Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Rant: Future Cuss

Fair Warning: Lots of f-bombs afoot. Watch your step.
Dear Science Fiction Writers:

I believe with all my heart that people will be saying 'shit' and 'goddamn' and 'fuck' in the next century, and probably beyond. Why do you feel compelled to invent new cusses to substitute for the profanity we already know and love?

Do me a favor, wouldja? The next time your write a story and you want someone to say 'fuck', please just have them say 'fuck' and not some stupid-ass made up word like 'dumpit' that is absolutely void of emotional impact and just sits there on the page like a cold turd. (Yeah, I'm looking at
you, David Brin.) That shit yanks me right out of the story and leaves me feeling like I just missed a mind-blowing orgasm by that much.

(Well, OK, it's not exactly like that, but you get my point. It totally harshes my buzz.)

The only exception to the rule is TV where, for the most part, the characters can't say 'fuck'. But the actors usually can deliver the equivalent with enough emotional intensity to make us believe they just said 'fuck'. Which is almost as satisfying as the real thing.

But please, in a novel, just say 'fuck' when you mean 'fuck'. Or if you're too well-mannered to say 'fuck', a heart-felt 'crap' will do. Pretend you're translating from Russian or something and are simply using the nearest equivalent that your feeble-minded, primitive, 21st-century audience can relate to.

Please don't just make shit up. It really pisses me off.




  1. Hear, hear! Although, I can imagine more uptight people would start complaining, and the next thing we know, there's a regulatory body slapping "PG" and "R" on novels.

  2. Have you ever read Isaac Asimov's Foundation series? I think that's the one where the characters keep swearing oaths "by Space". That always made me cringe.

  3. Ah... Foundation. Love that series! One of my first, way back in the day.

    For some reason, swears using real words don't bother me nearly as much as the made-up words.

  4. Amen, sister!

    What is that one on TV (or is it a movie - I just saw a quick blurb) where they go around saying "frakkin' this and frakkin' that"?

  5. Battlestar Galactica -- love that show! At least they say it with gusto. And sometimes it almost sounds like 'fuck'.

    Anyone read the Wheel of Time series? 'By the light...', like every other sentence. Argh! Still better'n 'dumpit', tho.


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