
Alexa rankIncrease Negative.svg 129,626 (October 2018) [1]
RegistrationNone to view
Current status1,531,160 story titles from 183,021 authors [2]

The Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDB) is a database of bibliographic information on genres considered speculative fiction, including science fiction and related genres such as fantasy fiction and horror fiction. [3] [4] The ISFDB is a volunteer effort, with both the database and wiki being open for editing and user contributions. The ISFDB database and code are available under Creative Commons licensing [5] and there is support within both Wikipedia and ISFDB for interlinking. [6] The data are reused by other organizations, such as Freebase, under the creative commons license. [7]

Speculative fiction Genre of fiction including sci-fi, horror and fantasy

Speculative fiction is a broad genre encompassing fiction with certain elements that do not exist in the real world, often in the context of supernatural, futuristic or other imaginative themes. This includes, but is not limited to, science fiction, fantasy, superhero fiction, horror, utopian and dystopian fiction, fairytale fantasy, supernatural fiction as well as combinations thereof.

Science fiction Genre of speculative fiction

Science fiction is a genre of speculative fiction that typically deals with imaginative and futuristic concepts such as advanced science and technology, space exploration, time travel, parallel universes, and extraterrestrial life. It has been called the "literature of ideas", and often explores the potential consequences of scientific, social, and technological innovations.

Horror fiction genre of fiction

Horror is a genre of speculative fiction which is intended to frighten, scare, disgust, or startle its readers by inducing feelings of horror and terror. Literary historian J. A. Cuddon defined the horror story as "a piece of fiction in prose of variable length... which shocks, or even frightens the reader, or perhaps induces a feeling of repulsion or loathing". It creates an eerie and frightening atmosphere. Horror is frequently supernatural, though it might be also non-supernatural. Often the central menace of a work of horror fiction can be interpreted as a metaphor for the larger fears of a society.



The ISFDB database indexes authors, novels, short stories, publishers, awards, and magazines. Additionally, it supports author pseudonyms, series, awards, and cover art plus interior illustration credits which is combined into integrated author, artist, and publisher bibliographies. An ongoing effort is verification of publication contents and secondary bibliographic sources against the database with the goals being data accuracy and to improve the coverage of speculative fiction to 100%. The current database statistics are available online. [2] ISFDB was the winner of the 2005 Wooden Rocket Award in the Best Directory Site category. [8]

While the ISFDB is primarily a bibliographic research database it also contains biographic data for books, authors, series, and publishers that do not have an article on Wikipedia, particularly those unlikely to have such an article because they do not meet Wikipedia's notability standards.

In 1998, Cory Doctorow wrote in Science Fiction Age : "The best all-round guide to things science-fictional remains the Internet Speculative Fiction Database". [4] In April 2009, Zenkat wrote on Freebase " is widely considered one of the most authoritative sources about Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror literature available on the Internet." [7]

Cory Doctorow Canadian-British blogger, journalist, and science fiction author

Cory Efram Doctorow is a Canadian-British blogger, journalist, and science fiction author who serves as co-editor of the blog Boing Boing. He is an activist in favour of liberalising copyright laws and a proponent of the Creative Commons organization, using some of their licences for his books. Some common themes of his work include digital rights management, file sharing, and post-scarcity economics.

As of May 2009, Quantcast estimates that the ISFDB is visited by over 32,000 people monthly. [9]

Quantcast American technology company

Quantcast is an American technology company, founded in 2006, that specializes in AI-driven real-time advertising, audience insights and measurement. The company claims that it has accurate audience measurement to over 100 million web destinations. It has offices in the United States, Canada, Australia, Singapore, United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, and Sweden.

As a real-world example of a non-trivial database, the schema and MySQL files from the ISFDB have been used in a number of tutorials. ISFDB schema and data were used throughout Chapter 9 of the book Rails For Java Developers. [10] It was also used in a series of tutorials by Lucid Imagination on Solr, an enterprise search platform. [11]


Several speculative fiction author bibliographies were posted to the USENET newsgroup rec.arts.sf.written from 1984 to 1994 by Jerry Boyajian, Gregory J. E. Rawlins and John Wenn. A more or less standard bibliographic format was developed for these postings. [12] Many of these bibliographies can still be found at The Linköping Science Fiction Archive. [13] In 1993, a searchable database of awards information was developed by Al von Ruff. [12] In 1994, John R. R. Leavitt created the Speculative Fiction Clearing House (SFCH). In late 1994, he asked for help in displaying awards information, and von Ruff offered his database tools. Leavitt declined, because he wanted code that could interact with other aspects of the site. In 1995, Al von Ruff and "Ahasuerus" (a prolific contributor to rec.arts.sf.written) started to construct the ISFDB, based on experience with the SFCH and the bibliographic format finalized by John Wenn. The ISFDB went live in September 1995, and a URL was published in January 1996. [12] [14]

