Eight Deadly Words

Eight Deadly Words

The Eight Deadly Words are "I don't "care" what happens to these people." [cite web| url=http://www.geocities.com/Athens/4824/sf-written.htm#34F | title=The Eight Deadly Words| work=rec.arts.sf.written Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)| accessdate=2006-07-04| year=2005| first=Evelyn C.| last= Leeper] The phrase is commonly used in science fiction fandom as a criticism of stories that fail to engage the reader through a lack of interesting or compelling characters. A person reviewing a book might for example write "...and at that point I said the Eight Deadly Words" to indicate loss of interest for this reason.

The phrase was coined by Dorothy J. Heydt in a June 11, 1991, Usenet posting to rec.arts.sf-lovers in reference to The Copper Crown, a novel by Patricia Kennealy-Morrison:

:I put it down and went to sleep. And when I woke up in the morning and picked it up again, I thought, "I don't care what happens to these people," and put it down again.cite web| url=http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.sf-lovers/msg/9c5e879597b7fd4d| title=de gustibus| publisher=rec.arts.sf-lovers| first=Dorothy J| last=Heydt| date=11 June 1991| accessdate=2006-04-29| id=message-id <1991Jun12.030517.26647@agate.berkeley.edu>]

The phrase was first referred to by the term "Eight Deadly Words" by Heydt in a September 15, 1993, Usenet posting to rec.arts.sf.written in reference to a Fionavar Tapestry book:

:The Eight Deadly Words (tm):

:"I don't _care_ *what* happens to these people!"cite web| url=http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.sf.written/msg/c0c86ef8c3d067df?dmode=source| title=Re: The Fionavar Tapestry vs. The Wheel of Time| publisher=rec.arts.sf.written| first=Dorothy J| last=Heydt| year=15 Sep 1993| accessdate=2006-04-10| id=message-id <277tn4$q62@agate.berkeley.edu>]

Although the term "Eight Deadly Words" is not actually trademarked, within two days the catchphrase was being used independently by John S. Novak. A few days later it was used in the title of a thread for the first time. In 1994 it spread beyond its original newsgroup when Heydt inadvertently crossposted it to the alt.books.deryni newsgroup. Later that year, the term takes on a life of its own, spreading independently of Heydt into other newsgroups, such as rec.arts.comics.misc.

Heydt has also stated that she coined the term while reading The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan:

:It was myself who coined them, and the occasion was getting to about Chapter Two, Volume Two, of _The Wheel of Time_, and shutting the book and giving the whole set (three or four books at that time, I believe) to my niece, who had a long train trip ahead of her.cite web| url=http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.sf.written/msg/c67003d462c72a07?dmode=source| title=Re: Surviving the brain-eater?| publisher=rec.arts.sf.written| first=Dorothy J| last=Heydt| year=21 Nov 2003| accessdate=2006-04-29| id=message-id ]


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