Peter Nicholls (writer)

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Peter Nicholls
Nicholls on a 2014 Worldcon panel discussing The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction
Nicholls on a 2014 Worldcon panel discussing The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction
BornPeter Douglas Nicholls
(1939-03-08)8 March 1939
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Died6 March 2018(2018-03-06) (aged 78)
Melbourne, Victoria
OccupationLiterary scholar, critic, writer
GenreScience fiction

Peter Douglas Nicholls (8 March 1939 – 6 March 2018)[1] was an Australian literary scholar and critic. He was the creator and a co-editor of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction with John Clute.[2]

Early career[edit]

Born in Australia's state of Victoria in Melbourne, he spent two decades from 1968 to 1988 as an expatriate, first in the USA, and then the UK.[3]

Nicholls' early career was as a literary academic, originally with the University of Melbourne. He first travelled to the USA in 1968 with a Harkness Fellowship in movie making, and has scripted television documentaries.[2] His significant contributions to science fiction scholarship and criticism began during 1971, when he became the first Administrator of the Science Fiction Foundation (UK), a title he had until 1977.[3] He was editor of its journal, Foundation: The Review of Science Fiction, from 1974 to 1978.[3]

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction[edit]

During 1979, Nicholls edited The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (published in the USA as The Science Fiction Encyclopedia), with John Clute as associate editor.[4][clarification needed]

Most of its 730,000 words were written by Nicholls, Clute and two contributing editors.[citation needed] It won the 1980 Hugo Award for the Nonfiction Book category.[5]

A completely revised, updated, and greatly expanded version of the Encyclopedia, co-edited with Clute, was published in 1993, and won the 1994 Hugo for the same category.[3] A further updating of the work, with revisions and corrections, was later issued in CD-ROM format.[3] The third edition, with Clute and David Langford, was released online as a beta text in October 2011.[3]

Other work[edit]

Nicholls' other major publications include: Science Fiction At Large (1976; reprinted 1978 with the title Explorations of the Marvellous), a collection of essays edited by Nicholls from a 1975 symposium; The Science in Science Fiction (1983) edited by Nicholls and written by him with David Langford and Brian Stableford; and Fantastic Cinema (1984; published in the USA as The World of Fantastic Films).[3] Genre Fiction: The Roaring Years (2022) is a posthumous collection of his reviews and essays which he had planned, titled and written an introduction for circa 2012 but was unable to complete.[6]

He won several awards for his scholarship, including the Science Fiction Research Association's Pilgrim Award (1980), an Eaton Award (1995) and a Peter McNamara Award (2006).[3] He broadcast movie and book reviews on BBC Radio from 1974 and worked as a publisher's editor 1982–1983.[2]

Nicholls was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease during 2000, which gradually curtailed his activities.[2] A movie about his interest and work in science fiction, titled The What-If Man, was completed in 2004.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Nicholls was the father of five children. His daughter is author and editor Sophie Cunningham.[8] He lived in Melbourne with his wife, Clare Coney, where he died on 6 March 2018 at the age of 78.[3]


  1. ^ Clément Solym. "Mort de Peter Nicholls, éditeur de l'Encyclopédie de la science-fiction". 6 March 2018. Retrieved 2018-03-06.
  2. ^ a b c d Clute, John; Nicholls, Peter. "Nicholls, Peter". The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Peter Nicholls (1939–2018)". Locus. 6 March 2018. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  4. ^ The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction edited by Peter Nichols and John Clute, National Library of Australia website. Retrieved 2018-03-10.
  5. ^ "1980 Hugo Awards". World Science Fiction Society. Archived from the original on 7 May 2011. Retrieved 19 April 2010.
  6. ^ Genre Fiction: The Roaring Years (2022). Ansible Editions (
  7. ^ The What If Man (2004). Ronin Films (
  8. ^ "Alien Star". Highbeam Business. 1 March 2003. Archived from the original on 8 March 2018. Retrieved 7 March 2018.

External links[edit]