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droid
24-04-2016, 01:17 AM
This is a thorny subject thats been on my mind for several years. Ive had some thoughts on the subject but Im interested to hear what other people think.

I hate to start with a question, but here's something Ive mulled over: Can you name a film/book/comic set in the future which isnt generally considered to be some kind of sci-fi?

empty mirror
05-04-2017, 02:24 PM
Star Wars comes to mind
it is a space opera, not an exploration of the consequences of a scientific innovation

droid
05-04-2017, 02:54 PM
Youre right, star wars isnt Sci-Fi, its fantasy, but it also isnt set in the future.

faustus
05-04-2017, 02:58 PM
Infinite Jest

droid
05-04-2017, 03:43 PM
Dunno.. Dystopia, the Great Concavity, O.N.A.N.

You could make a case for it. Not a million miles away from a scanner darkly in some ways.

Mr. Tea
05-04-2017, 03:58 PM
Youre right, star wars isnt Sci-Fi, its fantasy, but it also isnt set in the future.

It's also, if you think about it, a story mainly about some aliens who just happen to look, sound and act exactly like human beings.

(Or rather, sound and act almost like human beings, given how shonky Lucas's script is in parts.)

But yeah, it's pretty transparently a fairy story with spaceships, robots and ray guns.

Slothrop
05-04-2017, 04:12 PM
Not a very Dissensian book, but Cold Comfort Farm? Written in 1932, it's set in the future with video phones and air-taxis, but that's not what anyone remembers about it.

Mr. Tea
05-04-2017, 04:20 PM
Dunno.. Dystopia, the Great Concavity, O.N.A.N.

You could make a case for it. Not a million miles away from a scanner darkly in some ways.

The thing I noticed about IJ was that, while DFW was dead right about our ever-more-severe addiction to entertainment, he was quite wide of the mark about the type of entertainment, in that he mostly describes people who are obsessed with entirely passive forms - films, TV shows, sports, porn, whatever. The acme of all these being the titular 'Entertainment' itself, of course. Whereas the real monkey on everyone's back is interactive, two-way entertainment, i.e. gaming and social media. The dopamine reward-circuit buzz of each Like, 'lol' and retweet.

droid
05-04-2017, 04:22 PM
Not a very Dissensian book, but Cold Comfort Farm? Written in 1932, it's set in the future with video phones and air-taxis, but that's not what anyone remembers about it.

Ive only seen the movie. Consensus from nerds seems to be that its some kind of sci-fi.

firefinga
05-04-2017, 07:27 PM
Rollerball?

Children of Men?

to me, Sci fi needs to include (somewhat heavy) influential role of (envisioned) "science" in the movies. The above mentioned don't rellay have that, nevertheless setin the future. Rollerball actually 2018

Mr. Tea
05-04-2017, 08:52 PM
Rollerball actually 2018

Bring it on! Blade Runner and Akira are both set the year after that. Then it's only another decade to the events in the future plot line of The Terminator, followed by Demolition Man three years after that.

Slothrop
05-04-2017, 08:55 PM
Ive only seen the movie. Consensus from nerds seems to be that its some kind of sci-fi.

What's the reasoning there? As far as I recall, you could rewrite it to be set at the time of writing (early thirties) without significantly changing the plot, the characters or the atmosphere, which seems like a reasonable first stab at an "is it SF" test.

droid
05-04-2017, 11:13 PM
Well it brings us back to the original question - the definition of sci fi.

droid
05-04-2017, 11:18 PM
Rollerball?

Children of Men?

to me, Sci fi needs to include (somewhat heavy) influential role of (envisioned) "science" in the movies. The above mentioned don't rellay have that, nevertheless setin the future. Rollerball actually 2018

Youre not even trying!

COM is a dystopian future where most of the world has been destroyed, Britain is the only functioning society and humans have lost the ability to reproduce.

Rollerball is a dystopian future in which nations have been replaced by corporations who compete for glory via violent gladiatorial competition.

Slothrop
05-04-2017, 11:35 PM
Well it brings us back to the original question - the definition of sci fi.

Well yeah, that's why I asked! Presumably the people who consider Cold Comfort Farm to be SF do so because it meets some criteria? Whereas I've given a tentative criterion that it doesn't meet.

To flip the question - can you be science fiction while being set in something that's essentially our present, with no alternative science, technology or history? I've always felt like there's a SF feel to stuff like Crash, Cocaine Nights, Super Cannes etc, despite the fact that it's not obviously inherent in the settings, but maybe that's just because I know that Ballard is (in his way) part of the science fiction tradition.

droid
05-04-2017, 11:44 PM
Id be interested in a cogent argument against the idea that sci-fi is, at its core essentially about 'anything that could happen in the future'.

Ballard is mostly about potential internal futures. Future psychology, future societies, future desires.

droid
05-04-2017, 11:46 PM
It was called speculative fiction at one point after all.

sadmanbarty
06-04-2017, 12:04 AM
Well it brings us back to the original question - the definition of sci fi.

Maybe there isn't one single all-encompassing definition, but rather a number of distinct and arbitrary definitions including:

1) Fiction that features a variety of characteristics which are indicative of technological and scientific development (aliens, lazers, clones, teleportation, robots, etc.). I'd count Star Wars as sci-fi and put it in this category.

2) Embellished political and societal scenarios; 'the future', dystopias, alternative history, etc.

I'm sure there are others, but I can't think of them.

I suppose if you include social sciences those two I listed above are both about the possibilities of science (even if something like star wars has no scientific validity).

droid
06-04-2017, 12:09 AM
"fantasy is the impossible made probable. Science fiction is the improbable made possible."

Slothrop
06-04-2017, 01:29 AM
Maybe there isn't one single all-encompassing definition, but rather a number of distinct and arbitrary definitions....
There's always a temptation to define things like "science fiction" or "classical music" in terms of traditions rather than styles. It's a bit like the "why isn't Scorn dubstep" argument.

Mr. Tea
06-04-2017, 08:44 AM
COM is a dystopian future where most of the world has been destroyed, Britain is the only functioning society...


Sounds more like a straight-up fantasy, put in those terms.

you
06-04-2017, 09:07 AM
someone should mention the difference between hard sci-fi and soft sci-fi

Mr. Tea
06-04-2017, 10:13 AM
someone should mention the difference between hard sci-fi and soft sci-fi

"There is a difference between hard sci-fi and soft sci-fi."

Howzat?

john eden
06-04-2017, 11:01 AM
I think it sci-fi is about a scientific/technological angle as has been said.

But it's also that this angle is the dominant feature of the story.

Orwell's 1984 was set in the future when it was published and also includes various technological innovations (like surveillance). But it's not sci-fi because the dominant feature is politics.

Is "A Clockwork Orange" sci-fi though?

Mr. Tea
06-04-2017, 11:10 AM
I think the difference is meant to be that 'hard' sci-fi is more about the implications of future technology while 'soft' is more about societal changes, right? So the latter would include 1984, which doesn't really feature any technology not available in the late '40s when it was written (edit: apart from some of the surveillance stuff, as JE mentions - although even then, it's mostly just a refinement of technology that already existed at the time, isn't it?). I guess this would put Gibson in a sort of intermediate position.

In the broader definition, sci-fi doesn't have to be about futuristic technology per se, I think. So Neil Stephenson's Cryptonomicon can be called sci-fi, even though it's set partly in the 'present day' (or the late '90s, when it was written) and partly in WWII, and you could even make the case for his Baroque Cycle being sci-fi too, despite being set about 300 years ago, because of the central importance of science and technology to the plot(s)*. But that could be as much because Stephenson was already widely known as a sci-fi author when he wrote those books as for any other reason, I dunno.

Conversely, a book about, say, the reawakening of King Arthur to fight ancient forces of evil would pretty clearly be a fantasy novel even if it were set in 2050.

*then again, the stuff about the apparently immortal Enoch Root and the magical properties of the 'Solomonic gold' could almost be classed as fantasy, or at least magic realism.

droid
06-04-2017, 11:18 AM
Id be interested in a cogent argument against the idea that sci-fi is, at its core essentially about 'anything that could happen in the future'.

:x::poop::cool:

droid
06-04-2017, 11:22 AM
Very nice list and decent essay on 60's new wave here: http://conceptualfiction.com/whenscifigrewup.html

firefinga
06-04-2017, 11:24 AM
I think it sci-fi is about a scientific/technological angle as has been said.

But it's also that this angle is the dominant feature of the story.

Orwell's 1984 was set in the future when it was published and also includes various technological innovations (like surveillance). But it's not sci-fi because the dominant feature is politics.

Is "A Clockwork Orange" sci-fi though?

I am with you on this.

firefinga
06-04-2017, 11:29 AM
The technology/science-heavy aspect doesn't have to be projected into the future necessarily. Take many x-file episodes or the 2004 Manchurian candidate. Scenarios of present times, but with (just slightly) interpolated technology.

firefinga
06-04-2017, 11:31 AM
It was called speculative fiction at one point after all.

A decent "working definition" which would include most of the dystopian movies/stories that come to mind. Such as one of my all time favs ZARDOZ

droid
06-04-2017, 11:36 AM
I am with you on this.

Yeah, yourself and the distinguished JE are both wrong. Science and tech are a red herring. Consider just a few examples:

The Dispossessed,
The Handmaids tale,
Slaughterhouse 5,
The Drowned world,
Ada, or Ardor,
The Master and Margarita,
A Clockwork Orange,

Science and tech play little or no role in these books but they are generally considered to be SF.

