ISFDB: The Internet Speculative Fiction Database
Internet Speculative Fiction Database screenshot - James H. Schmitz bibliography - 18 April 2022.jpg
Example bibliography (James H. Schmitz) on ISFDB.
Type of site
Online database
Headquarters
United States
Area servedWorldwide
OwnerAl von Ruff
Key peopleAl von Ruff and Ahasuerus
URLisfdb.org
CommercialNo
Registration
  • None to view
  • Required to edit
Launched8 September 1995; 26 years ago (1995-09-08)
Current status2,002,324 story titles from 232,816 authors (April 2022)[1]
Written in

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, alternate history, and horror fiction. The ISFDB is a volunteer effort, with the database being open for moderated editing and user contributions, and a wiki that allows the database editors to coordinate with each other. As of April 2022, the site had catalogued 2,002,324 story titles from 232,816 authors.

The code for the site has been used in books and tutorials as examples of database schema and organizing content. The ISFDB database and code are available under Creative Commons licensing. The site won the Wooden Rocket Award in the Best Directory Site category in 2005.

Purpose

The ISFDB database indexes speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror, and alternate history) authors, novels, short stories, publishers, awards, and magazines.[2][3] It supports author pseudonyms, series, and cover art plus interior illustration credits, which are combined into integrated author, artist, and publisher bibliographies with brief biographical data. 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 percent.

History

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.[4] Many of these bibliographies can still be found at The Linköping Science Fiction Archive.[5] In 1993, a searchable database of awards information was developed by Al von Ruff.[4] 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 first version of ISFDB went live on 8 September 1995, and a URL was published in January 1996.[4][6][7]

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.[4] In October 1997 the ISFDB moved to SF Site, a major SF portal and review site.[3][4] Due to the rising costs of remaining with SF Site, the ISFDB moved to its own domain in December 2002, where it was quickly shut down by the hosting ISP due to high resource usage.[8][9]

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.[8][10] On 27 February 2005, the database and the underlying code became available under Creative Commons licensing.[11][4][12] After resource allocation problems with Texas A&M in 2007, the ISFDB became independently hosted on a hired server at its current URL.

ISFDB was originally edited by a limited number of people, principally Al von Ruff and Ahasuerus.[13][14] Editing was opened in 2006 to the general public on an open content basis, with changed content being approved by one of a limited number of moderators in an attempt to protect the accuracy of the database.[15]

Awards and reception

In 1998, Cory Doctorow wrote in Science Fiction Age that "[T]he best all-round guide to things science-fictional remains the Internet Speculative Fiction Database".[3] In April 2009, Zenkat wrote that "it is widely considered one of the most authoritative sources about Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror literature available on the Internet".[16] ISFDB was the winner of the 2005 Wooden Rocket Award in the Best Directory Site category.[17]

As a real-world example of a non-trivial database, the schema and MySQL files from ISFDB have been used in a number of tutorials. Schema and data from the site were used throughout Chapter 9 of the book Rails For Java Developers.[18] It was also used in a series of tutorials by Lucid Imagination on Solr, an enterprise search platform.[19]

As of September 2013, Quantcast estimates that ISFDB is visited by over 67,400 people monthly.[20] The database, as of April 2022, contains 2,002,324 unique story titles from 232,816 authors.[1]

References

  1. ^ a b "ISFDB Statistics". isfdb.org. Internet Speculative Fiction Database. Archived from the original on 18 April 2022. Retrieved 18 April 2022.
  2. ^ "Link Sites". SF Site. Archived from the original on 30 June 2012. Retrieved 17 May 2009.
  3. ^ a b c Doctorow, Cory (September 1998). "Internet Column from Science Fiction Age, September 1998". Science Fiction Age. Archived from the original on 10 July 2012. Retrieved 17 May 2009. The best all-round guide to things science-fictional remains the Internet Speculative Fiction Database.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Internet Speculative Fiction Database". Onpedia. Archived from the original on 6 March 2012. Retrieved 17 May 2009.
  5. ^ "The Linköping Science Fiction & Fantasy Archive". Retrieved 23 July 2009.
  6. ^ "What's New from 1995". Internet Speculative Fiction Database. Archived from the original on 18 April 2022. Retrieved 18 April 2022.
  7. ^ "What's New from 1996". Internet Speculative Fiction Database. Archived from the original on 18 April 2022. Retrieved 18 April 2022.
  8. ^ a b "ISFDB finds new home at Texas A&M". SFWA News. Science Fiction Writers of America. 5 April 2003. Archived from the original on 11 August 2011. Retrieved 29 September 2010.
  9. ^ Doctorow, Cory (25 January 2003). "Literary treasure needs new home". Boing Boing. Archived from the original on 29 July 2012. Retrieved 17 May 2009.
  10. ^ Doctorow, Cory (25 March 2003). "ISFDB rises from the grave". Boing Boing. Archived from the original on 3 August 2012. Retrieved 17 May 2009.
  11. ^ "ISFDB:General disclaimer". Internet Speculative Fiction Database. Archived from the original on 2 August 2012. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
  12. ^ "What's New from 2005: What's New – 27 Feb 2005". Internet Speculative Fiction Database. 27 February 2005. Archived from the original on 3 September 2012. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
  13. ^ "Major Contributors". Internet Speculative Fiction Database. Archived from the original on 18 April 2022. Retrieved 18 April 2022.
  14. ^ "Top ISFDB contributors (All Submission Types)". Internet Speculative Fiction Database. Archived from the original on 18 April 2022. Retrieved 18 April 2022.
  15. ^ Gandalara (23 December 2006). "Changes to the ISFDB". Science Fiction Brewed Fresh Daily. Other*Worlds*Cafe. Archived from the original on 13 December 2015. Retrieved 17 May 2009.
  16. ^ Zenkat (14 April 2009). "Our latest mass data load: science fiction books". Archived from the original on 19 May 2012. Retrieved 12 December 2015. ...it is widely considered one of the most authoritative sources about Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror literature available on the Internet.
  17. ^ "2005 winners: Wooden Rocket Awards". SF Crowsnest. Archived from the original on 26 February 2009. Retrieved 8 February 2009. 14 Best Directory Site. Directories, online databases or search engines with a worthy SFF section. Winner: Internet Speculative Fiction Database www.isfdb.org.
  18. ^ Halloway, Stuart Dabbs; Gehtland, Justin (2007). "Creating and Invoking Web Services". Rails For Java Developers (PDF). p. 249. ISBN 978-0-9776166-9-5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-10. Retrieved 2011-03-14.
  19. ^ Hossman (21 January 2011). "Solr Powered ISFDB – Part #1". Lucid Imagination. Archived from the original on 1 March 2011. Retrieved 14 March 2011.
  20. ^ "isfdb.org Monthly Uniques". Quantcast.com. Archived from the original on 27 September 2013. Retrieved 27 September 2013.