Pixel Scroll 6/5/24 Call Any Pixel, Call It By Name

(1) DEPICTING CULTURE. Kanishk Tantia discusses the difference between using set dressing and true engagement in the representations of a culture at the SFWA Blog: “Culture: Moving Beyond Set Dressing”.

… But perhaps we can do better. I hope I have been doing better. When I wrote “I Hear the Starwhale Sing”, which was published in Canadian SFF magazine Heartlines Spec, I was consciously possessed of the urge to write something truer to my experience, something more genuine than a list of Indian foodstuffs to convince the reader they were in a diverse setting.

What does “better” look like? Let’s draw out the issues with the Rajpur sample above, and contrast what better replacements could be used.

First, there’s the shallowness of the writing. The passage above does not need to be set in Rajpur, India. It could take place on Mars, or in London, or Atlantis. The setting exists only for flavor and can be quickly hot-swapped out without changing what we have seen of the story so far.

Next, the simple goodness, or stereotyping. It’s a dirty word, isn’t it? Even positive stereotypes can be harmful. In the paragraph above, I elicit color, food, and smell, all in a positive way. But these are flashy tricks, forcing my reader to imagine richness and depth by drawing on their own biases about India rather than trying to show them something new or deeper. That’s what stereotyping does; it simply pulls from a reader’s existing bank of experiences, without challenge or comment.

Most egregious are the loanwords. And there are indeed so many. Sari, kachoris, modaks, gulab jamuns, beedi, Diwali. These are all Hindi words, but they are given no real meaning and treated as arbitrary objects. The cultural impact of these words is lost entirely, because they exist only to fill space and create an illusion.

Can we do better? Perhaps. Here’s another sample….

(2) MANIFESTO DESTINY. WIRED eavesdrops as “China Miéville Writes a Secret Novel With the Internet’s Boyfriend (It’s Keanu Reeves)”.

… My next question to Mr. Reeves was an innocent “What do you make of China’s politics?” Did the Internet’s Boyfriend fully understand, in other words, that he was partnering with China Miéville here? “I don’t really know his politics per se,” Keanu replied. He knew exactly what China’s politics were. As any interviewer would, I waited. Keanu then told me he had recently read, “and enjoyed,” the Communist Manifesto.

Whether he meant the short text by Marx and Engels, itself a commissioned project, a tie-in of sorts for the revolutions of 1848, or China Miéville’s most recent book, A Spectre, Haunting: On the Communist Manifesto, about the same, I could not tell. The ambiguity made me giggle. Sensing it well up in me like a sneeze, I muted the phone just in time. I was forming my own speculative fiction: Keanu Reeves as communist, the Engels to China’s Marx. I suppose this makes perfect sense. Because science fiction—the kind China Miéville writes, but also, maybe, all of it, the entire genre—is, or so the great critic Fredric Jameson tells us, bent toward utopia. Possibly even a communist one….

(3) WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE SKY. “Paramount, Skydance agree to terms of a merger deal”CNBC has the details.

A Paramount special committee and the buying consortium — David Ellison’s Skydance, backed by private equity firms RedBird Capital and KKR — agreed to the terms. The deal is awaiting signoff from Paramount’s controlling shareholder, Shari Redstone, who owns National Amusements, which owns 77% of class A Paramount shares… [National Amusements has movie theaters in the U.S., U.K. and Latin America.]

The agreement terms come after weeks of discussion and a recent competing offer from Apollo Global Management and Sony Pictures.

“We received the financial terms of the proposed Paramount/Skydance transaction over the weekend and we are reviewing them,” said a National Amusements spokesperson.

The deal currently calls for Redstone to receive $2 billion for National Amusements, Faber reported Monday. Skydance would buy out nearly 50% of class B Paramount shares at $15 apiece, or $4.5 billion, leaving the holders with equity in the new company.

Skydance and RedBird would also contribute $1.5 billion in cash to Paramount’s balance sheet to help reduce debt.

Following the deal’s close, Skydance and RedBird would own two-thirds of Paramount, and the class B shareholders would own the remaining third of the company, Faber reported. The negotiated terms were reported earlier by The Wall Street Journal….