Id like to expand the suggestion I made earlier:

SF is about 'anything that could happen in the future that differs in some way from current or past human experience'.

john eden
06-04-2017, 11:38 AM
Where do aliens fit into this?

Alien (Ridley Scott) is sci-fi because it's set on a spaceship and has an alien in it. Standard.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind is sci-fi cos it's mainly about human interaction with aliens and spaceships. (And is set in the present, so ner de ner ner).

ET though? Not really sci-fi?

droid
06-04-2017, 11:41 AM
'differs in some way from current or past human experience'

Is the relevant bit here I think.

john eden
06-04-2017, 11:41 AM
Also I disagree with Droid about A Clockwork Orange for two reasons.

Firstly it is stacked to the gills with technology - its whole schtick is based on style and fashion in the future, which has to be a product of technological innovation.

Secondly I don't think people regard it as science fiction. Dystopian perhaps. No aliens or spaceships though innit.

john eden
06-04-2017, 11:49 AM
SF is about 'anything that could happen in the future that differs in some way from current or past human experience'.


What about The Leftovers, then?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Leftovers_(TV_series)

It is actually set in 2011 but that's largely immaterial. It definitely differs in some way from current or past human experience though.

Not sci-fi though as there are no aliens or spaceships, sorry.

firefinga
06-04-2017, 11:54 AM
SF is about 'anything that could happen in the future that differs in some way from current or past human experience'.




As stated above, lot's of Sci Fi actually isn't set in the future. Another example would be Jurassic Park.

droid
06-04-2017, 11:57 AM
SF is about 'anything that could happen in the future that differs in some way from current or past human experience'.


What about The Leftovers, then?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Leftovers_(TV_series)

It is actually set in 2011 but that's largely immaterial. It definitely differs in some way from current or past human experience though.

Not sci-fi though as there are no aliens or spaceships, sorry.

I know you grew up at a time when young master Wells was making waves with his fantastical stories of space travel & alien invasions, but things have moved on since then.

john eden
06-04-2017, 12:01 PM
I know you grew at a time when young master Wells was making waves with his fantastical stories of space travel & alien invasions, but things have moved on since then.

I am glad to hear it but we can't seriously suggest that a novel set in the year 2018 in which carrots had disappeared from the world (with no involvement of either aliens or spaceships) was science fiction, could we?

I mean it's cool that you like science fiction and want everything in the future to be it - I just don't think it stacks up.

firefinga
06-04-2017, 12:01 PM
How much Sci Fi is James Bond?

droid
06-04-2017, 12:02 PM
As stated above, lot's of Sci Fi actually isn't set in the future. Another example would be Jurassic Park.

Hmm... firstly, not really (but I agree there will always be outliers, hence my qualifiers on the suggested definitions). Secondly how do you know? When was Jurassic park set?

droid
06-04-2017, 12:04 PM
I am glad to hear it but we can't seriously suggest that a novel set in the year 2018 in which carrots had disappeared from the world (with no involvement of either aliens or spaceships) was science fiction, could we?

Maybe? Are you considering writing that book?

firefinga
06-04-2017, 12:04 PM
Hmm... firstly, not really (but I agree there will always be outliers, hence my qualifiers on the definitions. Secondly how do you know? When was Jurassic park set?

Jurassic Park was set in 1993 pretty much. The year it got released, bc it played with the gadgets of the currents, like CD-Roms presented as the hottest shit of the dawning "information age"

john eden
06-04-2017, 12:04 PM
Hmm... firstly, not really (but I agree there will always be outliers, hence my qualifiers on the definitions. Secondly how do you know? When was Jurassic park set?

Wait, so if Orwell published 1984 in 1985 (or if he had called in 1947) it wouldn't be science fiction?

john eden
06-04-2017, 12:06 PM
Maybe? Are you considering writing that book?

Unfortunately it has got bogged down in all sorts of contractual issues (largely about film options) I am unable to get into here.

droid
06-04-2017, 12:06 PM
Jurassic Park was set in 1993 pretty much. The year it got released, bc it played with the gadgets of the currents, like CD-Roms presented as the hottest shit of the dawning "information age"

Bullshit. It featured gene splicing technology way ahead of anything we have even now.

Fact is, AFAIK, there is no mention of timeframe anywhere and would presumably be 'near future'.

droid
06-04-2017, 12:08 PM
Wait, so if Orwell published 1984 in 1985 (or if he had called in 1947) it wouldn't be science fiction?

