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George C Willick, Webmaster
A Web site review by Steven H Silver

   Site Format
Spacelight is relatively straightforward.  Following an introductory page which explains, to some degree, what George Willick is attempting to do, the viewer advances to an alphabetical listing of the science fiction and fantasy authors whose obituaries are included on the site.  In some cases, authors are listed multiple times, under their real names and under their most popular pseudonyms.  For instance, information on Murray Leinster can also be found under the name William F. Jenkins. This information would be better if the author's real name and pseudonym were tied together on the index page.   Clicking on the author's name will take the viewer to the obituary page.

   An Odd Decision
Willick makes an interesting point on his introductory page that an author's race and religion are personal matters.  However, he does include authors' social security numbers on several pages.  For a person doing research into an author, the former topics are more indicative of their writing than the latter, which has no bearing at all.  I have no problem with Willick's decision to avoid the religion and race questions, but to include a social security number does not seem to add anything to the site's content.

There are few external links at Spacelight because, as Willick points out, "links keep disappearing."  Nevertheless, it would be nice if he would choose to include more links to sites about the specific authors in the obituaries.  Several authors have well-established websites which do not seem to be going anywhere and would add information to that which Willick has already provided.  Furthermore, without these external links, Spacelight becomes something of a dead-end on the Internet.

   Site Content
Each obituary consists of the author's name, birthplace and date, marital status, place of death and date, location of interment (if known), and awards.  This short synopsis is followed by a longer obituary telling who the author was and what they were noted for.  At the end of the page, Willick provides bibliographic data.

Willick's bibliographic data is not to help viewers track down the author's work, but rather to learn more about the author.  He points to print bibliographies of the authors involved as well as the print sources for his biographies (frequently Who Was Who in America) and notes his source for the obituary (usually the New York Times).  In many cases, Willick is also able to include information on whom to contact for reprint information on the author's works.

   Site Graphics
 Graphics are minimal, with a generic starfield background on all pages.  Individual obituaries include photos of the author in question, although Willick also has a blank graphic to indicate he does not have a picture of the author.

There are no flashy graphics as Willick has chosen to focus his attention on the content of the site.  On the one hand, this gives the site the gravity necessary for a website which focuses on death.  On the other hand, it does make for a site which does not carry the visual impact which is such a large part of the Web.

George Willick has tackled a topic which could be schlocky and sensational, but instead has been done with a degree of reverence which makes his obituary site a fitting tribute to the hundred or so authors who are remembered at Spacelight.   With luck, Willick will continue to add authors to his listing.  There are enough science fiction authors who have left us that Willick can be busy for quite some time.
   Site URL 

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 website, Steven is trying to get his short stories published and has recently finished his first novel. He lives at home with his wife and 3200 books. He is available for convention panels.

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