says, in his 1972 interview with David G Hartwell
(later published in The New York Review of Science Fiction
, March and April 1989):
"Sturgeon's Law originally was 'Nothing is always absolutely so.' The other thing was known as 'Sturgeon's Revelation'"
The first known reference to the revelation appears in the March 1958 issue of Venture Science Fiction
"I repeat Sturgeon's Revelation, which was wrung out of me after twenty years of wearying defense of science fiction against attacks of people who used the worst examples of the field for ammunition, and whose conclusion was that ninety percent of sf is crud.
"The Revelation: Ninety percent of everything is crud2.
"Corollary 1: The existence of immense quantities of trash in science fiction is admitted and if is regrettable; but it is no more unnatural than the existence of trash anywhere.
"Corollary 2: The best science fiction is as good as the best fiction in any field."
This revelation has now become known as Sturgeon's Law, though the corollaries seem to have been lost in time. Sturgeon's Law was coined at a session of the World Science Fiction Convention
in Philadelphia, which took place over the Labor Day
weekend of 1953.1
Sturgeon's Law came from a single sentence in the talk that Ted Sturgeon was presenting to the convention; the gist being that Science Fiction is the only creative genre that is judged on its worst content, not its best.
"When people talk about the mystery novel, they mention The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep. When they talk about the western, they say there's The Way West and Shane. But when they talk about science fiction, they call it 'that Buck Rogers stuff,' and they say 'ninety percent of science fiction is crud.' Well, they're right. Ninety percent of science fiction is crud. But then ninety percent of everything is crud2, and it's the ten percent that isn't crud that is important. and the ten percent of science fiction that isn't crud is as good as or better than anything being written anywhere."
An account of the coining of Sturgeon's Law is given in an addendum to James Gunn
's review of The Ultimate Egoist : Volume 1 The Complete Stories of Theodore Sturgeon
which originally appeared in The New York Review of Science Fiction
, September 1995.
2 I sincerely hope that considerably less than 90% of everything is crud, but I do wonder sometimes ;-).