No, it would be alt-history, a sub genre of science fiction. Defined as:

'Anything that could HAVE happened in the past that differs in some way from what actually happened'.

droid
06-04-2017, 12:13 PM
Point I'm trying to make I guess is that the defining feature of sci fi is not space, aliens, technology or anything really sciencey at all, its possibility.

john eden
06-04-2017, 12:14 PM
No, it would be alt-history, a sub genre of science fiction. Defined as:

'Anything that could HAVE happened in the past that differs in some way from what actually happened'.

Well that's just confusing. I think we can all agree that minimal techno is a sub-genre of techno and is therefore techno.

But I simply can't agree that alt-history is a sub-genre of science fiction. SS-GB isn't science fiction, is it?

Nor is the other book I am writing in which Brit Pop triumphs over jungle in the 1990s.

john eden
06-04-2017, 12:16 PM
Point I'm trying to make I guess is that the defining feature of sci fi is not space, aliens, technology or anything really sciencey at all, its possibility.

Isn't that just fiction though?

droid
06-04-2017, 12:18 PM
Shit, hes onto me. :eek:

firefinga
06-04-2017, 12:26 PM
Bullshit. It featured gene splicing technology way ahead of anything we have even now.

Fact is, AFAIK, there is no mention of timeframe anywhere and would presumably be 'near future'.

I think it's a bit the other way round, if there is no distinctively different timeframe being mentioned, it's always assumed the setting of a story - also with "sci if"-background - is the present.

Another example would be Demon Seed or The Forbin Project.

droid
06-04-2017, 12:30 PM
I think it's a bit the other way round, if there is no distinctively different timeframe being mentioned, it's always assumed the setting of a story - also with "sci if"-background - is the present.

Are you sure you want to go with this?


Demonseed: The story takes place in the then-future of 1995.

firefinga
06-04-2017, 12:35 PM
Are you sure you want to go with this?

I gotta rewatch Demon Seed then, bc I don't remember 1995 being mentioned in the actual movie. If it got mentioned, it's actually not against my statement from above.

john eden
06-04-2017, 12:36 PM
Nor is the other book I am writing in which Brit Pop triumphs over jungle in the 1990s.

Actually I've just remembered that this does include some killer junglist sexbots.

droid
06-04-2017, 12:38 PM
I gotta rewatch Demon Seed then, bc I don't remember 1995 being mentioned in the actual movie. If it got mentioned, it's actually not against my statement from above.

All youre saying is that if a timeframe isnt mentioned than you automatically assume that the story is set in the present. This is flawed logic.

Demonseed was written in 1973 and is set in 1995.

Mr. Tea
06-04-2017, 01:11 PM
There is a danger of this thread ending up like a heated discussion about the distinction between tech-house and housey techno.

Slothrop
06-04-2017, 01:37 PM
Yeah, yourself and the distinguished JE are both wrong. Science and tech are a red herring. Consider just a few examples:

The Dispossessed,
The Handmaids tale,
Slaughterhouse 5,
The Drowned world,
Ada, or Ardor,
The Master and Margarita,
A Clockwork Orange,

Science and tech play little or no role in these books but they are generally considered to be SF.

Who considers the Master and Margarita to be science fiction? A quick Google can't even find them used in the same sentence, so you're going to have to back that one up. Meanwhile, the Dispossessed features space travel and a new theory of time leading to instantaneous interstellar communication, Slaughterhouse 5 involves (possibly) aliens and time travel, the Drowned World is based on catastrophic climate change...

Slothrop
06-04-2017, 01:45 PM
I think the difference is meant to be that 'hard' sci-fi is more about the implications of future technology while 'soft' is more about societal changes, right? So the latter would include 1984, which doesn't really feature any technology not available in the late '40s when it was written (edit: apart from some of the surveillance stuff, as JE mentions - although even then, it's mostly just a refinement of technology that already existed at the time, isn't it?). I guess this would put Gibson in a sort of intermediate position.
The way I've always heard them used is that in hard SF the technology is meant to be a pretty plausible extrapolation of what we currently know is possible, whereas in soft SF the technology does roughly whatever you need it to do to create a setting that's fun or interesting. Hence I'd say that things like Star Wars, Dune and Trek are soft SF, and that the "Star Wars isn't really science fiction" thing is trite smart-alecky sophistry.

Edit: I'm comfortable with the idea that the only real distinction between the softest SF and fantasy is that in SF scientists did it, whereas in fantasy a wizard did it.

droid
06-04-2017, 01:49 PM
lol, OK, fair enough on M&M, its been 25 years since I read it - its basically fantasy, but I have seen it described as speculative.

Dispossessed, could easily be set on Earth, space travel is immaterial and the time theory tangential. Left hand of darkness a better example perhaps.

Drowned world (and also the drought) have virtually no technology involved whatsoever, climate change angle... as they say on the right, climate change has always happened - or is Noah's ark sci fi?

