Time to Read some Science Fiction!

Carl V. over at Stainless Steel Droppings, one of my favorite blogs, is having his annual Sci-Fi Experience. He says it’s not really a challenge, just an enticement to get out some SF and read it. Head on over there to read the whole intro to it.

Any format – short story, novel, play, audio book, even watching video – will do, and you don’t really have to do anything other than enjoy some SF, though you can sign up at his blog just to show your support.

Also please note the “SF Experience” graphic in the right-hand column, which is clickable. I’ll be reading some SF and hope you will all do the same. The event lasts from now through February.

Enjoy, and thanks to Carl for doing this!

About Rick Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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42 Responses to Time to Read some Science Fiction!

  1. Jeff Meyerson says:

    I will definitely be reading some. I got a few short story collections and I’m anxiously awaiting the arrival of Nathan Lowell’s HALF SHARE.

  2. Todd Mason says:

    Definitely some sf, not so much some sci-fi. (Yes, I’m one of Those.)

  3. Carl V. says:

    Thanks for the mention, the kind words, and thanks for your active participation Richard.

    It wasn’t until after I started visiting more sf/f blogs that I realized there is a contingent out there who doesn’t like the term “sci fi”. By then I had already done this thing a few times, and since I grew up with the term and don’t have an issue with it, I decided to just keep it this way.

  4. Todd Mason says:

    Old guard. We don’t much care for the way it was used, and sometimes still is, to denigrate the literature (or even the better drama), or for its cutesy sound.

  5. Todd Mason says:

    But if someone reads something good that they might not’ve otherwise…all to the good.

  6. Carl V. says:

    Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticizing, I just grew up with ‘sci f’i meaning “science fiction”, a genre I feel in love with the first time I saw it, read it. So to me the terminology is one of respect and not denigration as I think it is to many of my generation.

  7. Carl V. says:

    That being said, the way the term “sounds” has become far less endearing since the Sci Fi channel became SyFy, a marketing strategy that I do not understand on any level.

  8. Todd Mason says:

    Well, that it’s reputed to be Polish slang for syphilis, as well as is a term that can be trademarked in the US and perhaps internationally, both speak to the quality of the wares on the Siffy Channel.

  9. Carl V. says:

    Just one more reason why I don’t miss having cable or dish right now, don’t have to see the dreck they play on that channel and wish for something more.

  10. Rick mentioned sometime in 2010 that he’d like to see my comments on the two volumes of William Tenn’s work published by NESFA. I think I’ll tackle that for your challenge, Carl.

  11. I’m almost always reading some SF so I’m sympathetic to this effort

  12. Patti Abbott says:

    And I have Generation Loss near the top of my pile. Does that count as sf or sci-fi?

  13. Richard says:

    Hey all, first let me weight in on the SF vs. sci-fi thing. Like Carl, I grew up with sci-fi as the short version of science fiction, and used it comfortably and happily until I started this blog and got into wrangles with people who insisted SF was “right” and sci-fi was “wrong”. I don’t want to have a Gershwin moment here, but how can it be avoided? I don’t care if you call Heinlein’s Starship Troopers SF, sci-fi, hard SF, military science fiction, or foodle-doodle, it’s still a fine book and one I’d recommend.

    What’s in a name (to jump from Gershwin to Shakespeare) anyway? Yep, I’m old school, and the people who decided sci-fi is a derogatory term, mostly deserving application to lousy junk need to get over themselves. I do find SF and SF-F pretty handy though, easier to type and less likely to cause ire.

  14. Richard says:

    Jeff – I too am awaiting my (signed) copy.

    Patti – I’d classify it as a thriller, or morality novel, but probably not science fiction.

    George – that’s an excellent choice!

    Carl & Todd – I’m enjoying you dialog hugely. Keep it up!

    Charles – I’ll keep an eye out for what you decided to read.

  15. Carl V. says:

    I’m excited to see several authors/books in the comments here that I haven’t heard of at all and I hope that if all of you read and review these that you’ll post links to your reviews on the Review Site for the Sci Fi Experience 2011 as I’d love to learn more about these books…despite what it will no doubt do to my pile of books to be read.

