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Author Topic: SF or Sci-fi
Jonsul
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After coming up with an idea to make a fiction publication as a hobby, I found out that many people don't like the spelling of sci-fi. Some I hear say it should be SF for Speculative Fiction which includes fantasy too.
I honestly don't understand the problem with sci-fi, though I guess I can understand how some say it gives it a "kiddy" image. The spelling to me brings up warm emotion of my childhood, which I don't think is a bad thing. But if people have a problem with said, it concerns me since I've planed to brand certain stories as such. So i was wondering:

Do very many people have a problem with this? And what's your thoughts on this, or is it just a fringe thing like the "comics" vs "graphic novel" people?

Thank you so much

[update]
Okay I found this post: http://www.hatrack.com/forums/writers/forum/Forum1/HTML/000294.html

So to set it apart, I guess I want to ask: Will the publication be taken seriously by contributers if I use the term "sci-fi". I want to be able to distinguish fantasy and science fiction clearly, but "Speculative Fiction" is to broad a label.

[This message has been edited by Jonsul (edited April 11, 2010).]


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Robert Nowall
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Well, SF circles have kinda looked down on people using "sci-fi." The coinage, in the fifties (I think), by the late Forry Ackerman, derives from "hi-fi" (kinda another obsolete term, too, huh?) and was generally taken up by outsiders to refer to the genre. Insiders didn't like it, they thought they were better than that. (You may have heard that the Sci-Fi channel recently abandoned use of the neologism, claiming they didn't want to be forever hooked with the geeks and weirdos that were, up till that point, their main audience.)

Sort of simultaneously, from the forties to relatively recently, "speculative fiction" was promoted as a better term for what the writers were turning out. "Science fiction" itself comes from the late 1920s, when the field grew out of the popular scientific publications of the day. Some writers found it limiting---some speculative works don't much involve science when you get right down to it.

If you send something to the traditional SF market, you might run into someone who'll react that way---I'd say stick with calling your work SF.

(Not that names in the field are all that cutting edge. One of the leading magazines is called Analog, and has been since 1960---and what do the young and the newcomers think of when they hear that word?)


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Utahute72
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Well being old I still use Sci-Fi, and I would understand that Hi-Fi means high fidelity that can be applied to modern day equipment as well.
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EricJamesStone
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quote:
Will the publication be taken seriously by contributers if I use the term "sci-fi".

Back when Sci-Fiction was still a viable market, nobody cared that it had "Sci-Fi" in the title and was sponsored by the Sci-Fi Channel, because 25 cents per word buys a lot of respect from contributors.

If you pay the contributors seriously, they won't care if you use the term "skiffy."

On the other hand, if you're not going to be paying contributors more than token payment, "Science Fiction" sounds much more professional and respectable than "Sci-Fi".


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Dark Warrior
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quote:
Back when Sci-Fiction was still a viable market, nobody cared that it had "Sci-Fi" in the title and was sponsored by the Sci-Fi Channel, because 25 cents per word buys a lot of respect from contributors.

Speaking of...I am a bit annoyed by the standardization of the term Sci-Fi to SyFy...which will probably cross over to all Sci-Fi industries and we will soon be writing SyFy. Blech!

To use a television term...I think the Sci-Fi channel 'Jumped the shark.'

[This message has been edited by Dark Warrior (edited April 11, 2010).]


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billawaboy
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I think it was authors like Harlan Ellison, who wasn't writing only 'science' fiction but 'speculative' fiction that had elements of science in it, who had problems with being pegged as a science fiction writer. I remember hearing he was so serious about it he once walked off an interview *on-air* because he told the announcer just before coming on set not to address him as a science-fiction writer - and then she did anyways.

I can understand Harlan's POV. He probably considered himself an author of the likes of Huxley or Hemingway or Falukner - 'literary' - and I assume he looked down at those pulp science fiction writers.

But now I also hear it goes the other way too. There are science fiction writers who want to dissociate themselves from what the call "sci-fi" of the likes one can see on TV shows and movies that really have no science behind them apart from inserting science jargon willy-nilly to make the story appear as it was science-fiction. I think Neal Stephenson and Ron Moore are of that cloth.

Even Asimov said that the early pulp writer's of the 20's wrote adventure stories with random science stuck in without making any sense. He said (paraphrasing)- it was with the physics-trained editor John W. Campbell that you got the "golden age" of science fiction where "realistic," in the sense of realistic concepts as well as realistic portrayals of (non-mad) scientists, science fiction was written, nurtured and published.

Anways... When creating your magazine you probably want to ask yourself how realistic (or conversely, how speculative) you want your magazine's stories to be. Personally I vote for the more restrictive 'realistic' science fiction since there are many magazines that take the wider speculative stories. But, that might scare away some really good non-sci-fi writers. There's no reason why you couldn't have it SF but with the condition that if a writer uses science elements it better be 'realistic'-ly used it the story with well thought-out consequences of having that tech exist in that society.

I don't think respect should be a concern - just figure out what kind of writing you want your magazine to represent. Then publish really good stories.


