Bad SF lexicon

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Sun Nov 6 02:20:35 UTC 2005

FWIW, the OED traces a form the verb, "terraform," back to 1937. I started
reading ASF with the November, 1948, issue and I was a charter subscriber to
F&SF and to Galaxy. I read as much SF as I could find from all sources -
even the Saturday Evening Post! - till I finally let my last two
subscriptions - to Analog and F&SF - lapse at the turn of the century. I
just became too old-school to enjoy current SF, I guess. And I really missed
the old illustrators like Cartier, van Dongen, and Freas.


On 11/5/05, Jeff Prucher <jprucher at> wrote:
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> Sender: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster: Jeff Prucher <jprucher at YAHOO.COM>
> Subject: Re: Bad SF lexicon
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> 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:
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> > -----------------------
> > 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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-Wilson Gray

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