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  1. #76
    Live Long & Suffer psikeyhackr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SR_Seldon View Post
    I quite agree with you that genre categories are artificial. However, it is useful when you happen to like a particular kind of story. Categorizing lets you find what you are interested faster. And our book retailers live by genre. Every book must be sorted into its appropriate genre. Those are the two big thing that drive it.

    I would agree with subjective, but not go so far as artificial. I started going through the public domain science fiction in Project Gutenberg because so much new stuff that got good reviews didn't appeal to me. I provided three works that treated the science differently but no one admitted to even reading them.

    But the book market is not like it was even 20 years ago. The number of works available online, even free is HUGE! We need faster selection methods.

    psik

  2. #77
    SF Author SR_Seldon's Avatar
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    If someone were to write a story about a space ship being terrorized by a demon and they bring in a wizard to fight him off, what genre is that? Some would say horror, some fantasy, and some science fiction (its got a space ship). It has to be put into one, but which one? That is why I think the genre designations are artificial. Yeah, they work most of the time, but there are cases where they break down.

  3. #78
    Live Long & Suffer psikeyhackr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SR_Seldon View Post
    If someone were to write a story about a space ship being terrorized by a demon and they bring in a wizard to fight him off, what genre is that? Some would say horror, some fantasy, and some science fiction (its got a space ship). It has to be put into one, but which one? That is why I think the genre designations are artificial. Yeah, they work most of the time, but there are cases where they break down.
    It is fantasy or maybe techno-fantasy, but not science fiction. Science-fantasy is an oxymoron.

    The producers of Star Wars called it space-fantasy in 1977. I think techno-fantasy makes for a better general term than space-fantasy because there is lots of technology not involving space travel.

    psik

  4. #79
    SF Author SR_Seldon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by psikeyhackr View Post
    It is fantasy or maybe techno-fantasy, but not science fiction. Science-fantasy is an oxymoron.

    The producers of Star Wars called it space-fantasy in 1977. I think techno-fantasy makes for a better general term than space-fantasy because there is lots of technology not involving space travel.

    psik
    I think this is an area were opinion plays a big role. I find that there is nothing in Star Wars that hasn't been frequently found in science fiction for decades. While quite on the soft side, it does fit, regardless of what odd-ball terms it was called back in the day. In the example I gave, I would say it should be in horror, not fantasy and not science fiction. Same with the Alien movies. This is where the problem of cross genre works comes in. Fortunately, there are a growing number of places where you can find a given title listed in multiple genres.

  5. #80
    Live Long & Suffer psikeyhackr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SR_Seldon View Post
    I think this is an area were opinion plays a big role. I find that there is nothing in Star Wars that hasn't been frequently found in science fiction for decades.
    In The Empire Strikes Back when the Millenium Falcon flew inside a planetoid didn't there have to be vacuum at the surface. So how could they open the hatch and walk out without space suits?

    If the physics is allowed to get too sloppy and they just go on for the sake of a nice story it ain't science fiction. And The Empire Strikes Back was probably the best of the first three.

    psik

  6. #81
    Webmaster, Great SF&F owlcroft's Avatar
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    It's what is or isn't vital.

    Quote Originally Posted by SR_Seldon View Post
    If someone were to write a story about a space ship being terrorized by a demon and they bring in a wizard to fight him off, what genre is that? Some would say horror, some fantasy, and some science fiction (its got a space ship). It has to be put into one, but which one? That is why I think the genre designations are artificial. Yeah, they work most of the time, but there are cases where they break down.
    A strong test is whether the elements pertinent to a given genre are in fact necessary to the tale. Not a few "genre" stories and novels could easily be rewritten with only minimal changes in some other genre, or even as "mainstream" (which is, of course, itself a genre). In such tales, the "genre" elements are merely wallpaper, and could be changed at will. Only if the genre-relative elements are essential to the tale--that is, the tale is basically impossible without them--is the tale of that genre.

    Many less-able writers write "genre" fiction that is just a plain story with fancy curtains and wallpaper. An example that always pops up in my mind is David Gemmell's "Jerusalem Man" series, always listed as "fantasy" but in plain fact just westerns. Glen Cook's "Black Company" tales, after the first set (which is basically one extended novel") are effectively Vietnam war stories. And so on.

  7. #82
    SF Author SR_Seldon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by psikeyhackr View Post
    In The Empire Strikes Back when the Millenium Falcon flew inside a planetoid didn't there have to be vacuum at the surface. So how could they open the hatch and walk out without space suits?
    They were also inside the belly of a space slug, not just in a cave. It allows for some leeway as to what the outside environment was.

  8. #83
    SF Author SR_Seldon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by owlcroft View Post
    A strong test is whether the elements pertinent to a given genre are in fact necessary to the tale. Not a few "genre" stories and novels could easily be rewritten with only minimal changes in some other genre, or even as "mainstream" (which is, of course, itself a genre). In such tales, the "genre" elements are merely wallpaper, and could be changed at will. Only if the genre-relative elements are essential to the tale--that is, the tale is basically impossible without them--is the tale of that genre.

