Page 5 of 6 FirstFirst ... 3456 LastLast
Results 61 to 75 of 77

Thread: The definition of Science Fiction

  1. #61
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    14,921

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Slothrop View Post
    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.ph...ictionHardness

    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.
    Last edited by Mr. Tea; 08-04-2017 at 10:19 PM.
    Doin' the Lambeth Warp New: DISSENSUS - THE NOVEL - PM me your email address and I'll add you

  2. The Following User Says Thank You to Mr. Tea For This Useful Post:


  3. #62
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    The Fear - Dublin
    Posts
    6,194

    Default

    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?

  4. #63
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    The Fear - Dublin
    Posts
    6,194

    Default

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

  5. #64
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Posts
    699

    Default

    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 12:12 PM.

  6. #65
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Posts
    699

    Default

    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

  7. #66
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Posts
    699

    Default

    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.

  8. #67
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    usa
    Posts
    722

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by john eden View Post
    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

  9. The Following User Says Thank You to empty mirror For This Useful Post:


  10. #68
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    14,921

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by empty mirror View Post
    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'?"
    Doin' the Lambeth Warp New: DISSENSUS - THE NOVEL - PM me your email address and I'll add you

  11. #69
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    The Fear - Dublin
    Posts
    6,194

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by firefinga View Post
    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.

  12. #70
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    The Fear - Dublin
    Posts
    6,194

    Default

    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.

  13. #71
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    The Fear - Dublin
    Posts
    6,194

    Default

    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...mns/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-sl...l-755bead4389c

  14. #72
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    The Fear - Dublin
    Posts
    6,194

    Default

    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

  15. #73
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Posts
    11,109

  16. #74
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Posts
    699

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by firefinga View Post
    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*,

  17. #75
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Kingston
    Posts
    1,173

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by droid View Post

    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

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •