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Brave New Words
January 16, 2008 5:01 AM   Subscribe

Matrioshka Brain? Quine? Whuffie? - 75 Words every sci-fi fan should know, Science fiction citations at the OED, Swear words from science fiction, Neologisms in science fiction, Brave new words.
posted by fearfulsymmetry (27 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Bloody new knuckles.
posted by Wolfdog at 5:24 AM on January 16, 2008


The fact that people care about Quines is much more interesting to me than Quines themselves. Much like the fascination with recursion in that regard: I'm fascinated by the fascination with recursion. Recursion itself -- not so much.
posted by lodurr at 5:38 AM on January 16, 2008


Badass.
posted by Skorgu at 5:40 AM on January 16, 2008


... and the "Science fiction citations at the OED" link doesn't seem to actually list any citations, yet.
posted by lodurr at 5:42 AM on January 16, 2008


My fave is gripping hand.
posted by smackfu at 5:57 AM on January 16, 2008


The two sci-fi words that came to mind immediately ("scrith" and "willomy") are missing from all of those links. Fail.
posted by Plutor at 5:59 AM on January 16, 2008


Sadly, I only know a few of these. But I'm also sadly behind on my SF. I'm always reading a generation behind. Helps sort out the chaff, but leaves me a little behind the curve.
posted by DU at 6:00 AM on January 16, 2008


I'm fascinated by the fascination with recursion. Recursion itself -- not so much.

That's what you think.
posted by Leon at 6:03 AM on January 16, 2008


Quines are very popular in the NE of Scotland. Roughly half the population are very interested in them.
posted by Jakey at 6:06 AM on January 16, 2008


Just so's you know, I did the final copyedit/factcheck on Brave New Words, and checked as many references as I could from the boxes of ancient sf magazines conveniently located against the wall of my office and the large collection of old paperbacks down in the cellar. I was very pleased when Teresa Nielsen Hayden wrote that its citations were exceptionally accurate.
posted by languagehat at 6:34 AM on January 16, 2008 [3 favorites]


Maybe you could give the OED folks a hand ;-)
posted by lodurr at 6:35 AM on January 16, 2008


I...checked as many references as I could from the boxes of ancient sf magazines conveniently located against the wall of my office

I wish I could post the Venn diagram of LH's union of geekdom. There's an old axiom/joke in product development where you just smash two random, unrelated features together to get a brilliant new product. For example, Pepper Grinder and Flashlight!. Or Walkman plus telephone!

Anyway, LH is like that. But cooler.
posted by GuyZero at 6:49 AM on January 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Any self-purported "Words all Sci-Fi fan must know" list that doesn't include Ansible is DOA, as far as I'm concerned.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:50 AM on January 16, 2008


Obviously, the best swear word from science fiction is TANJ ("There Ain't No Justice") by Larry Niven.
posted by Argyle at 7:00 AM on January 16, 2008


Everybody's going to have their own pet terms. I lament the demise of "Bat Durston", for example, even as their modern analog becomes more popular than ever. "Ansible" is critical for post-Card [yes, I know, but I blame him for the ansible becoming a trope] space opera. (It's a silly bit of magical wish-fulfillment, IMO, that it's more interesting to do without.) And where's Feghoot? (Answer: Nobody writes them anymore. How simultaneously relieving and sad.)

The lists are what they are. People invent new terms all the time. "Humanoids" never became popular, instead we say "robots" or "androids". Next year, with luck, there will be 25% turnover on that list and we can complain about other terms that ought to be there or not.
posted by lodurr at 7:07 AM on January 16, 2008


Bat Durston (more direct link)
posted by lodurr at 7:09 AM on January 16, 2008


Belgium, man Belgium!
posted by Lord Kinbote at 8:10 AM on January 16, 2008


Remember Clarkes law: "Any Science Fiction story regarding the singularity with sufficiently complicated words is indistinguishable from magic"

Something like that.

Also I think the last few chapters of Accelerando are composed almost entirely of words from that list in random order.
posted by Artw at 9:26 AM on January 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeh, the list is pretty heavily weighted toward SinguPunk. "Computronium"...gotta love that one. Talk about magic -- it's not even the ghost in a machine, it's the ghost in a hunk of rock. In most cases, it would be more honest just to make it a ghost. It's rare that the writer is actually using the tropes to get at something interesting. There are a lot of writers who do try to figure something out in their work rather than just bury us in buzzphrases, but they're uncommon. (Accelerando makes me mental with a lot of the tropes it uses, but IMO it uses them well and to an honest end -- it makes me want to argue with it and there's actually something there to argue with, so Stross is doing his job as an SF writer. Plus I actually think he's a pretty darn good stylist, mostly.)
posted by lodurr at 10:20 AM on January 16, 2008


See, in general I like Strosses output but I found Accelerando close to unreadable. Weirdly I didn't have the same problem with Glasshouse, which I understand is in some respects set in the same world and dealing with the same concepts. I think he pulls of the trick of introducing a bunch of new terms and then establishing their meaning iun a very naturalistic way through context - though theres the odd expo-dump in there as a belt and braces in case you've missed it. Accelerando is more about throwing up a whole bunch of refereces to things very quickly, as if you already know what they are, and then not elaborating on that very much.

(Of course Glasshouse is probably closer in spirit to 70s SciFi than Accelerando, which is all Shiny! and Modern! and New!, hence the rapid fire neologisms. I've an idea that Accelerando is going to seem dated as fuck five years from now, if it doesn't already)
posted by Artw at 10:35 AM on January 16, 2008


I happen to be in the middle of Accelerando right now, and I'm glad to see that I wasn't expected to know all these wonderful buzzwords in advance afterall. I was beginning to think it was just me.

My perception at this point is that the book's just going to unravel into a meaningless string of jibber-jabber with character names thrown in at random. I hope it pulls it out before the end, 'cos the first three chapters were great.

Thanks for the FPP, it's remarkably timely for me!
posted by dragstroke at 11:22 AM on January 16, 2008


Needs more fuligin-cloaked heirodules.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:11 PM on January 16, 2008


No Karass? No Granfalloon? Meh. Buncha foma.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:58 PM on January 16, 2008


Accelerando is more about throwing up a whole bunch of references to things very quickly, as if you already know what they are, and then not elaborating on that very much.

The first third of Accelerando isn't so much a story as a manifesto-cum-reading-list. And I love it for that.

(BTW, just in case cstross cycles past... the family name - it's a joke, right?)
posted by Leon at 3:50 PM on January 16, 2008


25 More Words Every Fan Should Know
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:48 AM on February 2, 2008


Filks? WTF? No-one needs to know about filks, and TBH I think a hardline position that all filks should be hunted down and exterminated is not unreasonable.
posted by Artw at 1:05 PM on February 2, 2008


No-one needs to know about filks

Forewarned is forearmed...
And it's filkers who do the singing... filks are the songs.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:22 PM on February 2, 2008


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