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It's been a few days after the release of the Lost Encyclopedia and there's already a few blogs and complaints cropping up here and there about its content. In early October, BalkOfFame pointed out some grammatical errors and discrepancies he had noticed in promotional samples. I had placed my preorder before this and wasn't going to let a few slipups deter me from getting it, so two days ago my copy finally came in the mail.
The majority of fellow Lostpedians that I've talked to seem to lean towards not accepting the book as canon because of the inaccuracies in it. I must point out that according to canon policy, the Lost Encyclopedia is considered canon by Darlton and thus Lostpedia, provided that it is referenced (e.g., using 'crossref' tags). Regardless, there are many many errors in the book, even in the 50 or so pages that I've read thoroughly. In order to prevent any future Lostpedia editors from thinking they've stumbled across something novel and needlessly adding it to the wiki, I'm reading through the book and carefully crosschecking the articles with my own knowledge and the wiki. As a grammar Nazi, I'm also pointing out grammatical errors that should not have been overlooked by the editor(s).
One other thing I would like to mention is that I've heard a few complaints about "assumptions" that the book makes. Reading the Lostpedia interview with the authors, they (as well as Darlton in the foreword) say that the book illustrates the "90% of the iceberg that we don't see." Concerning canon, Tara Bennett had this to say about it:
Yeah, I think that something that fans will have to understand when they read the book is that we’ve had lots of years to be able to speculate about things, and fandom has sometimes made some things canon in their minds that was actually never intended to be canon, so you may read through the encyclopedia and you may go, “Well why isn’t that there?” It’s not because we forgot it, it’s because Damon and Carlton don’t consider it the canon of the show. Everything is filtered through that veil. The thing that we want to be clear about is that, maybe Lostpedia may have other information, may have stuff about some of the ARGs. Sometimes those ARGs were merely for entertainment for fans, and weren’t meant to be canon, and so when they’re not meant to be canon, they’re not in this book. If there were elements that were part of canon, then they are in the book.
There are a variety of numerical errors, wrong names and dates, etc. scattered throughout the book. Without somebody (or an entire fan community of thousands) cross checking each piece of data, this is to be expected. Again, this doesn't really make it non-canon. That'd be like throwing out a math textbook because one of the problems was wrong. Nobody's perfect.
Some complaints I have though are that some of the direct quotes aren't written correctly, e.g. words are omitted/added. This should have been a priority of the editor. Attributing certain things to the wrong person is also a pretty egregious error in my book. I would imagine that checking every fact, even the ones you're sure of, would get tedious and after awhile, you'd leave ones in that you were certain about without checking, even though they're wrong. There's also a disturbingly alarming number of nearly identical descriptions from Lostpedia, but they always differ by a few words. Then again, some things are difficult to phrase in more than one way and since Lostpedia has just about every tidbit of information on a character, there's bound to be some overlap. One big thing that I noticed was missing was the lack of almost any reference to the flash-sideways timeline. This coincides with the book being written from an "in-universe" perspective, but it would have been nice to have a section talking about what happened in the FST and links/things we might not have noticed before. All we get is a little "in memoriam" section at the back of the book for the Losties who "let go."
In conclusion, I'm publishing my findings of errors in the book so that (a) people can judge for themselves whether or not it's worth shelling out the ~$30, (b) so that people will be aware of these errors and won't have to spend time trying to figure out if it's an error not while reading, and (c) in hopes that perhaps a compilation of errors made by the fan community will make its way to the authors and we'll see a corrected/expanded version in the future. This may be the first and only Lost "bible", but that doesn't mean it can't be corrected or expanded. Or maybe Darlton will see it and let us publish our own physical encyclopedia (insert excessive sarcasm here). In my opinion, the encyclopedia is a great buy for anybody who isn't a hardcore fan and simply wants a better understanding of Lost. If you are a hardcore fan of Lost, you may be disappointed by the imperfection in it, but it's loaded with images of just about everything on the show, a great perk if you ask me. And to all the naysayers, give the authors some credit. They had a much smaller team and deadlines, obstacles the fan community doesn't struggle with. I admit that it could have been cleaned up a bit more, but it's still a good reference book.
In the following weeks (probably months), I'll be periodically publishing my findings on here. I've got other things on my plate, so if you have a copy and want to jump in, feel free. If I mention something that I think is an error and it turns out to not be, feel free to point it out. Thanks for reading!