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Has modern Science Fiction lost its way?

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  • Pi-r8Pi-r8 Registered User regular
    Paladin wrote: »
    original star trek federation was kind of a white man's burden thing where the objective was to bring every civilization and culture visited a little closer to federation utopian norms
    Well except for that whole "prime directive" thing.

  • PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    Pi-r8 wrote: »
    Paladin wrote: »
    original star trek federation was kind of a white man's burden thing where the objective was to bring every civilization and culture visited a little closer to federation utopian norms
    Well except for that whole "prime directive" thing.

    I'd argue that star trek as a whole was a comprehensive guidebook on how to violate the prime directive

    Marty: The future, it's where you're going?
    Doc: That's right, twenty five years into the future. I've always dreamed on seeing the future, looking beyond my years, seeing the progress of mankind. I'll also be able to see who wins the next twenty-five world series.
  • MrMisterMrMister Valuing scholarship above all elseRegistered User regular
    Bogart wrote: »
    Utopias are fucking boring, and also often seem to dislocate themselves from human reality enough to make the people in them far removed from actual human beings.

    I more or less agree with this; this is why, I think, ToS and TNG were forced to focus on the interaction of the Enterprise with non-ideal alien societies. If we confined our focus to the intra-ship dynamics, it would just be a bunch of people being swell. The result was a sort of monster-of-the-week type show--and there's nothing wrong with that, but people also look for other things in fiction, and one of those other things they look for is characters being put through the sort of emotional trials which are familiar from our own lives. For instance, we are living in a time where we are by necessity familiar with the conflict between principles of civilian rule and those of military expediency; seeing them play out on a Battlestar naturally spoke to us. There were times TNG got into that sort of thing, but those also tended to be times they departed most sharply from the utopian view of the federation--as, for instance, in The Measure of a Man.

    In any case, I think there is some significant breathing room for thoughtful work in between utopian romp and grimdark dystopia. In particular, I would recommend LeGuin's The Dispossessed and The Left Hand of Darkness. They strike me as being genuinely speculative--seriously thinking about the ways society could be--while nonetheless not losing sight of human nature. It is probably not an accident that they have that rare combination, given LeGuin's significant exposure to anthropology. They are also neither utopian nor dystopian: their picture is one of a universe where utopia is not given by technology. Instead, it is a genuine, but tenuous, possible future that if we are lucky we might struggle to realize.

    Of course, they were written in the 60s and 70s. But I don't think that so much shows that science fiction has gotten worse as it goes to show that they were truly exceptional books. After all, I can't think of anything before them that measured up either.

  • DanHibikiDanHibiki Registered User regular
    TOS - An philosophy designed to prevent proxy wars on undeveloped worlds that would otherwise be exploited by the space Commies that are the Klingons.
    TNG - A sink-or-swim philosophy that is aimed to prevent more gangster\nazi worlds that were created by TOS era meddlers but is often ignored because a freaking meteor is going to wipe out a planet and damn it all Piccard won't let that happen without a kick ass speech.
    Voyager and beyond - A perversion of dogma that is used to excuse the actions of genocidal captains.

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  • EchoEcho staring is caring Super Moderator, Moderator mod
    "Utopias are boring" is pretty much a scifi trope by now.

    In nearly all media with these utopias, all the action is occuring at the fringes of that utopian society: Star Fleet exploration in Star Trek (not to mention the whole of DS9), Special Circumstances being up to things in Culture novels, and so on.

  • BogartBogart Registered User regular
    edited April 2012
    Utopias also seem kinda stupid when we're living in the actual years people the so called golden age of SF posited would see the solving of disease, poverty and war. We're living in the future, humans still do fucking stupid things, society hasn't had a moment of clarity and realised we all need to live in harmony and stop using that pesky thing called money. The future is built on the present. Most utopias seem to be built on a clean slate.

    SF doesn't have to be all gritty and edgy and dark, but it needs to be recognisably human. Take something like Lois Macmaster Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan series. It's the far future and the books are often light, fun and generally 'up', but the world is still fraught, conflicted and full of problems. Barrayar is no one's idea of a utopia, but it's an interesting, fertile world out of which excellent SF can spring. Utopias seem sterile in comparison.