    Many less-able writers write "genre" fiction that is just a plain story with fancy curtains and wallpaper. An example that always pops up in my mind is David Gemmell's "Jerusalem Man" series, always listed as "fantasy" but in plain fact just westerns. Glen Cook's "Black Company" tales, after the first set (which is basically one extended novel") are effectively Vietnam war stories. And so on.
    I have often read of this test, but when it comes down to it, few stories that I know of that I would say pass with flying colors. There are all sorts of ways to change stories and have the characters do essentially the same thing making it essentially the same story. Everything is window dressing and terminology. But then I think that all stories, no matter what genre, are about the characters more than anything else.

  9. #84
    Webmaster, Great SF&F owlcroft's Avatar
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    Well, examples were mentioned.

    The "test" is a shorthand way of stating that the chief proper reason for writing "speculative fiction" tales (or tales in any genre, including "mainstream") is that the rules of that world, and to a lesser extent the conventions of that genre, best allow the author to examine, dissect, and make statements about The Human Condition. The peculiar rules of the world in a speculative-fiction tale are essentially a sort of spotlight that the author can shine on those aspects of Life, The Universe, And Everything that he or she is interested in examining. Just right off the top of my head, I would say that Ursula K. Le Guin's novel The Left Hand of Darkness is a fine example of both meeting the criteria of the test (absent the peculiar nature of the inhabitants of that world, the story cannot be told) and of the idea of using special rules as a way of focussing on some aspect of The Human Condition.

  10. #85
    Live Long & Suffer psikeyhackr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SR_Seldon View Post
    They were also inside the belly of a space slug, not just in a cave. It allows for some leeway as to what the outside environment was.
    Horsesh!t!!! When they flew in there was nothing to indicate they flew through any kind of barrier to block air flow. That is what FANTASY does. Just make up stuff as they go, don't even try for a plausible explanation.

    And what could a creature that big and capable of moving that fast feed on. Total lack of realism.

    psik

  11. #86
    Live Long & Suffer psikeyhackr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SR_Seldon View Post
    I have often read of this test, but when it comes down to it, few stories that I know of that I would say pass with flying colors. There are all sorts of ways to change stories and have the characters do essentially the same thing making it essentially the same story. Everything is window dressing and terminology. But then I think that all stories, no matter what genre, are about the characters more than anything else.
    Most of the reviews of Komarr go on and on about the characters and totally ignore Bujold's portrayal of the technology to manipulate wormhole physics which was the justification for the entire story. It is one of the most well integrated sci-fi stories I know of.

    psik

  12. #87
    SF Author SR_Seldon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by psikeyhackr View Post
    Horsesh!t!!! When they flew in there was nothing to indicate they flew through any kind of barrier to block air flow. That is what FANTASY does. Just make up stuff as they go, don't even try for a plausible explanation.

    And what could a creature that big and capable of moving that fast feed on. Total lack of realism.

    psik
    A creature like that would likely be dormant most of the time and not have anything standing in the way of a free meal falling in. It isn't a far reach to suppose that such a creature would detect when something enters and could start excreting chemicals to prepare to digest whatever it was that entered. It is not far reaching to hypothesize a biology that would allow the events as they transpire on screen to happen. There are stranger creatures here on earth, though admittedly nothing that big. My point is that there are many plausible explanations and in Soft SF, many things require some suspension of belief and the adoption of plausible explanations. Otherwise you have no FTL, no anti-gravity, no ESP, or a host of other things. Now if Hard SF is your thing then we shouldn't be talking about how loose soft SF can be with science. That is kind of the point and one of the ways people get inspired to push the boundaries of what is possible.

  13. #88
    SF Author SR_Seldon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by psikeyhackr View Post
    Most of the reviews of Komarr go on and on about the characters and totally ignore Bujold's portrayal of the technology to manipulate wormhole physics which was the justification for the entire story. It is one of the most well integrated sci-fi stories I know of.

    psik
    I read one of Bujold's books, but I wasn't temped to read more. Not my thing, but I'll take your word for it. I remembered her writing describing a very logical world.

  14. #89
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    Quote Originally Posted by SR_Seldon View Post
    I read one of Bujold's books, but I wasn't temped to read more. Not my thing, but I'll take your word for it. I remembered her writing describing a very logical world.
    If Warrior's Apprentice had been the first book I read I would not have been impressed. Barrayar was the first book of hers that I thought was really good. But WA was the first she wrote. Her father was an engineer with a sci-fi collection. It shows in her writing.

    psik

  15. #90
    Registered User mylinar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SR_Seldon View Post
    A creature like that would likely be dormant most of the time and not have anything standing in the way of a free meal falling in. It isn't a far reach to suppose that such a creature would detect when something enters and could start excreting chemicals to prepare to digest whatever it was that entered. It is not far reaching to hypothesize a biology that would allow the events as they transpire on screen to happen. There are stranger creatures here on earth, though admittedly nothing that big. My point is that there are many plausible explanations and in Soft SF, many things require some suspension of belief and the adoption of plausible explanations. Otherwise you have no FTL, no anti-gravity, no ESP, or a host of other things. Now if Hard SF is your thing then we shouldn't be talking about how loose soft SF can be with science. That is kind of the point and one of the ways people get inspired to push the boundaries of what is possible.
    While some of your premises here are reasonable for soft SF (and in a book could be explained) Psik was pointing out the one truly major flaw that destroyed the entire scene. The creature had an obviously open mouth and it was exposed to open space. No amount of soft SF handwaving can compensate for this complete lack of knowledge of physics that they displayed. I gave a lot of leeway to Star Wars for the sake of story but things like this can destroy my willing suspension of disbelief.

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