What makes a word a “science fiction” word?
This is all prompted by my son’s recent acquisition of the words “dinosaur” and “spaceship;” an important achievement, I’m sure you’ll agree. So I announced that I’m going to start teaching him more “science fiction” words. But what does that mean?
A word is clearly an SF word if it appears only within science fiction works. Ansible, for example, or warp drive. But what about words that occur in normal (if technical) discourse as well? Is “spaceship” a science fiction word? Black hole? Antimatter? Does it help if that term was originally coined in a work of science fiction? Robot, for example, is a term that originated in fiction (well, drama, actually), and migrated into reality.
I’d suggest that a science fiction word is one that is used to describe a concept iconic to the genre: that is, where the sole presence of that concept in a work of fiction is a strong indicator that the work is science fiction. But that’s a discussion for another day.