What I think is lacking in most sci-fi stories

Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by ahigherway, Jul 4, 2012.

  1. Steven L Jordan

    Steven L Jordan I like SF. SF is cool.

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    Even anarchy requires consensus... even if it is a consensus to allow members to act counter to the group's intentions. Either way, anarchy only works when individual actions do not dangerously impact the whole. When they do, and they must be reined in, anarchy is over.

    Our present political systems are relatively simple, based as they are either on family dynamics or group dynamics; and both of those dynamics are based on social systems that evolved on this planet (with multiple species) to support survival. Since, as I suggested before, another race may have evolved under very different social or physical pressures, they would have likely evolved different social dynamics, and their politics (if they had any) would likely have been influenced by those social systems.

    This doesn't necessarily mean they would be more complex, but they could emphasize different aspects of group dynamics than we are used to (decisions could be heavily influenced by time passed, or argument weight could be impacted by health, etc). So we could see more complex political systems, or simply more incomprehensible systems.

    I hate to disagree with Clausewitz, but I don't see war as the continuation of politics by other means... unless you see organized and premeditated murder as a legitimate political tactic (I know some political groups do see it that way, but I don't). As politics and social systems are about Agreement, and murder is about as far from agreeing as you can get, war has nothing to do with politics; war is what we resort to when politics breaks down; it is a refusal to cooperate. War is about usurping another's fundamental right to their life.
     
  2. ahigherway

    ahigherway Registered User

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    I think both of you are right. Under a certain light, politics is also about how to organize or control a people. In this sense, killing the "disobedient" is certainly a form of control.

    From the perspective of agreement, however, I agree with you, that war is about as contrary as can be.

    I suppose that an advanced race of beings would have probably come to some agreement about life, develoment, social affairs, in such a way (probably through firsthand experience) that certain behaviors, such as war, neglect of others through famine, poverty, etc, are unacceptable.

    Maybe we humans don't yet understand the inherant importance of protecting the human race as a whole. We still think in tribal terms: us vs. them.

    brian
     
  3. psikeyhackr

    psikeyhackr Live Long & Suffer

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    We have not yet survived the technology of the 20th century.

    Much of our group "think" is still based on ideas from before the 20th century but we apply those ideas to 20th century technologyl. The nuclear weapons are still there, we just don't think about them as much as in the 50s. Dr. Stranglove is just a cool old movie. We are now turning the Internet into television with feedback.

    Any aliens that have survived to cross interstellar distances have gone beyond our current psychology. Maybe we barely understand how they think. The West is just high technology Romans.

    psik
     
  4. mylinar

    mylinar Registered User

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    Maybe not even that advanced. As per the opening of 2001: A space Oddesy the first thing the primitive did after realizing that a bone was a tool was not to build something, but to smash something.

    I'm afraid that our brains are just hardwired for conflict and if we rewire ourselves to be different are we still Human? Hmmm. could be a topic for a book (or a library filled with them).
     
  5. cona_the libari

    cona_the libari New Member

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    star wars is more space fanasty then science fiction.
     
  6. Shadowcharge

    Shadowcharge Shadowcharge

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    What I think is lacking in most sci-fi stories:

    Not a simple question. So, focusing on the word "most" in the title of your thread, I'll generalise and say this: believable relationships between characters.

    To be sure there are many, many sci-fi stories in which the relationships between characters are quite believable indeed. I simply am focusing on the word "most."

    What kind of relationship it is does not matter really; father-son, friend-friend, et cetera; I am not speaking purely of romantic (or would-be romantic) relationships. I do enjoy a good one of those, too, but!

