Peter Nicholls (writer)

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]

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
8 March 1939
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Died6 March 2018 (aged 78)
Melbourne, Victoria
OccupationLiterary scholar, critic, writer
GenreScience fiction

Early career

Born in Melbourne, Victoria, he spent two decades from 1968 to 1988 as an expatriate, first in the US, and then the UK.[3]

Nicholls' early career was as a literary academic, originally with the University of Melbourne. He first travelled to the US in 1968 on a Harkness Fellowship in film making, and has scripted television documentaries.[2] His significant contributions to science fiction scholarship and criticism began in 1971, when he became the first Administrator of the Science Fiction Foundation (UK), a position he held 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

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

Most of its 730,000 words were written by Nicholls, Clute and two contributing editors. It won the 1980 Hugo Award in 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 in 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

Nicholls' other major publications include: Science Fiction at Large (1976; reprinted 1978 under 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 US as The World of Fantastic Films).[3]

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 film 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 in 2000, which gradually curtailed his activities.[2] A film on his interest and work in science fiction, titled The What-If Man, was completed in 2004.[6]

Personal life

Nicholls was the father of five children. His daughter is author and editor Sophie Cunningham.[7] 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 2018-03-07.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Peter Nicholls (1939–2018)". Locus. Retrieved 2018-03-07.
  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 2010-04-19.
  6. ^ The What If Man (2004). Ronin Films (
  7. ^ "Alien Star". Highbeam Business. 1 March 2003. Retrieved 2018-03-07.

External links

Foundation (journal)

Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction is a critical peer-reviewed literary magazine established in 1972 that publishes articles and reviews about science fiction. It is published triannually (spring, summer, and winter) by the Science Fiction Foundation. Worlds Without End called it "the essential critical review of science fiction", whilst The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction has called it "perhaps the liveliest and indeed the most critical of the big three critical journals" (the others being Extrapolation (journal) and Science Fiction Studies). A long-running feature was the series of interviews and autobiographical pieces with leading writers, entitled "The Profession of Science Fiction", a selection of which was edited and published by Macmillan Publishers in 1992. Several issues have been themed, including #93 (A Celebration of British Science Fiction, 2005), published also as part of the Foundation Studies in Science Fiction. The hundredth edition (Summer 2007) was unusual in that it was an all-fiction issue, including stories by such writers as Vandana Singh, Tricia Sullivan, Karen Traviss, Jon Courtenay Grimwood, John Kessel, Nalo Hopkinson, Greg Egan, and Una McCormack. Back issues of the journal are archived at the University of Liverpool's SF Hub whilst more recent issues can be found electronically via the database providers ProQuest.

Harkness Fellowship

The Harkness Fellowships (previously known as the Commonwealth Fund Fellowships) are a programme run by the Commonwealth Fund of New York City. They were established to reciprocate the Rhodes Scholarships and enable Fellows from several countries to spend time studying in the United States. The many notable alumni listed below include the president of the International Court of Justice; former Chairman and CEO of Salomon Brothers; a former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge; the controller of BBC Radio 4; the editor of the Sunday Times; former directors of the Medical Research Council, the London School of Economics and the General Medical Council; and, a vice-president of Microsoft.

Peter Nicholls

Peter Nicholls may refer to:

Peter Nicholls (artist) (born 1936)

Peter Nicholls (writer) (1939–2018)

Peter Nicholls (musician) (born 1959)

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