Posts Tagged ‘sci fi’

(SciFi, Sci Fi, Sci-Fi…)

Yesterday I stated that I have google news reader searches set up for the phrases ‘science fiction’ and ‘sci fi’, and I noted a distinct difference in the links each of those aggregations supplies.

Today being a typical day, I figured I might catalog the links to clearly demonstrate that there is a divide and therefore further bolster my contention that we should encourage the use of the phrase ‘sci fi’ to stand for all non-science fiction content that the clueless THINK is science fiction.

To put it more succinctly – let’s let them take over the definition of ‘sci fi’ in order to strengthen and preserve the definition of ‘science fiction’.

Here’s today’s links for the search term “science fiction”

CNET.com’s RealDeal podcast interviews the people from Galacticast – who use the word scifi a lot


Wired news – Neal Stephenson


Newswire – pr about a ufo film


Canada.com – review of the Ellison biopic Dreams With Sharp Teeth


Denverpost.com reviews It Came From Outer Space (1953 ‘B’ movie)


Flick filosopher reviews Babylon AD


Booksonmars reviews the anthology Tales of Mars from the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction


Teleread covers bookglutton’s sf first lines application for facebook (50’s SF artwork merged with quotes)


Sfawards watch on the Nebula site


Feast on books talks about libraries and book-saving in Vinge’s Rainbow’s End


Julian Ayrs covers Judith Merril

11 links, 7 of which deal with literary SF in one fashion or another – directly or second hand.  An eigth link covers classic SF film and a ninth covers a web application who’s source material is classic SF.

Here are the links for “Sci Fi”

Canadianpress – faux curse words in BSG


Newteevee – hulu will be getting some shows before they air


Cinemablend – BSG not airing until april 2009


Showmescifi – BSG coming in January 2009


Monsterscifishow – vote for a scifigeek for president


AMC/scifiscanner – vote for your favorite scifi alien – Klingons or ET?


Scifi sugar pie’s weblog – shows I love on the scifi channel (includes Ghostbusters and Scare Tactics)


Wetalktv – Charlie jade – through a mirror darkly episode airs tonite


9 links – not a one dealing with literary SF, most referencing the ‘fare’ offered by Skiffy Tube.  With the exception of AMC, not a single reference to historical SF.

Now ask yourself these questions:  which set of links more accurately reflects your own interests in science fiction?  Which set of links contains items you are more likely to click on?  Which has subjects you ‘care’ about?

 I could care less about any of the programming details concerning BSG; it’s nice that Hulu will now be getting to air lots of shows before they are broadcast, but few if any of those shows are going to be anything other than Sci Fi, so it’s hardly worth the energy to click on; I might vote in AMC’s poll – I’ve done so before – and I visit there regularly for Scalzi.  Why they use SciFi – other than the obvious ‘appeal to a wider audience’ is beyond me, but I’ll forgive them because AMC is more the ‘Sci Fi Channel’ than Skiffy Tube will ever be.  Vote for a self-described scifigeek for president? If it was him or McCain/Palin, I’d seriously consider voting Republican.  SciFi Sugar Pies’ picks?  Please.  Maybe she ought to get on the ticket with the geek…


I obviously clicked on every link listed above for this little survey, but generally I will probably click on 60 to 80 percent of the links in the ‘Science Fiction’ keyword search list and NOTHING in the ‘Sci Fi’ keyword seach list.


The above should also serve to illustrate to folks like Alistair Reynolds  (and Bill the SciFiGuy) that not ALL of the press has accepted the convention of using the abbreviation as a stand-in for the genre: Wired News, News Wire and the Denver Post (all of whom regularly provide coverage of things SFnal, all of whom have a fairly decent presence on the web) use Science Fiction as their convention.  Yay for stylebooks!


Furthermore, only two widespread sites (if Canadapress is widespread – I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt for now) use SciFi.  In fact, a strong case could be made that, at least here in the states, it seems as if the majority of the stylebooks eschew the use of the abbreviation.


Since I am in the habit of saving everything, I can provide a fair number of historical daily feeds from Google to back up my statement that the above is fairly typical. 


I think it provides a pretty clear picture of the fact that Sci Fi no longer means Science Fiction.  If you want to encompass everything even remotely related, use Science Fiction.  Conversely, if you want to refer specifically to literary SF, or things that are derived from literary SF, use Science Fiction.


If you want to refer specifically to (mostly bad) television shows and movies, or non-sensical reality shows, or things that will appeal to teenagers (until they acquire some experience and discriminatory powers), or people who believe that anything they are unfamiliar with or can’t explain belongs in the realm of the supernatural, or clueless references to the genre that come from ignorance – then by all means use Sci Fi, because that is what is currently defined by the phrase.


