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Has modern Science Fiction lost its way?

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Posts

  • FlarnaFlarna Registered User regular
    lu tze wrote: »
    Well, you do insert far more mysticism into that sentence than is strictly required (arcane, really?).

    It's not dark in the metaphysical sense, it's dark because... we can't see it.

    Which is literally what 'arcane' means. You're right though. It does have mystical connotations. I apologize. I used arcane because I like that word.

  • CorehealerCorehealer The Apothecary Nothing but her eyes illuminated the room.Registered User regular
    Dark Matter is so dark that, thus far, it is impossible for our instruments and tests to confirm empirically that it exists because it's a theoretically different form of matter that cannot be perceived by physical matter while still exerting gravitational force on it. But we need it, so for now, it's a theory.

    To Flarna's response, I also agree with everything your saying as reasonable. We won't really know how similar or different aliens of any form or origin are to us beyond assumptions until we actually meet some. And even that is another assumption; the assumption that the universe is too big not to have other life, intelligent or otherwise, in it.

    Maybe science fiction, hard and soft alike, need to start looking at these kinds of themes more to find new ground to tread, rather then revisiting the infinite multitude of good and bad futures that await humanity.

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  • FlarnaFlarna Registered User regular
    Corehealer wrote: »
    And even that is another assumption; the assumption that the universe is too big not to have other life, intelligent or otherwise, in it.

    This occurred to me as well. Also, ask yourself this: if some sort of sentience could exist that we could neither observe acting sentient nor communicate with, is there any difference between it and a non-sentience?

  • CycloneRangerCycloneRanger Registered User regular
    edited April 2012
    Corehealer wrote: »
    Flarna wrote: »
    Any legitimately non-human characters - the ones that are not just re-skins - are most often used as foils for humanity. They define what it is to be human by being everything a human is not. One could get into a philosophical discussion about whether or not a human sci-fi writer could even perceive of a consciousness that is truly alien.

    The re-skinned humans (rubber forehead aliens), when in a setting with actual humans, are often allegory for racism/classism/etc. Essentially human concepts.

    Aliens inhabit the same universe as we do. If, as our science assumes, the universe follows the same natural laws all throughout, then wherever sentient life arises after millions of years of evolution and natural selection, that alien life will develop along similar lines to us. Why? Because they will almost certainly possess a desire to understand their environment and themselves. More then likely, they'll need to eat, sleep, mate, find shelter, survive, and find answers for their existence. They'll look at the sky and dream much as we do.
    No, no, no. You're making the same mistake everyone's accusing modern sci-fi of making. Let's look at these individually:

    1) Eating: A large number of Terran organisms don't eat--there's no reason to suspect that life on another world, even intelligent life, would necessarily be heterotrophic. Chemosynthetic or photosynthetic life forms are possible, and there may be even stranger power sources. All that is required is a source of energy.

    2) Sleep: We don't even know the purpose of sleep in Terran animals--we have absolutely no reason to suspect that it's common in other forms of life elsewhere in the universe.

    3) Mating: Again, it's not at all clear whether sex is something that could be expected to evolve consistently on different worlds, even with similar overall planetary conditions. There are plenty of asexual organisms on Earth, and it's entirely possible that they could have become dominant given small differences in our planet's history.

    4) Find Shelter: This one's obviously wrong--plenty of animals on Earth don't bother with this, and plenty do. You can't generalize to unknown and arbitrary environments from our tiny sample. There's no reason another planet should necessarily have changing seasons or weather at all--there may be quite literally nothing to seek shelter from.

    5) Survive: This is a tautology given the way evolution operates. No points for pointing this out.

    6) Find answers for their existence: This is mere supposition. Curiosity is an adaptation in humans and other organisms where it appears--it may or may not arise in other intelligent life. I'm ignoring the more "spiritual" connotations of this sentence because we obviously have no good reason to think other species would feel the same way.
    Corehealer wrote:
    Aliens are very different then us, but not completely, and we can conceive of them. The only alien life that would perhaps be truly incomprehensible to us and other alien life from our universe would be life from other universes or dimensions, that grew up and exist in vastly different places with different physical laws, assuming that natural laws do not extend beyond our own universe.
    I hope you realize that you're just making things up at this point. We are currently working with a sample size of exactly one out of trillions of worlds--and we know for a fact that ours is not even typical (because our star, Sol, is not typical--it is unusually bright; most stars are what we'd call red dwarfs). All life on the Earth has both evolved to thrive in certain shared environmental conditions and is descended from a common ancestor. Just how "different" alien life would be is a complete unknown.

    CycloneRanger on
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  • FlarnaFlarna Registered User regular
    One of the things I consistently find fascinating is no matter how weird an alien species I see in science fiction, there's always something weirder in science fact.

  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited April 2012
    Flarna wrote: »
    One of the things I consistently find fascinating is no matter how weird an alien species I see in science fiction, there's always something weirder in science fact.

    Look at the other benefits as well: with so many stars and planets, sans the biotics and mind control there's probably a race like the Asari out there.

    electricitylikesme on
  • KingofMadCowsKingofMadCows Registered User regular
    I don't see how DS9 shits over Star Trek, if anything it actually kept true to its roots. DS9 actually respected the original series and it respected the audience. If anything, it's the other Trek shows that lost their way by treating TOS and their audience with contempt and condescension.

    TOS and DS9 were actually about how humans could overcome poverty, disease, and war to build a better future, whereas in the other shows, humans simply are able to do it because they just magically become better in the future and people today aren't able to achieve that because we're a bunch of dumb unevolved monkeys.

  • AurichAurich Registered User regular
    One of the places my mind usually goes when reading things like LotR is what I expect to happen in like, 300 years after the main plot when the renaissance happens and people start exploring the magics in a rational fashion, and they find out the simple underlying principles governing all those things.
    I really dislike the approach to magic as like just another natural force that can be scientifically observed and measured etc. That's like the titular phenomena of Mass Effect. Magic is supposed to be mysterious.

