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Having an accurate and descriptive critical term for a common SF problem makes it easier to recognize and discuss. The terms here were generally developed over a period of many years in many workshops. Those identified with a particular writer are acknowledged in parentheses at the end of the entry.
They rarely ask where society gets its science fiction writers. In many cases the answer is science fiction workshops. Workshops come in many varieties — regional and national, amateur and professional, formal and frazzled. Thanks to the seminal efforts of Robin Wilson, would-be sf writers can receive actual academic credit for this experience.
But the workshopping experience does not require any shepherding by experts. No one has a Copyright on talent, desire, or enthusiasm. Attendees bring short manuscripts, with enough copies for everyone present.
No one can attend or comment who does not bring a story. The contributors read and annotate all the stories. Large groups may require deliberate scheduling. The author is strictly required, by rigid law and custom, to make no outcries, no matter how he or she may squirm.
When the circle is done and the last reader has vented his or her opinion, the silently suffering author is allowed an extended reply, which, it is hoped, will not exceed half an hour or so, and will avoid gratuitously personal ripostes.
This harrowing process continues, with possible breaks for food, until all the stories are done, whereupon everyone tries to repair ruptured relationships in an orgy of drink and gossip. No doubt a very interesting book could be written about science fiction in which the writing itself played no part.
This phantom history could detail the social demimonde of workshops and their associated cliques: This kind of fellow-feeling may be the true hearts-blood of the genre. We now come to the core of this piece, the SF Workshop Lexicon. This lexicon was compiled by Mr Lewis Shiner and myself from the work of many writers and critics over many years of genre history, and it contains buzzwords, notions and critical terms of direct use to SF workshops.
In proper ideologically-correct cyberpunk fashion, the Turkey City Lexicon was distributed unCopyrighted and free-of-charge: Lewis Shiner still thinks that this was the best deployment of an effort of this sort, and thinks I should stop fooling around with this fait accompli.
After all, the original Lexicon remains unCopyrighted, and it has been floating around in fanzines, prozines and computer networks for seven years now.
It seems to me that if a document of this sort fails to grow it will surely become a literary monument, and, well, heaven forbid. You can email me about it: Some Lexicon terms are attributed to their originators, when I could find them; others are not, and I apologize for my ignorance.
Science fiction boasts many specialized critical terms. This lexicon is not a guide to scholarship. The Workshop Lexicon is a guide of sorts for down-and-dirty hairy-knuckled sci-fi writers, the kind of ambitious subliterate guttersnipes who actually write and sell professional genre material.
Words and Sentences Brenda Starr dialogue Long sections of talk with no physical background or description of the characters. Named for the American comic-strip in which dialogue balloons were often seen emerging from the Manhattan skyline. Brand Name Fever Use of brand name alone, without accompanying visual detail, to create false verisimilitude.A consideration of supposed God-man Adi Da, Franklin Jones, a long exchange with his devotee and revelations from former devotees.
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