Tuesday, March 17, 2009

What's in a name?

In the beginning (as our beloved genre judges these things), we had scientifiction. It was the age of the pulps.

Scientifiction was a name only Hugo Gernsback could love. (Yes, that's opinion -- and I wait to see who can prove me wrong. Did anyone admit to liking the term once s/he wasn't submitting stories to the man?) Still, let it be remembered that Gernsback did a lot for the genre in its early days. The World Science Fiction Society honors his contributions each year with the prestigious Hugo Award.

Then the name became science fiction: tasteful and precise. A golden age began ...

Science fiction? Four syllables. It's madness! We can't expect anyone to expend that much energy. Can we? And so we got SF, an honest acronym and the tag I often use. But too many, evidently, found SF stuffy. That brings us -- ugh! -- to "sci fi."

Maybe "sci fi" was insufficiently cute. Some took to pronouncing it "skiffy."

I thought skiffy was as trite and self-deprecating as we could get. Silly me.

No lesser source than the New York Times tells us that the Sci Fi Channel is planning to rebrand itself as ... wait for it ... Syfy. Who would have imagined there was a way to make scientifiction sound good?

The more we disparage ourselves, the less surprised we should be that the broader community disparages our genre.

It's not too late. Say it ain't so, Sci Fi Channel.

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