(Did you mean the short name for the Evening Session Science Fiction Society of the City College of New York?)
Please don't call it "sci-fi."
Forry Ackerman, one of fandom's most avid neologians, promoted this cutesy abbreviation for science fiction. It was a pun on hi-fi, the short form of "High Fidelity," an audio technology introduced in the 1950s. 4E popularized sci-fi in his movie magazine, Famous Monsters of Filmland, the first issue of which hit newsstands in February 1958, and it was applied widely in ads and by media critics to Attack of the 50-Foot Woman, which premiered in May of that year.
This connection did not appeal to the sercon fans of the era, who shunned the nickname and, much to 4SJ's chagrin, applied it within fandom to denote only low-quality science fiction, especially the kind of schlocky B movies and TV shows often covered in Famous Monsters -- "Hollywood-level stuff," as Dick Eney disdainfully referred to it. (Even Forry’s wife, Wendayne, had warned him it would never catch on.)
As indiscriminate use of the term to describe all sf gained popularity in mundania (along with science fiction itself), fans began to use sf vs. sci-fi as an "us vs. them" shibboleth. "We never call it 'sci-fi'" was among the first lessons taught to neofen. By the 1980s, many fans considered it such a slur that they couldn't bring themselves to use the term even in a derogatory sense and began to pronounce it "skiffy." ("Hoi polloi pronounce it psi phi, but we cognoscenti call it skiffy,” as the catchphrase put it.)
The fan organization formed in the early 1980s to run L.A.con II and other conventions in Forry's hometown, the Southern California Institute for Fan Interests (SCIFI), deliberately picked its name for the initials, which they also pronounced "skiffy."
Fannish distaste for sci-fi continues, but the advent of the SyFy cable-TV channel (originally the Sci-Fi Channel) has made the term so ubiquitous in the macrocosm and among media buffs, that many newer fans can't grok the objections.
File 770 54, p. 6 has an interesting editorial about it by Mike Glyer.
|From Fancyclopedia 2, ca. 1959|
|(Ackerman) 4e is trying to popularize this expression as an equivalent for stf, ie a contraction for science-fiction. So far it has attached chiefly to several professional movie-fan magazines and other Hollywood-level stuff.|
|This is a fanspeak page. Please extend it by adding information about when and by whom it was coined, whether it’s still in use, etc.|