Billy's adventures in S5.. are they meant to have literally happened or are they symptoms of PTSD? Skipping between events in time is a fairly standard literary device.

droid
06-04-2017, 01:59 PM
“Science Fiction is something that could happen – but usually you wouldn’t want it to. Fantasy is something that couldn’t happen, though often you only wish that it could.”

– Arthur C Clarke.

Mr. Tea
06-04-2017, 02:32 PM
The way I've always heard them used is that in hard SF the technology is meant to be a pretty plausible extrapolation of what we currently know is possible, whereas in soft SF the technology does roughly whatever you need it to do to create a setting that's fun or interesting. Hence I'd say that things like Star Wars, Dune and Trek are soft SF, and that the "Star Wars isn't really science fiction" thing is trite smart-alecky sophistry.

Edit: I'm comfortable with the idea that the only real distinction between the softest SF and fantasy is that in SF scientists did it, whereas in fantasy a wizard did it.

Hmm, not sure about the "what we know is possible" bit - taken literally, that would limit you as a writer to the technology that actually exists today.

I'd say Dune is hard to semi-hard sci-fi. Yes there's laser guns, faster-than-light travel and anti-gravity machines, but within that fictional paradigm, they are presented as realistic technology. It has limitations. It requires maintenance. It sometimes breaks. And the technology in that book that's actually interesting is the stuff that's not your typical sci-fi fare at all; stillsuits, dew catchers, 'maker hooks', the gom jabbar. Much of which is actually pretty low-tech.

Relevant here: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MohsScaleOfScienceFictionHardness

I maintain that Star Wars can be classified as pseudo-sci-fi because really, the narrative content isn't substantially changed if you simply swap out the sci-fi elements for their fantasy equivalents: Darth Vader and the Emperor are evil wizards, Obi-wan and Yoda are benevolent wizards, blasters and lightsabers don't really do anything that longbows and swords can't do, different planets fulfill the role of different landmasses or kingdoms on a single planet, space voyages are pretty much equivalent to ocean voyages, and so on. Plus the Force is more important than any technology, from a narrative POV, and that's basically just magic.

Edit: the TVTropes page above links to a page on 'science fantasy', and it says that Lucas himself categorized it as such. It's about a farm boy who becomes a wizard-knight's apprentice, fights monsters, rescues a princess from a Dark Lord and ultimately saves the universe from evil. 100% standard fantasy fayre.

droid
07-04-2017, 12:32 PM
Just to go back to this question:


Can you name a film/book/comic set in the future which isnt generally considered to be some kind of sci-fi?

Slothrop has identified one possibility, but that's pretty slim pickings. Anyone have any more?

This started with an argument about the road and whether or not it was sci-fi.

I said yes on the basis that it is a possible future that differs significantly from the present - but if an apocalyptic adventure story qualifies, then does this mean that the book of revelations was the first work of science fiction?

droid
07-04-2017, 12:36 PM
Oh, and tea OTM on Star wars. Its fantasy.

firefinga
07-04-2017, 01:05 PM
Just to go back to this question:

I said yes on the basis that it is a possible future that differs significantly from the present - but if an apocalyptic adventure story qualifies, then does this mean that the book of revelations was the first work of science fiction?

The Bible (all the prophecies etc, as well as a lot of other Religious "foundational" books) have the "sci fi" qualities when defining it along the lines of possible future human experiences.

firefinga
07-04-2017, 01:06 PM
Oh, and tea OTM on Star wars. Its fantasy.

Starwars is a fairy tale/soap opera with some sci-fi embellishments. Exactly the reason IMO it's so successful

firefinga
07-04-2017, 01:18 PM
In another addition to my point about sci fi set in the "present" (or at least set in the present of the writing) wasn't Jules Verne's stuff ALL set in his present? I am not a great expert on him - of course I know the classics like Cpt. Nemo and such - but that seems to be th case with him.

empty mirror
07-04-2017, 01:31 PM
I am glad to hear it but we can't seriously suggest that a novel set in the year 2018 in which carrots had disappeared from the world (with no involvement of either aliens or spaceships) was science fiction, could we?

i had a philosophy professor who said "imagine if, suddenly, all the denim in the world dematerialized" and invited us to look around the room to explore the implications

Mr. Tea
07-04-2017, 01:58 PM
i had a philosophy professor who said "imagine if, suddenly, all the denim in the world dematerialized" and invited us to look around the room to explore the implications

Class full of hip philosophy undergraduates in 2017, clad in pressed linen pants, tartan skirts, plus-fours, gingham dresses etc.:

"What is...'deh-nim'?"

droid
07-04-2017, 03:39 PM
The Bible (all the prophecies etc, as well as a lot of other Religious "foundational" books) have the "sci fi" qualities when defining it along the lines of possible future human experiences.