    I understand how people have things they hold dear, including something that one the surface could be considered not a big deal by an outside observer. Words are powerful and the meaning we associate with them, especially if that meaning was taken to heart at a formative time in our lives, is something that is not easily discarded. I don’t mind a person being unhappy with the term “sci fi”, or “sci-fi” ( I personally don’t like the dash just because its something else I have to type!), especially as the genre is often looked down upon by the so-called “cultural elite” and also by the “average joe” who cares not for it. I’m okay with that, as long as it doesn’t turn into some big flame war. When stuff like that happens I believe it does more do damage the image of science fiction, and sf/sci fi fandom than does anything else.

    I love this community and it drives me crazy as well. I spent much of last year’s Sci Fi Experience frustrated with the constant verbal skirmishes I witnessed over whatever hot button issue the community grabbed onto at the time: race-fail, the representation of women in science fiction novels, the inequality towards female authors, and on and on. All of these are important issues, but if you spent time over on, say SF Signal, early last year you were constantly inundated with links to this or that argument going on. Heck, Jonathan Strahan’s Eclipse series (which I really enjoy) was almost scrapped because of the accusations that were lobbed at him because of the male to female representation in his anthologies and the marketing choices (unlikely his) that chose what names went on the book covers.

    These conversations, when done with respect, can be powerful ways to make positive change in the realm of science fiction literature. However, I often see these conversations devolve into name-calling and anger which frustrates me because I cannot help but think this is one of the things that turns off people wanting to enter the sf/sci fi community. We need to welcome new people with open arms, not turn them off with our bickering.

  16. Todd Mason says:

    “Sci-fi” is just too cutesy. (I haven’t read GENERATION LOSS yet, but if it’s science fiction, it’s sf..but Hand is more often a fantasy writer, and I gather her intent was to write a suspense novel with this one, as Rick notes.) The minute you start calling mystery fiction “my-fi” and contemporary mimetic fiction “mi-fi” and romance fiction “ro-fi,” I’ll not question your use of “skiffy”…sf people are usually to some extent, a greater extent than non-sf people, unsatisfied with the status quo, and often tend to be voluble and opinionated, so the finer points will tend to be debated…and since a lot of sf people aren’t always the most considerate of the feelings of others, some of those arguments can get a bit heated.

    Rick, I’ll give up on noting my exception to “sci-fi” when I give up my similar exception to “pulp” being applied to slick-magazine or paperback or even little-magazine fiction, Coz It’z Kewl. [Redacted] that, even though plenty have grown up with that misconception, as well. Words have meanings, and they have connotations. “Sci-fi” will forever be linked with THE GREEN SLIME and GODZILLA VS. MEGALON and STAR WARS–the Siffy Channel will make sure of that, much as Forrest Ackerman made sure of it via FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND and its shorter-lived sidekick magazine SPACEMEN (and PERRY RHODAN didn’t help that much, either). This is not helpful or useful when talking about William Tenn, Elizabeth Hand, or most of the fiction Jonathan Strahan collects for his annual. Use the “s” word if you must, but why must you?

  17. Carl V. says:

    “Use the “s” word if you must, but why must you?”

    Not sure if this question is directed at me or not, but I’ll go ahead and answer it. It isn’t that I must. To be frank I almost never use it, in writing at least. I’m lazy and much prefer to type sf or sf/f, mostly because it’s easier and seems to be the more common way to refer to science fiction and fantasy, so in that sense it is easier to go with the status quo of most genre sites I visit which write it that way.

    As I said earlier, I started the whole “Sci Fi Experience” four years ago, I believe, and if nothing else I am a creature of habit and since that is how it is known in the blogosphere, and because I’m sentimental, I prefer to just leave it that way.

    When I talk to people about science fiction I often use the term “sci fi” or “science fiction”. I don’t think about it, it is just what I do.

    Now as far as “sci fi” being equated with The Green Slime, Godzilla vs. Megalon, and Star Wars, I happen to believe that this is the case regardless of what term you use…sci fi, skiffy, science fiction, sf, speculative fiction, etc. To the non-converts, those all mean the exact same thing and are always (or at least during our lifetime) are always going to be associated with those things by the masses. And, for a person who grew up in the Star Wars generation (I was 7 when Star Wars was released in theaters) and who credits Star Wars for planting the seed that has made me a life long sf/sci fi fan, I must say that I don’t see anything wrong with any of those terms being equated with Star Wars. Regardless of what you choose to think of it, Star Wars tapped into the kind of archetypes of story that excite and inspire people both young and old to lose themselves in story.

