I wrote a response to Dave Locke’s comment about “sci-fi” with some kind of bug in my code that keeps all the text from displaying. I couldn’t find the problem, so I will post a blog entry instead because that’s working fine.
Dave, this may be a Lone Ranger/Tonto “what you mean, ‘we'” moment. I’ve been reading Ackerman tributes like the one in the LA Times giving him credit for coining “sci-fi”. None of the ones by fanzine fans have, except mine. Now I’ve outed myself. Last spring I was also the only sf fan in the room who didn’t know that “Ego” was Arthur C. Clarke’s nickname.
The OED sf word webpage has Heinlein down for using it in a 1949 letter published in Grumbles from the Grave. Has anybody got a copy of that? Who is the letter to? Heinlein did coin a couple words in his career, but he was also a very reserved fellow — did he really just spontaneously toss “sci-fi” into a letter to somebody? Somebody who would have picked it up and run with it?
You have piqued my curiosity, because even if Ackerman didn’t invent the term, I’d like to be convinced that Heinlein got people using it.
The term “sci-fic” was around for awhile, but it seems fairly obvious that “sci-fi” rhymes with “hi-fi”, the heavily-marketed term for expensive stereo components. Apparently that term came into use in America after World War II when the beginnings of that technology were brought over from Germany. That’s early enough to have influenced Heinlein’s verbal imagination.
Do you know where Ackerman credited Heinlein for inventing the term? (Warner’s two fanhistories don’t include “sci-fi” in the index, so no quickie answer there.)