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Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction

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The new online Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction is a comprehensive, quotation-based online resource that’s a delight for language lovers of all kinds, and a treasure trove for sci-fi fans. It’s the work of lexicographer Jesse Sheidlower and grew out of the crowdsourced Science Fiction Citations Project, which also led to a print historical dictionary, Brave New Words, edited by Jeff Prucher. (Bookshop|Amazon) Some entries, like earthborn and dirtsider, remain outside the cultural mainstream. Warp speed, on the other hand, originated in a 1952 science fiction work, and is now so widely known to mean “very fast” that it ends up in names like that for the all-out vaccine-development effort, Operation Warp Speed. This is part of a complete episode.

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