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  1. #46
    I like SF. SF is cool. Steven L Jordan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kazellion View Post
    The problem is lack of world depth.
    To portray most things that are too "out there" or different requires too much set up and stagnant stories if too much time is spent doing the world background and set up.
    A bit of reverse chicken and egg, book requires too much world setup, too much world setup makes for crappy book.
    Yes, background is needed, but it needn't be overwhelming. A good writer ought to be able to strike a balance between "enough to understand the situation" and "too much information." Breaking the information up, instead of doing a massive data-dump, usually works well; incorporating it into the story, so a character's actions highlight the background, also works.

    1984 is a good example of this: Less data-dump, more background provided by watching Winston's actions and reactions to his world.

  2. #47
    Live Long & Suffer psikeyhackr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kazellion View Post
    The problem is lack of world depth.
    To portray most things that are too "out there" or different requires too much set up and stagnant stories if too much time is spent doing the world background and set up.
    A bit of reverse chicken and egg, book requires too much world setup, too much world setup makes for crappy book.
    That is one thing that is nice about series. They can build up more detail book after book. But it creates a problem with jumping into the middle of series.

    psik

  3. #48
    Quote Originally Posted by Siberian View Post
    As Clausewitz said, war is the continuation of politics by other means. So, as long as there're governments and political shenanigans, there would be either wars or some other actions that might cause a lot of damage but you might be less aware of if (certain economic policies, for example).

    That said, fiction without any conflict would be very boring and very short
    Well said.
    I would imagine that a truly evolved race would not require a "leader," since all members would work in harmony for the whole. A type of anarchy. (Anarchy means "without a leader," not "chaos" as we are often told..)

    The aliens of Close Encounters might have been anarchic in that sense.

    So who would lead them? Probably a certain moral code.


    Brian

  4. #49
    Quote Originally Posted by Chuffalump View Post
    Just because there may be no death involve doesn't mean it's not a war. One side of the conflict feels all smug because they've erected a forcefield around the solar system of the other or 'mind controlled' them not to fight. 'Hey, look at us, we haven't killed a single one of them. Aren't we mature?'. Meanwhile the trapped enemy fries as their sun goes nova or quietly starves to death.

    The issue is resources. As long as there are life or death issues involving resources there will be war. Even if one side is able to hold the other at arms length until they give up and die, it's still war.

    The trick is to recognise when it ISN'T a life or death issue.
    This is a good point, imo. Resources are indeed an issue. Here on earth, we have limited resources. But we can also learn to recycle or substitute resources. If it weren't for the element of greed in humanity, I think we'd all be able to do just fine. Heck, we might even be able to accomplish more than we the little we accomplish now, since we're always at war! Working together is better than competition.

    brian

  5. #50
    Quote Originally Posted by owlcroft View Post
    If most of all of the science-fiction books you are reading have to do with wars or massive violence, you need to widen your horizons, because such books are only a subset of what there is. A few throw-out-there titles you might investigate (in random order):
    • Signs of Life, M. John Harrison
    • A Billion Days of Earth, Doris Piserchia
    • "The Briah Cycle", Gene Wolfe (a dozen or so books, with internal three sub-cycles.
    • "The Demon Princes", Jack Vance (a five-book cycle)
    • Einstein's Dreams, Alan Lightman
    • The Fifth Head of Cerberus, Gene Wolfe
    • The Green Child, Herbert Read
    • "The Instrumentality of Man", Cordwainer Smith (a novel and a short-story collection, all in the same milieu)
    • Islandia, Austin Tappan Wright
    • Martin Dressler, Steven Millhauser (more alternate-history than sf, but super)
    • Past Master, R. A. Lafferty
    • Pavane, Keith Roberts
    • The Complete Qfwfq, Italo Calvino (collected stories)
    • Report on Probability A, Brian W. Aldiss
    • The Unholy City, Charles G. Finney
    • "Viriconium", M. John Harrison (a four-book cycle, starts sf, evolves toward fantasy)
    • A Voyage to Arcturus, David Lindsay

    That is not offered as a laundry list of books you are sure to love. It is offered as a list of sf books each of which is, in my opinion and not a few others, an excellent work, but whose member books are hugely diverse in content, setting, tone, style, and pretty much everything. You might, if you tried them all, love a few and hate a few, but I think they are all well worth looking up in reviews to illustrate the width and depth--the richness--of what is out there.

