[Ads-l] Shifting connotations: Is novelette derogatory?

Jeff Prucher 000000b93183dc86-dmarc-request at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
Wed Jun 17 17:04:50 UTC 2015


This non-derogatory use is ancient (in the realm of SF publishing, anyway). A novelette (or "novelet", as The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction" would have it) is longer than a short story, but shorter than a novella. "Best Novelette" has been a Hugo category since 1955, which gives a minimum bound on this shift in use. It is common for the digest-sized magazines to categorize their table of contents by story length, so there would be one heading for "Novellas", one for "Novelettes" and another for "Short Stories". Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine also did (maybe still does, I haven't seen a copy in years) this; it shares a publisher with the SF mags Analog and Asimov's, so I was never sure whether the mystery community used the term as well, or whether it just bled over from the other digests. (Although I note that, after several years of having a "Best Mid-Length Short Story" category, the Derringer Awards have switched to a "Best Novelette" category: 

http://shortmystery.blogspot.com/2008/05/2008-derringer-award-results.html.)

Jeff Prucher







On Wednesday, June 17, 2015 9:39 AM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM> wrote:


>
>
>---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>Poster:       Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
>Subject:      Re: Shifting connotations: Is novelette derogatory?
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>I agree.
>
>FWIW.
>
>JL
>
>On Wed, Jun 17, 2015 at 12:30 PM, ADSGarson O'Toole <
>adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
>
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>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
>> Subject:      Shifting connotations: Is novelette derogatory?
>>
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>
>> The Oxford Dictionaries website has an entry for the noun "novelette"
>> with the description "chiefly derogatory":
>>
>> http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/novelette
>>
>> [Begin excerpt]
>> Novelette noun
>> chiefly derogatory
>> A short novel, typically one that is light and romantic or sentimental
>> in character.
>> [End excerpt]
>>
>> In the domain of science fiction I do not think that "novelette" is
>> derogatory. The term is used to indicate the length of a story, and it
>> does not have a negative connotation.
>>
>> Below is an excerpt from a webpage of the Science Fiction and fantasy
>> Writers of America (SFWA) website. The excerpt is about story lengths
>> for the Nebula Awards which are the primary honors bestowed by the
>> SFWA.
>>
>> http://www.sfwa.org/nebula-awards/rules/
>>
>> [Begin excerpt]
>> Nebula Awards will be made in the following categories:
>>      1) Short Story: less than 7,500 words;
>>      2) Novelette: at least 7,500 words but less than 17,500 words;
>>      3) Novella: at least 17,500 words but less than 40,000 words
>>      4) Novel: 40,000 words or more.
>> [End excerpt]
>>
>> I have read/heard the term "novelette" most frequently in discussions
>> of genre fiction, and it has been used without derogative intent (I
>> think).
>>
>> Garson
>>
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>>
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