Science-Fiction Handbook

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Science-Fiction Handbook
Science-Fiction Handbook.jpg
Dust-jacket of first edition
Author L. Sprague de Camp
Country United States
Language English
Subject Writing
Publisher Hermitage House
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback)
Pages 328 pp

Science-Fiction Handbook, subtitled The Writing of Imaginative Fiction, is a guide to writing and marketing science fiction and fantasy by L. Sprague de Camp, "one of the earliest books about modern sf."[1] The original edition was published in hardcover by Hermitage House in 1953 as a volume in its Professional Writers Library series. A revised edition, by L. Sprague de Camp and Catherine Crook de Camp, titled Science Fiction Handbook, Revised, was published in hardcover by Owlswick Press in 1975 and as a trade paperback by McGraw-Hill in 1977.[2][3] An E-book version of the revised edition was published by Gollancz's SF Gateway imprint on April 30, 2014.[4][5]


The book comprises a comprehensive guide explaining how to write and market science fiction and fantasy. Peripheral subjects such as lecturing and bookkeeping are also discussed, and a short history of the field of imaginative fiction is included. The revised version excised outdated material, updated the historical section, and added more information on the business and records-keeping end of being a writer.[2]


Original edition (1953) Revised edition (1975)
A Note on the Professional Writers Library
Preface Preface
The World of Imaginative Fiction The World of Imaginative Fiction
The Origins of Imaginative Fiction
Modern Imaginative Fiction Modern Imaginative Fiction
Markets and Editors Editors and Publishers
Readers and Fans Readers and Writers
Writers of Imaginative Fiction
Preparation for a Science-Fiction Career Preparing for a Science-Fiction Career
Where do You Get Those Crazy Ideas? Those Crazy Ideas
Plotting an Imaginative Story Plotting an Imaginative Story
Writing an Imaginative Story Writing an Imaginative Story
Selling an Imaginative Story Selling an Imaginative Story
The Business Side of Writing
Being an Imaginative-Fiction Writer And When You Have Arrived
Notes Notes
Bibliography Bibliography
Index Index


Alexei and Cory Panshin praised the original edition as "a marvelous and ungainly book . . . a stewpot of everything De Camp could imagine a writer of SF needing to know." However, reviewing the revised edition, they declared that "A venerable classic has been consistently simplified, softened and trivialized" and concluded that what remained "was not adequate to the problems of writing contemporary SF."[6]

Malcolm Edwards and John Clute called it "a useful compendium of information and advice for aspiring writers in its original edition, [though] it gained little from its subsequent revision – indeed, the revised version omitted some material of interest."[1]


In 2004 the original edition was among the nominees for the 1954 Retro-Hugo Award for Best Related Book.[7]


  1. ^ a b Malcolm Edwards and John Clute. "de Camp, L Sprague". The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction edited by John Clute, David Langford, Peter Nicholls and Graham Sleight. London: Gollancz, updated 6 May 2014. Web. Accessed 23 September 2014.
  2. ^ a b Laughlin, Charlotte; Daniel J. H. Levack (1983). De Camp: An L. Sprague de Camp Bibliography. San Francisco: Underwood/Miller. pp. 88–89. 
  3. ^ Science-Fiction Handbook title listing at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
  4. ^ Orion Publishing Group's entry for e-book edition
  5. ^ entry for e-book edition
  6. ^ "Books", F&SF, July 1976, p.36
  7. ^ 1954 Retro-Hugo Awards on the official Hugo Awards website