Introduction
All Entries
Soccer
Marching Bands
The Nutcracker Suite
Girl Scout Cookies
Meetings
Apple Pie
Parades
Information
William Gibson Bibliography
Information
Space Films Before 1950
What Is an Animated Movie?
2001: A Space Odyssey
St. Elsewhere
Information
Space Films Before 1950
Men into Space
Information
The Endless Frontier
The Long Ellipse
The Struggle in Space
Building a Space Station
1999 Eaton Volume
Science Fiction and the Prediction of the Future
Eaton Conference History
Technocracy and Plutocracy
Inside the Eaton Collection
Eaton Links
Information
Quoted Authors
Popular Topics
The Future
Unverified Quotations
Radio Interview
Information
Heroes
Cosmic Engineers
The Mechanics of Wonder
Science Fiction, Children's Literature, and Popular Culture
Hugo Gernsback
Frank McConnell Book
Superladies in Waiting: Part 1
Superladies in Waiting: Part 2
Superladies in Waiting: Part 3
Who Governs Science Fiction?
Arguing with Idiots
H.G. Wells
Chris Foss
The Sky Is Appalling
A Modem Utopia
Big Dumb Opticals
What Science Fiction Leaves Out of the Future (4 Parts)
Part 1: No News is Good News?
Part 2: The Day After Tomorrow
Part 3: All Work and No Play
Part 4: No Bark and No Bite
How to Make Big Money
Earth Abides
J.G. Ballard
Men into Space
Full Spectrum 4
Hugo Gernsback
The Norton Book of Science Fiction
Nemesis
Writings of Passage
Realm of the Enchanted Unicorn
Batman
Captain Marvel
Definitions of Science Fiction
Field of Dreams
The Incredible Hulk
Interactive Fantasy
Mario Brothers
Ali Mirdrekvandi
Ronald McDonald
"SF"
Series Fiction
Superman
Wonder Woman
Radio Interview (Quotations)
Radio Interview (Gernsback) (MP3 file)
Time Travel Inverview
Homo aspergerus Interview
Robots Interview
America's Second Marshall Plan
A Review of The Little Book of Coaching
My Life as a Court Jester
My Wedding Toast
Westfahl at Wikipedia
Westfahl in the SFE
Westfahl Entry
Westfahl Links
"SF"
Although the conventions of this volume obscure the fact, this entry will discuss the use of the letters "s" and "f" both as a popular abbreviation for "science fiction" and as a proposed critical term in its own right.  Today, it is normally written either "sf" or "SF," although variant forms like "S.F." or "s-f" have been common in the past; it is pronounced "ess-eff."

As an abbreviation, "sf" has a long history, initially appearing in the same first issue of SCIENCE WONDER STORIES (June, 1929) where the term "science fiction" made its modern debut: a reader's letter there suggested "The S.F. Magazine" as one possible title for the magazine.  For most commentators, "sf" is simply a convenience, employed either as a space-saving convention (as in this volume) or used alternately with "science fiction" for no apparent reason other than variety.

In the 1960s, however, Judith MERRIL's SF: The Best of the Best (1967) essentially proposed "sf" as a new, more general term to replace "science fiction": "Science fiction as a descriptive label has long since lost whatever validity it might once have had . . . . SF (or generically, s-f) allows you to think science fiction if you like, while I think science fable or scientific fantasy or speculative fiction, or (once in a rare while. . .) science fiction."  "Sf" was soon adopted by several academic critics, most notably Darko SUVIN, who in Positions and Presuppositions in Science Fiction (1988) called "sf" an "indispensable acronym."  By labeling "sf" an "acronym" (a word formed from the initial letters of other words), Suvin indicates that he regards "sf" not as an abbreviation but as a new word (though Suvin is wrong, since acronyms are spelled so they can be pronounced, using added vowels if needed; therefore, a true acronym derived from "science fiction" would be spelled, perhaps, "esef").  Employed with such a belief, "sf" represents an attempt to escape from the established meaning and implications of the term "science fiction," and the exclusive use of "sf" in publications like SCIENCE-FICTION STUDIES (co-founded by Suvin) thus has ideological overtones.  It is safe to say, though, that most writers and readers are unaware of these implications and simply use "sf" to mean "science fiction"; that is the position of this volume's editors, who have in all editions included "sf—science fiction" in their "Checklist of Abbreviations." (GW)

To contact us about encyclopedia matters, send an email to Gary Westfahl.
If you find any Web site errors, typos or other stuff worth mentioning, please send it to our Webmaster.
Copyright © 1999–2014 Gary Westfahl All Rights Reserved Worldwide

Hosted & Designed By:
SF Site spot art