(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.