The only difference between prophecy and science fiction is that the former is prescriptive.

droid
07-04-2017, 03:39 PM
In another addition to my point about sci fi set in the "present" (or at least set in the present of the writing) wasn't Jules Verne's stuff ALL set in his present? I am not a great expert on him - of course I know the classics like Cpt. Nemo and such - but that seems to be th case with him.

No, thats true, good point.

droid
07-04-2017, 08:36 PM
This could be a good time to bring up Bruce Sterling's 'Slipstream':


In a recent remarkable interview in _New
Pathways_ #11, Carter Scholz alludes with pained
resignation to the ongoing brain-death of science
fiction. In the 60s and 70s, Scholz opines, SF had a
chance to become a worthy literature; now that chance
has passed. Why? Because other writers have now
learned to adapt SF's best techniques to their own
ends.
"And," says Scholz, "They make us look sick.
When I think of the best `speculative fiction' of the
past few years, I sure don't think of any Hugo or
Nebula winners. I think of Margaret Atwood's _The
Handmaid's Tale_, and of Don DeLillo's _White Noise_,
and of Batchelor's _The Birth of the People's Republic
of Antarctica_, and of Gaddis' _JR_ and _Carpenter's
Gothic_, and of Coetzee's _Life and Times of Michael
K_ . . . I have no hope at all that genre science
fiction can ever again have any literary significance.
But that's okay, because now there are other people
doing our job."

It's hard to stop quoting this interview. All
interviews should be this good. There's some great
campy guff about the agonizing pain it takes to write
short stories; and a lecture on the unspeakable horror
of writer's block; and some nifty fusillades of
forthright personal abuse; and a lot of other stuff
that is making _New Pathways_ one of the most
interesting zines of the Eighties. Scholz even reveals
his use of the Fibonacci Sequence in setting the
length and number of the chapters in his novel
_Palimpsests_, and wonders how come nobody caught on
to this groundbreaking technique of his.

Maybe some of this peripheral stuff kinda dulls
the lucid gleam of his argument. But you don't have to
be a medieval Italian mathematician to smell the reek
of decay in modern SF. Scholz is right. The job isn't
being done here.

"Science Fiction" today is a lot like the
contemporary Soviet Union; the sprawling possessor of
a dream that failed. Science fiction's official dogma,
which almost everybody ignores, is based on attitudes
toward science and technology which are bankrupt and
increasingly divorced from any kind of reality. "Hard-
SF," the genre's ideological core, is a joke today; in
terms of the social realities of high-tech post-
industrialism, it's about as relevant as hard-
Leninism.

https://w2.eff.org/Misc/Publications/Bruce_Sterling/Catscan_columns/catscan.05


...Sterling went on to say that writers from the mainstream (in and around 1989) were doing SF better than SF. Generally, his argument seems to go something like this: Toni Morrison’s Beloved was a better ghost book than any other ghost book in 1987, but wasn’t nominated for genre awards and it should have been. Or, Kurt Vonnegut’s Galapagos had just as interesting far-future Earth in 1985 than say, William Gibson’s Neuromancer, though SF readers didn’t pay much attention to Vonnegut at that time. Now, whether you agree with this line of reasoning in 1989 or 2015 isn’t my point here (really), my point here is that Sterling was seemingly mad at the SF establishment and really excited about “mainstream” lit that was doing cool SF-esque things. All of this is super-interesting to keep in mind when you think about where the word “slipstream” supposedly originates. Sterling seems to suggest that he thinks a “genre” has power, while a “category” is simply a marketing term. Notably, in 1989, Sterling believed the “mainstream” would never refer to itself as mainstream. So, he coined “slipstream,” — a sort of in-between kind of fiction — which Sterling says was represented by a bunch of specific authors of which he provides a list. Ironically or not, a lot of them (like Kurt Vonnegut) are authors that people like me continue to wonder about in almost exactly the same way Sterling did back in 1989. Is Kurt Vonnegut sci-fi or not? The debate is endless and I could have it with you right now and we’d end up in a slumber party that lasted for about six months. So, various writers and critics (myself very guilty) seem to continuously have this sort of genre discussion about all sorts of writers from Karen Russell to Etgar Keret and where the supposed genre membranes do or do not exist. But the conversation is complex and ongoing. My feeling about it lately is that it all seems like a game of impossible ratios. Hmmm, let’s see, if a story has two parts monster but one part “regularness” then it’s probably “slipstream.” But if that ratio favors more “regularness” and the monster just waves in the background (and/or is maybe not “real”) then it’s just normal plain old literature...