    I don’t mind you taking exception to the term “sci fi”. But do you really think if we somehow drove that terminology out of existence that the genre would be more respected or legitimate? I don’t. And to what level does science fiction need to be considered legitimate, and by whom? or who? I never get that right. 🙂

  18. Carl V. says:

    And just to clarify, I am quite serious with those questions. This impersonal medium can cause one to easily misconstrue tone, etc. and I honestly am not being a smartass here. I really am curious, partially because I myself am not sure what I feel about sf/sci fi and how it is perceived. The part of me that loves to share his passions with others wants everyone to discover just how completely cool and relevant this genre is, wants people to have their eyes opened that there are science fiction novels that are every bit as powerful and life-changing and well written as any classic. But there is also that rogue part of me that kind of likes the fact that science fiction isn’t as popular as, say, the work of Dan Brown. I’m not sure I want any of my favorite books coming out with ‘Oprah Book Club’ stickers on them.

  19. Richard says:

    Say, how about we all go back to using the term “science wonder” for the stuff? Um, on second thought maybe not.

    As for the term “pulp”, Todd, it’s meaning has changed, as does so much in the language, to encompass a type of fiction instead of the material on which it was printed, but of course you know that. All of this is an intellectual discussion of language, which is fine, though when it comes to labels, any that successfully communicate what’s intended will work, and when I (or Carl, or Fred Pohl) use sci fi we mean the stuff we grew up reading. I never even much liked “speculative fiction” as a label, but at least I knew what it was intended to mean.

    “Words is just words”, but then again, look at the current uproar over the use of a specific term in Huckleberry Finn. I say don’t try to re-write history.

  20. Richard says:

    Now I have to go open some boxes to see if I can find some science fiction to read!

  21. Todd Mason says:

    Not using epithets once you’re aware that they’re epithets, and not using words incorrectly because it’s fashionable to use them incorrectly (such as the abuse of “pulp,” which is borne of ignorance and pseudohipness), is not “re-writing history”–re-writing history is in fact what one does when tries to pretend that the misuse of language is A-OK or that epithets if meant well are not epithets. And I’m deadly serious.

    No, Carl, I wasn’t addressing that last question to you specifically. And, no, actually, if you find someone who isn’t a bigot or willfully ignorant, they won’t automatically associate good writing in sf with the silliest Godzilla films…but I note neither of you took up the My-Fi, Mi-Fi, Ro-Fi challenge. It’s a cutesy label that doesn’t help when there are entirely too many snobs with tastemaking jobs that actually have an impact on the lives and careers of our better writers (and even our better filmmakers), who are stymied when the bar is set for the casual reader (or auditor) at STAR WARS, which I admit I threw in because entirely too many people want to defend it because they loved it when they were 7, or because it reminded them of FLASH GORDON serials they saw when they were 7…which weren’t any good, either. I watched LAND OF THE LOST with mild amusement when I was about 7 or so, and repeats of LOST IN SPACE, but will not insist that because they inspired children and very deprived adults that they were good, having seen them again since then…they don’t hold up too well compared to, say, the better episodes of THE PRISONER, which also impressed me at that age.

    No, I’m simply saying that it doesn’t help your favorite writers then or now to cooperate with the people who are actually trying, usually casually and ignorantly, from reaching the kinds of readers who will enjoy their work…because it aspires to something a bit beyond what STAR WARS will ever achieve, no matter how many attempts to co-opt Joseph Campbell it makes. Too many of them have had to quit writing or even spun out worse than that because the only audience they could reach was the one that wanted more work from them that was below what they could achieve…true, happily to somewhat lesser extent, in crime fiction as well.

    Now, all of this doesn’t come directly from casual use of “Sci-Fi” in conversation…but the belittling mindset that term encourages, through its trivializing nature, is enough to help add a few straws to that poor camel’s load. It was, after all, created by Ackerman as he was ramping up FAMOUS MONSTERS…and Ackerman always did love the crap almost as much as he did the good work in sf.

    But that kind of thing is why some of us don’t think it’s just fun or just fine to use that term.

