Saturday, March 21, 2009

Science Fiction vs Sci-Fi

When Forrest J. Ackerman coined the term "Sci-fi" in the 50's it met a mixed response. Serious writers equated it with the sound of crickets mating. These serious people preferred the term SF, which stands for "Science Fiction," "Speculative Fiction" and (should the occasion arise) "San Fransisco." It is clear many believe that by simply not removing enough letters, Mr. Akerman did not abreviate the phrase correctly.

Speculative fiction is an umbrella term that should include tales of fantasy and horror that are traditionaly excluded from strict science fiction. It also draws a separation line to exclude all the fiction that is entirely bereft of speculation.

These terms head up two broad schools of thought, which still trade ideological jabs half a century later. The best description of the schism I have ever read is quoted here in its entirety.

"Here is the difference:

Science Fiction is the serious realm of speculative literature that deals with such interesting speculations as aerospace travel, intelligent life on other planets, futuristic weaponry, and speculations into areas otherwise taboo, such as an enlightened approach to sexuality, that other genres shy away from.

Sci-Fi is the pulpish hack writing that deals with such geekish ideas as rocketships, bug-eyed aliens, rayguns, and orgies with hottie space-babes!"

As we can see, there is no relation whatsoever between the two. - John Wright, November 24, 2008 Comment on SF

Hats off to you John Wright for setting us all straight.

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