Nine Words You Might Think Came from Science…

April 1st, 2009

I have a guest post over at OUP Blog: Nine Words You Might Think Came from Science but Which Are Really from Science Fiction. In the comments, someone pointed out that one of my words is really from science after all. This is what happens when you try to assert firstness about things, but it was fun drawing up the list anyway.


December 23rd, 2008

The paperback edition of Brave New Words has been announced. They let me fix a bunch of embarrassing typos that snuck into the first edition, so I’m extra-happy to see this come out. It’s also got a spiffy new cover.  Oxford’s website gives a date of February, Amazon April. I’ll post again when I know more.

[Update: The official release date is April, athough copies may start to show up before then.]

What the world needs now…

October 15th, 2008

is more lolxicography! In honor of Dictionary Day (look it up), I present you with these new lolz.  (Old lolz iz here.) (Click the images if you’re confused.)

Guest post on OUP blog

August 29th, 2008

Today I have a guest post on OUP blog about the Hugo, right here.

Stupid Author Tricks, 2

August 18th, 2008

Another dorky thing the bored author can do is use Powerset to find all references to oneself in Wikipedia (because who wouldn’t want to do that?). Here are the results for me (the actual page is here):

Screenshot of Powerset search results

It’s fun to see BNW in use as a reference book, with my definition of “science fiction” appearing the appropriate article, and two citations for Gibson’s coinage of “cyberspace”, again in the obvious places. (Well, duh, you say — of course it’s being used as a reference book — it is a reference book! But you don’t usually get to see the reference in action is what I’m saying.) The odd entry is Tom Smith — the reference there uses BNW not as a lexicographic, etymological, or linguistic reference, but as a secondary source for a quotation included as a citation for the work “filker”. Granted, the citation is from a convention program book, and therefore extremely hard to track down, but it’s interesting to see BNW being used as a book of quotations as well as a dictionary.

Stupid Author Tricks 1

August 17th, 2008

The internet is a truly great resource for finding ways for authors to amuse/depress/aggrandize themselves. On the amusing end of the spectrum is Wordle, a nifty little app that will take any text and turn it into a tag cloud, like so (click image for the big picture):

This is the entire text of Brave New Words, minus the front matter, essays, and back matter. Which words show up most commonly is fascinating to me. There’re “sf” and “space” in enormous letters, as you’d expect. “Science” is smaller because I abbreviated all occurrences of “science fiction” in titles to “sf”, and “stories” shows up large because there are roughly a zillion SF mags and collections with that in the title. Some of the lexicographic furniture is pretty common, too — I was surprised to see “compare” so prominent. And I only see five last names — Silverberg, Heinlein, Anderson, Smith, and Asimov — that made the cut. As I said, an endless source of amusement (to me, anyway).


August 9th, 2008

I just found out that I won the Hugo Award for Best Related Book. I’m obviously very thrilled. I wasn’t able to attend the convention, alas, but Mark L. Olsen of NESFA accepted the award for me. For those of you who weren’t there, this is the speech I wrote for him to say on my behalf (not really expecting that he would actually get to say it):

I’m deeply honored. This book was a labor of love, but it would not have been remotely possible without the contributions of literally hundreds of fans, and I would like to thank them for all their time and effort.  Thank you very much.

Scientiphilology in the cards

August 4th, 2008

Whilst browsing at a lovely, if overpriced, purveyor of organic and green home furnishings in my new home town of Berkeley (what? oh yes, I moved — hence, in part, the long dry spell of posts), I noticed a greeting card with the word “Grok” on it in large, friendly letters, with a definition and usage notes on the reverse. (It’s worth noting that the usage notes refer only to the sense of the word as used in Stranger in a Strange Land, and not as it’s come to be used in English, although I do find it rather charming that they wrote it as if Martian were a real language.) This is part of a line of cards with words from various languages, my favorite of which is Mamihlapinatapai, a Yaghan word apparently meaning “A meaningful look between two people, expressing mutual unstated feelings.” They also have one in Klingon, rounding out their SF linguistic credentials quite nicely.

Locus Award update

August 4th, 2008

Well, two and a half months is a long time to go between posts, even for me. I finally got a copy of the last issue of Locus, and I was very pleased to discover that I came in second for the Locus Award. (The winner, Barry Malzberg’s Breakfast in the Ruins, was announced some time ago, but I didn’t see much point in posting that I lost until I found out by how much.) Malzberg pretty well creamed me, but I get some consolation from a comment in Locus that the online voters preferred BNW over Breakfast by a slight margin. Thank you, on-line voters, for your excellent taste! Those of you who have been following the brouhaha over this year’s Locus Awards should note that it’s highly unlikely that the rule change affected the outcome any — Malzberg won by 400 votes, which would be a very comfortable margin, even without the doubling of the subscribers’ votes.  (For those of you who don’t obsessively follow the vagaries of SF awards, the Locus Award has historically been voted on by the readership of Locus magazine, although voting has been open to all on the Internet for close to a decade. This year, for whatever reason, the number of non-subscriber votes was much, much higher than subscriber votes, so the folks at Locus decided to double the value of subscriber votes. They decided to do this after the votes were cast, mind you, which naturally resulted in a brouhaha.  More details can be found here and here.)

More love from the librarians

May 18th, 2008

BNW was named an Outstanding Reference Source for 2007 by the American Library Association. Here’s what they had to say:

Based on historic principles, this dictionary uses the methods of the Oxford English Dictionary while drawing on television, movie, and print media to establish definitions and provenance for science fiction terms. The 11 one-page essays for terms and concepts that require more discussion provide users with unique insight into the sci-fi world. An excellent source for any library, the volume is highly accessible and a joy to read.

As an added bonus, this accolade entitles BNW to wear a nifty little sticker:

Thanks, ALA!