  22. Todd Mason says:

    Sorry, “trying to keep them (the better writers in sf) from reaching the kinds of readers who at least might enjoy their work…” This includes publishers who package things shabbily but “skiffily” (no matter how much it might comfort the regular reader to see the trademark, say, blaster-firing space-soldier), and chain bookstore fellows who are quite sure that, say, Kurt Vonnegut never wrote that sci-fi, no…but this atrociously-packaged William Kotzwinkle book, as his last adult novel was, well, I guess that goes in Sky-Fie…while his well-packaged THE EXILE sure must not, since it’s a Serious Time-Travel Novel…while books by, say, Joanna Russ or Thomas Disch or John Sladek, when in the stores at all, are again slathered with inept or “commercial” packages and tucked in the sigh-fie section so that they might be safely ignored by most of their potential audience. Barry Malzberg, Robert Silverberg, Harlan Ellison all very publicly quit sf for some years in the ’70s because they were tired of such atomizing, condescending treatment, and not reaching most of their potential audiences…Willian Tenn was one of the many more who quit earlier, more quietly, but for similar reasons (and he could actually support himself as a college prof, as he could not as a condescended-to sci-fi writer).

    Again, I repeat, none of this is, or at least very little, is Driven by cutesy-poo terminology being proffered by people who actually love the field and its good work…but it doesn’t, not even a little bit, help.

  23. Todd Mason says:

    Ah, well, it’s late. William Tenn (Philip Klass), of course, but the typos creeping in means it’s time to retire.

  24. Todd Mason says:

    (And, of course, Joseph Campbell knew a good commercial hook when he saw one, too…that co-optation went both ways.)

  25. Todd Mason says:

    And the misuse of pulp now is akin to the misuse of “comic-book” about twenty years ago…when a comic-book concept or portrayal meant one that was childish or trite or worse. As comics are somewhat less disrespected, one hears that spin less, now…perhaps the current intentional misuse will pass, as well.

  26. Carl V. says:

    If you read a little closer you will notice that I didn’t say anyone at all would associate “good writing in sf with the silliest…”. I said to the “non-converts”, or in other words the general masses, who are by and large good people who are NOT bigots nor are they ignorant, but they will still associate ANY term one chooses to use to represent ‘science fiction’ as Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, spaceships, little green men and what have you. That stereotype is not going anywhere for the majority of non-sf fandom. Which leaves the rest of us, who quite honestly are not going to be swayed one way or the other by the use of the term “sci fi”, because we all know what we mean. My generation (many of whom, including myself, would disagree heartily that Star Wars doesn’t still hold up well…and are also not bigots, are highly intelligent, and actually have the ability to still love, cherish and enjoy a film like Star Wars and at the same time tackle and enjoy more “worthy” science fiction) say “sci fi” and we mean the same exact thing that you mean when you say “sf” and we mean it every bit as respectfully.

    As for your comments on publishing, on the nature of books being shelved in only certain sections, etc. I don’t disagree that it is a problem, but that has nothing at all to do with anything except for money. If publishers thought they could make more money off of science fiction authors by packaging their books in a less stereotypical manner and put them in a general fiction section they would. It wouldn’t make science fiction any more respected, and if it did science fiction fans would complain that their fiction was being taken over by the masses. The majority of authors period don’t make enough money to live on, regardless of genre, or the lack thereof. Publishers do pander to the masses and they always will…they all want to sell more books to more people, so there will always be “lesser” fiction. That isn’t a situation unique to science fiction. I personally think it is a mistake to think that the term “sci fi” makes any difference at all in your argument. I believe (cynical as it may sound) that the “snobs” (and I agree with you that they exist) feel the way they do about the genre regardless of what it is called because they firmly believe, and perhaps always will, that science fiction is lesser literature, lesser film, whatever. Where I think we make a difference in that battle is using the tools at hand, in this example–the internet and the book blogging community–to encourage people to read science fiction.

    And who cares where they start? Even is someone starts with a Star Wars novel, that sets a foundation upon which to approach them and say, “hey, if you liked this novel, you should check out this author over here”. How else do you think people will discover “good” science fiction? It won’t be because we somehow rid the world of the term ‘sci fi’ and its negative connotations. Its more likely to happen by building on what exists. People know, or at least have a conception, of what ‘sci fi’ means, and even those who scoff and dismiss it can often be reached when approached in a more personable manner. I’m also curious as to how you think science fiction could be better marketed, sold in bookstores, etc.? I don’t think packaging it to look like all the other fiction and shelving it in a section called “literature” is going to make it sell better. All kinds of science fiction authors have books that reach and stay on the New York Times Bestseller list, get high praise from places like Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus, etc and manage to have that happen all while their books sit firmly entrenched in the swords and spaceships section of the bookstore.