    I get really caught up in the lives and relationships of a book's characters, so the easier it is for me to suspend my disbelief, the better.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2012
  7. DDCOrange

    DDCOrange Registered User

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    I've been puzzling over this one for awhile and remembered two early novels from Kim Stanley Robinson, part of his "Future California" series. One of them was The Gold Coast about a group of friends living is a vastly built up and overcrowded Southern California in the near future. Another one was the final book in the trilogy Pacific Edge which sort of presents a utopian version of Southern California that contrasts sharply with The Gold Coast. They are interesting alternate futures explore with no war or battles; just people living in vastly different future societies.
    Another book I'm currently reading is Jack McDevitt's Time Traveller's Never Die where the characters stumble on a time travel device and (so far at least) use it to visit famous scientists, philosophers, civil rights leaders, and even The Great Library of Alexandria rather than generals, battles, atrocities (thought the Selma march in the 60's may be an exception). I emphasize however than I haven't finished it yet! :)
     
  8. JunkMonkey

    JunkMonkey Registered User

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    Isn't it great that we're all different? because one of the reasons I'm less than keen on modern SF is because of all the soap operatic 'lives and relationships' aspects that people seem to treacle all over them these days. Old fashioned of me I know but I like walloping great chunks of science (or reasonable facsimiles) in my Science Fiction. Interpersonal waffling I can get anywhere. I'll go read Anna Karenina, or Madame Bovary if I want that. Or watch Eastenders ("Following the residents of Albert Square as their lives intertwine with drama and tears.") SF should thrill, amaze, astound, thought provoke (there must be a verb for that), inspire etc. I don't really give a crap if the characters who deliver any or all of this are paper thin and come from Central Casting.

    The Gold Cost
    bored the pants off me and I gave up at about a 1/3 of the way through.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2012
  9. Chuffalump

    Chuffalump A chuffing heffalump

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    Awesomize

    :D

    (is what SF should do for us)
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2012
  10. Shadowcharge

    Shadowcharge Shadowcharge

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    Re: Junkmonkey

    Oh, I agree that melodrama between characters can overwhelm and ruin a good sci-fi story, but this is true of any genre. I have trouble getting through a book that basically says "Here! Check out this cool world I built! And all these gizmos! Oh, and as an afterthought, I crammed in a plot with a couple of 2-D characters that fly around shooting stuff and then get into a conversation wherein they explain the physics of the universe for ten hours!" etc.

    A much better balance is a story whose science elements (or fantasy for that matter) can transport me to another world naturally, and whose characters (and yes, their relationships) are real enough that they do not distract from the world, but rather, add to it. In "Friday" I was amused and interested in how the space elevator worked, and in how the protagonist's body modifications helped and hindered her, but my real and abiding concerns throughout the novel were what was going to happen to her, whether she was going to succeed, and so on. That is, the fact that Heinlein put so much effort into character-building -- into making her real -- was what ultimately kept me turning the pages.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2012
  11. Steven L Jordan

    Steven L Jordan I like SF. SF is cool.

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    I think I only got 1/4 of the way through, but it's because those character relationships were boring and dragged down the story horribly. Not all SF with relationships have to be boring, though.
     
  12. ahigherway

    ahigherway Registered User

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    Looking back at Star Wars, it was as though each subsequent episode lost more of my interest. The original (1977) was what sparked my curiosity, and today it still amazes me. The concept of the Force, or something else, I can't put my finger on it. But it was really what got me dreaming.

    But then in part 2, we had Yoda (muppets) and Darth declared himself to be Luke's father.. It all seemed to start to "break apart." Return of the Jedi got worse (more muppets)... After that, and especially with the use of animation rather than real people.. it just seemed to become larger and larger groups of robots vs. jedis, and one battle after another.

    It all just seemed to go in a direction that I feel was wrong. --Even though I still can't put my finger on what it was about the original episode that left such an impression on me, that when I looked up at the stars at night, I just felt that it could all be quite real. Or at least a hint of where humanity is going..

    Anyone else feel that?

    brian
     
  13. Steven L Jordan

    Steven L Jordan I like SF. SF is cool.

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    From Star Wars? Not a bit. For sure, the first movie (Episode IV) centered specifically around Luke and his relationships: He fell in love with a woman; lost his aunt and uncle to an evil empire, making the war personal; and made a lot of new friends, most of whom helped him enough to allow him to become a hero. But nothing about it, or of the subsequent movies, ever gave me the impression that is could all be real. (I had more of that impression from Alien.)