If you want to refer to the Sci Fi Channel, use Skiffy Tube.


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that the one sure way to up your traffic with a blog is to stick XXX in the title.

As I suspected, the fascination with SFnal BDSM imagery has not faded with time. 

I guess I’ll have to do some kind of weekly feature: Feast your eyes on this week’s PROBED BY ALIENS retro cover…

Lots of livejournal coverage of that one.  Makes me wonder a bit about who I’m hanging out with.


File 770 posted my outrage over twisted history.  Mike makes a distinction between ‘sci fi fanzine’ and ‘fandom’s fanzines’.  Considering my small rant about sci fi below, I guess Mike’s right. 


Skiffytube has dropped back down in the SF purity ratings game this week.  Not even a full third of the programming is remotely science fiction.  This was accomplihsed by removing all SF content from the channel for an entire day this week.

It’s probably a test.


In line with skiffy tube the channel, we now have the skiffy language police. Alistair Reynolds says “So here’s a suggestion. We get over the sci-fi thing. We can still keep talking about SF and science fiction, but we should give up the knee-jerk sense of insult whenever the sci-fi label is applied to what we do.”

Wrong.  This attitude is so dreadfully Neville Chamberlain.  Earlier in the piece Alistair said “To the average person in the street, sci-fi is what we do. It’s what copy-editors will always insist on putting into newspaper articles, even if the original author used the terms SF or science fiction. And guess what, I’m a sci-fi writer. I write sci-fi books. They get shelved in the sci-fi section.”

To them it’s what we do. And to the current administration, what they do at Guantanamo Bay isn’t torture. It’s ‘intensive interrogation’.

SF – SCIENCE FICTION – is about words and language as much as it is about anything else. Any political hack will tell you that once you start letting the other side create the definitions, you’ve lost.

It may be a lost cause – it certainly seems that way – but I’d much prefer to go down fighting than to tuck tail and run.

Maintaining the distinction may actually work in the long run.  Every day I get news feeds from google. One covers the keyword Sci Fi, the other the keyword Science Fiction. The Sci Fi feed produces links to stories that are almost universally crap: ECW discussions, bad anime, clueless ramblings about what star someone hopes to get an autograph from, paranormal television show reviews, self-published novels seeking a reader.   The Science Fiction feed produces links to reviews of real SF literature, commentary about conventions, fanzine reviews, new technologies, serious discussion and some frivolity. (The SF feed gets stories from the San Francisco Chronicle…)

It is clear from two plus years of google newreader feeds that Sci Fi is the great unwashed public’s name of choice for vaguely spacey CRAP. So let them keep it and use it. Let it spread. Because as popular terms spread, they water down and generalize, and I wouldn’t be at all upset if Sci Fi becomes a generalized word for CRAP.

THOSE people who use the word Sci Fi use it to describe all kinds of things that we know aren’t really Science Fiction.  As far as we’re concerned, the word is already synonymous with crap. Give it a few years and everyone will know that it’s synonymous with crap. It won’t be too much longer before THEY will have done the work for us, and there will be a true distinction between Sci Fi (crap) and Science Fiction (that literature thing).

Skiffy Tube is already educating a generation to believe that Sci Fi is profressional wrestling and ghost hunting. Which are decidedly NOT science fiction.  So let’s encourage them to use the word Sci Fi as a stand-in for excrement. Soon, very soon, when we say Science Fiction, they’ll know we’re not talking about Sci Fi.  I live for the day when someone stubs their toe or hits their thumb instead of the nail and shouts out in pain and agony – “OH SCI FI!”

(Apologies to Bill the Sci Fi guy who uses the phrase to suck in unsuspecting wrestling fans and then exposes them to Science Fiction.)


Here’s a guy who gets EVERYTHING wrong.  From Ansible:  “From a local-paper story celebrating Garry Jon Simpson’s feat of publishing his sf novel through the ‘author-funded’ Athena Press: ‘I enjoy writing science fiction as you don’t have to do a lot of research for it.’ (Winsford Guardian, 21 August) [SHS]”

Now read it again with my edits: “From a local-paper story celebrating Garry Jon Simpson’s feat of publishing his sci fi novel through the ‘author-funded’ Athena Press: ‘I enjoy writing sci fi as you don’t have to do a lot of research for it.”

See?  Now it actually makes sense and you don’t feel so embarrassed for Garry Jon anymore, do you?


Nader coments on the ‘death of science fiction’ here.  I have unformulated objections to his contentions and intend to ramble on about them, probably later on today.

I will say one thing.  I sure hope it’s sci fi that’s dead and not science fiction.

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