  • AManFromEarthAManFromEarth Their ideas are old and their ideas are bad. The King in the SwampRegistered User regular
    Aurich wrote: »
    One of the places my mind usually goes when reading things like LotR is what I expect to happen in like, 300 years after the main plot when the renaissance happens and people start exploring the magics in a rational fashion, and they find out the simple underlying principles governing all those things.
    I really dislike the approach to magic as like just another natural force that can be scientifically observed and measured etc. That's like the titular phenomena of Mass Effect. Magic is supposed to be mysterious.

    More importantly, if you have magic, you probably wouldn't get a renaissance. In LotR, by the time humans start sciencing up the place, all the elves will be gone and the Ents will probably be dead so there won't be much magic left to science at.

    But if you have a Wizard, why would you need science?

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  • CorehealerCorehealer The Apothecary Nothing but her eyes illuminated the room.Registered User regular
    Aurich wrote: »
    One of the places my mind usually goes when reading things like LotR is what I expect to happen in like, 300 years after the main plot when the renaissance happens and people start exploring the magics in a rational fashion, and they find out the simple underlying principles governing all those things.
    I really dislike the approach to magic as like just another natural force that can be scientifically observed and measured etc. That's like the titular phenomena of Mass Effect. Magic is supposed to be mysterious.

    More importantly, if you have magic, you probably wouldn't get a renaissance. In LotR, by the time humans start sciencing up the place, all the elves will be gone and the Ents will probably be dead so there won't be much magic left to science at.

    But if you have a Wizard, why would you need science?

    If you have a wizard, you technically don't need technology ethier, but people put those two together all the time.

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  • AManFromEarthAManFromEarth Their ideas are old and their ideas are bad. The King in the SwampRegistered User regular
    Corehealer wrote: »
    Aurich wrote: »
    One of the places my mind usually goes when reading things like LotR is what I expect to happen in like, 300 years after the main plot when the renaissance happens and people start exploring the magics in a rational fashion, and they find out the simple underlying principles governing all those things.
    I really dislike the approach to magic as like just another natural force that can be scientifically observed and measured etc. That's like the titular phenomena of Mass Effect. Magic is supposed to be mysterious.

    More importantly, if you have magic, you probably wouldn't get a renaissance. In LotR, by the time humans start sciencing up the place, all the elves will be gone and the Ents will probably be dead so there won't be much magic left to science at.

    But if you have a Wizard, why would you need science?

    If you have a wizard, you technically don't need technology ethier, but people put those two together all the time.

    I mean, I get why, and it can make for some interesting stories, but after a certain point logically speaking a world with high technology and magic doesn't really make sense unless the magic is kept secret or only able to work or certain people.

    It's why Harry Potter being stuck with quills doesn't bother me in the slightest.

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  • AurichAurich Registered User regular
    Or, if magic just cannot be exploited. If you don't invent cars because you can use magic to get around, then you've practically come back to magic just being another kind of technology.
    It's like that deleted scene from LotR where the Witch King's sword bursts into flame and Gandalf's staff explodes. Why? You could describe a system where the force of the Witch King's magic exceeded the normal force of Gandalf's staff or how about it's fucking magic man. Its properties are different from moment to moment.

  • Harry DresdenHarry Dresden Registered User regular
    Aurich wrote: »
    One of the places my mind usually goes when reading things like LotR is what I expect to happen in like, 300 years after the main plot when the renaissance happens and people start exploring the magics in a rational fashion, and they find out the simple underlying principles governing all those things.
    I really dislike the approach to magic as like just another natural force that can be scientifically observed and measured etc. That's like the titular phenomena of Mass Effect. Magic is supposed to be mysterious.

    More importantly, if you have magic, you probably wouldn't get a renaissance. In LotR, by the time humans start sciencing up the place, all the elves will be gone and the Ents will probably be dead so there won't be much magic left to science at.

    That's what Tolkien envisioned when he made Middle earth. It was our Earth before mankind finally took over the planet.
    But if you have a Wizard, why would you need science?

    In that case science is replaced by magic. With enough magic wielders they're enough to transform society into being far more powerful, depending on what magic system they have access to. Harry Potter's wizarding world is a good example with this.

  • AManFromEarthAManFromEarth Their ideas are old and their ideas are bad. The King in the SwampRegistered User regular
    Aurich wrote: »
    One of the places my mind usually goes when reading things like LotR is what I expect to happen in like, 300 years after the main plot when the renaissance happens and people start exploring the magics in a rational fashion, and they find out the simple underlying principles governing all those things.
    I really dislike the approach to magic as like just another natural force that can be scientifically observed and measured etc. That's like the titular phenomena of Mass Effect. Magic is supposed to be mysterious.

    More importantly, if you have magic, you probably wouldn't get a renaissance. In LotR, by the time humans start sciencing up the place, all the elves will be gone and the Ents will probably be dead so there won't be much magic left to science at.

    That's what Tolkien envisioned when he made Middle earth. It was our Earth before mankind finally took over the planet.
    But if you have a Wizard, why would you need science?

    In that case science is replaced by magic. With enough magic wielders they're enough to transform society into being far more powerful, depending on what magic system they have access to. Harry Potter's wizarding world is a good example with this.

    Exactly. I feel like it'd be more of a distraction of we got Middle Earth: The Renaissance Years though.

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  • poshnialloposhniallo Registered User regular
    I don't have necessarily have a problem with rule-based magic in my fiction, so long as the writer knows that's what they are doing.

    The different types of magic are different tropes, and if the writer has all these tropes over here that are about how the universe is unknowable or how everything has a cost or how God Is Great, and then over here they have a neoplatonist or rules-based magic system, the tropes are going to clash, and not in a good way.

    Imagine how shit LOTR would be if Gandalf was 30th level. And imagine how weird the Dresden Files would be if Harry's magic came from a deep existential exploration of the state of his soul.

    I figure I could take a bear.
  • Gabriel_PittGabriel_Pitt Damn you, eidetic memory! Registered User regular
    Aurich wrote: »
    I've thought the next Star Trek should address the different visions of the future. Say, do another big time-skip to the conclusion of some long hard war which the Federation has barely survived, and only so at the cost of becoming a wholly military organization.
    They've actually already done this. With the reboot movies, all production interest in the current era of Star Trek was dropped, and the writers for the novels were allowed to finally work on plots that did not end with everything status quo. As with all franchise fiction, some of the resulting novels were good, others not so much, but the resulting total war with the borg and the massive destruction wreaked on all of the galactic powers did a lot of very interesting things with the setting.

