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Brave New Words Reprint Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195387063
ISBN-10: 0195387066
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Editorial Reviews

Review


"This is a fine work, helpful for anyone who has ever been asked what the hell we've been talking about all this time. Grade: A" -SciFi MagazineR


"I had an embarrassingly good time poring through Brave New Words. It's more than a dictionary, it's a secret history of science fiction-and of the last 50 years of popular culture." - John Scalzi,Author of Old Man's WarR


"An earnest cataloguing of the jargon of the might-be futurecheerily eccentric." -Washington PostR


"It's terrific to browse, full of all sort of citations of first appearances of words and their subsequent usage, showing how many words commonly used today had their origin in our genre." -Fantasy & Science FictionR


"For anyone needing information about an important science fiction author or subgenre, this is a definitive list, making it useful for readers' advisors, students writing papers, and science fiction fans of all ages." -BooklistR


About the Author


Jeff Prucher is a freelance lexicographer and an editor for the Oxford English Dictionary's science fiction project. He lives in Berkeley with his family.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Reprint edition (March 13, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195387066
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195387063
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 1.1 x 6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #311,124 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Richard M. Collier on July 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is an impressive reference text and one that can also be read selectively both for erudition and just plain fun. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of BNW, however, is the amount of reading the author Jeff Prucher engaged in to produce the extensive citations contained with the text: a glance at either the Works Cited (281-309) or the Bibliography of SF criticism (310-342) will leave one wondering how Prucher had time for anything in his life over the past decade other than reading.

One of the primary virtues of this book is in fact the Works Cited section which could serve well as a comprehensive reading list for anyone interested in becoming acquainted with SF from its hoary beginnings to a point within a few years of the present; as well, the Bibliography of criticism is an invaluable asset for academics wishing to augment their understanding of specialized niche areas in the SF field. And certainly in regard to these ancillary appendices was, for me at least, the list of author pseudonyms (279-80): who would otherwise know how many alternative names Henry Kuttner had?

Of course the quotations illustrating the various lexical entries in the dictionary are themselves impressive by suggesting through their chronology the length of time a term has been in common use; by the variety of sources for these terms, from novels to short stories to fanzines; and by how well each quotation illustrates a slightly different shading of the meaning of a particular term. I was, however, somewhat disappointed that so few of these citations derived from the Golden Age of SF (essentially pre-1945 and back to the days of Gernsback), but that may be the result of prucher having had difficulty accessing the pulp magazines of this era.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a great reference for Science Fiction fans and I think it will be of interest to all sorts of non-SF fans too. It's well written and surprisingly readable for a dictionary - there are sidebars scattered among the definitions on topics such as Time Travel, Expletives & Profanity, and of course Star Trek. The definitions are fascinating - for example, who knew that the word robot is derived from the Czech word for forced labor? I certainly didn't, and I've been reading books about robots practically since I learned to read. I also learned, among many useful pieces of information, that I am a passifan (as opposed to an actifan) - that is, I read SF, but don't actively participate in fan culture, and these two words have been used since the '40s. The author's blog (jeffprucher.com) is also interesting - especially the section on words that didn't make it into the dictionary and why. I recommend this dictionary for all sci-fi fans (acti and passi alike) and for anyone who's interested in language and pop culture.
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Format: Hardcover
I have been reading science fiction since I was a child, but never in an organized fashion, nor with the exclusive focus of fans or fanatics. This book, which I approached with the idea that it might be too specialized or dry, turns out to be fascinating! It reads like the best histories, with curiosities and discoveries on each page. It is a delight to learn the origins of terms, not least because it illuminates the creativity of sci-fi authors in mining their own knowledge bases for new locutions. Buy this book! You will read it more than you imagine.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This review is going to be short simply because nothing I can say could be as helpful in your decision-making as Gene Wolfe's very excellent introduction. I'll give you a minute to read it.

. . .

See? Wasn't kidding was I? Very well done.

Anyway, if you want the opinion of this unpublished non-science ficiton writer, I think that if you're interested in science fiction and if you're interested in language, then you ought to own this book.

This isn't like most of the Oxford Dictionaries I've seen. The definitions are scanty and the etymologies are long - but consider the subject matter. Most of the words in here are either rather common in modern parlance ("android," "spaceship") or highly idiosyncratic ("grok"), neither of which lend themselves well to wordy definitions. And, moreso than in most other subjects, the definitions of the words shift and change over time.

Also entertaining are the short essays between letters. They're entertaining and well-written, but also highly informative and on-point.

This isn't a book to sit down and read cover to cover for most people, but it's an excellent book to scan through and a helpful reference for those sci-fi words you've always wanted to know a bit more about. And, for someone like me who only participates in sci-fi fandom at the very edges, it's a handy glossary for a lot of industry terms as well.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This dictionary is amazing, and I marvel at the amount of work that went into making it.

However, I bought this dictionary in the hopes that who was in it, or "the Doctor" or something of that sort. I'm working on a definition paper and "the Doctor" is my topic, and I need a specialized dictionary in which I got my definition. I found no such mention of Doctor Who, though I have yet to read the entire thing. Is Doctor Who mentioned in this at all? Please, help would be appreciated.
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