    Bogart on
  • shrykeshryke Member of the Beast Registered User regular
    Sci-fi is a reflection of it's time.

    And it turned out William Gibson, not Gene Roddenberry, called the shape of the future the best.

  • shrykeshryke Member of the Beast Registered User regular
    MrMister wrote: »
    Bogart wrote: »
    Utopias are fucking boring, and also often seem to dislocate themselves from human reality enough to make the people in them far removed from actual human beings.

    I more or less agree with this; this is why, I think, ToS and TNG were forced to focus on the interaction of the Enterprise with non-ideal alien societies. If we confined our focus to the intra-ship dynamics, it would just be a bunch of people being swell. The result was a sort of monster-of-the-week type show--and there's nothing wrong with that, but people also look for other things in fiction, and one of those other things they look for is characters being put through the sort of emotional trials which are familiar from our own lives. For instance, we are living in a time where we are by necessity familiar with the conflict between principles of civilian rule and those of military expediency; seeing them play out on a Battlestar naturally spoke to us. There were times TNG got into that sort of thing, but those also tended to be times they departed most sharply from the utopian view of the federation--as, for instance, in The Measure of a Man.

    This is also the reason Star Trek and alot of sci-fi TV/movies in general avoid transhumanism for the most part.

    It's difficult for the audience to connect with people we don't quite recognize as human anymore.

  • EchoEcho staring is caring Super Moderator, Moderator mod
    shryke wrote: »
    Sci-fi is a reflection of it's time.

    And it turned out William Gibson, not Gene Roddenberry, called the shape of the future the best.

    But it's interesting to see what authors miss too. This interview with William Gibson is very interesting.
    This makes me think back to one his early short stories, “The Gernsback Continuum,” in which the main character experiences revulsion at the science fiction aesthetic of the 1930s, something that Gibson seems to still share.

    “They start to acquire a quaint patina of old-timey futurism as they move along the timeline and that can only increase with time. […] There’s some incredibly lucky shots where we get a part of an imaginary future that will last awhile and I’ve had a couple of those, but I’ve had lots more things that are just not what happened.”

    I ask for an example. “Well in Neuromancer there are no cellphones. There’s a scene in Neuromancer that hinges dramatically on a line of payphones ringing in sequence and the thing that’s calling is an artificial intelligence. […] That’s incredibly archaic in 2010,” he says. This brings Gibson back to his earlier point about creating the future out of the present:


    “I think an interesting thing to think about is if a science fiction writer had been able to foresee cellphones and in 1980 had written about it in a novel set in 2010, with cellphones the way we have cellphones now, I just don’t think anybody would have been able to read it.”

  • CorehealerCorehealer The Apothecary Admiral! Thank the Chief Executive, can you get this rabble in line for me?Registered User regular
    This discussion makes me wonder how viable a non-human centric science fiction story would be; with minimal to no actual human involvement and a focus on aliens and the universe in general instead. Less imagining human futures or a human centric worldview of the universe and more of an examination of human nature in aliens and how similar and different it might be in them, and how they view things and progress. Would that be too out there and disjointed from human experience to work?

    Maybe we are just bored of hearing the same old stuff, utopian or dystopian, with or without anthropomorphized alien species that want to kill us/examine us/be our bestest buds and tell us how special we are. Perhaps the closer our reality meets the standards of science fiction, the less of an impact the genre has on us, and we end up looking at it as quaint and antiquated.

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  • AManFromEarthAManFromEarth Their ideas are old and their ideas are bad. The King in the SwampRegistered User regular
    Corehealer wrote: »
    This discussion makes me wonder how viable a non-human centric science fiction story would be; with minimal to no actual human involvement and a focus on aliens and the universe in general instead. Less imagining human futures or a human centric worldview of the universe and more of an examination of human nature in aliens and how similar and different it might be in them, and how they view things and progress. Would that be too out there and disjointed from human experience to work?

    Maybe we are just bored of hearing the same old stuff, utopian or dystopian, with or without anthropomorphized alien species that want to kill us/examine us/be our bestest buds and tell us how special we are. Perhaps the closer our reality meets the standards of science fiction, the less of an impact the genre has on us, and we end up looking at it as quaint and antiquated.