    Origin ID: Null_Cypher
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  • Erich ZahnErich Zahn Registered User regular
    edited April 2012
    Let me explain something that is apparent to any human being who has seriously attempted to divine the future.

    The powerful will eventually possess the production capacity to sustain their lifestyles without our continued existence being necessary.

    What do you think will happen to us?

    Trend toward dystopia:Explained

    Erich Zahn on
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  • AurichAurich Registered User regular
    Aurich wrote: »
    I've thought the next Star Trek should address the different visions of the future. Say, do another big time-skip to the conclusion of some long hard war which the Federation has barely survived, and only so at the cost of becoming a wholly military organization.
    They've actually already done this. With the reboot movies, all production interest in the current era of Star Trek was dropped, and the writers for the novels were allowed to finally work on plots that did not end with everything status quo. As with all franchise fiction, some of the resulting novels were good, others not so much, but the resulting total war with the borg and the massive destruction wreaked on all of the galactic powers did a lot of very interesting things with the setting.
    Well they can just use that then. The important part is a return to the Federation's original mission, and what the veterans who remember the harder realities think of that. You have some raw recruits standing in for Roddenberry's ideals, and the veterans standing in for viewers who find such an optimistic future hard to believe, on the same bridge.

  • ThisThis Registered User regular
    Aurich wrote: »
    I've thought the next Star Trek should address the different visions of the future. Say, do another big time-skip to the conclusion of some long hard war which the Federation has barely survived, and only so at the cost of becoming a wholly military organization.
    They've actually already done this. With the reboot movies, all production interest in the current era of Star Trek was dropped, and the writers for the novels were allowed to finally work on plots that did not end with everything status quo. As with all franchise fiction, some of the resulting novels were good, others not so much, but the resulting total war with the borg and the massive destruction wreaked on all of the galactic powers did a lot of very interesting things with the setting.

    Hmm, can you reccommend anything?

  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    Erich Zahn wrote: »
    Let me explain something that is apparent to any human being who has seriously attempted to divine the future.

    The powerful will eventually possess the production capacity to sustain their lifestyles without our continued existence being necessary.

    What do you think will happen to us?

    Trend toward dystopia:Explained

    this is basically the premise of star trek, and it went the entirely opposite direction

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    if the rapture don't come cousin, then pass the guns
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  • November FifthNovember Fifth Registered User regular
    Even when it isn't going through a straight up apocalyptic phase, SF has always had something of a dystopian bent. Add that on top of that the fact that the market for the last 20 years or so has been favoring darker ad edgier stories across all mediums. Look at how badly people want a "dark" Mickey Mouse or Zelda game or what's happened in DC comics for the past few years.

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  • TofystedethTofystedeth veni, veneri, vamoosi Registered User regular
    edited April 2012
    Echo wrote: »
    redx wrote: »
    One of the places my mind usually goes when reading things like LotR is what I expect to happen in like, 300 years after the main plot when the renaissance happens and people start exploring the magics in a rational fashion, and they find out the simple underlying principles governing all those things.

    Any sufficiently advance magic seems like technology.
    Spoiler:
    Man, I am so that kid. Like, I can do programming, and I know about digital signals, and encoding all that shit (though admittedly not as well as I'd like) but how the fuck people could broadcast, receive, and display television over half a century ago using vacuum tubes just amazes me.

    Tofystedeth on
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  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    Man, I am so that kid. Like, I can do programming, and I know about digital signals, and encoding all that shit (though admittedly not as well as I'd like) but how the fuck people could broadcast, receive, and display television over half a century ago using vacuum tubes just amazes me.

    Analog signal processing is truly some crazy awesome as hell black magic.

  • tbloxhamtbloxham Registered User regular
    Flarna wrote: »
    One of the things I consistently find fascinating is no matter how weird an alien species I see in science fiction, there's always something weirder in science fact.

    Look at the other benefits as well: with so many stars and planets, sans the biotics and mind control there's probably a race like the Asari out there.

    Well, there might be the mind control. But it would probably be achieved via a symbiotic fungus which would take control of your brain, affect your behaviour and force you to not be hostile to them. And then likely kill you. Fungus can do crazy stuff to insects, humans are just lucky we are too slow to be of much interest to plants and insects or we'd be up against some crazy stuff. Did you know there is a wasp which uses a retrovirus to change the DNA of trees at the point where it lays eggs to make them produce sap for its larvae?

    Your puny weapons are useless against me
  • tbloxhamtbloxham Registered User regular
    Erich Zahn wrote: »
    Let me explain something that is apparent to any human being who has seriously attempted to divine the future.

    The powerful will eventually possess the production capacity to sustain their lifestyles without our continued existence being necessary.

    What do you think will happen to us?

    Trend toward dystopia:Explained

    this is basically the premise of star trek, and it went the entirely opposite direction

    Star Trek said that advances in technology and information distribution effectively destroyed the concept of 'powerful'. There was only very limited leverage which could be brought to bear by even the most powerful when food, fuel, shelter and medical care became effectively free.

    In a dystopia super technologies exist, and may be self repairing (requiring no further support) but they are initially hugely expensive. Thus, only the super rich can get them and eventually declare themselves to be effectively god. It's the difference between what would happen to our society if we discoverd that say, using a 50 carat diamond we could give you immortality and eternal youth, or if we discovered that fusion was possible. One is a utopian technology (fusion) and another is dystopian.

    Your puny weapons are useless against me
  • LorctheOrcLorctheOrc Registered User regular
    The murder of **** Clement the XVIth proves that it's actually finding its way,
    Spoiler:
    or not.

  • DoodmannDoodmann Registered User regular
    I really like how Neil Gaimen deals with magic. Its always very dark and mysterious and old which I think sells it as something supernatural.