(4) SF IN SF. Science Fiction in San Francisco will host readings by Robin Sloan, Rudy Rucker & Clara Ward on June 23 at The American Bookbinders Museum, 355 Clementina Street, San Francisco CA. Doors open at 6PM – event gets underway 6:30PM. $10 at the door – $8 seniors and students. No one turned away for lack of funds. CASH PREFERRED. All proceeds benefit the American Bookbinders Museum.

(5) JOURNEY PLANET CALL FOR ARTICLES. For the August issue of Journey Planet, Chris Garcia and James Bacon are joined by Jean Martin for an issue featuring food and drink in sci-fi and fantasy stories. 

Chris says, “A key part of worldbuilding is creating comestibles and libations that offer the audience an elevated sensory experience along with the characters. Share articles and artwork with us about your favorite made-up gustatory delights in novels, movies, etc. And if you know where to get them and/or have actually made them, let us know how they tasted!”

Submissions to [email protected]. Deadline – July 1.

(6) ONLINE FLASH SF NIGHT. Space Cowboy Books presents Online Flash Science Fiction Night with Eliane Boey, Jendia Gammon, and Jonathan Nevairon June 11 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Register for free tickets at the link.

Join us online for an evening of short science fiction readings (1000 words or less) with authors Eliane Boey, Jendia Gammon, and Jonathan Nevair. Flash Science Fiction Nights run 30 minutes or less, and are a fun and great way to learn about new authors from around the world.

(7) TAKING GAS. Cora Buhlert was on the autobahn and filled up at Dammer Berge, the “service station of the future” (in 1969). Her encounter is part of Galactic Journey’s roundup “[May 16, 1969] Strange Dreams (May Galactoscope)”. Cora makes clear that the cuisine is not a reason to visit:

The structure is spectacular, a beacon of modernism, though sadly the food itself was rather lacklustre: a cup of coffee that tasted of the soap used to clean the machine and a slice of stale apple cake.

Cora then goes on to review Zero Cool, a pseudonymous Michael Crichton thriller from 1969.

(8) BLOCKED. “Franz Kafka letter shows author’s anguished struggle with writer’s block” – the Guardian has details.

A rare letter written by Franz Kafka to his publisher shows just how anguished a struggle it was for the Bohemian writer to put pen to paper, especially as his health deteriorated.

The letter, which will soon be auctioned, coincided with Kafka’s diagnosis with tuberculosis, which would end up killing him and which, scholars say, very probably added to his sense of mental paralysis and helplessness.

“When worries have penetrated to a certain layer of existence, the writing and the complaining obviously stop,” he wrote to his friend and publisher, the Austrian poet Albert Ehrenstein. “My resistance was not all that strong either.”

Undated, the letter is believed by scholars to have been written between April and June 1920, when Kafka was being treated for his illness at a clinic in Merano, northern Italy. Writer’s block famously haunted Kafka throughout his life but was exacerbated by his poor physical condition.

Neatly handwritten in polite, legible German, the letter is thought to be Kafka’s response to Ehrenstein’s request for the established author to contribute to Die Gefährten (The Fellows), the expressionist literary journal he was editing at the time. He had recently seen new work by Kafka in print, possibly his short story collection Ein Landarzt (A Country Doctor), written in 1917 and published two years later. But Kafka quickly disabused him of the notion that he was actively writing….

(9) WILLIAM RUSSELL (1924-2024). One of Doctor Who’s four original cast members, William Russell, has died reports the BBC: “William Russell: Original Doctor Who cast member dies aged 99”.

…Russell played schoolteacher Ian Chesterton in the first two series of the BBC’s sci-fi show and was the Doctor’s first companion.

He left the show in 1965, but in 2022 he reprised his role and made a cameo in Jodie Whittaker’s final episode, The Power of The Doctor.

The actor broke a Guinness World Record for the longest gap between TV appearances.

In the first ever episode, An Unearthly Child, which aired in 1963, Russell’s character meets the Doctor, played by William Hartnell.

Russell’s character mistakenly calls him Doctor Foreman, before Hartnell then replies “Doctor Who?”…

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

June 5, 1928 — Robert Lansing. (Died 1994.) Let’s talk about Gary Seven, errrr, Robert Lansing.

For us, his most important performance was as the secret agent Gary Seven on Star Trek’s “Assignment: Earth” in which the Enterprise ended up in the Sixties. His companion was Teri Garr. He was sent there by an alien race on a mission that he’s now afraid the Enterprise will compromise. And then there’s Isis, a shapeshifter who’s a black cat in one form. Nice kitty. 