  27. Carl V. says:

    I want to point out that I have some of the same laments. I get frustrated that some of my favorite authors still have to have day jobs. I get frustrated with literary snobs who won’t open their minds to see that there is as much worthy literature in science fiction and fantasy as there is elsewhere. I get tired of (some) of the derivative work that is released in book and film form in sf/f. What I don’t know is if I agree with you on the reasons these things exist, or at the very least I see some reasons other than the ones you point out, ones that have nothing to do with terminology and the everyday person’s perception but have everything to do with systems problems within the publishing industry and systems issues within the Hollywood machine.

  28. Jeff Meyerson says:

    Just checked and I read 14 science fiction books (3 short stories) last year, plus four I’d categorize as fantasy.

  29. Todd Mason says:

    Sadly, at the moment I don’t have time (as opposed to last night, when I didn’t have the energy) to fully answer your questions as they should be answered, Carl…except to point out that you seem to think that perception is divorced from language, which it emphatically is not; that because people are encouraged to think that STAR TREK, much less STAR WARS (which isn’t good space opera, as opposed to, say, the better Harry Harrison space opera, or even as opposed to much of BABYLON-5), is representative of the sf field, that this is how things must be, when a more honest literary/artistic culture would quit attempting to segregate the serious and good from sf (so that something like NEVER LET ME GO can’t be sf because it’s good, if it is…haven’t read it yet, nor seen the film, cannot be sf because it’s Deep, man), which is not a problem only sf and fantasy face–people love to say things such as This isn’t Merely crime fiction–and which is not rectified by pretending that fondly referring to your favorites in literature as “sci-fi” is devoid of connotation Because You Don’t Mean That Connotation; and that the publishing industry and the bookselling industry Knows Best, which is a very great leap, a pass I doubt you’d be willing to give, say, the petroleum industry. Particularly when one contemplates the vast inefficiencies of the publishing and bookselling industries, and how the latter particularly are frequently doing their best to put themselves out of business.

    Hey, I don’t want you to rename your competition, since as you point out you’ve had it going for a while and it’s established by that name (or at least I don’t want you to rename it enough to campaign for it)…what I’m saying is that you Do understand by now why some of us don’t think “sci-fi” (or any other pejorative) is OK just because it isn’t meant to be pejorative when when you use it?

  30. Todd Mason says:

    And, fwiw, Carl, we are roughly of the same generation. I’d guess I’m about six years older than you.

  31. Carl V. says:


    I would freely admit that much of the way that I feel has to do with the fact that the “community” to which I profess to belong, despite the fact that I also want to shun them much of the time when they get into bickering matches about things (and I’m not referring at all to our conversation, just to things I mentioned earlier), is that I have not truly been a “member” of that community for anything but say the last 3-4 years of my life. Prior to moving here to Kansas City 12 years ago I honestly had no friends or acquaintances who read science fiction or fantasy, or none that talked about it at any length. I did not belong to any clubs, didn’t read science fiction magazines, etc. I read whatever science fiction novels struck my fancy, attended the occasional Star Trek convention in Tulsa, and watched the various science fiction television shows, films, etc. that came out. It wasn’t until the last few years of actually interacting on a deeper level with others that I’ve slowly begun to get knowledgeable about the history of the genre, etc. So, I went and did a little research and learned a lot more about the term “sci fi” and learned more about how the wider community sees it, including authors, etc. And I’ve thought about what you’ve wrote, Todd.

    Let it not be said that I am closed minded. I am actually willing to concede that just because I have had a nearly lifelong fondness for the terminology because it represents everything good, and bad, in science fiction for me that it is okay to use it interchangeably with any other term. I’m willing to stop using the term all together. I don’t plan on changing my event this year, but I will actually consider changing it to the Science Fiction Experience next year. Before anyone gets the idea that this is some big change, do remember that I wrote earlier that I rarely actually use “sci fi” in any written correspondence, posts, etc. It is more natural to type ‘science fiction’, or ‘sf’, and always has been…I think largely because my brain wants to struggle with the dash or no dash dilemma when typing “sci fi”. So there is that issue. Now on to other things that we have been discussing.