  • Dis'Dis' Registered User regular
    edited April 2012
    tbloxham wrote: »
    Flarna wrote: »
    One of the things I consistently find fascinating is no matter how weird an alien species I see in science fiction, there's always something weirder in science fact.

    Look at the other benefits as well: with so many stars and planets, sans the biotics and mind control there's probably a race like the Asari out there.

    Well, there might be the mind control. But it would probably be achieved via a symbiotic fungus which would take control of your brain, affect your behaviour and force you to not be hostile to them. And then likely kill you. Fungus can do crazy stuff to insects, humans are just lucky we are too slow to be of much interest to plants and insects or we'd be up against some crazy stuff. Did you know there is a wasp which uses a retrovirus to change the DNA of trees at the point where it lays eggs to make them produce sap for its larvae?

    Well its more we have a closed circulatory system as opposed to an arthropod's open hemocoel or the vascular system of a plant, fungal invaders aren't going to be able to spread themselves very well, or get in anywhere, and in addition to that the blood brain barrier is mighty fortress. Plus the mammalian immune system is the death star to the invertebrate ISS (a hugely expensive engine of destruction that's a wasteful extravagance for most phyla).

    If mind control fungus was doable for Vertebrates, we'd probably see it around - those fungal buggers get in everything else after all!

    Dis' on
  • AurichAurich Registered User regular
    edited April 2012
    Dis' wrote: »
    tbloxham wrote: »
    Flarna wrote: »
    One of the things I consistently find fascinating is no matter how weird an alien species I see in science fiction, there's always something weirder in science fact.

    Look at the other benefits as well: with so many stars and planets, sans the biotics and mind control there's probably a race like the Asari out there.

    Well, there might be the mind control. But it would probably be achieved via a symbiotic fungus which would take control of your brain, affect your behaviour and force you to not be hostile to them. And then likely kill you. Fungus can do crazy stuff to insects, humans are just lucky we are too slow to be of much interest to plants and insects or we'd be up against some crazy stuff. Did you know there is a wasp which uses a retrovirus to change the DNA of trees at the point where it lays eggs to make them produce sap for its larvae?

    Well its more we have a closed circulatory system as opposed to an arthropod's open hemocoel or the vascular system of a plant, fungal invaders aren't going to be able to spread themselves very well, or get in anywhere, and in addition to that the blood brain barrier is mighty fortress. Plus the mammalian immune system is the death star to the invertebrate ISS (a hugely expensive engine of destruction that's a wasteful extravagance for most phyla).

    If mind control fungus was doable for Vertebrates, we'd probably see it around - those fungal buggers get in everything else after all!
    I saw some thing on Animal Planet where these things got into ants, drove them insane, then began growing out of their ruined bodies in a horribly beautiful way, all in stunning high definition. I realized that shit like that was possible in nature and I haven't slept a single night since! Blessedly, those metaphors you use are extremely comforting. You've given me my life back!

    EDIT: I hate to go so off-topic, but check that shiz out:
    Spoiler:

    Aurich on
  • Erich ZahnErich Zahn Registered User regular
    Erich Zahn wrote: »
    Let me explain something that is apparent to any human being who has seriously attempted to divine the future.

    The powerful will eventually possess the production capacity to sustain their lifestyles without our continued existence being necessary.

    What do you think will happen to us?

    Trend toward dystopia:Explained

    this is basically the premise of star trek, and it went the entirely opposite direction

    After a second holocaust, WW3, and numerous other horrors, yeah.

    8voe9soh71ax.jpg
  • Casual EddyCasual Eddy Fighting the War on String Registered User regular
    Distram wrote: »
    Astaereth wrote: »
    Distram wrote: »
    Astaereth wrote: »
    Distram wrote: »
    Evermourn wrote: »
    Distram wrote: »
    It's not like this is actually something that needs a whole lot of cognitive energy to figure out. Sci-fi seems to have "lost its way" for the same reason all entertainment is going to shit - publishing companies, game studios, movie studios, et al are all run by marketing and advertising executives now. There isn't anyone with a creative spirit steering the ship anymore; it just about what does and doesn't sell. Twilight sells. Bayformers sells. Call of Duty sells. There is no motivation to sell thought-provoking stuff when entertainment for idiots makes so much money. Jesus christ, guys.
    You do realise that people have been saying similar things for generation after generation, and in 50 years people will be posting how sci-fi is shit and back at the start of the century it hadnt yet gone off the rails?

    No they haven't.

    The extent to which marketing, shareholders, and executives now control which pieces of entertainment get to market is unprecedented.

    This isn't the usual "get off my lawn" or "nostalgia googles" nonsense. Works which we get to read, see, and play - NOT works which are created - lack depth and longevity. The primary purpose of entertainment, now, is to make money. Again, there are no creative persons at the wheel. Lowest common denominator, streamlined, accessibility, franchise. The person who is loyal to their creative work, and believes in it, is no longer a valuable commodity in the entertainment world, and because of shareholder influence it is becoming harder and harder to create something that has depth because depth absolutely does not lead to profits.

    Why do you think the only interesting game projects are popping on kick-starter, a platform independent of publisher and shareholder influence?

    Again, Twilight, Call of Duty, and Bayformers made, and make, a shit-load of money. They have absolutely no depth. Care to explain to me why anyone, at the wheel at any publishing house, movie studio, or game publisher, would ever want to foster the creation of anything with depth ever again? There's a whole world of morons out there to sell to, why waste time and resources appealing to the intelligent?

    Are you arguing that popular things are terrible? Because most popular things are and have always been terrible. (Sure, Twilight is popular. So was "Varney the Vampire".)

    Or are you arguing that non-terrible things don't get made? Because there are plenty of works today that have depth and longevity, that appeal to the intelligent, from Universal's "Scott Pilgrim" movie (did it make a ton of money? no. did it get released, can I watch it? yes) to the best-selling novel "House of Leaves" to the broke-all-the-download-records art game "Journey".

    Or are you arguing that non-terrible things get made but aren't popular? Because the movie that made the most money in 2010 was the enormously critically acclaimed "Toy Story 3", and you know what's still on the best-seller lists? Catcher in the motherfucking Rye.

