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Encyclopedia Galactica
Mike Carlin, Webmaster
A Web site review by Steven H Silver

Encyclopedia Galactica 
Site Format
From the entry page, a visitor has the choice of seven different pages. Most of these are short -- about the web site, an Asimov biography, a listing of the Foundation and related novels, recent updates and a guest book. One, labelled "Search," notes the lack of search support by his ISP and asks if one which does would be willing to sponsor his site.

The site focus is the label "Encyclopedia," which takes the visitor to the table of contents. Here, Carlin has categorized eight topics, plus an explanatory preface. Selecting a topic, for instance, "Characters," brings up another table of contents, eventually allowing the visitor to drill down to a specific character.

Improvements
Carlin's site is very much under construction. As of this review, he notes that he still hasn't catalogued The Robots of Dawn, The Currents of Space, Prelude to Foundation or Forward the Foundation. Once Carlin adds those works, it would be nice if he could add ones authorized by Asimov or his estate, such as the short stories which appear in Foundation's Friends, Roger MacBride Allen's Robot trilogy, or the Second Foundation trilogy currently being written by Benford, Bear and Brin, or Asimov's own short story "Blind Alley."

A final addition I would recommend would be the inclusion of some theme entries, such as "Star's End" or "Origin Problem" to discuss ideas or issues which play prominent roles in the saga.

Site Content
Perhaps Isaac Asimov's most famous creation is his Foundation series of novels, which, towards the end of Asimov's life, came to include his robot novels and short stories as well as his three Galactic Empire novels. Asimov created the Foundation in theory to produce the Encyclopedia Galactica, meant to categorize and maintain as much knowledge of human existence as possible. Mike Carlin has turned Asimov's idea with the goal to categorize the knowledge of Asimov's future history.

Site Graphics
Some of the graphics have a blurry quality to them, particularly his title graphic, but they still manage to get the idea across. A few of the graphic links were broken but, as they were peripheral to the page's content, it wasn't too annoying.

Points of Interest
Carlin is careful to note on his update page which entries have been added or updated, permitting a return visitor to see if there is new information. Furthermore, he offers a visitor the opportunity to register for notification whenever a new update is performed.

Not only has Carlin attempted to assign dates, he explains his rationale for these dates whenever they are based on conjecture or calculation on his part. His time line encompasses not only the writing of Isaac Asimov but several related historical events, ranging from the renaming of New Amsterdam to New York (1664) to the discoveries of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto and Isaac Asimov's death (1992).

Carlin has also provided an abundance of internal links within the text of his encyclopedia entries, permitting easy navigation and enabling one to follow a stream-of-consciousness approach to the Foundation series.

Synopsis
Carlin has undertaken a huge task, but he has made good progress towards its ultimate completion.  This is a site which any fan of the Foundation series should visit. Although it contains frequent spoilers, it also contains good synopses of the series and can serve as a reminder for someone who has been away from the worlds of the Foundation for some time. This site entices viewers to pull their Asimov off the shelf and re-read the series.

With perseverance, Carlin will eventually catalog all of Asimov's novels and short stories and, one would hope, authorized additions to the future history.  Having just passed the sixth anniversary of Isaac Asimov's death, one would have to think that Asimov would be honored by the time and resources Mike Carlin has expended.

Site URL
http://wkweb4.cableinet.co.uk/mike.carlin/Galactica/
Copyright © 1998 by Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver is one of the founders and judges for the Sidewise Award for Alternate History. He sits on concoms for Windycon, Chicon 2000 and Clavius in 2001 and is co-chair of Picnicon 1998. Steven will be serving as the Programming Chairman for Chicon 2000. In addition to maintaining several bibliographies and the Harry Turtledove & Murray Leinster websites, Steven is trying to get his short stories published and has recently finished his first novel. He lives at home with his wife, daughter and 3200 books. He is available for convention panels.


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