    Hmmm, it's possible to do, but very dangerous ground.

    I'm not reading a hundred pages of quivering tentacle.

    But in the end, if it isn't about Humanity, it won't be good. All great media is about how people work rather than the weird shit that happens.

    Except for Kafka sometimes.

    But fuck that guy.

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  • DanHibikiDanHibiki Registered User regular
    so like a sci fi Lion King?
    Could work, but is unlikely to be marketable without something to relate to the audiance.

    Also I'm sure there's like a hundred of these kind of stories written in French.

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  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    Corehealer wrote: »
    This discussion makes me wonder how viable a non-human centric science fiction story would be; with minimal to no actual human involvement and a focus on aliens and the universe in general instead. Less imagining human futures or a human centric worldview of the universe and more of an examination of human nature in aliens and how similar and different it might be in them, and how they view things and progress. Would that be too out there and disjointed from human experience to work?

    it'd be kind of like watching Alien

    only, imagine that the xenomorphs are the protagonists
    Well it's not like things are perfect there. There's still conflict, although it's more like "As he attempts to explore his sexuality, Data makes everyone else uncomfortable" rather than a huge galactic war.

    yeah, it's kind of amazing how banal a lot of the episodes are, in hindsight. Banal's not really the right word, but for a show about exploring the galaxy on giant space ships they sure came up with a lot of mundane circumstances for their morality plays.

    what's that picard speech about how the real final frontier is the self? Now I gotta go find it on youtube

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    if the rapture don't come cousin, then pass the guns
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  • ArbitraryDescriptorArbitraryDescriptor Registered User regular
    DanHibiki wrote: »
    so like a sci fi Lion King?
    Could work, but is unlikely to be marketable without something to relate to the audiance.

    Also I'm sure there's like a hundred of these kind of stories written in French.

    Dragon's Egg is written from the perspective of alien microbes developing on a neutron star, with brief asides to a human astronaut crew mapping it's surface. It's a fun read.

    Automata-Sg.png
  • DanHibikiDanHibiki Registered User regular
    edited April 2012
    Corehealer wrote: »
    This discussion makes me wonder how viable a non-human centric science fiction story would be; with minimal to no actual human involvement and a focus on aliens and the universe in general instead. Less imagining human futures or a human centric worldview of the universe and more of an examination of human nature in aliens and how similar and different it might be in them, and how they view things and progress. Would that be too out there and disjointed from human experience to work?

    it'd be kind of like watching Alien

    only, imagine that the xenomorphs are the protagonists
    Well it's not like things are perfect there. There's still conflict, although it's more like "As he attempts to explore his sexuality, Data makes everyone else uncomfortable" rather than a huge galactic war.

    yeah, it's kind of amazing how banal a lot of the episodes are, in hindsight. Banal's not really the right word, but for a show about exploring the galaxy on giant space ships they sure came up with a lot of mundane circumstances for their morality plays.

    what's that picard speech about how the real final frontier is the self? Now I gotta go find it on youtube

    I think that was a Q speech.

    also i'll just drop this off: http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/watts_01_10/

    relevant to the "imagine that the xenomorphs are the protagonists"

    DanHibiki on
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  • CorehealerCorehealer The Apothecary Admiral! Thank the Chief Executive, can you get this rabble in line for me?Registered User regular
    Well, if that's next to impossible to do, and we have already exhausted the easier/conventional stuff and come to the conclusion that we don't really care for more of the same in the age of increasing heights of technological advancement and human understanding, then I'm honestly at a loss as to what the future of science fiction is, at least right now.

    I'm sure we can come up with something in time, and I am kind of that guy attempting to make a story not about humans, but as you said, it's hard to do and needs to click with a human audience while being different. That's probably why it hasn't been done before, to my knowledge. Maybe we just need to get to a point where we are actually in space doing the Star Trek thing before we can find new soil to reap.

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  • shrykeshryke Member of the Beast Registered User regular
    Corehealer wrote: »
    This discussion makes me wonder how viable a non-human centric science fiction story would be; with minimal to no actual human involvement and a focus on aliens and the universe in general instead. Less imagining human futures or a human centric worldview of the universe and more of an examination of human nature in aliens and how similar and different it might be in them, and how they view things and progress. Would that be too out there and disjointed from human experience to work?