    As far as the greater community of people, those outside the group who considers themselves fans of science fiction, I still fully believe that terminology means nothing and that any denigration, disrespect, etc. is and will continue to be used against the genre as a whole, regardless of the quality of work. Educating the masses to the industry difference between the terms “sci fi”, “sf”, “science fiction” is not going to make any difference. I don’t think ALL perception is divorced from language, not at all. But I do believe that the language used to describe “science fiction”, regardless of what terms are used, elicits a perception in non-SF fans of whatever is popular in the genre, which in this case is Star Wars, Star Trek, and on some levels the B-grade stuff that has been associated with the genre for decades. What will make a difference in that perception is exposing people who don’t read science fiction to good science fiction in whatever way we can do that. As much as I readily embrace my affection for Star Wars, Star Trek, Firefly and many of the other more popular representations of science fiction, I too want people to understand that there is more out there. More challenging works, better works, etc. But I also want to find a way to do that without becoming the same kind of elitist that I despise in literary fiction circles. I think there is a place for sf and fantasy of various levels, if that is how I want to put it. I find it perfectly okay to enjoy, even as an adult, the latest televised sf series and also to want to spend my time reading the praised works of classic authors and the cutting edge stuff that contemporary authors are trying. And everything in between. I think the sf community does a lot to damage their own product by belittling those works, the authors who write them, and the people who read and enjoy them.

    I don’t think the publishing industry knows best, and that is not the point I was trying to make. The point I was trying to make is that looking to the publishing industry to step up to make any changes that might make science fiction be taken more seriously is most likely misguided. The publishing industry, like any industry, is in it for the money. If they could figure out a way to make money and do what you seem to be asking them to do, I suspect they would do it…though I do readily admit that all industries are somewhat myopic and few have made the changes necessary to compete successfully in a new market place.

    What I am really wanting to know, and I haven’t seen you respond yet, is what you think should be done. I don’t ask that to try to paint you into some corner or to antagonize you. I am really and truly curious. What would make science fiction be taken more seriously? What could be done to ensure that books like Never Let Me Go, or many of the works of Haruki Murakami, or last year’s award-nominated collection, The Love We Share Without Knowing, be considered as genre fiction rather than weeded out and given a more “literary”, (read: respectable) classification thus doing just what you mentioned, segregating the serious and good from sf?

    I know for me personally I like walking into a bookstore and seeing a SF/F section. Same for mystery, crime, etc. I like being able to search through a section of books that have at least a general classification so I know what I am looking at. I’ve discovered many wonderful books that way. However, if I owned a bookstore, I would want to be savvy enough to make sure that books like those mentioned above are shelved not only in the general fiction/literature section where they are now but also in the sf/f section of the bookstore, that way those works would be exposed to those who make a bee line straight for that section of the bookstore every time and don’t venture out beyond it. I doubt I’ll get agreement here, but that is okay. I like the classification system and always have. Maybe that is a comfort thing. Or maybe I like it because I’ve never limited myself to just one genre and wander all over the bookstore to satisfy my reading whims in any given year.

  32. Richard says:

    Wow, a guy goes to have dinner and read for a while (I found a berserker collection by Saberhagen, which qualifies as science fiction by any moniker), and the conversation just gets more interesting. I want both of you guys to know this interesting and civil dialogue is fascinating to me, and since I know you both via your blogs and email I know where you are both coming from, as the saying goes. I think you’re both right, and yes that’s easily possible when it’s language and terminology being discussed. As to how the terms effect the business of writing genre fiction, I admit to ignorance.

    By the way, in a conversation with the late (December 2010) Len Moffatt, an early and lifelong southern California fan of the sf genre, he told me Forry came up with the term after hearing, on the car radio, the term Hi-Fi and responded with something like “Hey, we could call science fiction “sci-fi”! (with or without the hyphen, no one pronounces hyphens anyway). Apparently he told this to Len soon after the event. If this is to be believed, and I don’t doubt Len for a moment, then what Forry consequently did with the term, or how he later applied it, it was from it’s beginning simply shorthand for the genre label science fiction.

  33. Carl V. says:

    I’ve got to give Saberhagen a try some day. Where to start?

