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Thread: What is (qualifies as) Sci-Fi ?
September 9th, 2012, 08:47 PM #16
Seriously, why not be as accepting as possible of good, well written stories and just enjoy the genre? The idea that SF must, as a prerequisite, be absolutely accurate in its science, as understood by scientists today of course, is absurd. (Even then, an SF story containing completely accurate string theory would be read as SF by Susskind and as fantasy by Peter Woit?)
Can't we all just read good, speculative stories and get along?
September 9th, 2012, 11:20 PM #17
i could see batman falling in SF. future tech, and (more or less) dystopian near-future.
September 10th, 2012, 12:48 AM #18
Who said this, "be absolutely accurate in its science, as understood by scientists today"? That is why I mentioned Komarr. Bujold has wormholes for effective FTL travel. But she treats her fictional physics in a "scientific manner" within that fictional universe. So her science works even though it is not science as we know it today.
Anybody can enjoy whatever genre they want. Just admit what it really is. If it is fantasy or techno-fantasy so be it. I think science-fantasy is an oxymoron. There is so much more material today and so much variation I just think we should be more precise in our descriptions. Speculative fiction is too broad a brush for a reader to tell what it is ahead of time. What is wrong with truth in advertising?
September 10th, 2012, 04:34 AM #19Lucas called Star Wars Space Fantasy.
September 10th, 2012, 08:47 AM #20
Fantasy: That which could not be.
Science Fiction: That which isn't, but might be (given a certain amount of flexibility).
September 10th, 2012, 11:58 AM #21
This is a hard question to answer and I've found the answers to be very personal, so there really isn't any correct answer to this.
I love this one:
“A science fiction story is a story built around human beings, with a human problem and a human solution, which would not have happened at all without its scientific content.” ― Theodore Sturgeon
I would say that the same applies for fantasy, just replace the word "scientific" with "supernatural". Time setting is irrelevant, technology level is irrelevant. The thing that causes the most headaches are things that mix the scientific and supernatural components. Superheroes do this all the time. Star Wars does to some extent, but it has a basis in many of the stories from the pulp era. You can try and pin down science fiction to being grounded in real science, but throughout so much of the history of the genre, it has been filled with touches of the supernatural. I recently read C.L. Moore's Northwest Smith stories, written in the 1930's, and they were filled with the sort of semi mythological nonsense I associated with Lost in Space, Star Trek, Flash Gordon, and Buck Rogers.
So in my opinion, there really isn't a clear dividing line. I would say that the dividing line is when you can't pretend it isn't fantasy. I'd say we have Hard SF, Soft SF, and Fantasy and the lines between each are not that clear.
September 10th, 2012, 02:54 PM #22
It is a perfect example of techno-fantasy and includes AI.
September 10th, 2012, 03:49 PM #23
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I'm surprised no one mentioned one of the most solid science fiction movies of all, SURROGATES, starring Bruce Willias.
Honda Corp in Japan is working on real life surrogates, as they are mapping out the human brain and how it works.
September 24th, 2012, 05:34 PM #24
"The brain, knowing that a person can't live forever in this world, rationalizes a future, or other-dimensional, world in which immortality is possible. In other words, religion is the earliest form of science fiction."
If you also agree with that, then The Bible is the earliest, or one of the earliest science fiction stories, due to the utilization of an afterlife (immortality). I also think of The Bible as a superhero (comic book) story because of God. (Think of God as one of the X-Men mutants and my analogy makes more sense.)
If The Bible does not qualify as science fiction, then every novel that utilizes immortality does not qualify. We can't have a problem where immortality is true* and not true, so a decision must be reached. Anything that contains immortal humans whether through an afterlife or technology is science fiction. *(The Bible is regarded as "true" by many people.)
Ok. So immortality (with respect to humans) is science fiction. If a story has immortal dragons, then it's not science fiction. Dragons are fantasy, unless they are made using technology. So, here again, we have a problem. Many of the creatures in "fantasy" novels could be made through genetic engineering (from a science fiction viewpoint). I can imagine a hard science fiction story that describes a rogue group of geneticists and their experiments making dragons, trolls, etc. This thought experiment reminds me of "The Island of Dr. Moreau", which is science fiction.