    Or are you arguing that non-terrible things get made but not by the old studio system? Because even though that's not true, who cares? So long as I can still buy the new Doublefine game on Kickstarter. The internet age has led to an explosion in the availability and creation of art, and complaining that the best stuff doesn't make it to 5,000 screens is a waste of time you could be using to Instant Watch your Humble Bundle from your Project Gutenberg Kindle Library brought to you by Steam.

    Define your argument so that I may kick it some more, please.

    I'm arguing that in an environment where few entertainment outlets - publishers, studios, etc. - aren't publicly-traded companies, or owned by such companies, little worthwhile entertainment sees the light of day.

    Little worthwhile entertainment? Good god, man.

    A) Production is way up! More movies are produced now than ever before in the history of movies. As someone who tries to exhaustively cover the good films in a year, by the time I finish getting through my 2011 list I'll probably have seen about 90 new films, almost all of them worthwhile. Television used to be 4 channels, and the proliferation of cable has ushered in a new golden age where at any given time there are a good dozen or two worthwhile shows on the air, a huge improvement over the past. Comics and video games have not only seen their mainstream appreciation skyrocket (how long have you been able to walk into a regular bookstore and see an entire Manga section?) but their indie content has exploded, from the vast amounts of casual and innovative games to the ubiquity of webcomics drawn by creators who answer to no one. (What forum are we posting on again?)

    B) Barriers to entry have vanished. The studio/publishing establishment may have calcified, but who cares? Gabe and Tycho can self-publish over the internet and live off of t-shirts and donations; Cory Doctorow can be an author while giving away his books for free; Jonathan Coulton can be a musician without ever signing to a label; anybody can pick up a Canon 5D and make an independent film or sketch or webseries and distribute it themselves; the Humble Indie group has made over a million dollars with indie games all on their lonesome.

    C) The studio/publishing establishment isn't any more hostile to art than it has been in the past. You think you have it bad now? Try the 40s, when the film studios controlled everything, above the line talent (writers, directors, editors) were all on contract and assembled arbitrarily by executives, and if you wanted to make art you had to work around the Hays Code of censorship. But within those constraints we got Casablanca, Citizen Kane, Rebecca, The Maltese Falcon, His Girl Friday... and within today's constraints we still get intelligent, challenging movies like The Dark Knight, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood, and Drive.

    D) We have unprecedented access to past art. Even discounting piracy, I can put thousands of ebooks on one device, go through Netflix's immense library of streaming and on-disc films and television shows (when as far back as the ancient year of 1975 the only way to see a movie that wasn't brand new was to find a revival house that was playing it), play curated and emulated video games from systems long-dead, and read, say, every Batman comic ever written (*cough*).

    Yeah, financial concerns may have a stronger influence on entertainment now than they have before. This is still the best time in the history of culture to be alive, because the sheer amount of worthwhile art and entertainment we have access to, new, old, studio, independent, is simply staggering compared to any time in the past.

    So... mentioning the fact that well-known content producers can go direct to market now, because of technology, and that we do get the occasional good movie these days (though most of the movies you listed are adaptations rather than original films) disproves my entire point? Again, my argument is not "hurr durr... man... ain't nothin' no good no mo'" I am arguing that financial forces exert pressure on the content industry and the content industry has responded with less risk-taking; less risk-taking means you guys don't get to see very much new stuff from new authors, which means "SCIENCE FICTION HAS LOST IT'S WAY" to you people.

    I will slow it down for you.

    Example: The Publishing Industry

    1. The publishing industry took a big hit in 2008, just like everyone else.

    2. They responded to this by deciding to primarily publish things like ghost written biographies of celebrities, anything that fits into a trend, and other safe bets. They just didn't want to take a risk on new authors. They still don't.

    3. The publishing industry, to save money, has offloaded much of it's content filtering - sifting through the slush pile - to agents. Agents make their living from percentages of royalties paid to authors. Agents have no incentive to take a risk on something that, while excellent, may not sell as well as Kim Kardashian's new book about her ass.

    Again, my point is that there could be someone out there writing awesome, deep, sci-fi out there and you will never hear of them because market forces are causing publishing companies to take less and less risk.

    This is not rocket science. You are being deliberately obtuse for the reasons I listed in a previous post. You want to shout out "NOSTALGIA GOGGLES!" every time someone brings up the fact that maybe we're just not seeing as diverse a field of decent entertainment as we did even ten years ago. You just can't believe that; you have to believe that you love this stuff, man.

    the number of books being published every year is at a record high. higher than it's ever been, despite the contraction of the industry as a whole. which means they're putting out more books, not fewer. yes a good many of them are celebrity books but even these are becoming lost in clamor unless it's a 'big' one like the steve jobs bio. they do take risks, actually. most books don't do well at all, and yet publishers still put out thousands of books every year, many of them debut fiction writers.

    75trafim7bi2.png
  • Pi-r8Pi-r8 Registered User regular
    Distram wrote: »
    Astaereth wrote: »
    Distram wrote: »
    Astaereth wrote: »
    Distram wrote: »
    Evermourn wrote: »
    Distram wrote: »
    It's not like this is actually something that needs a whole lot of cognitive energy to figure out. Sci-fi seems to have "lost its way" for the same reason all entertainment is going to shit - publishing companies, game studios, movie studios, et al are all run by marketing and advertising executives now. There isn't anyone with a creative spirit steering the ship anymore; it just about what does and doesn't sell. Twilight sells. Bayformers sells. Call of Duty sells. There is no motivation to sell thought-provoking stuff when entertainment for idiots makes so much money. Jesus christ, guys.
    You do realise that people have been saying similar things for generation after generation, and in 50 years people will be posting how sci-fi is shit and back at the start of the century it hadnt yet gone off the rails?

    No they haven't.

    The extent to which marketing, shareholders, and executives now control which pieces of entertainment get to market is unprecedented.