    As for Forry and the coining of “sci fi”, I’d certainly like to give the guy the benefit of the doubt that he didn’t do it to cast dispersions on the genre. But as I mentioned above, in giving some time to think about what Todd has had to say and in doing a little research into the origins of the term and the way that the industry (meaning authors, publishers, editors, etc) use it to denote works of “lesser” quality (and the fact that I hate the SyFy network), it would be willful ignorance for me to continue to embrace the term at this point and not see the consequences of doing so. I’m willing to admit I was wrong, from lack of knowledge, though my motives were pure. That doesn’t mean I am going to become “one of those” who take offense at the terminology, get bent out of shape about it, etc. If I felt it was a worthwhile conversation I would try to do what Todd has done, use respectful discussion techniques to educate the person I was talking to. But most of the time I think those discussions aren’t worth having and can only serve to alienate the person. It is that kind of alienation that does more harm to science fiction, especially in this day and age where a person can actually reach out to try to bond with fellow sf lovers, than does any terminology.

  34. Richard says:

    Fair enough, Carl, and I don’t disagree. I have quite a lot of boxes here filled with hardcover (or should that be “cloth bound”?) and paperback books marked “SF” but there are some I marked “sci-fi”, apparently depending on the day I was marking them last October. I’ve pretty much stopped using sci-fi in writing, as I said earlier because SF (and SF-F) is so much easier to write, but you will hear the term roll off my tongue every now and again, and I do it unapologetically.

  35. Richard says:

    Imagine, while sorting boxes of books:

    “What’s in this one?”
    “Those are SF.”
    “Yousef? Who is Yousef, and why are there books about him?”
    “No, SF.”
    “Essa Effe? Is that an Egyptian name, Middle eastern? Are these biographies?”
    “No, no those are sci-fi paperbacks.”
    “Oh! Why didn’t you say so in the first place?”

  36. Carl V. says:

    I don’t imagine my vocal conversation changing much, Richard. The people I hang out with here who read science fiction all have the same viewpoint regarding “sci fi” that I do in that we all mean the science fiction we like when we are talking about it. But I do see value in making the change in what I write, especially as I begin to write for other websites besides my own.

  37. Richard says:

    Gotcha. And as far as Saberhagen is concerned, I started with Empire of the East, and I think it’s a good choice. It’s more fantasy, as are the Swords books. The Berserker stories are SF.

  38. Carl V. says:

    And the growth continues, because I had a version of this conversation with my previously mentioned friends at the comic shop tonight and found myself purposefully making an effort to say ‘science fiction’ now that I have a little more knowledge. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing indeed. We had a great conversation in which I heard a little more from Todd’s point of view from a couple of the guys in the score who are older than Todd and I who don’t personally have a strong feeling either way anymore but remember well the “sci fi” skirmishes that were going on right about the same time that I was experiencing Star Wars for the first time and getting my first taste of the genre through film and fiction.

    We also all agreed that somehow this community has to do a better job of coming together and encouraging others to take a chance at finding out just how much the past and present sfnal literature has to offer.

  39. Todd Mason says:

    And I will have some further answers to your questions, when I’m not stealing time from my sleep as I am at the moment. Pleasant dreams.

    And Saberhagen’s “Berserker” stories have tended to be my favorites among his work. Quite a long sequence, and some very clever changes rung there. Or you could start with his 1973 ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA article, “Science Fiction,” but it won’t surprise you to learn that I don’t agree with all his assertions there…

  40. Carl V. says:

    “And I will have some further answers to your questions, when I’m not stealing time from my sleep as I am at the moment. ”

    I understand that. This has been a long week, in part because I am still in ‘vacation mode’ as far as my late nights and haven’t been getting to bed early. One of my resolutions for this year was to get to bed before midnight at least three nights a week and it is the only one I haven’t been making an effort on. And I’m feeling it!

    Look forward to your ideas and thanks for the Saberhagen info.

  41. Richard says:

    Hate to interrupt this one, but I just bought some books and want to post something… no, wait, I’ll wait until Monday New Arrivals. Here’s a hint, though: all but one were recommendations from other blogs in the last week or three, and I haven’t even read today’s FFB.

  42. Carl V. says:

    I’ll be interested to see what you bought. I’m not doing well on my ‘slow down the book buying’ resolution, but thus far am reading a lot of what I am buying, so I guess that is some progress.

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