Sources agree that this episode was designed at least in part as a pilot for a new series featuring Gary Seven and his mission. Trek was seriously on the edge of cancellation late in its second year, and Roddenberry hoped to get a new show going for the fall season, hence this episode. The first draft pilot script of November 14 of 1968 had no mention of Star Trek or its characters which suggests that this was not intended as an episode for this series at all. 

Robert Lansing as Gary Seven in Star Trek.

Indeed, somewhere there’s a draft of “Seven” as it was titled before that was revised two years after the first outline of what would become “Assignment: Earth” written by Gene Roddenberry and Art Wallace in October of 1967.  I want that script! 

Garr was quoted in a Sci-fi article about this episode: “Garr feared (correctly) that Starlog wanted to talk Trek and had to be persuaded to chat so as to promote her new flick. Warren sat down with her on the balcony of her publicist’s office for an in-person session and from there, things went sour. ‘I have nothing to say about it,’ Garr declared of ‘Assignment: Earth’ in Starlog #173. ‘I did that years ago and I mostly deny I ever did it.’ Turns out she was glad the Gary Seven show didn’t go to series.” 

Lansing did do some other genre work…

His major role was as Dan Stokely in The Empire of The Ants, he’s a charter boat captain in Fort Pierce, Florida. He’s a primary character here and is in almost every scene. 

Following up on that fillm, he has the lead role of Elias Johnson in The Nest where a small New England town is overrun by genetically engineered killer cockroaches. Ants.  Cockroaches. 

So what next? Crabs, yes crabs. In Island Crabs, he’s Captain Moody nearly ten foot long land crabs created by a biological experiment gone horribly wrong are killing everything in sight.

Oh he has other genre and genre adjacent  roles, but how can I not stop there? 

Well just one more as it’s a significant one — he was Commander Douglas Stansfield in Twilight Zone’s “The Long Morrow” where before leaving on a decades-long solitary mission to another system he meets a woman and they both fall deeply in love. But what kind of a future can there be for them in the Twilight Zone when he returns? 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) VANCOUVER COMICS FESTIVAL APOLOGIZES TO JEWISH ARTIST IT BANNED. “After backlash, Vancouver comics festival apologizes for excluding Jewish artist over IDF service” reports Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

A Vancouver comics festival apologized to a Jewish artist it had banned over her past Israeli military service and a Seattle museum announced it was recommitting to an exhibit on antisemitism that prompted a staff walkout, in two reversals of arts-world sanctions connected to the Israel-Hamas war.

Both the Vancouver Comic Arts Festival and the Wing Luke Museum had faced significant backlash over the actions they took because of pro-Palestinian activism. 

“VanCAF has lost and continues to lose the trust of many we have sought to serve,” the Vancouver festival said in a social media apology late Sunday, days after announcing that it was banning American-Israeli comics artist Miriam Libicki following activist complaints over her past IDF service.

The festival didn’t name Libicki in either its initial statement banning her — which it quickly removed from social media following backlash — or its lengthy new apology. But the ban referenced Libicki’s previous IDF service, which she has turned into a comic, while the apology referenced another specific work of hers: “But I Live,” a collaboration with Holocaust survivors. 

(13) FREE AT LAST. Here’s the complete article we linked in yesterday’s Scroll, except no paywall – yay! “Sci-fi pioneer Harlan Ellison’s L.A. Shangri-la offers a window into his complicated soul”.

… As Straczynski moves through the rooms of the house called “Ellison Wonderland,” his deep affection and respect for his friend remains evident. He points out the care with which more than 250,000 books are shelved, each hardback jacket fitted with transparent archival covers, the dust-free groupings of comic-book figurines, the room full of shelves specifically made to hold jelly glasses from the 1960s. He touches only the things he must, in order to make something visible, such as when in Ellison’s office proper he opens a tiny door in one of the Bram Stoker Awards given by the Horror Writers Assn. and takes out the mini plaque inside that holds the winner’s name and book title

Harlan Ellison’s collection of books and awards

(14) VERBAL CATS. This article is paywalled, but you can enjoy the excerpt. “Written by Paw” by Kathryn Hughes in The New York Review of Books.

