What's wrong with 'Sci-Fi'?

Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by TomTB, Jun 7, 2016.

  1. TomTB

    TomTB Administrator Staff Member

    A lot of science fiction aficionados despise their precious genre being referred to as Sci-Fi. Why?

    It seems a bit ridiculous to me. Why would anyone get so riled by an abbreviation that makes perfect sense and rolls off the tongue.

    If you are one of these people please explain yourself!?
  2. jo zebedee

    jo zebedee Well-Known Member

    It confuses the heck out of me, I have no time, but as far as I can see it's elitism and little else.
  3. ecgordon

    ecgordon Well-Known Member

    I prefer the term SF, but I don't make a big deal out of most everyone else using sci-fi. The argument against it stems from Damon Knight and Susan Wood, who felt it trivialized the genre. Forrest Ackerman is generally credited with originating it in 1954, when Hi-Fi was a prevalent term. His main claim to fame was as publisher of Famous Monsters of Filmland, and he lumped all the speculative genres (SF, fantasy & horror) together under that term. Susan Wood is the one who suggested that it should be pronounced "skiffy" when what was being talked about was not true science fiction.
  4. TomTB

    TomTB Administrator Staff Member

    That's really interesting, thanks! I can see why historically it may have caused offence, but for it still to do so, when it is pretty much only used to refer to the science fiction genre, seems ridiculous. Each to their own though, I don't suppose it really matters either way in the grand scale of things :)
  5. kenubrion

    kenubrion Well-Known Member

    What do they want to call it?
  6. TomTB

    TomTB Administrator Staff Member

    SF? Science Fiction? Who knows ... as long as it's not Sci-Fi!
  7. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    I suppose it is a reaction to the mockery of the genre. What irritates most is the intention of belittling Science fiction as a minor and childish category.
  8. Sparrow

    Sparrow Well-Known Member

    I'm of two minds with this.
    Part of me knows and is well aware that the majority of SF/F deserves to be mocked by the literary standard-bearers, but too often well produced work is given a cold shoulder simply because it's "genre fiction". Occasionally, a movie like Pan's Labyrinth is released and receives critical acclaim, AND is a big hit with the masses. But that doesn't happen very often.
    Then again, I read The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak, and it sort of blows away most every SF story I've come across.
  9. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    Mediocrity affects every single genre. However, favoured and socially accepted genres, are not dismissed because of this.
    “Tell me what you read, and I tell you who you are” Yesterday, a colleague asked me what book kept me so engrossed. I thought for a second to make something up, but in the end I told him I was reading Koban, a story where lizard type of aliens plan to destroy our worlds. In order to avoid this, humans must best themselves genetically. His face was a picture, and I know I lost some brownie points in his eyes. On the other hand, if I had told him I was reading any fictional/historical novel, then I’m sure he would have thought differently, regardless whether Koban is actually a high quality SF novel or not.
    By the way, I didn’t enjoy that much Pan’s Labyrinth…
  10. Sparrow

    Sparrow Well-Known Member

    What good SF is to me, are those writers who respond to current science and technology trends, and even fringe speculative science, and then extrapolate that into 'what if', or 'holy shit, what if'. Mary Shelley did it with Frankenstein, HG Wells and War of the Worlds, Orwell responds to the spread of Totalitarian and Communist regimes by writing Nineteen Eighty-Four. Not many of the more modern writers have done this consistently, responded to the cutting edge science of the day and made it relatable to the reader, there was Michael Crichton, Anthony Burgess, William Gibson, and a handful of others. Most are now dead.
    There's some very literate SF/F being written these days, but not much it really ever moves me in an emotional way.

    ... and you're wrong about Pan's Labyrinth, so there.:p;)
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2016
  11. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    Well, they say “There is a proper time for everything” It seems to me you have moved on from SF, and maybe you need to tap into something different? Kick yourself out of your box? Every now and then, I need a good kick…:)

    Absolutely no way I’m wrong!;) What I am… is biased. When I watched the film, I thought it was visually fantastic and the story line truly clever. However, the political setting in the story is recurrent and one-sided in the Spanish cinematography since the 1980s, 10 years approximately after the political transition took place.
    Despite the fact, the director Guillermo del Toro is Mexican, he managed to follow the political cue they all follow, as they are supposed to, as far as the Spanish civil war is concerned. This really annoyed me at the time and that’s the reason I tend to dismiss the film.
  12. Sparrow

    Sparrow Well-Known Member

    I was almost going to poke fun at you for being one of those people who won't watch a movie with subtitles... but now I remember you speak Spanish, and are in fact Spanish! The Spanish Civil War is one of my many historical blindspots, so I'm guessing it was conveniently used as a backdrop for maximum effect, and less than honestly portrayed.
  13. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    @TomTB, just wondering what made you suddenly ask this question? I'm definitely on uncle Harlan's side and don't like using the term "sci-fi". I'll call it science fiction or SF. I'll get back to you later on this with a better response. As an example, though, I'll say that 2001: A Space Odyssey by Kubrick & Clarke is science fiction, whilst something like Emmerich's Independence Day is what I could term "sci-fi".
  14. Sparrow

    Sparrow Well-Known Member

    That works for me.
    Movies such as Independence Day, and books along the same vein are why SF literature receives so little respect from the literary world, and with good reason. 2001: A Space Odyssey is a work of timeless art.
  15. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    V.O films are a must. When possible, I avoid dubbed films as much as translated books.
  16. Jack Brewhouse

    Jack Brewhouse Well-Known Member

    A rose by any other name...
  17. jo zebedee

    jo zebedee Well-Known Member

    SF is okay, I think.
  18. btkong

    btkong Administrator Staff Member

    Sci-Fi has the pop culture images of dumbed down movie space thrillers. It's usually low on actual science and concept and high on action.

    I find SF readers tend to be a more intelligent and thoughtful collective, more so then some of the sister genres. I'm not sure what it is, maybe science fiction readers have a higher interest in technology or are more demanding of their science in fiction. While there is some cross over between fantasy and science fiction in readers, there are just as many science fiction readers who would not touch the likes of fantasy with a 10 foot pole.

    I feel this group (the elitists as you might call them) are the types who specifically don't like the Sci-Fi nomenclature.
  19. Jack Brewhouse

    Jack Brewhouse Well-Known Member

    I like the term sci-fi, what annoys me is when people include 'Twilight' in it.
  20. P Dee

    P Dee New Member

    For a long time, I preferred the full title of Science Fiction for the genre, or SF, but with Sci-Fi being used so widely, and being more widely used by laypeople, I've gone with the flow. It's also the case that some of those I found being most vocal and strident about Sci-Fi not being used were people I did not wish to associate with; those who wanted to keep the genre in preserved in a 1950s aspic. A bit like being tutted at by a bookseller at a convention, because I hadn't read author X - attitudes can create barriers.

    So, if you wish to use Science Fiction, or SF, please do. I will not object. but please don't object to me sometimes using the term Sci-Fi. For me, it's less about a genre's name, anyway, and more about a book that I'm (hopefully) enjoying. So long as people are reading.

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