In the last years of the twentieth century (as H. G. Wells might have put it), Gollancz, Britain’s oldest and most distinguished science fiction imprint (What? We are!), created two Masterworks series. Dedicated to re-publishing the English language’s finest works of SF and Fantasy, most of which were languishing out of print at the time, they were – and remain – landmark lists, a genuine and ongoing attempt to form a library of the greatest fantastic fiction ever written. In a publishing landscape that can be very unforgiving of modest sales, we are proud to have kept such important works of literature in print.
But it occurred to us as we considered the lists, with the benefit of over a decade’s hindsight, that what we had achieved was only the tip of the iceberg. Many of these authors had backlists of dozens – even hundreds – of books, built up over the many years of their distinguished careers; viewed from that perspective, we had only a tiny fraction of their work available. It was obvious that the economics of commercial publishing made it very likely that that’s the way it would stay – indeed, that vast troves of classic SF & Fantasy were almost certainly destined never again to see print. This seemed a great shame, but what to do about it?
The answer arrived – in pleasingly science fictional fashion – in the form of new technology: digital publishing. Prior to the widespread take-up of the eBook, anyone interested in reading any of these books would have been confined to scouring second-hand bookshops. This is an undeniably pleasant undertaking, and the thrill of discovering (or rediscovering) a long-forgotten classic is one that should not be underappreciated – but it can also be a very frustrating experience, if one isn’t lucky enough to live near a reliable source of good used SF. But now, the technology exists to enable us to make available, for the first time, the entire backlists of an incredibly wide range of classic and modern SF and fantasy authors. We realised that we could make use of this new technology to build on the success of the SF and Fantasy Masterworks series and to publish even deeper into these great authors’ backlists. On that day, the SF Gateway was born.
Our ambition for the SF Gateway is to build the most comprehensive electronic library of classic SFF titles ever assembled, and to provide a place for readers to talk about them. Working closely, but independently, with the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, we hope we can build a destination site for anyone who is interested in reading, discussing and learning about science fiction.
Imagine your perfect specialist bookshop; it stocks not just the highlights from your favourite authors’ careers, but every book they ever wrote – and the people who run the shop have an encyclopaedic knowledge of SF. That’s what we’re trying to build here. It will take time, but we’re committed to the project. We will continue to develop the website and to make more and more classic SF and Fantasy books available, many for the first time in decades, and we intend to have fun doing it. We invite you to join us.
Welcome to what we hope will become the new home of Science Fiction & Fantasy on the net.
Welcome to the SF Gateway.