What is Science Fiction?
I was wondering if you have any thoughts on what is Science Fiction and what's not? I've somehow always thought of Science Fiction as something involving a lot of "strange and new" technology. Then I read Dune by Frank Herbert, and my black and white world kind of fell apart.
Science Fiction is just that. Fiction w/ a science edge or base. Dune has a lot of as you said "strange & new tech" in it, ie. folding space, the wavelengths of thought & physical energy combining as a weapon etc. The "witch" aspect hit more on the spiritual side rather than the fantasy side. Not to mention the "chemical" stuff produced by the worms...Science at work...
90% of the "tech" we use today originated in a dream envisioned by an artist who put it on the page, postulating new & better ways to do things as well as entertain us. Our whole history on Earth began with a dream someone had at one time or another. Meaning that the future is created by us as we live & all of our innovations & developements start as someone's idea. Sometimes the tech does not exist yet to develope an idea & that's why we need sci-fi writers & dreamers.....
As far as what's not sci-fi, I'm not really sure. I guess I consider Fantasy something that must be too unreal to approximate science in any way.
There are prob definitions for these set by publishers & I don't know where the lines are drawn.
What's NOT science fiction is easily gauged. If it's in a movie or a TV program, it's usually NOT SF. If it could be made into a movie or TV program without drastic rewriting, it's NOT SF. There are, of course exceptions, but the rule holds.
Good SF must have an element of credibility, and must NEVER violate the proven, immutable laws of nature without a solid justification for the purpose of the story.
A lot of SF is based on "What if?" extrapolation on existing knowledge. What if cerebral implants could link us directly to computers? What if nanotechnology could lead to unlimited regeneration of failing body parts? What if the Internet made it possible for a totalitarian government to mechanize a true Big Brother society?
Science fiction is more technologically oriented than science fantasy, which can wander off into uncharted realms such as telepathy, but they both share the common denominator of science, which establishes limits on what is acceptable.
For the new writer, the slush pile will be the final resting place of a good many MSS until the temptation to insert a "gee whiz" aspect into an otherwise mundane and pedestrian story line finally subsides. Far too much "cowboys in space" is written by novices, where blasters replace six-guns and spaceships substitute for horses, but otherwise nothing changes. Wild West Redux is a dead end - except in Hollywood, but what do THEY know? http://www.sffworld.com/ubb/smile.gif
View the stories you read critically, alert for obvious plot holes and things that blithely and arbitrarily ignore even the most basic scientific principles. If you don't find any, you're reading a good story.
[This message has been edited by DoctorDoom (edited December 01, 1999).]
I have a great article on my site (actually, quite a few) about the definitions of science fiction. Check out http://www.scifihaven.com/scifi - particularly http://www.scifihaven.com/scifi/theory/index.html
for one of the best definitions i've ever seen.