Monday, March 16, 2009

Even SciFi doesn't like the term "sci-fi"

Old-timers in the science-fiction field hate the term "sci-fi," considering it derogatory; they insist the preferred abbreviation is "SF."

Me, I gave up the fight when the US cable network devoted to the genre chose to call itself SciFi. (And, in fact, the hardcover of my Rollback was branded with the SciFi logo on the lower-right of the front cover, and labeled "A Sci Fi Essential Book" as part of a cross-promotion between the channel and Tor.)

But now it turns out SciFi Channel has decided it doesn't like the term SciFi, either -- in part because they haven't succeeded in trademarking it. And so -- I kid you not -- they are changing the name of the channel, the website, and the magazine to Syfy.

Many years ago, in the heydey of the Great Domain Name Gold Rush, I believe Martin Harry Greenberg got one million dollars for the domain name "" when he sold it to the channel's owners.

Hey, if anyone wants for a million bucks, let me know, and I'll rebrand as ...

The New York Times has the scoop.

(And tip o' the hat to my friend Kirstin Morrell for drawing this to my attention.)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


At March 16, 2009 1:28 PM , Blogger John F said...

I wonder how much SciFi (or SyFy) paid for that valuable advice? When I grow up, I want to be a branding consultant. :-)

At March 16, 2009 1:44 PM , Blogger Todd said...

There's something terribly clunky about their new slogan "Imagine Greater". It sounds like a variation on the ungrammatical (but less clunky) Apple Slogan "Think Different".

At March 16, 2009 2:23 PM , Blogger hugh57-sffan said...

For my part, I've never liked the abbreviation "SF", in large part, because it is too easily confused with the abbreviation for San Francisco. This is particularly true if you're doing a Google search that includes the term "SF".

There is also the ambiguity as to whether "SF" stands for "speculative fiction" (which includes science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, etc.), or for "science fiction" specifically.

At March 16, 2009 8:07 PM , Blogger Tom said...

"Bafflegab Quicker"
"Trademark Sooner"
"Confuse Morer"

At March 16, 2009 8:51 PM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

Hi, Hugh. You DO realize how ironic your comment is, given your online name? ;)

At March 16, 2009 11:54 PM , Blogger Larry Hodges said...

Calling it "Syfy" is so birdbrained it might be brilliant. With all the ridicule, the masses who have never paid attention to it are reminded it exists. It reminds me of "New Coke," another birdbrained marketing ploy that brought so much ridicule to itself that when they went back to "Classic Coke," sales shot upwards, and they came out well ahead for their silly scheme. I suspect "Syfy" will go back to "SciFi" after a time, with more viewers.

At March 17, 2009 12:00 AM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

Larry: krazy like a phox. :)

At March 17, 2009 12:39 AM , Blogger hugh57-sffan said...

Yeah, I know. All I'm saying is that I don't like the abbreviation. I never said I don't use it. ;)

It's kind of like what Churchill(?) said of democracy: a poor system that has the redeeming quality of being better than anything else we've tried.

As an aside: My username is based largely on the fact that the username I wanted was already taken on when I signed up on Google/Blogger. hugh57 is what I use most other places. :)


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