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An unofficial Universe Compendium.

When the makers of a series can't be bothered to put together a proper compendium, you can always rely on the fans to do it for you. With typical obsessiveness, they will go through and document everything that is known about the series, and, on occasion, bind it together into a book. Or a wiki.

The results differ from a Universe Compendium in several ways:

  • A concordance will tend to document more thoroughly what actually happened on-screen. The folks who write compendia tend to not have quite the same attention to detail as a really obsessed fan.
  • Since the concordance author has no way of knowing what the writer thought was actually important, unimportant details often receive more notice in a concordance than in a compendium. Thus, you are more likely to discover a really obscure fact in a concordance.
  • A compendium will often be distilled in such a way as to cover up retcons or embarassing but inescapable mistakes in the show's past. A compendium is more likely to tell you what the show's makers actually intended, while a concordance is more likely to tell you what they actually did.
  • A concordance will often contain Fanon (which, since it's in a proper book by someone who knows what they're talking about, will be taken as Word of Dante). While a compendium may later be proved wrong on some point, we can be assured that what is written was actually what the writers thought was going on at the time.
  • Many paper-and-pencil Role Playing Games based on literary or mass-media properties qualify as Universe Concordances, despite having official licenses, because the creators of the RPG often have minimal communication with the creators of the property it's based on.

From time to time, the producers of a series will come across a concordance and begin treating it as gospel, as it contains far more detail than any of their own internal documentation.

As these are almost always unauthorized publications, they tend to exist in the same legal gray-market as Fanfic, though it should be remembered that scholarly reference works have historically been considered fair use of copyrighted material, hence the existence of academic literary journals.

Rowling vs. RDR Publications, while preventing the Harry Potter Lexicon from being set in print, established a precedent that Universe Concordances have the right to exist over-the-counter under two conditions:

  1. There are not too many direct quotes from the source material, especially unattributed ones; and
  2. The Universe Concordance does not borrow heavily from any Universe Compendium, with or without direct quotes.

So, they are now officially encouraged.

Online, unofficial web sites, particularly Wikis, have taken up the slack, with the Trek Verse Wiki, Memory Alpha as the first example.

Examples of Universe Concordance include:


Anime & Manga

  • The Digimon Encyclopedia by Chris McFeely. Covers Adventure, Adventure 02, and Tamers (and part of Frontier). Long before Wikipedia, this was the source for anything in the Digimon anime.


Comic Books


Film


Literature


Live Action TV

  • Far and away the most famous is Bjo Trimble's The Star Trek Concordance, which was the prime source for information to fans until Paramount began releasing its own compendia in the 1980s. The makers of early Star Trek feature films and Star Trek: The Next Generation consulted it heavily, as it was the best single resource in existence at the time.
    • And in the Age of Internet, there is the Star Trek wiki Memory Alpha.
  • A long-standing rumor from the '80s suggests that FASA lost the license for the Star Trek RPG because authors were drawing on FASA ship design and game Fanon for their licensed novels.
  • Along with Wookieepedia, Lostpedia is commonly cited as one of the most comprehensive wikis about a fictional universe in existence. Writers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse have admitted using Lostpedia when they need to remember a quick fact while writing an episode.
  • Since the early '80's Doctor Who Programme Guide (which went through three editions), the Whoniverse has had countless licensed and un-licensed examples. Online compedia include The Whoniverse, the no-longer-available-on-the-Web Outpost Gallifrey reference guides, The Doctor Who Guide, the staggeringly detailed "Rassilon, Omega, and that Other Guy" and the TARDIS Index File Wiki.
  • Babylon 5 has The Lurker's Guide.


Video Games

Anonymous: Can you briefly summarize the plot of the Marathon series? I found one at some fan site, but it was a fucking doctoral thesis.

Durandal: That was the summary. The full story is the equivalent of 7 of your doctoral theses.


Web Original

  • HRWiki.org, the Homestar Runner reference site, which the Brothers Chaps have commented on going to when they can't remember their earlier work.


Other

  • Wikipedia can be thought of as a Universe Concordance for Real Life.
    • And fiction as well, though that was not what its founders intended (at least not to such a degree.)
    • Pages that "fail to make a clear distinction between fiction and real life" (read: using the page as a Universe Concordance) are flagged and sometimes deleted. Then of course there's the "inclusionist vs. exclusionist" debate which is basically about editors fighting over whether Wikipedia should be used as a Universal Concordance or not.
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