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Old April 29 2012, 10:48 PM   #800
Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion
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Re: sf/f TV development news - 2012

Christopher wrote: View Post
Actually singular "they" is not a recent development. It's been a part of English usage at least as far back as Chaucer, and is also found in Shakespeare and the King James Bible, among plenty of others. Like the so-called "split infinitive," the rule declaring it "wrong" came along only a couple of centuries ago, even though it had been standard usage for many times longer.
True enough, but there's still the difference between need and ignorance.

True, but it's occurred to me that maybe the reason so many people use "irony" in that way is because we need a word that actually does mean that (i.e. something that is unexpectedly and poetically appropriate) and don't have one. It's a concept in need of a word, and people use "irony" for lack of a better alternative. And it's probably a losing battle. Once enough people use "irony" that way, the dictionaries will have to adapt.
"Poetic justice?" Anyway, however that particular circumstance works out, surely you agree that all words can't become so homogenized that none of them mean anything.

Christopher wrote: View Post
If you're talking about mass-media science fiction, you should consider that the earliest entries in the genre were things like the cheesy adventure serials of the '30s and '40s, and Z-grade monster movies and kids' shows like Captain Video in the '50s. The standards started out low and have actually increased over time -- first with writers like Rod Serling and Gene Roddenberry bringing more adult storytelling sensibilities, more recently with writers like J. Michael Straczynski and Michael Piller and Joss Whedon raising the literacy and complexity of the material.
I never said that the problem wasn't there from the beginning-- just that it hasn't been fixed yet. Like I said, every day I wake up in the 21st century....

If you're talking about the lines between strict SF and fantasy, those have always been vague in the mass media (which one does Flash Gordon or The Twilight Zone fall into?)
Flash Gordon is Space Opera and Twilight Zone depends on the episode. Also, there's no reason why one particular concept or story can't fall into multiple categories.

but it's a distinction that has nothing to do with standards of quality. Ray Bradbury's prose fiction is as much fantasy as SF, but few would dispute its very high quality.
I never said otherwise. When I talk about high standards, I'm talking about language not the superiority of one genre over another.

Greg Cox wrote: View Post
Okay, I respect that some people are simply concerned with precision of language, and that's fine. But:

1) There is a matter of practicality and convenience here. Sure, it would be more accurate if every thread, article, blog, film festival, convention, and bookstore shelf was labeled "Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Miscellaenous Weird Shit, and Assorted Combinations and Permutations Thereof," but that's a bit of a mouthful. Sometimes it's just an easier to put up a sign saying "Science Fiction Section." In the immortal words of Saki: "An ounce of inaccuracy saves a ton of explanation."
Actually, even in practical terms, I think the longer version would be more eye-catching and welcoming.

2) A mere concern with precision of language doesn't really explain the endless blustery indignation that tends to erupt online whenever someone (gasp!) lumps Buffy in with Babylon-5. Explicit or implied is an attitude that "real" science fiction is somehow intellectually superior to all that wizards and vampire crap. From where I'm sitting, there almost seems to be a kind of seige mentality on the part of some sf purists, as though they're afraid that acknowledging any kinship to fantasy or horror (or comic books) is going to give them cooties.
That may be, although I've never seen it. It's certainly not what I'm saying, since I love all that weird shit. To me it's just the equivalent of people calling a dolphin a fish.

Speaking as someone who grew up on Lovecraft, Fritz Leiber, Poul Anderson, Theodore Sturgeon, Richard Matheson, Edgar Rice Burroughs, John Wyndham and Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke, I'm not sure why some many fans seem determined to man the barricades to protect sf's precious bodily fluids from contamination . . . .
Me neither. If there are such people, I would argue as strenuously with them.

Greg Cox wrote: View Post
I think that's a stretch. You could just as easily argue that some fans are still so traumatized by high school that they persist in seeing the "mundanes" and "the masses" as the enemy--and are ever intent on finding new ways to prove that they understand what science fiction is all about better than the jocks and cool kids. 'Cause god forbid we let those people into our exclusive, little fannish club. They might actually confuse robots with golems!
Well, they might. It's misleading to consider the Mundanes or the masses or the common people the enemy-- that makes it too personal. But low standards are definitely the enemy. Let's be honest here, there's something wrong with a culture that favors wrestling over literature. Or do you think that things are perfect now? Do you not wish that the common people were more educated and literate?

Better to keep pointing out what "higher" standards we have than those silly people who don't insist on our rarefied, ivory-tower definitions.
Again, I think that high standards are better than low standards.

It's funny. Once in a blue moon, I stumble onto a bookstore that tries to keep the sf and fantasy books separate. It's always a mess, with the same authors (and sometimes even the same series) scattered across the store. Where do you shelve Gene Wolfe or Ursula K. Le Guin or Piers Anthony or Marion Zimmer Bradley or Andre Norton or Orson Scott Card or Poul Anderson or Ray Bradbury or whomever? And do we trust some poor clerk to figure out whether "Witch World" is fantasy or science fiction? What about "The Shadow of the Torturer" or "The Anubis Gates" or "Dragon Riders of Pern"?

Honestly, it's easier just to put them all in the "Science Fiction" section.
The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction solved that problem. They call it fantasy and science fiction. You could also call it creative writing. Or, I suppose, weird shit, but somebody's mother would probably complain.
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