...About a decade after Bruce Sterling’s “slipstream” essay, in 1998, Jonathan Lethem wrote an essay called “The Squandered Promise of Science Fiction.” In it, he asserted that in 1973 had Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow beat Arthur C. Clarke’s Rendezvous with Rama for the Nebula Award, that science fiction and the mainstream would have more or less coalesced, at least in the critical sense. From Lethem’s piece:

“Pynchon’s nomination now stands as a hidden tombstone marking the death of the hope that science fiction was about to merge with the mainstream.”

https://electricliterature.com/oh-slippery-slipstream-who-is-the-weirdest-genre-of-them-all-755bead4389c

droid
07-04-2017, 08:37 PM
And because we love lists.


THE SLIPSTREAM LIST

ACKER, KATHY - Empire of the Senseless
ACKROYD, PETER - Hawksmoor; Chatterton
ALDISS, BRIAN - Life in the West
ALLENDE, ISABEL - Of Love and Shadows; House of
Spirits
AMIS, KINGSLEY - The Alienation; The Green Man
AMIS, MARTIN - Other People; Einstein's Monsters
APPLE, MAX - Zap; The Oranging of America
ATWOOD, MARGARET - The Handmaids Tale
AUSTER, PAUL - City of Glass; In the Country of Last
Things
BALLARD, J. G. - Day of Creation; Empire of the Sun
BANKS, IAIN - The Wasp Factory; The Bridge
BANVILLE, JOHN - Kepler; Dr. Copernicus
BARNES, JULIAN - Staring at the Sun
BARTH, JOHN - Giles Goat-Boy; Chimera
BARTHELME, DONALD - The Dead Father
BATCHELOR, JOHN CALVIN - Birth of the People s
Republic of Antarctica
BELL, MADISON SMARTT - Waiting for the End of the
World
BERGER, THOMAS - Arthur Rex
BONTLY, THOMAS - Celestial Chess
BOYLE, T. CORAGHESSAN - Worlds End; Water Music
BRANDAO, IGNACIO - And Still the Earth
BURROUGHS, WILLIAM - Place of Dead Roads; Naked Lunch;
Soft Machine; etc.
CARROLL, JONATHAN - Bones of the Moon; Land of Laughs
CARTER, ANGELA - Nights at the Circus; Heroes and
Villains
CARY, PETER - Illywhacker; Oscar and Lucinda
CHESBRO, GEORGE M. - An Affair of Sorcerers
COETZEE, J. M. - Life and rimes of Michael K.
COOVER, ROBERT - The Public Burning; Pricksongs &
Descants
CRACE, JIM - Continent
CROWLEY, JOHN - Little Big; Aegypt
DAVENPORT, GUY - Da Vincis Bicycle; The Jules Verne
Steam Balloon
DISCH, THOMAS M. - On Wings of Song
DODGE, JIM - Not Fade Away
DURRELL, LAWRENCE - Tunc; Nunquam
ELY, DAVID - Seconds
ERICKSON, STEVE - Days Between Stations; Rubicon Beach
FEDERMAN, RAYMOND - The Twofold Variations
FOWLES, JOHN - A Maggot
FRANZEN, JONATHAN - The Twenty-Seventh City
FRISCH, MAX - Homo Faber; Man in the Holocene
FUENTES, CARLOS - Terra Nostra
GADDIS, WILLIAM - JR; Carpenters Gothic
GARDNER, JOHN - Grendel; Freddy's Book
GEARY, PATRICIA - Strange Toys; Living in Ether
GOLDMAN, WILLIAM - The Princess Bride; The Color of
Light
GRASS, GUNTER - The Tin Drum
GRAY, ALASDAIR - Lanark
GRIMWOOD, KEN - Replay
HARBINSON, W. A. - Genesis; Revelation; Otherworld
HILL, CAROLYN - The Eleven Million Mile High Dancer
HJVRTSBERG, WILLIAM - Gray Matters; Falling Angel
HOBAN, RUSSELL - Riddley Walker
HOYT, RICHARD - The Manna Enzyme
IRWIN, ROBERT - The Arabian Nightmares
ISKANDER, FAZIL - Sandro of Chegam; The Gospel
According to Sandro
JOHNSON, DENIS - Fiskadoro
JONES, ROBERT F. - Blood Sport; The Diamond Bogo
KINSELLA, W. P. - Shoeless Joe
KOSTER, R. M. - The Dissertation; Mandragon
KOTZWINKLE, WILLIAM - Elephant Bangs Train; Doctor
Rat, Fata Morgana
KRAMER, KATHRYN - A Handbook for Visitors From Outer
Space
LANGE, OLIVER - Vandenberg
LEONARD, ELMORE - Touch
LESSING, DORIS - The Four-Gated City; The Fifth Child
of Satan
LEVEN, JEREMY - Satan
MAILER, NORMAN - Ancient Evenings
MARINIS, RICK - A Lovely Monster
MARQUEZ, GABRIEL GARCIA - Autumn of the Patriarch; One
Hundred Years of Solitude
MATHEWS, HARRY - The Sinking of the Odradek Stadium
McEWAN, IAN - The Comfort of Strangers; The Child in
Time
McMAHON, THOMAS - Loving Little Egypt
MILLAR, MARTIN - Milk, Sulphate and Alby Starvation
MOONEY, TED - Easy Travel to Other Planets
MOORCOCK, MICHAEL - Laughter of Carthage; Byzantium
Endures; Mother London
MOORE, BRIAN - Cold Heaven
MORRELL, DAVID - The Totem
MORRISON, TONI - Beloved; The Song of Solomon
NUNN, KEN - Tapping the Source; Unassigned Territory
PERCY, WALKER - Love in the Ruins; The Thanatos
Syndrome
PIERCY, MARGE - Woman on the Edge of Time
PORTIS, CHARLES - Masters of Atlantis
PRIEST, CHRISTOPHER - The Glamour; The Affirmation
PROSE, FRANCINE - Bigfoot Dreams, Marie Laveau
PYNCHON, THOMAS - Gravity's Rainbow; V; The Crying of
Lot 49
REED, ISHMAEL - Mumbo Jumbo; The Terrible Twos
RICE, ANNE - The Vampire Lestat; Queen of the Damned
ROBBINS, TOM - Jitterbug Perfume; Another Roadside
Attraction
ROTH, PHILIP - The Counterlife
RUSHDIE, SALMON - Midnight's Children; Grimus; The
Satanic Verses
SAINT, H. F. - Memoirs of an Invisible Man
SCHOLZ, CARTER & HARCOURT GLENN - Palimpsests
SHEPARD, LUCIUS - Life During Wartime
SIDDONS, ANNE RIVERS - The House Next Door
SPARK, MURIEL - The Hothouse by the East River
SPENCER, SCOTT - Last Night at the Brain Thieves Ball
SUKENICK, RONALD - Up; Down; Out
SUSKIND, PATRICK - Perfume
THEROUX, PAUL - O-Zone
THOMAS, D. M. - The White Hotel
THOMPSON, JOYCE - The Blue Chair; Conscience Place
THOMSON, RUPERT - Dreams of Leaving
THORNBERG, NEWTON - Valhalla
THORNTON, LAWRENCE - Imagining Argentina
UPDIKE, JOHN - Witches of Eastwick; Rogers Version
VLIET, R. G. - Scorpio Rising
VOLLMAN, WILLIAM T. - You Bright and Risen Angels
VONNEGUT, KURT - Galapagos; Slaughterhouse-Five
WALLACE, DAVID FOSTER - The Broom of the System
WEBB, DON - Uncle Ovid's Exercise Book
WHITTEMORE, EDWARD - Nile Shadows; Jerusalem Poker;
Sinai Tapestry
WILLARD, NANCY - Things Invisible to See
WOMACK, JACK - Ambient; Terraplane
WOOD, BARI - The Killing Gift
WRIGHT, STEPHEN - M31: A Family Romance

