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Entry updated 8 February 2012. Tagged: Theme.

Common item of sf Terminology. In sf the Latin form is that conventionally given to the name of our planet, since Earth is ambiguous, meaning both the planet itself and soil – a point frequently made when Earth is sought in E C Tubb's Dumarest sequence: "As well call a planet Dirt, or Soil!" (The irony here is that the same ambiguity exists in Latin, where terra can mean anything from soil or the ground, as in terra firma, to the whole world.) Similarly, our Sun is often, in sf, called Sol while the Moon becomes Luna. The other Latin word for Earth, commoner in poetry than in prose, was tellus, from the Roman earth-goddess Tellus. This name and its adjectival form Tellurian make occasional appearances in sf – E E Smith uses Tellus interchangeably with Terra in his Lensman sequence, and it is C S Lewis's preferred name for Earth in That Hideous Strength (1945; cut 1955; cut version vt The Tortured Planet 1958). [PN/DRL]

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