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Is "Sci-Fi" a derogatory term?

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posted on Apr, 18 2006 @ 04:22 PM
A lot of hard-core science fiction fans (and professionals) hate, and I mean really hate, the term "sci-fi." I once heard Harlan Ellison compare the term to calling a woman "a broad" and calling a Jew "a kike." (Of course, Ellison's never one for hyperbole. :-) )

Be that as it may, as a science fiction fan, I find the term useful in some respects, at least as a way for defining things for myself.

For me, "Science Fiction" refers to a story wherein the plot proceeds from a scientific or technological issue. Likewise, the plot is resolved by scientific or technological means. The science can be "hard" or "soft," i.e. anything from physics to psychology, and can or should be extrapolated into the future, but should otherwise remain grounded in the laws we know today. Real science fiction tends to be difficult to put up on the movie screen; it could be that it's too intellectually demanding for the common run of audiences. It can be done; 2001, Blade Runner, Minority Report, are, I submit, legitimate science fiction.

On the flip side, "Sci-Fi" is any kind of story set against the trappings of science fiction, but when need be, plays fast and loose with known scientific principles. It makes for more fun at the movies when fighter craft and zig and zag around in outerspace, blowing up with a satisfyingly loud noise when they're hit by "laser cannons" or some such. Traditionally, this was Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers stuff, updated today into Star Trek and Star Wars. Still fun, and a perfectly legitimate way to explore contemporary issues for storytelling purposes.

I like them both. What do you think of my theory?


posted on Apr, 18 2006 @ 04:28 PM
sounds like they are otakus of scifi then.

I mean did it offend them so badly that had to don their star trek uniforms?

I think it's useless over analyzing I mean whats the point? Only to argue with other sci fi fans and to try and form a l33tness?

I agree with you tho heres to using SCIFI!

I think some people just take themselves too seriously.

posted on Apr, 19 2006 @ 03:31 AM
Too many people take things too seriously.

Yeah, SciFi has become a derogatory term... but then again, who am I to complain. I mean, I've had people call me 'cracker' and 'whitey', and I just think to myself, whatever, chuckle at them, and walk past. (If I had looked at them and called them the N word they would have freaked... but thats another story)

Same happened with SciFi... a few people who didnt like science fiction used the term in a derogatory sense and suddenly its becoming a derogatory term.

Oh well... heres to Shows geared towards higher thinking... :w:

posted on Apr, 19 2006 @ 04:02 AM
Sci-Fi as a derogatory term? It's sounds like there is an element of elitism or even snobbishness here...

posted on Apr, 19 2006 @ 04:46 AM
It probably depends on the context in which it is used....

Just my $0.02

posted on Jun, 6 2006 @ 03:37 AM
Among people who think science fiction is for kids, crazies and dope fiends, 'sci-fi' is a derogatory term. But then, 'science fiction' is equally a term of contempt to such folk.

Among science fiction fans, things are a little more complicated. Baack, your definition makes 'sci-fi' more or less equivlent to space opera. I would tend to agree, adding the proviso that sci-fi is usually produced by people who have no background in science or science fiction and often displays casual ignorance of both, while space opera can sometimes be serious, literate and hip to the conventions of sf: take Iain Banks's Culture stories, of which I've written in another thread: I'd be equally comfortable calling them space opera or science fiction, but could never regard them as (ugh) 'sci-fi'.

I'm not so sure about your definition of science fiction ('sf' to fans). Sf doesn't always have to be set in the future or founded on a scientific premise. Time-travel stories are sf, and many, from Wells's The Time Machine to Moorcock's Behold the Man have been set in the past. There is also plenty of historical science fiction. Most recently, Neal Stephenson turned his historical novel series, the Baroque Cycle, into science fiction with the addition of just one anachronistic and very minor character. And of course his Cryptonomicon is a science-fiction novel set entirely in the past.

Similarly, I can think of any number of sf stories that have no scientific element at their core. Take Dune, for example; where was the science in Herbert's study of messianism vs. realpolitik? A lot of sf has political or literary themes.

Within what used to be called the 'sf community', there was never any general agreement on how to define the genre. If anyone can come up with a good one, I'd love to see it.

[edit on 6-6-2006 by Astyanax]

posted on Jun, 9 2006 @ 02:28 AM
Hey, I’ve worked with sci-fi for years and have always called it sci-fi - since I was about four feet tall - and won’t be changing it anytime soon.

I'm not really sure why people get so up in arms about this abbreviation versus any other one for the genre. That’s all it is - an abbreviation. It’s certainly not a derogatory term. And most, if not all, of the sci-fi and similar genre writers I’ve worked with over the past years also call it sci-fi.

Harlan Ellison has a big mouth (funny, considering the title of one of his most famous books). He's a grumpy old man who attacks anyone who disagrees with him and sues the rest. Who cares what he says?

posted on Jun, 9 2006 @ 08:06 AM

Originally posted by Bripe Klmun
Hey, I’ve worked with sci-fi for years and have always called it sci-fi - since I was about four feet tall.

Yes, but was it science fiction you were working with?

The following limerick, which appeared many years ago in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, explains the difference between sf and sci-fi rather well.

Dear reader, you ask yourself, 'Why
'Isn't sf the same as sci-fi?'
Well, you see, there's a fine line
Between Robert Heinlein
And Son of the Two-Headed Fly

Amongst science fiction readers and writers, the term 'sci-fi' is used to refer to stuff Muggles think is science fiction, but that we know is not. I reckon that about sums it up.

[edit on 9-6-2006 by Astyanax]

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