    Not every one is free of violence; but we must remember that fiction is ultimately about conflict and resolution. I do think that few or none of them offer violence as a first, natural, and dominating way toward conflict resolution. (The "Demon Princes" cycle is about personal revenge, and hence violence, but is still rather different from the nearly mindless violence of the "exploding spaceships" school of sf.)
    Thank you for the interesting list. I've been checking some of them out; I am coming to realize how illiterate I am in the sci-fi novel area. (Most of the sci-fi I have known has been through TV/cinema; maybe because I'm hooked on special effects and music! )

    I will say this: rather than pumping out more blood-and-guts sci-fi, Hollywood should take a closer, more intelligent look at the sci-fi novel arena. There's a lot of thought-provoking stuff to consider!

    brian

  6. #51
    Quote Originally Posted by Smeetin View Post
    I really enjoy the idea that in the future as different social, technological, and philosophical ideals come into existence and acceptance that there may be new ways to approach conflicts of interests.

    However, when you said that there should be new ways to "defeat" the enemy, I would think that this would be just as / if not more interesting if it was about new ways that allowed us to not have to "defeat" anyone.

    I have always found diplomatic strategies much more interesting in their fine details. Who knows how diplomacy can change and what subjects it can all include in the future.
    Hi "basement astronaut!" (love it!)

    I totally agree with you. Why should anyone need to be defeated? In fact, just as the concept of war seems very primitive (and therefore not sci-fi), so too, the concept of competition seems very base.
    I sometimes participate on a politics forum, and I see so many people with a worldview of "we're better than them." I now think that is a very primitive worldview, and one that must be set aside, if we want to progress.

    At the same time, I see a lot of creativity (ie. jamendo.com, creative commons, gnu, linux) and people from all over the world sharing their creative endeavors. This is the opposite of the competitive spirit, and much more positive, I think.
    This is what the future requires, imho..

    brian

  7. #52
    I like SF. SF is cool. Steven L Jordan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ahigherway View Post
    I will say this: rather than pumping out more blood-and-guts sci-fi, Hollywood should take a closer, more intelligent look at the sci-fi novel arena. There's a lot of thought-provoking stuff to consider!
    They do try that (Solaris; Moon; Gattaca; etc), but no one goes to see them. Then they put out Prometheus and set new box office records. So what do you think they'll release next?

  8. #53
    Man of Ways and Means kennychaffin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steven L Jordan View Post
    They do try that (Solaris; Moon; Gattaca; etc), but no one goes to see them. Then they put out Prometheus and set new box office records. So what do you think they'll release next?
    Exactly!



    .

  9. #54
    Quote Originally Posted by Steven L Jordan View Post
    They do try that (Solaris; Moon; Gattaca; etc), but no one goes to see them. Then they put out Prometheus and set new box office records. So what do you think they'll release next?
    That's true. But some (like ET, Close Encounters) did actually make a lot of profit. Maybe Moon and Solaris didn't have the "right stuff?"

    It takes more effort to make a good movie without violence.. It would require creating tension in new ways. Close Encounters created tension because we didn't know what the aliens looked like, nor what they wanted. And the impacts on everyday life (objects moving by themselves, etc) was also exciting..


    brian

  10. #55
    Live Long & Suffer psikeyhackr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steven L Jordan View Post
    They do try that (Solaris; Moon; Gattaca; etc), but no one goes to see them. Then they put out Prometheus and set new box office records. So what do you think they'll release next?
    I wasn't even tempted to go see Prometheus. I bought a pirate copy of Hunger Games because I was curious to see how bad it was. It was even more intellectually uninteresting than I expected. I found a place to download Cowboys and Aliens. I have to debate whether or not it was worse than Hunger Games.