luka
07-04-2017, 08:41 PM
Fucking weirdos

firefinga
14-06-2017, 03:43 PM
The technology/science-heavy aspect doesn't have to be projected into the future necessarily. Take many x-file episodes or the 2004 Manchurian candidate. Scenarios of present times, but with (just slightly) interpolated technology.

Quite a few 1970s/1980s TV series were like this, too. The Man From Atlantis, 6 Million Dollar Man, Bionic Woman, *cough* Knightrider *cough*,

HMGovt
14-06-2017, 07:23 PM
I hate to start with a question, but here's something Ive mulled over: Can you name a film/book/comic set in the future which isnt generally considered to be some kind of sci-fi?

A Canticle for Leibowitz is set more than a millennium in the future at a time when science and learning has been discarded

CrowleyHead
15-06-2017, 04:35 PM
Does life after the sort of culture we presume from sci-fi imply that its not there b/c of its absence in the book's world though?

firefinga
30-07-2017, 08:09 AM
Bullshit. It featured gene splicing technology way ahead of anything we have even now.

Fact is, AFAIK, there is no mention of timeframe anywhere and would presumably be 'near future'.

Jurassic Park is indeed set in the time of the movie release (somewhat) which was 1993. I re-watched it on DVD recently and there is this scene before all the action starts where they have dinner (and Goldblum is spoiling all the tech-naivety) and in the dinner room they got all those buisness plans projected on to the walls. And one chart clearly shows: opening 1993, and every two years doubling the revenue. Invest people!!!

Mr. Tea
20-10-2017, 12:56 PM
In the list of 'slipstream' novels a few pages back there's a book titled 'The Oranging of America', which seems somehow prophetic.

john eden
20-10-2017, 03:36 PM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GeUx5sdp3qM

THE definition of Science Fiction.