Sci-fi horror

September 22, 2000

I was horrified by my article "Turning science fiction into fact" (Research, THES, September 8), and I hoped for a week that no one in the academic science-fiction community would notice. But they have noticed it, and they are passing on their derision to me.

What possessed you to change "sf" and "science fiction" into "sci-fi"? "Sci-fi" is a term not used by sf critics at all; science-fiction fans use it to refer to low-grade pulp sf, or sf on film and TV (which is much the same thing).

It is a major shibboleth; use of the word "sci-fi" announces loud and clear to everyone in the science-fiction community that you are an outsider and someone who really does not take science fiction seriously as a literary or historical phenomenon.

It would be like changing every appearance of "television" or "TV" in a serious media article into "telly".

Edward James

Professor of history

University of Reading

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