The ISFDB was first located at an ISP in Champaign Illinois, but it suffered from constrained resources in disk space and database support, which limited its growth. [12] In October 1997 the ISFDB moved to SF Site, a major SF portal and review site. [4] [12] Due to the rising costs of remaining with SF Site, the ISFDB moved to its own domain in December 2002. The site was quickly shut down by the hosting ISP due to high resource usage. [12] [15]

In March 2003, after having been offline since January, the ISFDB began to be hosted by The Cushing Library Science Fiction and Fantasy Research Collection and Institute for Scientific Computation at Texas A&M University. [12] [16] [17] In 2007, after resource allocation problems with Texas A&M, the ISFDB became independently hosted on a hired server at the URL listed above.

The ISFDB was originally edited by a limited number of people, principally Al von Ruff and "Ahasuerus". [18] However, in 2006 editing was opened to the general public on an Open Content basis. Changed content must be approved by one of a limited number of moderators, in an attempt to protect the accuracy of the content. [19]

Both the source code and content of the ISFDB are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License. [5] This was done on 27 February 2005. [12] [20]

See also

Related Research Articles

Edward Lewis Ferman was an American science fiction and fantasy editor and magazine publisher, known best as the editor of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (F&SF).

Jack Gaughan American illustrator of science fiction and fantasy

John Brian Francis "Jack" Gaughan was an American science fiction artist and illustrator who won the Hugo Award several times. Working primarily with Donald A. Wollheim at Ace Books, and DAW Books from 1971, his simple linear style brought to life images of such works as Andre Norton's Witch World novels and E. E. Smith's Lensmen and Skylark novels. His broad visual vocabulary enabled him to render the objects, spaceships and scenes in whatever was presented to him as they were described in the books and stories he illustrated. That was especially an accomplishment as many of these authors drew on their knowledge of esoteric subjects for their imagery. This ability made him very popular among people with an engineering background.

Elizabeth Jones Ballantine, better known as Betty Ballantine, was an American publisher, editor, and writer. She was born during the Raj to a British colonial family. After her marriage to Ian Ballantine in 1939, she moved to New York where they created Bantam Books in 1945 and established Ballantine Books in 1952. They became freelance publishers in the 1970s. Their son, Richard, was an author and journalist specializing in cycling topics.

Martin Harry Greenberg was an American academic and speculative fiction anthologist. In all, he compiled 1,298 anthologies and commissioned over 8,200 original short stories. He founded Tekno Books, a packager of more than 2000 published books. As well, he was a co-founder of the Sci-Fi Channel. Greenberg was also a terrorism and Middle East expert. He was a long-time friend, colleague and business partner of Isaac Asimov.

<i>Of Time and Stars</i> book by Arthur C. Clarke

Of Time and Stars is a collection of science fiction short stories by British writer Arthur C. Clarke.

Edward Frederick James is a British scholar of medieval history and science fiction. He is Emeritus Professor of Medieval History at University College, Dublin.

<i>Black Gate</i> (magazine)

Black Gate was a glossy fantasy magazine and published by New Epoch Press. Using the slogan "Adventures in Fantasy Literature," Black Gate primarily featured original short fiction up to novella length.

Gavin Grant (editor) British writer and editor

Gavin J. Grant is a science fiction editor and writer. He runs Small Beer Press along with his wife Kelly Link. In addition, he has been the editor of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet since 1996 and, from 2003 to 2008, was co-editor of the Year's Best Fantasy and Horror anthology series along with Link and Ellen Datlow. Their 2004 anthology was awarded the Bram Stoker Award for best horror anthology.

David H. Keller American writer

David Henry Keller was an American writer who worked for pulp magazines in the mid-twentieth century, in the science fiction, fantasy and horror genres. He was the first psychiatrist to write for the genre, and was most often published as David H. Keller, MD, but also known by the pseudonyms Monk Smith, Matthew Smith, Amy Worth, Henry Cecil, Cecilia Henry, and Jacobus Hubelaire.

Karin Lowachee is a Guyanese-born Canadian author of speculative fiction.

Juanita Coulson American writer, editor and filk musician

Juanita Ruth Coulson is an American science fiction and fantasy writer most well known for her Children of the Stars books, published from 1981 to 1989. She was a longtime editor of the science fiction fanzine Yandro.

Kathryn Elizabeth Cramer is an American science fiction writer, editor, and literary critic.


