Want to dig really deep into your favorite sci-fi or fantasy world? Need to study xenobiology in the Delta Qudrant or catch up on current events on Earth-616? In the old days, your resources might be limited to the few texts that got published (often without authorisation from the creators of the TV show, movie, or book). But in the age of online, user-generated content, sci-fi and fantasy fans themselves can contribute to the extensive store of knowledge about their favorite fictional universes, and do they ever.
Here are seven encyclopedic resources for fictional worlds so richly detailed that they rival the one you're sitting in right now.
How many different ways are Jack and Kate connected? What do we know about Richard Alpert's history? If these are the kinds of burning questions that keep you wide awake and staring at the ceiling as we embark upon the last season of the tortuous narrative that is Lost, then you'd better set aside a hefty chunk of time, because you're about to find yourself pulled into the jungle that is Lostpedia. Every episode, every character, and, after all, there are truly no minor characters where the Island is concerned, are all here. If it's speculation you're after, there's no shortage of that, either: Got a theory on what the smoke monster is? Where the island is located? You'll find a willing audience to entertain your thoughts on the matter.
Among the most painstakingly constructed sites I've ever seen, Memory Alpha is a comprehensive catalogue of everything in the mainstream Star Trek canon, from the Prime Directive to the last episode of Enterprise. All five live action series are covered, along with the animated series and all the movies, including the recent reboot. If you want to go beyond that to the novels and other media, though, you'll need to check out a second wiki called, naturally, Memory Beta.
I'll come clean: I once managed to win a game of Star Wars Trivial Pursuit in just two turns, and that was well before the advent of wikis. These days I'm a little rusty, but if I want to brush up on all things Star Wars, I turn to this brilliantly-named site, which includes not only both series of films but the Clone Wars TV show and the vast reaches of the "expanded universe." If you've ever wanted to delve into the mechanics of lightsabers or wondered what exactly Bothan spies were, this is your only hope.
Way before Twilight made vampires sparkle, Sunnydale was home to a legion of the fanged guys, not to mention its very own Hellmouth. The universe of Joss Whedon's legendary series (and its spinoff, Angel) is chronicled here as meticulously as the work of any Watcher. In the end, there is no more fitting tribute to the show's eponymous heroine than to point out that she saved the world. A lot.
It may look like a compact site, but don't worry, it's bigger on the inside. Following the adventures of all eleven incarnations of everybody's favorite Time Lord and his blue box, the wiki also features an extensive list of the Doctor's companions and his greatest foes. Be careful how you mess with the wibbly-wobbley timey-wimey stuff, though, as any unorthodox changes will be EXTERMINATED.
I'm not sure Hollywood knew what it was in for when it started turning comic books into movies left and right. There are more than 42,000 articles in this database devoted to titles from the DC Universe, everything from household names like Superman and Batman to cult favorites like Sandman and John Constantine. Really though, I only need utter four words to make you clutch your head in confusion: Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Of course, you can't mention DC without talking about Marvel, it's like the Pepsi vs. Coke of the comic world. Fear not, for the twisty multiverse that houses the X-Men, X-Factor, X-Force, Excalibur, and, of course, Canadian superhero team Alpha Flight has its own wiki. Then again, it's a sucker's game to think you can ever truly comprehend the entire Marvel continuity (without going all Dark Phoenix, anyway).
Now that I've led you into a world where you've thoroughly wasted your time clicking and reading, you'll be happy to know that there are plenty of other wikis for pretty much every fictional universe you've ever heard of. If only there were a wiki for the real world as comprehensive and carefully assembled as, oh, wait.