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June 5th, 2008, 07:37 PM
I've just read a few thread about the dumbing down of Sci-Fi, and I'm wondering if I'm part of THAT crowd that gets pandered too.

I really hate the concept of hard sci-fi. I like things that go whizz and bang, but honestly, they're just maguffins for me. I like Jules Verne and other proto steampunk (early stuff) knowing full well the tech doesn't work quite like that. I'm in it for the adventure.

Not to toot my own horn, but let me give another example. I posted a story called My First Day Back here, and the maguffin was gene alteration. Now I don't know if it's possible in adults, nor do I have any idea of the real timetable to take effect or how exactly the tech works. What I was interested in was seeing how it would effect society and my main two characters. It changes race policy, it changes sex policy, especially cause in other stories set in that universe we find that it wipes out homosexuality by attrition in the developed world, while greatly normalizing transexuality, as the latter choose to become fully functional members of the opposite sex, while in pre-natal screening, most parents edit out the former or at least make the child bi to give them greater choice. And of course it all comes down how it effects the well developed characters. Not sure I did the best job, but get my drift?

And I also like stories where the villians are not black and white bad, at least not all of them. I like finding good men in Emperor Palpatine's stable, like Captain Palleon, and occasionally bad or unredeemiably selfish characters in the forces of good. I'm all about the story, I want to hear a good story with a happy ending. If the X-Wings bank in space, I can rationalize that (microthrusters used to simluated atomphere banking to allow the pilot to handle the ship identically in both space and air).

So am I a "lite-scifi" kinda guy? Or what? :confused:
Anyway thanks.

June 6th, 2008, 05:36 AM
It looks like you may be looking for a more character or atmosphere driven type of story. There are millions of those!

Without even thinking, you could try The fifth head of cerberus, by Gene Wolfe. Stand on zanzibar, by John Brunner, Use of weapons by Iain Banks, or The forever war, by Joe Haldeman. Or any book by Philip K. Dick.

These are just random examples. You have an enormous amount of "lite-sf" to choose from. Just stay away from Stephen Baxter ;)

June 6th, 2008, 10:46 AM
These are just random examples. You have an enormous amount of "lite-sf" to choose from. Just stay away from Stephen Baxter ;)

????? I don't think of him as being too 'heavy' or too 'lite' - I think his writing is 'just right'.

Fung Koo
June 6th, 2008, 12:40 PM
Wolery, I wouldn't say that you sound like an SF-lite reader. There are those who enjoy the over-explanation of technology/invention/etc itself, but I suspect they are the vast minority. For one, it's called "techno-babble" for a reason. For two, it's often dull and repetitive. For three, it rarely advances the plot...

Take the Three Laws of Robotics. Now, I'd call that a Hard SF idea, but the interest is more in the social ramifications of Robots under the Three Laws, which is precisely what 'I, Robot' explores.

Or take Heinlein's Mobile Infantry. A lot of Military SF is caught up in over-explaining the rad new technologies. But if you consider the MI Armour in 'Starship Troopers' as a part of the story, why is it there? If all it mattered for was to give the humans superiority, or to appeal to the audience as a piece of rad technology, an author of Heinlein's skill wouldn't have taken the time to explain its features so carefully. The MI Armour in 'Troopers' is explained because the Military Technology is supposed to be analgous to, or allegorical for, the fictional society.

So, some of the Hard SF is actually precisely what you're talking about. Your interests, as I read them, are in keeping with much of what SF has to offer, hard or not.

What about something like 'Brave New World' or 'Oryx and Crake'? Did you enjoy those? I wouldn't consider them SF-lite, but they are the kind of story you describe as enjoyable. What about 'A Canticle for Leibowitz'?

June 9th, 2008, 09:41 PM
What about something like 'Brave New World' or 'Oryx and Crake'? Did you enjoy those? I wouldn't consider them SF-lite, but they are the kind of story you describe as enjoyable. What about 'A Canticle for Leibowitz'?

Well I loved Brave New World, never read the other two. Up till now I've been busy reading the novels the English teacher tells you to. And I've never read Starship Troopers either, so if you respond, could you explain how the power armor is analigous to the Federations. I imagine it is a means of making the solider superhuman in one on one combat just as the Federation (at least what I saw in the movie) is about the glorification of the indivual soldier, who fights alone when needed, like a warrior, but works in highly trained groups of fighters who can overcome any bug through pluck and discipline.

June 9th, 2008, 09:44 PM
I am not trying to insult anyone - but - I think when some of you get a little older and more self-assured, you will just read what you want and what pleases you, and not worry about labels.

*(and hopefully not write long, run-together sentences either)

June 9th, 2008, 10:00 PM
Dude, I'm 25. I do appologize for the run on sentences though, I'm just exhausted after working.

