SyFy, Say It’s Not So!


Subject: Name Change From Sci Fi Channel to SyFy

From: Mitch Rubenstein (who, with Laurie Silvers, founded Sci Fi Channel; together, they now own

The Early Days — Part 1

Before the Sci Fi Channel launched, Isaac Asimov (a member of the Sci Fi Channel’s Board of Advisors along with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry), Laurie and I presented the concept of a 24-hour cable TV network dedicated to science fiction to a packed room of SF writers at the Science Fiction Writers of America meeting.

The writers were not happy — and that’s an understatement. They said they wouldn’t watch it. They would oppose it unless we called it the SF Channel because calling it “Sci Fi Channel” was a put-down to the SF genre, as “sci-fi” is slang for SF and science fiction — and a huge mistake. And I said if we called it the SF Channel, people would think it’s about the city of San Francisco.

I was booed.

Then Isaac started to speak and said that the name had to be Sci Fi Channel and not the SF Channel in order to draw a wide, diverse audience and be successful. To be in a financial position to acquire and produce the best programming. That’s really what counts, right? The writers came around and agreed. Heck, it was Isaac Asimov saying “Sci Fi Channel” was OK, and that was that.

What would Isaac have said if the name was instead SyFy Channel. He would have said (we believe): That’s just plain dumb.

SyFy, say it’s not so!

By the way, when the Sci Fi Channel launched, did you know the launch party was at the Hayden Planetarium in NYC where we threw the switch? And the first thing that was on the screen was “Dedicated to the memories of Isaac Asimov and Gene Roddenberry,” members of the Channel’s Board of Advisors, who both, regrettably died shortly before the channel launched. At the launch was our master of ceremonies, Leonard Nimoy, and sitting next to Laurie and me was the late Majel Barrett Roddenberry, Gene’s widow, and Isaac’s widow Janet.

We’ll have more tales from the beginnings of the Sci Fi Channel right here. Stay tuned.

Mitch Rubenstein