[Ads-l] Jesse Sheidlower's New Dictionary

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Feb 2 11:40:14 EST 2021


> It looks like "woke" works are well-represented in the Best Related Work Hugo Awards, but not to the exclusion of other worthy contenders, so I wouldn't necessarily give up hope on Jesse's dictionary.  I also note that the racism of Campbell and Lovecraft is well-established and really goes beyond "man of their time" levels.  I personally would have no problem with renaming the Hugo Awards - I'm not aware that Gernsbach was more racist than other men of his day, but he was an exemplar of personal dishonesty and low literary standards, making him an odd choice to honor.
> 
> John Baker
> 
> 
I don’t know the details, but Gernsback’s wikipage indicates that he coined the term “science fiction” (in the relevant sense), which presumably explains why the prizes are Hugos.  The entry supports the negative assessment of his character above for dishonesty, chintziness, low standards, without providing evidence of racism—he was Jewish, for what that’s worth.  OED’s entry on “science fiction” has 19th c. cites for the irrelevant sense of fiction that involves science but these two as early cites for the relevant one, which is glossed as ‘Fiction in which the setting and story feature hypothetical scientific or technological advances, the existence of alien life, space or time travel, etc., esp. such fiction set in the future, or an imagined alternative universe.

1927   Amazing Stories Jan. 974/2   Remember that Jules Verne was a sort of Shakespeare in science fiction.
1933   Astounding Stories Dec. 142/1   Intelligent people, as a rule, will read science fiction.

Gernsback himself is not mentioned in the entry.

LH
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