Bad SF lexicon

Jeff Prucher jprucher at YAHOO.COM
Sat Nov 5 23:28:24 UTC 2005

Whew, Wilson, you had me worried there for a moment.  I'm actually writing an
SF dictionary, and I thought maybe you were talking about me!  But much to my
relief, it's just bad media SF.  This got me thinking though, and I did some
very cursory research.  And while the usage still seems unusual to me (if I
were wearing my prescriptive hat, I would say "wrong-headed"), it seems
slightly less so than at first.  I've found two distinct ways that people refer
to terraforming the Earth.  One is used largely by environmentalists, and
refers to the affect humans have had on the Earth's environment (global
warming, extinctions, etc.).  The other is SFnal and is in cases where the
Earth's biosphere has been destroyed and people are trying to make it
inhabitable again.  But no references to aliens trying to make the Earth's
environment more like their homeworld (which is what I assume the context of
your quote is). At least, not under the term "terraforming."

Jeff Prucher

--- Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM> wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Bad SF lexicon
> From the TV show, _Threshold_,
> "You mean, [choke! gasp!] they intend to bioform the people and
> terraform the planet?!"
> "Bioform" is a new one on me and I have no quarrel with it, but
> "terraform" has been in use in SF for more than a half-century with
> the meaning, transform a non-earth-like planet or similar object so as
> to make it suitable for human life. The "planet" to be terraformed
> referred to in the quote *is* the earth/terra.
> --
> -Wilson Gray

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