Allaby, Michael, advisory ed. Illustrated Dictionary of Science. New York, NY: Facts on File, c1995.
Reference type: Dictionaries
Authority: Facts on File is a generally trustworthy source of reference materials. Allaby is the author or editor of many science and science reference books.
Audience Relation: Science fiction writing is often based on science fact. Thus a quick and dirty reference to basic science terms and their meanings is a must for authors who have minimal knowledge in this area. At the very least, it will help them develop a working vocabulary for future research.
Scope: This book offers concise definitions for several thousand scientific terms from all branches of science. The language is clear and of a general nature so that anyone from about a high school reading level on up can understand the definitions.
Content Evaluation: This book is very general and would provide a great start to research on any science topic or a great companion to a more complex work that required but did not include a glossary. Drawing from all branches of science, this book offers a wide array of terminology to fit almost any need.
For having the word, "illustrated" in its title, there are not all that many pictures, 34 to be exact. When compared to the over 5,000 entries, this is a paltry amount to be sure. However, all 34 of the illustrations are full-color-full page and offer quite a bit of detail. The entries are alphabetical, but would probably be more accessible if some division of the sciences were done. According to one review, the contributors are all experts in their field, but this is of little consequence since no attribution is given for each entry.
The book itself is tall and uses semi-slick white paper. The font is not particularly friendly, especially when cross-referenced terms are written in all caps within an entry. The font is also a bit small. Entries are in three columns per page, which is a bit much to look at all at once.
Overall, this is a somewhat handy book that could be improved with more attribution, more illustrations, and a slight rearrangement of the entries. Science fiction authors would find this a mostly useful addition to their collection, especially if one did not want to purchase a separate dictionary for each field of science.