Cats were not, historically, great talkers (unless you counted Siamese). For much of their existence they had not needed to be. Consigned to barns, kitchens and alleyways for centuries, their main communication remained mostly among themselves. Apart from the unearthly wailing of queens during heat, or the involuntary screech of a tom scratched during a fight, cats conveyed their feelings by a twitch of the tail, a flattened ear, a crouch to the ground.

Only in the nineteenth century, once cats moved to the city and started to bump into humans more regularly, did direct communication become necessary with greater frequency….

… For the more suggestible owner, though, it was possible to imagine a darker side to this newfound articulation. For if the modern cat knew its name and could ask for food when hungry, who was to say that, when your back was turned, it wasn’t gossiping about you? If you added the cat’s well-known fondness for sitting on tops of piles of paper and books, it was quite possible to believe that it was reading your diary or browsing your letters. Worse still, perhaps it was at this very moment jotting in its own journal or cogitating a literary masterpiece—and, again, it might be all about you….

(15) SELLING BOOKS IS TOO MUCH WORK. “Costco Plans to Stop Selling Books Year-Round” reports the New York Times. (Story is behind a paywall.)

In a blow to publishers and authors, Costco plans to stop selling books regularly at stores around the United States, four publishing executives who had been informed of the warehouse retailer’s plans said on Wednesday.

Beginning in January 2025, the company will stop stocking books regularly, and will instead sell them only during the holiday shopping period, from September through December. During the rest of the year, some books may be sold at Costco stores from time to time, but not in a consistent manner, according to the executives, who spoke anonymously in order to discuss a confidential business matter that has not yet been publicly announced.

Costco’s shift away from books came largely because of the labor required to stock books, the executives said. Copies have to be laid out by hand, rather than just rolled out on a pallet as other products often are at Costco. The constant turnaround of books — new ones come out every Tuesday and the ones that have not sold need to be returned — also created more work….

(16) KAIJU STAR. The Guardian investigates “How Godzilla Minus One became a monster hit for Netflix”.

…Godzilla Minus One is by no means an artsy slow burn; like the other titles on the list of the highest-grossing foreign-language films in US history, it’s accessible and entertaining. It’s about reckoning with postwar survivor’s guilt, and it movingly challenges cultural notions of what constitutes honor, yes, but it’s also about the half-terrifying, half-exhilarating vision of a particularly mean-looking iteration of Godzilla laying waste to anything in his path…

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, Cora Buhlert, Chris Garcia, Joel Zakem, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Teddy Harvia, Kathy Sullivan, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Tom Becker.]


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37 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/5/24 Call Any Pixel, Call It By Name

  1. (10) I would have watched the heck out of a Gary 7/Teri Garr series.

    (9) A true Companion

  2. 9) Russell had a cameo as a BBC Doorman in the Dr Who 50th Anniversary movie “An Adventure in Space & Time” that dramatised the creation of Dr Who. He had a great scene where he is dressed in his Doorman’s uniform and he opens the door for “William Russell” and says “Good Morning Mr Russell”
    I did a double take at the scene and had to watch it again to be sure that it was Russell.
    His appearance in The Power of the Doctor as Ian Chesterton takes place at a meeting of a support group for former Doctor Who companions…..

  3. (1) Interesting…
    (2) I didn’t know about his Communist Manifesto. I really enjoyed reading October.
    (13) I would love a docent’s tour of the house.
    (14) Of course they have opinions about their servants (us). But then, they don’t tend to speak unless they have something to say.
    (15) The exact same reason we just read (was it on File 770?) about many stores no longer carrying books, except the pre-packaged.
    (16) We were going to watch it this evening, but instead spent literally hours watching the weather… as a large tornado tore (slowly) across our county, headed towards Baltimore (it was well north of us).

  4. (15) I really have to question whether Costco was a major source of book sales. It seems like an unlikely place outside of the major best sellers for book readers to purchase anything. And that explains why they’re going to continue to sell books during the holiday season — those books sell extremely well then.

  5. (15) They have children’s books, best-sellers, and some done-for-them editions of things like cookbooks (best found around holidays). IOn L.A., they used to carry Thomas Guides.

  6. 12) I look at what’s between the ears, not what the title, religion, ethnicity, or sex/gender/etc are. If someone is worth talking to, their art or craft engages you, or their writings interest you, who cares what they look like or where they come from? It’s also worth mentioning that people over here aren’t the ones directing the fighting over there!

