I know I’ve been promising this since last summer, but it’s here at last: The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana, Second Edition.
Isn’t that a lovely cover? My wife spent many, many hours laboring over it, and the end result is fantastic, I think.
For those of you who don’t know, back in 2000-2004 I wrote The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana for Chris Roberson and Allison Baker’s MonkeyBrain Press, who published it in 2005. The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana was what the press release at the time (accurately) called “the first comprehensive encyclopedia of fantastic literature of the nineteenth century…an invaluable reference, and truly one-of-a-kind.”
The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana (first edition) sold through its print run and went on to be a finalist for the World Fantasy Award. It lived its lifespan as a book, and then went out of print, with used copies going for, at times, thousands of dollars. (Currently used copies of the first edition are selling on Amazon for prices ranging from $100 to $700).
I was rather proud of Victoriana, but over time certain things about the book bothered me: the typos; the lack of index (which Chris had originally suggested we include, but which I, in my foresight, said, “Nah, there’s no need for one.”); the…let’s say “unenlightened” political opinions I occasionally included; the factual errors I occasionally made; the mistakes in criticism I sometimes made, thanks to my writing the book before the incredibly vast amount of literary criticism was made available online; the omissions, gaps, elisions… In fact, as the years passed I came to resent Victoriana, for not being what I had originally imagined it to be. Part of the reason Victoriana fell short was due to circumstances beyond my control, but part was due to my own mistakes in the writing of the book.
So in the summer of 2018, when I was finally impelled to start writing the second edition of Victoriana, I felt an overwhelming feeling of relief, as if I were scratching a monstrous itch that I hadn’t known I’d had.
But, me being me, simply cleaning up the typos of the first edition weren’t nearly enough for me to in good conscience put a second edition of Victoriana out in the world. I had to add enough new material to make it worth people’s while to buy it and to soothe my conscience. And thanks to the enormously expanded amount of material published and available online—the online world is so very, very different in 2020 than it was in 2000, when I began writing Victoriana—I’ve found more than enough new material to include. So what you’ll find in here is not only the original content from Victoriana‘s first edition, but added material: new entries, a wealth of new contextual and scholarly material for older entries, new commentary when my mind has changed, and in general an expansion of the first edition when I thought expansion was justified. And corrections, of course—an embarrassing number of them.
I went farther than that, naturally. One of the first things I did in writing the second edition was to reorganize the manuscript. My original intent, when conceiving of and writing the first edition, was to provide a Victorian-centric version of David Pringle’s Imaginary People, which arranged the entries by character name. But the manuscript for Victoriana metastasized and became something quite different, so that the organization of the encyclopedia, by character name, became not a logical organizational schema but an actual impediment to people finding what they were looking for. The second edition of Victoriana has, I trust, done away with that. In its place is the much more logical schema of entries alphabetically by story or novel title, which I think is how most people will go looking for information in this book. In addition, I’ve provided a thorough index of the book, which was the number one thing people asked me for when they talked about the book.
So the second edition of Victoriana is a much smoother and more logically-constructed reading experience than the first edition was, while also possessing a substantial amount of scholarly apparatus (endnotes and a bibliography) which should make the book somewhat more respectable to academics. (The first edition…was not).
The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana, Second Edition is available as an e-book through Amazon. I apologize to those of you who loathe Amazon, but the truth is that most readers buy through Amazon, like it or not, and I want to get the second edition of Victoriana into as many hands as possible. So Amazon it is. Price is $9.99, which comes out to about $0.004 per page, which is about the best deal you’re ever going to get for a book.
In manuscript form the second edition ran for 2257 pages, including the index. This is why there’s no hardcover edition of the second edition–it’s not possible to make a single-volume book that size any more, not unless you’re willing to pay hundreds of dollars. I’ll be looking into creating a three-volume pay-on-demand hardcover edition of The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana, Second Edition via Lulu.com, but that three volume set is going to cost about $200 (and that’s with me making a very small profit from it). The economics of publishing enormous books are not friendly–it’s very expensive, and there’s just no way around that.
So. It’s done, and for sale, and I really hope you buy it and like it. And, of course, if you do buy it, let me know what you think!