    Maybe we are just bored of hearing the same old stuff, utopian or dystopian, with or without anthropomorphized alien species that want to kill us/examine us/be our bestest buds and tell us how special we are. Perhaps the closer our reality meets the standards of science fiction, the less of an impact the genre has on us, and we end up looking at it as quaint and antiquated.

    It could easily work. And has been done before several times. (The Pride of Chanur just off the top of my head)

    The issues are it's either difficult to relate to or it's just humans with fur or some such.

    And on top of that, even if you make it relatable, just the fact that the characters look alien will turn many people off, although that's exclusively a marketing/finding-an-audience thing.

  • ArbitraryDescriptorArbitraryDescriptor Registered User regular
    edited April 2012
    shryke wrote: »
    Corehealer wrote: »
    This discussion makes me wonder how viable a non-human centric science fiction story would be; with minimal to no actual human involvement and a focus on aliens and the universe in general instead. Less imagining human futures or a human centric worldview of the universe and more of an examination of human nature in aliens and how similar and different it might be in them, and how they view things and progress. Would that be too out there and disjointed from human experience to work?

    Maybe we are just bored of hearing the same old stuff, utopian or dystopian, with or without anthropomorphized alien species that want to kill us/examine us/be our bestest buds and tell us how special we are. Perhaps the closer our reality meets the standards of science fiction, the less of an impact the genre has on us, and we end up looking at it as quaint and antiquated.

    It could easily work. And has been done before several times. (The Pride of Chanur just off the top of my head)

    The issues are it's either difficult to relate to or it's just humans with fur or some such.

    And on top of that, even if you make it relatable, just the fact that the characters look alien will turn many people off, although that's exclusively a marketing/finding-an-audience thing.

    A sufficiently alien culture wouldn't be identifiable as a culture. So, short of that, you're just talking about oddly shaped humans with an unusual culture, and I think that's fine.

    If the Dragon's Egg protagonists behaved like paramecium, the reader couldn't experience their unique environment and scale. It would not be interesting. Likewise, it would still be interesting if they were tiny humans living on a star with an accelerated perception of time, it isn't overly important that they are or are not human beings. It the unusual perspective and the setting that make the notion of an 'alien' protagonist interesting.

    ArbitraryDescriptor on
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  • Ninja Snarl PNinja Snarl P My helmet is my burden. Ninja Snarl: Gone, but not forgotten.Registered User regular
    edited April 2012
    I think one of the big drags on modern scifi is how a lot of it is being subsumed into the mainstream. Take something like Avatar; huge budget, loads of great design work, and can't be bothered to come up with a story that's more than a crappy rehash of centuries-old history or come up with characters that aren't laughably two-dimensional. Cripes, the aliens weren't even aliens, they were just tall blue humans. Pushing the edge of blockbuster ticket sales, but not so much adding anything meaningful to science fiction.

    I do agree that scifi in general has lost sight of the sort of things that make it great: human perseverance in the face of the unknown, speculative fiction which tries to build a vision of a real, possible future, and addressing the science part of scifi instead of just the fiction part. In its place, we've got tired stories and recycled characters transplanted into what amounts to tech-oriented fantasy.

    But it's also important to note that the field of scifi has had more than its fair share of garbage for a long time now; it's hardly a new thing. There is a lot of scifi out there which is, frankly, astonishingly bad, to the point where I really don't know how a lot of it gets published. Not just in terms of story, but just everything about the writing is shoddy and poor. I read an article not too long back where the author talked about how it's almost impossible for anybody to get into scifi once they get older. Why? Because somebody who doesn't know what to look for has a far, far better chance of pulling a piece of trash off the shelf than anything remarkable. And I'm inclined to agree with the guy, even though the article was written ten years ago; there's so much garbage out there that it's hard for a scifi fan to find the good stuff, much less people who have no familiarity with the genre.

