Rough Guide to Sci-Fi Movies Arrives

In the mail today:

Very pleased with the cover. Quite nicely iconic. At an earlier point, I think they were considering Rutger Hauer as Roy in Blade Runner for the cover, which would have been nice, too, but there were rights issues or some such. But I like the Metropolis cover just fine, myself.

The book itself is larger than I expected, both in physical size and in its length; I knew I wrote a lot, but I didn’t realize how much until I thumbed through the thing. Even edited, it’s fairly substantial — but then, we did cover a lot of ground in the book. Aside from my work in writing it, the visual design inside is quite smart, and should you ever pick up the book for yourself, I humbly ask you to admire the index in the back, which was the work of Susan Marie Groppi, who absolutely saved my ass by doing such a fine job of it. Overall, a fabulous-looking book, and I thank everyone at Rough Guides (and Susan) for making it so.

One minor quibble I expect to see among the SF faithful is the fact the word “Sci-Fi” is in the title; when my Rough Guide editors told me what the title they were going with was, I noted some SF fen would not be pleased. However, the book is addressed not only to SF fans but to the wider reading audience, many of whom are more familiar with the term “sci-fi” than “SF” in reference to science fiction. I do have a sidebar in the book’s introduction on the matter, which reads thusly:

Just as the citizens of San Francisco cringe when an out-of-towner calls the city “Frisco,” so do many long-time fans of the science fiction genre become annoyed when someone outside their circle refers to science fiction as “sci-fi.” To many longtime fans, “sci-fi” has the taint of being a “lite” version of the genre they know and love; therefore, many longtime fans use “SF” as their preferred shorter version. This antipathy is not universal — many science fiction genre professionals don’t care about it one way or another, and indeed, the US cable network devoted to science fiction and fantasy is the “Sci-Fi Channel” — but inasmuch as the bias is there, we’d be remiss not to acknowledge it.

For the purposes of this book, we make no value judgments about the desirability of “SF,” “sci-fi” or “science fiction” as labels — we use them more or less interchangeably for the sake of variety. This book’s author, a published science fiction novelist, does suggest that if you fall in with a group of longtime SF fans, that you use the term “SF” rather than “sci-fi” as an abbreviation simply to avoid the potential of being humorously ribbed by them about it (most long-time SF fans are actually pretty tolerant if you’re showing genuine interest in the genre).

Also, should it come up, use “trekker” rather than “trekkie.”

We’ll see if that handles it.

One of the things I enjoy about doing a book for Rough Guides is the fact that it’s edited by English people, so after they’re done editing me, I end up reading like an Anglophile version of my self, complete with extra “u”s in my writing and the occasional bit of UK slang, like “knocked for six,” which I assume — but could not confirm if my life depended on it — is an expression that comes from cricket. I think I would very much like to meet the Anglicized version of myself one day. He seems a fine chap.

As for the book availability itself: Amazon has it listed that it’ll be available on October 17, which means it’ll probably be available a little bit before then in bookstores, etc. Clearly, I think you should be on the lookout.

In any event: Whoo-hoo! Very happy day.

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