Flurb was an American science fiction webzine, edited by author Rudy Rucker and launched in August 2006. In addition to short stories, Flurb featured paintings and photography by Rucker. It was released biannually. The author of an accepted story retained full copyright, including the right to have the story published elsewhere, and to request that it be taken down at any time.

<i>Troubletwisters</i> series Novel series

Troubletwisters is an ongoing series of young adult fantasy novels by Garth Nix and Sean Williams. The first novel in the series, Troubletwisters was released on May 1, 2011 through Scholastic Press and Allen & Unwin. Williams and Nix have stated that the series will comprise five novels.

Gregory Norman Bossert is an American writer and filmmaker. He has won the World Fantasy Award and is a finalist for the Sturgeon Award. He lives in Marin County, California and works at Industrial Light & Magic.

"Magic for Beginners" is a fantasy novella by American writer Kelly Link. It was first published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in September 2005. It was subsequently published in Link's collection of the same name, as well as in her collection Pretty Monsters, in the 2007 Nebula Award Showcase, and in the John Joseph Adams-edited anthology "Other Worlds Than These".

<i>Out on Blue Six</i> (novel) book by Ian McDonald

Out on Blue Six is a 1989 science fiction novel by the British writer Ian McDonald, his third novel. The plot describes the adventures of groups of outcasts and "pain criminals" in the Compassionate Society, a civilization in which all forms of pain and unhappiness have been made illegal.

<i>Lovecraft Country</i> (novel) 2016 novel by Matt Ruff

Lovecraft Country is a 2016 dark fantasy horror novel by Matt Ruff, exploring the conjunction between the horror fiction of H. P. Lovecraft and racism in the United States during the era of Jim Crow laws, as experienced by black science-fiction fan Atticus Turner and his family. It was published by HarperCollins.

"The Wedding Album" is a science fiction short story by David Marusek. It was first published in Asimov's Science Fiction in June 1999.


  1. " Traffic, Demographics and Competitors - Alexa". Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  2. 1 2 "ISFDB Statistics". Internet Speculative Fiction Database. Archived from the original on July 8, 2019. Retrieved October 9, 2018.
  3. "Link Sites". SF Site. Retrieved 2009-05-17.
  4. 1 2 3 Cory Doctorow (September 1998). "Internet Column from Science Fiction Age". Science Fiction Age. Retrieved 2009-05-17. The best all-round guide to things science-fictional remains the Internet Speculative Fiction Database.
  5. 1 2 "General disclaimer". ISFDB Wiki. ISFDB. Retrieved 2009-07-30.
  6. See Template:isfdb name, Template:isfdb title, and Template:isfdb series. See also the "Wikipedia link" field when editing title or author data at the ISFDB. Documentation at "Help:Screen:EditTitle". ISFDB Help.
  7. 1 2 Zenkat (2012-05-19). "The Freebase Blog » Blog Archive » Our latest mass data load: science fiction books". Archived from the original on 2012-05-19. Retrieved 2015-12-12. is widely considered one of the most authoritative sources about Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror literature available on the Internet.
  8. "2005 winners: Wooden Rocket Awards". SF Crowsnest . Retrieved 2009-02-08. 14 Best Directory Site. Directories, online databases or search engines with a worthy SFF section. Winner: Internet Speculative Fiction Database
  9. "Site Statistics". Quantcast. Retrieved 2009-05-18.
  10. "Rails For Java Developers" (PDF). ISBN   0-9776166-9-X. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-10. Retrieved 2011-03-14.
  11. "Solr Powered ISFDB – Part #1" . Retrieved 2011-03-14.
  12. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "Internet Speculative Fiction Database". onpedia. Archived from the original on 2012-03-06. Retrieved 2009-05-17.
  13. "The Linköping Science Fiction & Fantasy Archive" . Retrieved 2009-07-23.
  14. "What's New". ISFDB. Retrieved 2009-05-18.
  15. Cory Doctorow (January 25, 2003). "Literary treasure needs new home". Boing Boing . Retrieved 2009-05-17.
  16. "ISFDB finds new home at Texas A&M". SFWA News. Science Fiction Writers of America. April 5, 2003. Archived from the original on 2011-08-11. Retrieved 2010-09-29.
  17. Cory Doctorow (March 25, 2003). "ISFDB rises from the grave". Boing Boing . Retrieved 2009-05-17.
  18. "Major Contributors". ISFDB. Retrieved 2009-05-18.
  19. Gandalara (December 23, 2006). "Changes to the ISFDB". Science Fiction Brewed Fresh Daily. Other*Worlds*Cafe. Retrieved 2009-05-17.
  20. "What's New – 27 Feb 2005". ISFDB What's New. ISFDB. 27 February 2005. Retrieved 2009-07-30.