    Ninja Snarl P on
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  • gavindelgavindel You were sent from my sight When your heart grew darker than your nightRegistered User regular
    As someone half way through writing a SF novel, I'd like to admit that I perfectly solved all the issues of this thread and welcome my future as the next Asimov

    Eeer, that is, from a growing author's perspective: Science fiction has significant barriers to entry that can be very intimidating. My book plays into a lot of transhumanism and biology....and I did not get a degree in Biology or Genetics. This adds a great deal of extra work to try and keep things in the "loosely plausible" realm.

    Actually, let's backpedal. Every story needs intensive research. If you write a story about San Antonio where the Riverwalk is a gleaming alabaster paradise of high end boutiques and cafes...anyone from San Antonio is probably going to laugh at you. So every genre really needs to Do the Research.

    Science fiction, however, got its birth in geek culture and bored engineering majors, so I would hazard a guess that the degree of expectation regarding research standards is much higher. (Example: Every thread in the XKCD forums ever). I remember reading a rather long explanation of quarks in Voyage to Yesteryear more or less right out of the blue.

    I don't think SciFi has lost its way so much as it has transgressed the original cultural markers which solidified its identity in its formative years. Combine the selective pressure that only the "best" scifi books stick around 40 years later with the way modern Hollywood is cannabilizing anything with a pulse for a film version, and...

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  • MrMisterMrMister Valuing scholarship above all elseRegistered User regular
    I don't think sci fi requires much of anything in the way of science. The works of Ursula K. LeGuin, for instance, are about as sci fi as they come (she certainly has hugo's and nebula's coming out her ears), but they have essentially zero science.

  • DouglasDangerDouglasDanger Registered User regular
    Sci-fi doesn't need to be be awful xkcd neeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrdddd dissertations.

    I play games on ps3 and ps4. My PSN is DouglasDanger.
  • LucidLucid Registered User regular
    Bogart wrote: »

    SF doesn't have to be all gritty and edgy and dark, but it needs to be recognisably human.
    Why does it need to be? Perhaps this is where the avant garde in science fiction lies, the inhuman.

  • gavindelgavindel You were sent from my sight When your heart grew darker than your nightRegistered User regular
    If science fiction doesn't have a science requirement
    then am I all around confused on how we even define "Science fiction" to begin with.

    Brb, eating own tail.

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  • GlyphGlyph Registered User regular
    edited April 2012
    Bogart wrote: »
    I would be extremely wary of saying that SF has lost its way if 'it's way' were something like a mood or a tone you feel it should employ. It might well be less optimistic and utopian than it used to be. So what? Optimism and Utopianism are not something SF HAS to do.

    I guess I don't understand the OP complaint. SF should be interesting and well written. If you think modern SF is bad, then fair enough. If you think it isn't happy or optimistic enough then I dunno.
    Bogart wrote: »
    Utopias are fucking boring, and also often seem to dislocate themselves from human reality enough to make the people in them far removed from actual human beings.

    I never said it should be "utopian." Not even once. I said there should be more out there with positive themes about how we might have progressed past a 20th/21st century mindset. Yes, there will still be conflicts in the future. I want to know about FUTURISTIC conflicts. Not ships broadsiding each other and sending boarding parties like it's the 16th century.

    I also said it should be more about exploring existential possibilities. Time dilation, meeting something truly alien with a completely different understanding of morality based on a completely different set of evolutionary circumstances. Not humans with misshaped foreheads or "exotic" skin colors.

    How exactly would this be boring? If anything, this would be more exciting and pushing the boundaries in the way sci-fi was originally intended.

    Exploration and discovery as well as a study of the human condition when placed in entirely unprecedented circumstances were always more interesting than generic action shlock IN SPACE.

    Honestly, utopian isn't even part of the equation here so I'm wondering why everyone is suddenly dropping it like a buzz word. Did the opposite of "dumbed-down" become utopian all of a sudden?

    The Fifth Element isn't the most perfect example, but it's one that I'll bring up specifically because it used a futuristic setting to do things that otherwise wouldn't be possible in a past or contemporary backdrop. It wasn't just using the future as a gimmick or a way to drop some deus ex machina or one-note lip-service. And was that boring or utopian?

    Moon, Gattaca and Solaris are other examples. Granted they weren't always exhilarating or action-packed but they weren't utopian by any stretch.