    In order for a science fiction movie to be GOOD from an economic standpoint it just about has to be shallow.

    That is what is so AMAZING about The Matrix trilogy. The first movie gave the appearance of being shallow. But there were undertones there which were not too difficult to see. But then Reloaded brought the undertones to the forefront and just blew so many people away but the special effects and excitement were still there. So even today there are people talking about what was wrong with Reloaded and Revolutions.

    psik
    Last edited by psikeyhackr; July 10th, 2012 at 12:06 PM. Reason: more commentary

  11. #56
    I like SF. SF is cool. Steven L Jordan's Avatar
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    True, the Matrix movies did have an interesting underlying story beneath its preposterous "reality," in a mix well-balanced enough to keep both sides relatively satisfied. I'd say the same about the Galactica reboot, the overall Human-Cylon war hiding a deep undercurrent of themes of prejudice, politics, religion, faith and family. I expect people to be talking about that show for years to come, as well.
    Last edited by Steven L Jordan; July 10th, 2012 at 02:41 PM.

  12. #57
    I like SF. SF is cool. Steven L Jordan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ahigherway View Post
    That's true. But some (like ET, Close Encounters) did actually make a lot of profit. Maybe Moon and Solaris didn't have the "right stuff?"
    ET and CE3K were movies targeted at adolescents, with intentional moments designed to push a kid's buttons, and no overly-intellectual concepts involved... they were adventure movies.

    Moon and Solaris were more "pure" SF, intellectual stories with adult emotions involved. They were very different animals; I don't think you can compare them at all, myself. Moon and Solaris compare more closely with 2001, Ghost in the Shell or Soylent Green.

  13. #58
    Quote Originally Posted by ahigherway View Post
    Well said.
    I would imagine that a truly evolved race would not require a "leader," since all members would work in harmony for the whole. A type of anarchy. (Anarchy means "without a leader," not "chaos" as we are often told..)

    The aliens of Close Encounters might have been anarchic in that sense.

    So who would lead them? Probably a certain moral code.


    Brian
    You have encapsulated the very point to which I hope humanity despite it's tendencies to cast aside opportunities that might lead to it, evolves. I thought of writing a story where humanity meets a race of aliens that operates in such a fashion.

  14. #59
    Quote Originally Posted by Steven L Jordan View Post
    ET and CE3K were movies targeted at adolescents, with intentional moments designed to push a kid's buttons, and no overly-intellectual concepts involved... they were adventure movies.

    Moon and Solaris were more "pure" SF, intellectual stories with adult emotions involved. They were very different animals; I don't think you can compare them at all, myself. Moon and Solaris compare more closely with 2001, Ghost in the Shell or Soylent Green.
    Could be, although CE3K still fascinates me. Maybe it was dropped just as the ball was getting going?..

    I think I need to take a look at Moon and Solaris. I don't know much at all about either of them, but I'd like to see them for myself. -It's good to know that there's new stuff out there to investigate. (new for me, anyway.. )

    brian

  15. #60
    Quote Originally Posted by Riothamus View Post
    You have encapsulated the very point to which I hope humanity despite it's tendencies to cast aside opportunities that might lead to it, evolves. I thought of writing a story where humanity meets a race of aliens that operates in such a fashion.
    Cool! If you decide to get writing, let me know!

    It's becoming clearer to me, through the feedback here, that it's not just "war" that is "primitive," but also the political structure. Social structure, heirarchy, ways of communicating, interest in the betterment of the whole rather than a part, etc.

    In other words, a believably "advanced" race probably must be different on many levels, not just in the technological "gear" they possess.

    brian

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