    This isn't the usual "get off my lawn" or "nostalgia googles" nonsense. Works which we get to read, see, and play - NOT works which are created - lack depth and longevity. The primary purpose of entertainment, now, is to make money. Again, there are no creative persons at the wheel. Lowest common denominator, streamlined, accessibility, franchise. The person who is loyal to their creative work, and believes in it, is no longer a valuable commodity in the entertainment world, and because of shareholder influence it is becoming harder and harder to create something that has depth because depth absolutely does not lead to profits.

    Why do you think the only interesting game projects are popping on kick-starter, a platform independent of publisher and shareholder influence?

    Again, Twilight, Call of Duty, and Bayformers made, and make, a shit-load of money. They have absolutely no depth. Care to explain to me why anyone, at the wheel at any publishing house, movie studio, or game publisher, would ever want to foster the creation of anything with depth ever again? There's a whole world of morons out there to sell to, why waste time and resources appealing to the intelligent?

    Are you arguing that popular things are terrible? Because most popular things are and have always been terrible. (Sure, Twilight is popular. So was "Varney the Vampire".)

    Or are you arguing that non-terrible things don't get made? Because there are plenty of works today that have depth and longevity, that appeal to the intelligent, from Universal's "Scott Pilgrim" movie (did it make a ton of money? no. did it get released, can I watch it? yes) to the best-selling novel "House of Leaves" to the broke-all-the-download-records art game "Journey".

    Or are you arguing that non-terrible things get made but aren't popular? Because the movie that made the most money in 2010 was the enormously critically acclaimed "Toy Story 3", and you know what's still on the best-seller lists? Catcher in the motherfucking Rye.

    Or are you arguing that non-terrible things get made but not by the old studio system? Because even though that's not true, who cares? So long as I can still buy the new Doublefine game on Kickstarter. The internet age has led to an explosion in the availability and creation of art, and complaining that the best stuff doesn't make it to 5,000 screens is a waste of time you could be using to Instant Watch your Humble Bundle from your Project Gutenberg Kindle Library brought to you by Steam.

    Define your argument so that I may kick it some more, please.

    I'm arguing that in an environment where few entertainment outlets - publishers, studios, etc. - aren't publicly-traded companies, or owned by such companies, little worthwhile entertainment sees the light of day.

    Little worthwhile entertainment? Good god, man.

    A) Production is way up! More movies are produced now than ever before in the history of movies. As someone who tries to exhaustively cover the good films in a year, by the time I finish getting through my 2011 list I'll probably have seen about 90 new films, almost all of them worthwhile. Television used to be 4 channels, and the proliferation of cable has ushered in a new golden age where at any given time there are a good dozen or two worthwhile shows on the air, a huge improvement over the past. Comics and video games have not only seen their mainstream appreciation skyrocket (how long have you been able to walk into a regular bookstore and see an entire Manga section?) but their indie content has exploded, from the vast amounts of casual and innovative games to the ubiquity of webcomics drawn by creators who answer to no one. (What forum are we posting on again?)

    B) Barriers to entry have vanished. The studio/publishing establishment may have calcified, but who cares? Gabe and Tycho can self-publish over the internet and live off of t-shirts and donations; Cory Doctorow can be an author while giving away his books for free; Jonathan Coulton can be a musician without ever signing to a label; anybody can pick up a Canon 5D and make an independent film or sketch or webseries and distribute it themselves; the Humble Indie group has made over a million dollars with indie games all on their lonesome.

    C) The studio/publishing establishment isn't any more hostile to art than it has been in the past. You think you have it bad now? Try the 40s, when the film studios controlled everything, above the line talent (writers, directors, editors) were all on contract and assembled arbitrarily by executives, and if you wanted to make art you had to work around the Hays Code of censorship. But within those constraints we got Casablanca, Citizen Kane, Rebecca, The Maltese Falcon, His Girl Friday... and within today's constraints we still get intelligent, challenging movies like The Dark Knight, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood, and Drive.

    D) We have unprecedented access to past art. Even discounting piracy, I can put thousands of ebooks on one device, go through Netflix's immense library of streaming and on-disc films and television shows (when as far back as the ancient year of 1975 the only way to see a movie that wasn't brand new was to find a revival house that was playing it), play curated and emulated video games from systems long-dead, and read, say, every Batman comic ever written (*cough*).

    Yeah, financial concerns may have a stronger influence on entertainment now than they have before. This is still the best time in the history of culture to be alive, because the sheer amount of worthwhile art and entertainment we have access to, new, old, studio, independent, is simply staggering compared to any time in the past.

    So... mentioning the fact that well-known content producers can go direct to market now, because of technology, and that we do get the occasional good movie these days (though most of the movies you listed are adaptations rather than original films) disproves my entire point? Again, my argument is not "hurr durr... man... ain't nothin' no good no mo'" I am arguing that financial forces exert pressure on the content industry and the content industry has responded with less risk-taking; less risk-taking means you guys don't get to see very much new stuff from new authors, which means "SCIENCE FICTION HAS LOST IT'S WAY" to you people.

    I will slow it down for you.

    Example: The Publishing Industry

    1. The publishing industry took a big hit in 2008, just like everyone else.

    2. They responded to this by deciding to primarily publish things like ghost written biographies of celebrities, anything that fits into a trend, and other safe bets. They just didn't want to take a risk on new authors. They still don't.

    3. The publishing industry, to save money, has offloaded much of it's content filtering - sifting through the slush pile - to agents. Agents make their living from percentages of royalties paid to authors. Agents have no incentive to take a risk on something that, while excellent, may not sell as well as Kim Kardashian's new book about her ass.

    Again, my point is that there could be someone out there writing awesome, deep, sci-fi out there and you will never hear of them because market forces are causing publishing companies to take less and less risk.

    This is not rocket science. You are being deliberately obtuse for the reasons I listed in a previous post. You want to shout out "NOSTALGIA GOGGLES!" every time someone brings up the fact that maybe we're just not seeing as diverse a field of decent entertainment as we did even ten years ago. You just can't believe that; you have to believe that you love this stuff, man.

    the number of books being published every year is at a record high. higher than it's ever been, despite the contraction of the industry as a whole. which means they're putting out more books, not fewer. yes a good many of them are celebrity books but even these are becoming lost in clamor unless it's a 'big' one like the steve jobs bio. they do take risks, actually. most books don't do well at all, and yet publishers still put out thousands of books every year, many of them debut fiction writers.

