On John DeNardo’s blog post, “Demystifying Science Fictional Terms, Part 4″…

(Read his blog here:

“Mumbo-jumbo”? “Hard-to-understand”?  Do people truly not know this stuff already?  Do people who read science fiction at all actually not know what the word clone means…?  (It sort of wobbles my brain that anyone wouldn’t know what clone means.)  Or genetic engineering?

At least most of the explanations are correct, given their brevity.  Most.  Not this part, though:


Precognition is the formal term for ESP (Extra Sensory Perception), the ability to see into the future.

Precognition is not a synonym for ESP.  It’s a kind of ESP.  So are clairvoyance and psychometry.  Whether you believe in such things or not is irrelevant; there are established terms that ought to be used correctly or not at all.  (When a character in a novel says something stupid like, “I’m not psychic, I’m a telepath,” it makes me want to throw the book across the room.)

That said, it’s probably true that a lot of readers don’t know these terms, and besides, readers new to sci-fi ought not be made to feel unwelcome because they’re not up on our quirky jargon.  Someone giving feedback on one of my fantasy stories many years ago had to stop and ask, “What’s a mage?”  If this can happen with fantasy terms, it can happen with science fiction ones, too.  (*sigh*)

About Thomas Weaver

For several years, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom (editor). I'm physically disabled, and I currently live with my smugly good-looking twin Paul, who writes military science fiction and refuses to talk about his military service because he can’t. Sometimes Paul and I collaborate on stories, and sometimes I just edit whatever he writes. It's worked out rather well so far. My list of non-writing-related jobs from the past includes librarian, art model, high school teacher, science lab gofer… Although I have no spouse or offspring to tell you about, I do have eight cats. I currently spend my time blogging, reading, editing, and fending off cats who like my desk better than my twin’s.
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