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Jonsul
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Thanks for the great replies!

quote:
Sort of simultaneously, from the forties to relatively recently, "speculative fiction" was promoted as a better term for what the writers were turning out. "Science fiction" itself comes from the late 1920s, when the field grew out of the popular scientific publications of the day. Some writers found it limiting---some speculative works don't much involve science when you get right down to it.

I do like the term Speculative Fiction, but like I said it's really broad. Is there any sub-classifications within it? That would help a lot.

quote:
Back when Sci-Fiction was still a viable market, nobody cared that it had "Sci-Fi" in the title and was sponsored by the Sci-Fi Channel, because 25 cents per word buys a lot of respect from contributors.

If you pay the contributors seriously, they won't care if you use the term "skiffy."

On the other hand, if you're not going to be paying contributors more than token payment, "Science Fiction" sounds much more professional and respectable than "Sci-Fi".



I definitely want to be able to pay respectable rates. But will probably need to try to use some donated stories in the beginning to get things going. I'm not in a position to fund it myself right now, and with the demise of many a magazine recently I doubt I can get a loan for it. The reason I've decided to try this is because of my love of the SF community and also because I've thought of a pretty original business model. Once I launch the site I'm building I'll give more details on that. I have huge respect for short-story writers, which I am as well, and think they deserve every penny their story is worth.
If the business model works I'll share profit with those who donated their stories and try to make it a full legal organization. But to do that I'll have to prove to banks and everyone else that the model works.

quote:
Speaking of...I am a bit annoyed by the standardization of the term Sci-Fi to SyFy...which will probably cross over to all Sci-Fi industries and we will soon be writing SyFy. Blech!

LOL agreed! I understand why they changed it, but I didn't like it because of the same fear. I just don't like the spelling SyFy, it doesn't seem serious to me

[update]

quote:
Anways... When creating your magazine you probably want to ask yourself how realistic (or conversely, how speculative) you want your magazine's stories to be. Personally I vote for the more restrictive 'realistic' science fiction since there are many magazines that take the wider speculative stories. But, that might scare away some really good non-sci-fi writers. There's no reason why you couldn't have it SF but with the condition that if a writer uses science elements it better be 'realistic'-ly used it the story with well thought-out consequences of having that tech exist in that society.

I don't think respect should be a concern - just figure out what kind of writing you want your magazine to represent. Then publish really good stories.



I think I understand what your saying. So would it be acceptable then to use Speculative Fiction and Sci-Fi separately? I'm a organization nut, I wish I had some way to organize each story based on content without alienating specific writers or readers.

[This message has been edited by Jonsul (edited April 11, 2010).]


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Pyre Dynasty
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I once read an article by Asimov about this subject, he thought it should be Scifi. (Pronounced Skiffy.) I agree we should mutiny against syfy. Sci-Fi is nice to my eye.
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billawaboy
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Pyre: mutiny started years ago when they screwed up Earthsea - I'm up for creating another SF channel. How about SF or the 'Asimov' channel?

Jonsul: organize? as in table of contents? I say put spec fic first and save the harder scifi stuff for later. You'll draw more readers that way.

[This message has been edited by billawaboy (edited April 12, 2010).]


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Robert Nowall
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Well, the Sci-Fi Channel's switchover to whatever probably comes from being run by corporate suits who have no understanding of the niche audience who are willing to watch something called "the Sci-Fi Channel," and who see only a space on the crowded cable channel. They'll make changes in every aspect of it, then wonder why their original audience deserts them and no new audience comes in replacement. (Remember what happened to the Nashville Network?)

Though Ellison did promote the term, it came up before he was active as a writer. Heinlein used it back in the late forties, I think---I do not know who, specifically, coined it.

The main influence on science fiction (or main problem) was that, in its formative years, it sat too close both to (1) the pulps, as well as (2) the science and technology magazines of the day (think Popular Mechanics or Popular Science). (To an extent this is a problem of American science fiction---British SF of the period was too close to the literary establishment.)

Remember, too, that the genre of "science fiction" could also be looked on as a subdivision of the genre of "fantasy," which seems to be on its way to being the dominant form in the marketplace. Bookstores may group all these books under "science fiction," but who knows how long that will continue?


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Jonsul
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quote:
Pyre: mutiny started years ago when they screwed up Earthsea - I'm up for creating another SF channel. How about SF or the 'Asimov' channel?

Jonsul: organize? as in table of contents? I say put spec fic first and save the harder scifi stuff for later. You'll draw more readers that way.



I mean like an area on the website that has all the stories, and then filters them based on what genre your interested in. Hmm... maybe I'll use spec fic first like you said. Still got a ways off till I can get this going.
Agreed, I read the Earthsea books, that really made me angry

[This message has been edited by Jonsul (edited April 12, 2010).]


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EricJamesStone
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quote:
I definitely want to be able to pay respectable rates. But will probably need to try to use some donated stories in the beginning to get things going.

I recommend you read this before going much farther with the idea of donated stories: http://www.maryrobinettekowal.com/journal/think-before-asking-writers-to-pay-for-your-hobby/ .


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