    I wonder if there's anyway to measure the inequality of the book publishing market? My suspicion is that more and more sales are going to just a few mega-bestsellers, while most books published these days hardly get read at all.

  • Casual EddyCasual Eddy Fighting the War on String Registered User regular
    edited April 2012
    Pi-r8 wrote: »
    Distram wrote: »
    Astaereth wrote: »
    Distram wrote: »
    Astaereth wrote: »
    Distram wrote: »
    Evermourn wrote: »
    Distram wrote: »
    It's not like this is actually something that needs a whole lot of cognitive energy to figure out. Sci-fi seems to have "lost its way" for the same reason all entertainment is going to shit - publishing companies, game studios, movie studios, et al are all run by marketing and advertising executives now. There isn't anyone with a creative spirit steering the ship anymore; it just about what does and doesn't sell. Twilight sells. Bayformers sells. Call of Duty sells. There is no motivation to sell thought-provoking stuff when entertainment for idiots makes so much money. Jesus christ, guys.
    You do realise that people have been saying similar things for generation after generation, and in 50 years people will be posting how sci-fi is shit and back at the start of the century it hadnt yet gone off the rails?

    No they haven't.

    The extent to which marketing, shareholders, and executives now control which pieces of entertainment get to market is unprecedented.

    This isn't the usual "get off my lawn" or "nostalgia googles" nonsense. Works which we get to read, see, and play - NOT works which are created - lack depth and longevity. The primary purpose of entertainment, now, is to make money. Again, there are no creative persons at the wheel. Lowest common denominator, streamlined, accessibility, franchise. The person who is loyal to their creative work, and believes in it, is no longer a valuable commodity in the entertainment world, and because of shareholder influence it is becoming harder and harder to create something that has depth because depth absolutely does not lead to profits.

    Why do you think the only interesting game projects are popping on kick-starter, a platform independent of publisher and shareholder influence?

    Again, Twilight, Call of Duty, and Bayformers made, and make, a shit-load of money. They have absolutely no depth. Care to explain to me why anyone, at the wheel at any publishing house, movie studio, or game publisher, would ever want to foster the creation of anything with depth ever again? There's a whole world of morons out there to sell to, why waste time and resources appealing to the intelligent?

    Are you arguing that popular things are terrible? Because most popular things are and have always been terrible. (Sure, Twilight is popular. So was "Varney the Vampire".)

    Or are you arguing that non-terrible things don't get made? Because there are plenty of works today that have depth and longevity, that appeal to the intelligent, from Universal's "Scott Pilgrim" movie (did it make a ton of money? no. did it get released, can I watch it? yes) to the best-selling novel "House of Leaves" to the broke-all-the-download-records art game "Journey".

    Or are you arguing that non-terrible things get made but aren't popular? Because the movie that made the most money in 2010 was the enormously critically acclaimed "Toy Story 3", and you know what's still on the best-seller lists? Catcher in the motherfucking Rye.

    Or are you arguing that non-terrible things get made but not by the old studio system? Because even though that's not true, who cares? So long as I can still buy the new Doublefine game on Kickstarter. The internet age has led to an explosion in the availability and creation of art, and complaining that the best stuff doesn't make it to 5,000 screens is a waste of time you could be using to Instant Watch your Humble Bundle from your Project Gutenberg Kindle Library brought to you by Steam.

    Define your argument so that I may kick it some more, please.

    I'm arguing that in an environment where few entertainment outlets - publishers, studios, etc. - aren't publicly-traded companies, or owned by such companies, little worthwhile entertainment sees the light of day.

    Little worthwhile entertainment? Good god, man.

    A) Production is way up! More movies are produced now than ever before in the history of movies. As someone who tries to exhaustively cover the good films in a year, by the time I finish getting through my 2011 list I'll probably have seen about 90 new films, almost all of them worthwhile. Television used to be 4 channels, and the proliferation of cable has ushered in a new golden age where at any given time there are a good dozen or two worthwhile shows on the air, a huge improvement over the past. Comics and video games have not only seen their mainstream appreciation skyrocket (how long have you been able to walk into a regular bookstore and see an entire Manga section?) but their indie content has exploded, from the vast amounts of casual and innovative games to the ubiquity of webcomics drawn by creators who answer to no one. (What forum are we posting on again?)

    B) Barriers to entry have vanished. The studio/publishing establishment may have calcified, but who cares? Gabe and Tycho can self-publish over the internet and live off of t-shirts and donations; Cory Doctorow can be an author while giving away his books for free; Jonathan Coulton can be a musician without ever signing to a label; anybody can pick up a Canon 5D and make an independent film or sketch or webseries and distribute it themselves; the Humble Indie group has made over a million dollars with indie games all on their lonesome.

    C) The studio/publishing establishment isn't any more hostile to art than it has been in the past. You think you have it bad now? Try the 40s, when the film studios controlled everything, above the line talent (writers, directors, editors) were all on contract and assembled arbitrarily by executives, and if you wanted to make art you had to work around the Hays Code of censorship. But within those constraints we got Casablanca, Citizen Kane, Rebecca, The Maltese Falcon, His Girl Friday... and within today's constraints we still get intelligent, challenging movies like The Dark Knight, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood, and Drive.

    D) We have unprecedented access to past art. Even discounting piracy, I can put thousands of ebooks on one device, go through Netflix's immense library of streaming and on-disc films and television shows (when as far back as the ancient year of 1975 the only way to see a movie that wasn't brand new was to find a revival house that was playing it), play curated and emulated video games from systems long-dead, and read, say, every Batman comic ever written (*cough*).

    Yeah, financial concerns may have a stronger influence on entertainment now than they have before. This is still the best time in the history of culture to be alive, because the sheer amount of worthwhile art and entertainment we have access to, new, old, studio, independent, is simply staggering compared to any time in the past.

