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  1. #1
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    Default The definition of Science Fiction

    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?

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    Star Wars comes to mind
    it is a space opera, not an exploration of the consequences of a scientific innovation

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    Youre right, star wars isnt Sci-Fi, its fantasy, but it also isnt set in the future.

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    Infinite Jest

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    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by droid View Post
    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.
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    Quote Originally Posted by droid View Post
    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.
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    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slothrop View Post
    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.

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    Just to go back to this question:

    Quote Originally Posted by droid View Post
    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?

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    Oh, and tea OTM on Star wars. Its fantasy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by droid View Post
    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

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    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by firefinga View Post
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by droid View Post
    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.
    Last edited by firefinga; 07-04-2017 at 01:12 PM.

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