    Episode IV was, and always has been, a fairy tale with spaceships. And the relationships in it were very "fairy tale" as well, all positive and happy. I'd consider the relationships in, say, Galactica (the reboot) to be more realistic: People aren't perfect, so their relationships aren't perfect. I could probably name more, but you get the idea.
     
  14. psikeyhackr

    psikeyhackr Live Long & Suffer

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    The producers called it Space Fantasy.

    Maybe Techno-Fantasy would be a better name because The Matrix could be put into the same category but it has no space ships.

    psik
     
  15. Steven L Jordan

    Steven L Jordan I like SF. SF is cool.

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    I'd probably use "science fantasy" or "future fantasy" myself. (I tend to call my novels "futurist fiction.")
     
  16. ahigherway

    ahigherway Registered User

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    Let's consider Luke. He was, at first, guided by impulse, revenge, anger. He lost his uncle and aunt, and Obi Wan saw him as one who had much to learn.

    Did we see that learning? Hardly. Just learning to wield a sword. -Sure, he saved himself from the snowbeast at the beginning of the 2nd episode through telepathic power. But it was almost before his time. Yoda also considered him a novice.

    But we never saw this "Force" in-depth. This "amazing power" was never really seen. What else could Luke do? If Obi Wan was so noble to lay down his own life, what else is noble? There had to be more. But we didn't see it.

    On a more "superficial" level, let's look at Chewbacca. An interesting character. Lots of "history" and fascination that could have been discovered about Chewbacca and his race/planet of origin. But it didn't happen.


    Going back to an earlier post, I was thinking just today: the character of Jesus Christ certainly must be one of the most "sci-fi" individuals of all history! Think about it: raising the dead; walking on water; healing people just by speaking it; feeding thousands with a load of bread; escaping an angry crowd by "passing through them;" being transfigured into a being of light.... It just goes on and on!

    And yet so many people say they follow this mysterious character.. but can't believe in the possibility of life on another planet! :D


    If they ever made a "Close Encounters 2," I'd be very demanding of them. I'd expect to see awesome (peaceful) powers and a lot of the telepathy/healings/astral-travel-type stuff!
    Just what kind of experience was it to board that ship and leave forever with them?

    (Hint: if it's up to Hollywood, it'd probably be all about blood and guts..) :eek:

    brian
     
  17. Steven L Jordan

    Steven L Jordan I like SF. SF is cool.

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    Luke wasn't in Star Wars to learn; he was there to rise from simple and unlikely circumstances to become a hero... every boy's dream come true. SW was never intended to be high-minded or revelatory, it was a live-action comic book.

    And people ate it up with a ladle.

    Not all movies (or books, for that matter) have to have deep philosophical bases or important life lessons to dole out, and there's little point in beating up movies for not having those things when they never intended to have them in the first place.

    Instead, beat up on media that tried to explore those areas, like, say, Altered States, Solaris, Minority Report, etc.

    Or just an influential man with an overzealous PR machine.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2012
  18. gainespost

    gainespost Registered User

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    Aw, I really liked Solaris.
     
  19. Steven L Jordan

    Steven L Jordan I like SF. SF is cool.

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    Oh, so did I. I didn't mean to suggest those movies failed in their production, but that those movies were created to be psycholigically challenging, and so those are the movies about which we should discuss psychological values... not movies that had no psychological values, like Star Wars.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2012
  20. gainespost

    gainespost Registered User

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    Ah ok; I think I see what you're saying. But Luke's yearning to break away from his uncle's farm and see the world (galaxy) was not exactly shallow non-psychological fluff; it's a real emotional challenge that many adolescents go through. Well, maybe not the galaxy part.... :p

    It was an adventure story. Doesn't really matter what category / genre people try to fit it into; sf, fantasy, opera, etc etc ~ It was an adventure with cool space ship scenes :) And a good adventure needs a hero with understandable motives; without those, it's hard for us to relate with him or her. Imo :)