    13) Self aggrandizing to the last.

    14) As someone who speaks fluent cat, I must disagree. They’re not interested in reading. It’s the texture of the paper. They’re into textures. Just get a couch with velvet or knobbly fabric, and you’ll soon see the effects of their interest! If they get between you and the keyboard, they’re hoping you’ll pay attention to them, not lose yourself in staring at a lighted cube. They want you to get up, play with them, and get some exercise with them! They want their people healthy!

  7. (15) Once upon a time Costco had a moderately large and occasionally surprising selection of books (at least the one we went to in Colorado did), but that was probably ten years ago.

  8. @Carl
    Newspaper/newsprint seems to have an affinity for cats: enough body to make it worth biting and shredding. (We had one that also liked paper napkins. But spread a newspaper on the floor, and you had 13 lb of cat in the middle.)

  9. I think Costco’s official book buyer, who chose which books were put on display, changed hands a few years back. It used to be the selection almost always (I shop Costco about every one-to-two weeks) had at least one book I’d pick up. A few years ago, the selections began shifting away from my tastes. I think the last time I bought books from Costco was when I picked up the boxed sets of Ursula Vernon’s Dragonbreath and Hamster Princess books several years ago.

  10. 8) Just the other day, I discovered there’d been a 1961 television series, 87TH PRECINCT, based on Ed McBain’s long-running series of police novels. And it had Robert Lansing in one of the starring roles, which piqued my interest even more. (Not available for streaming, though apparently a DVD set came out at some point.)

    (McBain is one of those mystery/crime writers, along with Westlake, Lawrence Block, John D. MacDonald, etc., who seem to have a fair amount of crossover appeal to a lot of sf/fantasy fans, so I thought it worth mentioning.)

  11. Today’s title reminded me of the Journey song, “Any way you Pixel, That’s the way you scroll it”–think i was popular back in the eighties, if I remember correctly.

  12. “Stereotyping,” which in this context means drawing on what the readers already know or think they know, has the advantage of being concise. If you want to convey a really accurate picture of a culture, you have to explain more. This has value, but it can easily become a digression that drags down the story. Really good writers manage not to make their descriptions feel that way. Sticking with things the reader is likely to know about is sometimes the best compromise; but please at least make the information accurate.

  13. “Just a small word Gaal, moving to a crowded world, he took a spaceship going to Streeling U.”

  14. Mike Glyer -> Though he was highly intelligent, he could be pretty off-putting to others. I chalk it up to insecurity + personality. Ellison also had a certain reputation for being acerbic.

    He displayed his awards and baubles likely a reminder of his genius both for himself and to dazzle any visitors. He had a sign on the lawn of his house which read, “Ellison’s Wonderland.”

    He also once claimed at a convention talk that he had never gotten a rejection in his life.

    In an interview later, he said that he had written a script for “The Flying Nun” but got a rejection on the script. In the link below he talks about that. Some might find it amusing, others, offensive. Decide for yourselves:

    https://www.reddit.com/r/todayilearned/comments/4a94gw/til_famous_writer_harlan_ellison_wrote_an_episode/?rdt=51749

  15. Call by name: who’da thunk it?

    Meredith Moment: The Wolfe at the Door, a fat collection of stories by Gene Wolfe, is $2.99 at the usual suspects.

  16. Carl: Ellison has been dead for several years. The article is about J. Michael Straczynski’s work on his legacy. You’re so blinded by hatred of Ellison you can’t wait to shove inapplicable terms like self-aggrandizing into jerk-reflex insults.

  17. bill: I thought about that question — my guess is because the event was over that’s why the report doesn’t discuss lifting the ban, only the apology.

  18. 7) The service station is actually called Dammer Berge (Dammer mountains), since there are multiple mountains, though they’re more like hills. Still a cool structure 55 years later, but the culinary offerings are not recommended at all.

    12) A lot of people tend to forget that Israel has mandatory military service for all citizens regardless of gender, so it’s not as if she had a choice.

  19. Mike. If the post bothers you that much, just take it down!

    I am aware from the various posts over time on File 770 that Mr. Straczynski is working to preserve Ellison’s works. It’s a noble effort. Good for him, and Ellison fans everywhere.

    I don’t “hate” Ellison. I have never ‘hated” Ellison. When he fell down the stairs in his home during one of California’s many earthquakes, I didn’t jump for joy. I felt badly for him. The poor guy broke his nose!

    He was very much a self-promoter. He was very acerbic. Lots of people are. I don’t hate them, either.

  20. I didn’t think Costco sold anything one person could eat by themselves.

  21. “Harlan told me that when he was young, people called it ‘skiffy,’” Straczynski says. Ellison adopted the term and used it his entire life.

    This is hilariously dumb.

    And 100% wrong.

    “Skiffy” was coined by Vonda McIntyre in a conversation with Susan Wood at a writer’s workshop in Australia in 1975 (NOT at Aussiecon, the Worldcon held that year).

    I spent a great deal of effort in the 1990s tracking this fact down; I eventually confiremd it with Vonda personally.

    The word was then used various times by Susan in her fanzines, but the main vector for spreading “skiffy” in the sf field was Terry Carr, whose usage was imitated immediately by many of his numerous friends in the field, and from there it just kept going.

    It was not conceived prior to 1975, and JMS’ bizarre contention that somehow it came out of the 1950s is disprovable simply by noting that no fanzine recorded ever used the word earlier than the late 1970s.

    I’m confident Harlan never passed along such wild misinformation and that JMS was/is simply confused for some reason.

  22. @Bruce Arthurs: presumably you know that all of the 87th Precinct television show is viewable on YouTube, like so much other old TV:

  23. Harlan Ellison wrote Season 1, Episode 30, “You Can’t Get There From Here,” of THE FLYING NUN.

    https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0580888/

    Not a little-known fact.

    And, of course, Harlan wrote an infinite number of times about his countless rejections in his early career. Anyone claiming otherwise is deeply ignorant of Harlan’s work and endless public talks.

  24. Regarding Skiffy….

    “SCIFI, the Southern California Institute for Fan Interests, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit founded in the 1980s by Bruce Pelz and others. It ran the last three LA Worldcons, L.A.con II, L.A.con III and L.A.con IV and it announced the Los Angeles in 2026 Worldcon bid at SMOFcon in 2020. Its name, pronounced “skiffy,” is a play on the dreaded sci-fi and a nod to its coiner, beloved LA BNF Forry Ackerman. ”
    https://fancyclopedia.org/Los_Angeles_Clubs#SCIFI

  25. “And, of course, Harlan wrote an infinite number of times about his countless rejections in his early career. Anyone claiming otherwise is deeply ignorant of Harlan’s work and endless public talks.”

    There was a room full of people who heard him say it, but, of course, the experts know everything. Ellison said it as an offhand remark. (and yes, and I knew it was BS at the time).

    Not long after, Ray Bradbury gave a talk, and pulled out his latest rejection slip, and said “Everybody gets rejection slips!” and proceeded to read it to us.

    To end on a positive note, Ellison spoke on “Hour 25,” which was a local SF radio show in Los Angeles (which he hosted after the original host, Mike Hodel, passed on). He talked about a new law, which allowed inventory to be taxed for companies. He said it would forever change the publishing industry, and not for the better. He was right!

  26. It wasn’t a new law. It was the Thor Power Tool court decision. And it didn’t allow inventory to be taxed. It told corporations they couldn’t just decide it was time to deduct the rest of the cost of production of something they still had in inventory and were selling — only the costs related to the items as they were sold.

    In publishing, the way that played out is that companies decided they wanted the complete deduction whenever they wanted it, so at that point would have the remaining inventory of books destroyed instead of keeping them on hand and available for sale. And that did change the industry.

  27. Skiffy actually is lot older than 1975. The earliest known use of the noun skiffy is in the late 1700s. OED’s only evidence for skiffy in the English language is from 1795, in the writing of John Sinclair. It’s originally Scottish from the Dundee and means clue.

  28. There are many examples of “skiffy” in print through the 19th and 20th centuries, often with senses or definitions not captured by the OED. But except for a coincidence of spelling, they don’t mean much in the discussion of the science fiction sense here.

  29. Right. For our purposes the use of “skiffy” only counts when it is a deliberate play on “sci-fi” which was first coined in the Fifties. Earlier instances are effectively just homonyms.

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