Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction


Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction

Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction


The first historical dictionary devoted to science fiction, Brave New Words:The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction shows exactly how science-fictional words and their associated concepts have developed over time, with full citations and bibliographic information. It's a window on a whole genre of literature through the words invented and passed along by the genre's most talented writers. In addition, it shows how many words we consider everyday vocabulary-words like "spacesuit," "blast off," and "robot"-had their roots in imaginative literature, and not in hard science.

Citations are included for each definition, starting with the earliest usage that can be found. These citations are drawn not only from science fiction books and magazines, but also from mainstream publications, fanzines, screenplays, newspapers, comics, filk songs, and the Internet. In addition to illustrating the different ways each word has been used, citations also show when and where words have moved out of the science fiction lexicon and into that of other subcultures or mainstream English.

Brave New Words covers the shared language of science fiction, as well as the vocabulary of science fiction criticism and its fans--those terms that are used by many authors in multiple settings. Words coined in science fiction have become part of the vocabulary of any number of subcultures and endeavors, from comics, to neo-paganism, to aerospace, to computers, to environmentalism, to zine culture. This is the first book to document this vocabulary transfer. Not just a useful reference and an entertaining browse, this book also documents the enduring legacy of science fiction writers and fans.


  • First citation-based dictionary of science fiction terms
  • Contents include more than 1,000 terms, short notes about groups of related terms, a bibliography, and an introduction by Gene Wolfe, author of The Book of the New Sun
  • New England Science Fiction Association has provided editorial oversight through an advisory board
  • Illustrates the significant effect that the language of science fiction has had on the English language as a whole
  • Shows how many words we consider everyday vocabulary-words like "spacesuit," "blast off," and "robot" - had their roots in imaginative literature rather than hard science

Product Details
384 pages; 6-1/8 x 9-1/4; ISBN13: 978-0-19-530567-8ISBN10: 0-19-530567-1

About the Author(s)
Jeff Prucher is a freelance lexicographer and an editor for the Oxford English Dictionary 's science fiction project. He has previously been a bookseller, office temp, editorial assistant for Locus , and software quality assurance engineer. He lives in San Francisco with his wife and more books than they realistically have room for.