June 10th, 2008, 03:41 AM
Nothing wrong with likinbg SF for the adventure, which is a large part of what it is. the "science" in hard SF is very rarely realistic enough to make it worth deep thinking. I generally find that the science in soft SF is more realistic, cos they are not interested in the whizz bang effects, so aim at more realistic tech.

That said, i think most of the suggestions mentioned are not particularly what your looking for. The recomenders seem to have focused on your dislike for hard SF, but ignored the adventure part.

Stand on Zanzibar and Canticle for Liebowitz are both masterpeices, but much more philosophical than adventurous. Likewise with the better books from PKD.

The same goes for Fifthhead of Cerberus, Brave New World, Oryx and Crake - i liked them all, but they were hardly Star wars in terms of excitment. (but again, great explorations of societies).

Ig you want adventure + good, well explored ideas + good writing (in about that order), i'd second the Forever war (Haldeman), and recommend A Fire Upon the Deep (Vinge).

So, i don't think it is necessarily SF-lite you want (eg Star wars), but Space Opera in general. Of which there are plenty of great examples, that even please literary elitists like me ;). More examples: Culture books (Banks), Miles Vorkosigan books (Bujold).

June 10th, 2008, 09:40 AM
Dude, I'm 25. I do appologize for the run on sentences though, I'm just exhausted after working.

Sorry, I was making reference to MY long run-together sentence. I didn't notice yours. I guess scifi minds, old or young, both write in long complicated sentences.

I just meant that while we learn from reading fiction (heck, we learn from everything that we interact with that doesn't kill us), it is still generally reading for pleasure and escapism. As such, it should be graded by the person reading it, and how much enjoyment it brings to that person, not if it is heavy or light, has sex or not, has space battles or not, etc.

Fung Koo
June 10th, 2008, 10:56 AM
...so if you respond, could you explain how the power armor is analigous to the Federations...

OK, way, way off on the armour :D

(I did my thesis on Troopers, a comparison between the novel, film, video game, animated series [including the roughnecks cgi] etc... So I'm sorta loaded with too much knowledge on this subject, some of which may have been invented in my own brain! I'll probably get long winded [as usual] so bear with me :))

In Troopers, Heinlein quite painstakingly (and painfully, in parts) explains the organizational structure and rationalization for his military proto-fascist-socialist pseudo-democratic "utopia." A large part of the debate in the novel is centralized on the concept of "what's good for us" versus "what works." Rather than justify his "utopia" as a good thing, he simply defines it as a workable result from a course of history, following the basis of a somewhat Nietzschean-existentialist/Bentham-utilitarian ideal of "scientific morality."

There's a subtext of the third reich built into the novel of the "might makes right" ideology (which the film picks up) and that forms part of the basis for the "scientific" morality. Basically, in a democracy, enfranchisement represents political power, and to have political power is to wield force. If you have force, you have conflict. Thus, the society is unapologetically militaristic. Good and bad defined as survivalist functions.

Then comes the armour. The armour itself is designed to be the ultimate killing machine, with its only real flaw being dead batteries. It is purpose-engineered on the one hand, but the armour is also fitted per soldier. So the armour becomes a stand-in for the tension between socialist and individualist ideals. You can't wear someone else's armour, but everyone in the Mobile Infantry has one. You have to work together, but you have to execute your role.

From there, the armour is divided into roles as well, and the idea of leadership through rank ascension and attrition versus elected leadership plays in the background. But the idea with the armour is that it too is scientifically justifiable. It is simply a tool to enable the use of force (kinda the whole "guns don't kill people, people kill people" idea). This ideology is then applied back to democratic enfranchisement.

In the end, the argument is essentially that a society's machinery is functionally inseparable from its ideology, and that democracy itself is a kind of machine.

The movie is a whole different kettle of fish. I won't go on tooooo long about it, but the major point that's been virtually missed is that the movie is an exercise in fictional narrative fiction. Which is to say, the target audience for the film doesn't exist.

Somewhere around half the movie is composed of (nearly) shot for shot reconstructions of the American "Why We Fight" and Nazi "Triumph of the Will" propaganda films, with other bits taken from a variety of faked news-reel films of action in WWI+II, Korea, Vietnam, etc. (In the film, for example, there's a scene where Rico carries the flag up a slope in a laser-tag training game, which is meant to reference the American journalist photo and subsequent statue of the soldiers raising the flag on the field of battle http://www.travelswithtigger.com/dc1000/iwo_jima.jpg -- which was allegedly staged).

All together (complete with the intercut commercials) the film is supposed to be an example of an after-school propaganda film that the citizens of the Starship Troopers novel's world might see, loosely based on the content of the book. Complete with half the cast of Melrose Place. It's not meant to be a film for us, it's a film for the characters in the book.

Which is largely why so many thought it sucked! :)

There's oh so much more...

But go read Troopers. From your recent query re: "personal beliefs" in the writing forum as well, you should find it particularly fascinating. :D