Sci-fi writers love to make up words.
I’m not just talking about the names of races or planets, I’m talking about the whole pantheon of terms that connote “the future”. We call money something different, we might even lose gender pronouns.
Take the “new calender” for instance. At some point in our distant future, we stop using our Gregorian calenders and switch to a new system of time measurement. Maybe we don’t even think about years the same way. In Smallworld, By Dominic Green, we have Dia’s and Kilodia’s (a thousand Dias?).
Personally I find this tendency very tiring, and hard to read.
I understand the idea of using changes in language to denote changes in culture, but usually our “future” languages are very mired in the past they were written in. Do you think you’re ever going to “Grok The Fullness”?
Maybe this is a symptom of being more of a Futuristc (or Speculative Fiction) author, than a straight sci-fi guy. I write about humanity in the not so distant future. Coffee is still coffee, we still use dollars, and even if it fires a laser, it is still a gun.
I’m all for technical words, AI, robots, phaser, transporter. These have specific function and meaning. In fact, Sci Fi often helps to name technology, Cybernetics and Robots just to name a few. It would be unspeakably awesome to coin a term for some future technology and have it used by actual members of the field.
But that’s not what I’m talking about.
I’m talking about … weird for weird’s sake. I’m sure money will change in the future, we’ve already seen the rise (and possibly fall) of a new currency with the Euro. Bitcoin exists today and countless virtual currencies. But personally, I like the sci-fi stories that either stick with generic credits, or something bizarre like … loonies (see Anachronox).
It’s hard to explain, but I think a lot of authors throw these sorts of weird names around not because it has any relevance to the story, but merely because it sounds futurey or syfy. If your change in years has some bearing on story, the character of the race, or what have you, then fine. But if not, why don’t we just call years a year, dollars a dollar, and coffee Raktajino (Klingon Coffee for those who didn’t know).
Good stories don’t need flash and weird words. I like plain simple prose that takes you to bizarre places, not bizarre words that take you nowhere.
What do you guys think?