    Glyph on
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  • LucidLucid Registered User regular
    I'm also interested in seeing positive value change for future society. It's interesting to think and look back on values of the past we consider abhorrent now. Of course, seeing the current(in the future time frame) unacceptable values manifest is also intriguing, but Star Trek didn't really avoid that either. There was still plenty of conflict on Star Trek, it just wasn't interpersonal as much. Which on an organized star ship, doesn't make a lot of sense. I'm not so into melodrama anyways, so seeing crew members get into dramatic confrontations isn't really my thing.

  • lu tzelu tze Registered User
    Corehealer wrote: »
    This discussion makes me wonder how viable a non-human centric science fiction story would be; with minimal to no actual human involvement and a focus on aliens and the universe in general instead.
    The Culture novels?

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  • poshnialloposhniallo Registered User regular
    edited April 2012
    Echo wrote: »
    "Utopias are boring" is pretty much a scifi trope by now.

    In nearly all media with these utopias, all the action is occuring at the fringes of that utopian society: Star Fleet exploration in Star Trek (not to mention the whole of DS9), Special Circumstances being up to things in Culture novels, and so on.

    Utopias Are Boring, and Utopias Actually Being Dystopias are not SF tropes - the same ideas have been coming up in theological discussions of heaven ever since, well, we have been allowed to critique religion without getting tortured to death.

    poshniallo on
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  • poshnialloposhniallo Registered User regular
    MrMister wrote: »
    I don't think sci fi requires much of anything in the way of science. The works of Ursula K. LeGuin, for instance, are about as sci fi as they come (she certainly has hugo's and nebula's coming out her ears), but they have essentially zero science.

    Yup. William Gibson doesn't write about science either.

    I figure I could take a bear.
  • poshnialloposhniallo Registered User regular
    Glyph wrote: »
    Bogart wrote: »
    I would be extremely wary of saying that SF has lost its way if 'it's way' were something like a mood or a tone you feel it should employ. It might well be less optimistic and utopian than it used to be. So what? Optimism and Utopianism are not something SF HAS to do.

    I guess I don't understand the OP complaint. SF should be interesting and well written. If you think modern SF is bad, then fair enough. If you think it isn't happy or optimistic enough then I dunno.
    Bogart wrote: »
    Utopias are fucking boring, and also often seem to dislocate themselves from human reality enough to make the people in them far removed from actual human beings.

    I never said it should be "utopian." Not even once. I said there should be more out there with positive themes about how we might have progressed past a 20th/21st century mindset. Yes, there will still be conflicts in the future. I want to know about FUTURISTIC conflicts. Not ships broadsiding each other and sending boarding parties like it's the 16th century.

    I also said it should be more about exploring existential possibilities. Time dilation, meeting something truly alien with a completely different understanding of morality based on a completely different set of evolutionary circumstances. Not humans with misshaped foreheads or "exotic" skin colors.

    How exactly would this be boring? If anything, this would be more exciting and pushing the boundaries in the way sci-fi was originally intended.

    Exploration and discovery as well as a study of the human condition when placed in entirely unprecedented circumstances were always more interesting than generic action shlock IN SPACE.

    Honestly, utopian isn't even part of the equation here so I'm wondering why everyone is suddenly dropping it like a buzz word. Did the opposite of "dumbed-down" become utopian all of a sudden?

    The Fifth Element isn't the most perfect example, but it's one that I'll bring up specifically because it used a futuristic setting to do things that otherwise wouldn't be possible in a past or contemporary backdrop. It wasn't just using the future as a gimmick or a way to drop some deus ex machina or one-note lip-service. And was that boring or utopian?

    Moon, Gattaca and Solaris are other examples. Granted they weren't always exhilarating or action-packed but they weren't utopian by any stretch.

    I think you are just massively cherry-picking your examples. Or you just simply haven't read or watched much SF.

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  • BagginsesBagginses __BANNED USERS regular
    gavindel wrote: »
    If science fiction doesn't have a science requirement
    then am I all around confused on how we even define "Science fiction" to begin with.

    Brb, eating own tail.

    Try reading "The First Men in the Moon," "The Time Machine, and "A Story of the Days To Come." H. G. was pretty open about having no idea how any of his crap worked.