So, it's really hard to say whether a fantasy story is truly fantasy, since all of those creatures could be "grown" by a sufficiently advanced society and set against each other. I said that dragons are fantasy unless made with technology. But the dragons in the Pern series were not made by humans, and those books are not fantasy. So a story with dragons is not always fantasy.
So far, I have these things as science fiction:
2. Dragons and other creatures (in the proper setting, such as Pern)
The above list can be prodigiously increased.
September 24th, 2012, 11:39 PM #25
Quark, while I agree with you about dragons (when created using scientific thought and logical, if sometimes improbable, abilities), but I don't agree about immortality. That is more the realm of fantasy then science fiction. It does occur with some frequency in the more fantastic space operas, but not the more science oriented corners of SF. It is much more prevalent in fantasy.
I think the real separation between SF and fantasy is that SF poses the question what might be if (future tense) and fantasy poses the question what might have been if (past tense). On occasion you have something in a different timestream, such as steampunk, but the question is still posed the same way, just adjusted for the time setting.
Another way to think about it is that fantasy is about myths and legends. SF is about visions of the future based on science. That's why Pern is SF. There is no myth or legend that does not have a logical reason. There is no creature that isn't biologically plausible (fuzzy science, but still thought out logically). A good example is the Greek god Apollo. Passed down to us are the myths of a superbeing who was immortal. Change gears to Star Trek - Who Mourns For Adonis? Apollo isn't a god, he is an alien, possessing an extra organ that lets him channel energy. That changes the story of Apollo from fantasy to SF (more on the soft/space opera side, but still SF).
September 28th, 2012, 11:39 AM #26
I recently reread The Alien Way by Gordon R. Dickson. I even remember the cover of the book I bought way back when. I recall liking the story but very little detail. This book is great.
But it is a very psychological story it does not have a lot of EXCITEMENT. That appears to be what a most people care about in their SF these days. This is a story that is more thought provoking than most.
At a $1.75 I probably read it in the 70s. It is a First Contact story and better than Nor Crystal Tears by Alan Dean Foster.
OMG, 1965. Before Star Trek.
Last edited by psikeyhackr; September 28th, 2012 at 11:43 AM. Reason: sp err
September 28th, 2012, 06:04 PM #27
Oy.I don't agree about immortality. That is more the realm of fantasy then science fiction.
The point is simple: it is science fiction if the difference between the world of the tale and the world we know is natural law--that is, law that operates regularly (in the literal sense), no matter how wildly different that law, or its consequences, may be from what we think we now know. "Science" is that knowldege which derives from application of the scientific method; it is not merely that which seems "plausible" to us here and now.
September 28th, 2012, 08:25 PM #28
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This calls to mind Marvin Minsky's reasoning about artificial consciousness will be a reality one day. He believes we will one day be creating AI with artificial consciousness. Once we understand how it works, we will be able to replicate it and make it ourselves.
Once we understand how it works, the magic goes away.
Last edited by Modern Day Myth; September 28th, 2012 at 08:28 PM.
October 2nd, 2012, 06:25 PM #29
You're wrong to write that immortality does not occur in the more science oriented corners of SF. I'm not being disrespectful, you're just seriously wrong. I strongly recommend reading this series of 4 books: Queendom of Sol, by Wil McCarthy
You will be shocked.
October 3rd, 2012, 06:08 PM #30
I would agree that immortality is an acceptable plot device in soft SF. It is a very Golden Age action adventure SF staple, back when Greek myths were commonly used with a science veneer. But immortality is one of the fantasy elements that creeps across the from Fantasy. It is not native to SF and not something that marks a story as SF. It usually marks it as fantasy or a cross genre story.
Also, it is never wise to say someone is wrong in a situation where we are sharing our opinions. What you consider science fiction and what I consider science fiction may vary greatly. Neither of us is wrong, that is just our individual views.