How to be hip to science fiction writers
From a letter to the editor of the Anchorage Press:
I was glad to see Brandon Seifert's article on Fairbanks science fiction writer David Marusek ("Everyday science fiction," November 3). David is an amazingly cool guy and a brilliant writer, deserving of fame, fortune and almost 72 inches of copy in Alaska's hippest newspaper.And here's the accompanying mea culpa:
Alas, Mr. Seifert used a phrase I've come to expect from other, less hip Alaska newspapers: "sci fi." We poor science fiction writers have been fighting that silly little slang term since the 1950s. I once saw the producer of Star Wars booed at a World Science Fiction convention when he said "sci fi" - and this was when he was accepting a special award. There's no quicker way to demonstrate ignorance of the field than to say "sci fi." If you want to be hip, write "sf," pronounced "es-sef."
Not that it's a big deal. Sf writers have suffered far worse indignities, starting with the perception that what we write is mindless, silly fluff. Of course, a lot of it is, but not what David Marusek writes. The guy's a genius.
Still, a little respect would be nice. Get the slang right. Don't blunder in with an insult. Newspapers can drill Associated Press style into their writers, so you'd think they'd learn how to be science-fictionally correct. It would be way cool if the Press made "sci fi" uncool in its house style except when referring to incredibly sleazy 1950s B movies.
Michael Armstrong, member
Science fiction and Fantasy Writers of America
Editor's note: Brandon Seifert used the term "SF" as well as "sci-fi" in his copy. Then an editor, who feared that some people might think Seifert was talking about San Francisco, "fixed it."Normally, I'd laugh the letter writer right out of this blog. It's better to be accurate than use "hip" terminology, sir.
But there just might, if you look hard enough, be a lesson here. Was there any real reason a reader would mistake SF for San Francisco? (After reading the original piece, I'd say no, despite the subject having attended a California college.)
I think it's interesting that sci-fi writers hate the term "sci fi." A little insider information can be good when you're trying to offer a window into another world.