    So... mentioning the fact that well-known content producers can go direct to market now, because of technology, and that we do get the occasional good movie these days (though most of the movies you listed are adaptations rather than original films) disproves my entire point? Again, my argument is not "hurr durr... man... ain't nothin' no good no mo'" I am arguing that financial forces exert pressure on the content industry and the content industry has responded with less risk-taking; less risk-taking means you guys don't get to see very much new stuff from new authors, which means "SCIENCE FICTION HAS LOST IT'S WAY" to you people.

    I will slow it down for you.

    Example: The Publishing Industry

    1. The publishing industry took a big hit in 2008, just like everyone else.

    2. They responded to this by deciding to primarily publish things like ghost written biographies of celebrities, anything that fits into a trend, and other safe bets. They just didn't want to take a risk on new authors. They still don't.

    3. The publishing industry, to save money, has offloaded much of it's content filtering - sifting through the slush pile - to agents. Agents make their living from percentages of royalties paid to authors. Agents have no incentive to take a risk on something that, while excellent, may not sell as well as Kim Kardashian's new book about her ass.

    Again, my point is that there could be someone out there writing awesome, deep, sci-fi out there and you will never hear of them because market forces are causing publishing companies to take less and less risk.

    This is not rocket science. You are being deliberately obtuse for the reasons I listed in a previous post. You want to shout out "NOSTALGIA GOGGLES!" every time someone brings up the fact that maybe we're just not seeing as diverse a field of decent entertainment as we did even ten years ago. You just can't believe that; you have to believe that you love this stuff, man.

    the number of books being published every year is at a record high. higher than it's ever been, despite the contraction of the industry as a whole. which means they're putting out more books, not fewer. yes a good many of them are celebrity books but even these are becoming lost in clamor unless it's a 'big' one like the steve jobs bio. they do take risks, actually. most books don't do well at all, and yet publishers still put out thousands of books every year, many of them debut fiction writers.

    I wonder if there's anyway to measure the inequality of the book publishing market? My suspicion is that more and more sales are going to just a few mega-bestsellers, while most books published these days hardly get read at all.

    yes this is the case. the majority of books sell very poorly, but still involve a considerable amount of time and effort on the part of an author, agent, and publisher, even if the publisher doesn't put its publicity dollars behind the book. There's an enormous amount of good fiction being put out right now, but because there's so many books it's very tough to get one to stand out. most publishers are bankrolled by the success of books like the hunger games, since a huge seller like that can keep a publisher in the black for quite a while.

    distram is right that there's a scramble to find 'safe books' but he's vastly oversimplifying the situation.

    Casual Eddy on
    75trafim7bi2.png
  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    I'll just say this: I hope science fiction goes back to being more positive about the future and labor saving devices, because it seriously inspired generations of engineers, scientists and investors to keep trying to make awesome things. And as a result, there are currently two vacuuming robots cleaning my house while I sit here and post.

    How is that not the future?

  • Pi-r8Pi-r8 Registered User regular
    I'll just say this: I hope science fiction goes back to being more positive about the future and labor saving devices, because it seriously inspired generations of engineers, scientists and investors to keep trying to make awesome things. And as a result, there are currently two vacuuming robots cleaning my house while I sit here and post.

    How is that not the future?
    It would be the future if I could afford to buy one of those things. But I can't, because all the high-paying jobs have been rendered obsolete by technology >.<

  • IncenjucarIncenjucar QA Tester -> Game Producer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    Pi-r8 wrote: »
    I'll just say this: I hope science fiction goes back to being more positive about the future and labor saving devices, because it seriously inspired generations of engineers, scientists and investors to keep trying to make awesome things. And as a result, there are currently two vacuuming robots cleaning my house while I sit here and post.

    How is that not the future?
    It would be the future if I could afford to buy one of those things. But I can't, because all the high-paying jobs have been rendered obsolete by technology >.<

    The future is a robot street sweeper dropping a few coins in your coffee cup.

    freefallagentad_zps635a83ed.png
  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    Pi-r8 wrote: »
    I'll just say this: I hope science fiction goes back to being more positive about the future and labor saving devices, because it seriously inspired generations of engineers, scientists and investors to keep trying to make awesome things. And as a result, there are currently two vacuuming robots cleaning my house while I sit here and post.

    How is that not the future?
    It would be the future if I could afford to buy one of those things. But I can't, because all the high-paying jobs have been rendered obsolete by technology >.<

    The future is a robot street sweeper dropping a few coins in your coffee cup.

    Well as Iain M. Banks envisages it, the future is the super-intelligent AIs basically keeping people as pets for pretty much the same reasons we keep cats.

  • IriahIriah Registered User regular
    To the OP: how much science fiction do you actually read? Do you seek it out? Is this an opinion you've formed after being disatisfied with contemporary sci-fi for x number of years?

  • GlyphGlyph Registered User regular
    edited April 2012
    Iriah wrote: »
    To the OP: how much science fiction do you actually read? Do you seek it out? Is this an opinion you've formed after being disatisfied with contemporary sci-fi for x number of years?

    I thought I made this pretty clear but I guess I still have to spell it out. Sci-fi novels are just fine, they've always been pushing boundaries and continue to do so.

    Sci-fi in popular film and television however has not. It's actually taken a nosedive with a few exceptions and decided to play it safe by recycling action genres in a "futuristic" setting. The Battlestar Galactica re-imagining for example, good as it was, was a space opera that didn't really delve too deeply into themes of artificial intelligence, self-awareness, etc. and instead opted for religious symbolism.

    Which is fine, since that's what it set out to do.

    My point is that it's one of the more recent examples of a GOOD sci-fi series that nevertheless was almost completely devoid of a genuine sense of wonder, discovery or new ideas.

    It was drama, story arcs and action done well but that was about it.

    Glyph on
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  • CasualCasual flap flap flap wiggle wiggle wiggle Registered User regular
    It's hard for me to not agree when the most recent incarnations of my personal favourite sci-fi series (star trek and stargate) were monuments to failure that killed off both franchises on the TV. (and in everything else in the case of stargate)

    The last good sci-fi show on tv is Dr Who. And I'm waiting for the inevitable American remake to destroy that.

    i write amazing erotic fiction

    its all about anthropomorphic dicks doing everyday things like buying shoes for their scrotum-feet
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