  • AstaerethAstaereth Registered User regular
    The line between science fiction and fantasy is a blurry one, but you can generally count on science fiction involving a setting or plot element(s) that are not yet possible, where fantasy involves a setting or plot element(s) that will never be possible, and regular old fiction involves a setting or plot element(s) that are (or once were) possible.

    The difference between "Death Star" and "dragon" is that, at face value, we might someday be able to construct a Death Star, but dragons do not and will never exist. You can change sci-fi into fantasy or fantasy into sci-fi with explanations ("How could you build a battle-station this large?" "Wizards" or "Where did these dragons come from?" "Centuries of genetic engineering"), and you can also use scientific detail to make sci-fi "harder" (/more plausible) ("This Death Star is constructed according to the principles of Newtonian physics based on an alloy of..."). But those explanations are not required for the work to fall into the sci-fi genre so long as the setting or plot element(s) are at face value things which might one day be possible.

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  • furlionfurlion Riskbreaker Lea MondeRegistered User regular
    How far back are you going when you want to say sci-fi quit being sci-fi? The way I always understood it, sci-fi attempts to examine how different levels of technology affect human culture and interactions. With an emphasis on the science and not just some fantasy hand waving. Part of the problem is that as we learn more about the universe the box of tools authors can use to make stuff happen gets smaller. I think sci-fi tends to target better educated people who are more interested in science then the average person. Therefore they are more likely to understand the inconsistencies or impossibility of any scientific invention that the author might use as a tool to tell the story. And seeing a plot whole causes a big break in immersion and suspension of disbelief.

    sig.gif Gamertag: KL Retribution
  • AManFromEarthAManFromEarth Their ideas are old and their ideas are bad. The King in the SwampRegistered User regular
    The only people who make a real distinction between science fantasy and science fiction are pedants.

    And if we stopped to care about their opinions, the world would fall apart.

    Lh96QHG.png
  • PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    science fiction with actual science is dead and it's not coming back

    Marty: The future, it's where you're going?
    Doc: That's right, twenty five years into the future. I've always dreamed on seeing the future, looking beyond my years, seeing the progress of mankind. I'll also be able to see who wins the next twenty-five world series.
  • BagginsesBagginses __BANNED USERS regular
    furlion wrote: »
    How far back are you going when you want to say sci-fi quit being sci-fi? The way I always understood it, sci-fi attempts to examine how different levels of technology affect human culture and interactions. With an emphasis on the science and not just some fantasy hand waving. Part of the problem is that as we learn more about the universe the box of tools authors can use to make stuff happen gets smaller. I think sci-fi tends to target better educated people who are more interested in science then the average person. Therefore they are more likely to understand the inconsistencies or impossibility of any scientific invention that the author might use as a tool to tell the story. And seeing a plot whole causes a big break in immersion and suspension of disbelief.

    Social Science.
    The only people who make a real distinction between science fantasy and science fiction are pedants.

    And if we stopped to care about their opinions, the world would fall apart.

    Really, the big issue is that sci-fi has come to be represented by Star Wars, which is just a fantasy with a bad layer of chrome.

  • shrykeshryke Member of the Beast Registered User regular
    When your definition of Science Fiction doesn't include Star Trek or Star Wars, it's probably a stupid one.

    It's largely irrelevant anyway. Real science is a harsh unforgiving bitch who has continually, consistently and ruthlessly stomped on the dreams of every sci-fi writer who ever lived.

    Most just gave up and accepted it was never gonna happen.

  • AManFromEarthAManFromEarth Their ideas are old and their ideas are bad. The King in the SwampRegistered User regular
    Bagginses wrote: »
    furlion wrote: »
    How far back are you going when you want to say sci-fi quit being sci-fi? The way I always understood it, sci-fi attempts to examine how different levels of technology affect human culture and interactions. With an emphasis on the science and not just some fantasy hand waving. Part of the problem is that as we learn more about the universe the box of tools authors can use to make stuff happen gets smaller. I think sci-fi tends to target better educated people who are more interested in science then the average person. Therefore they are more likely to understand the inconsistencies or impossibility of any scientific invention that the author might use as a tool to tell the story. And seeing a plot whole causes a big break in immersion and suspension of disbelief.

    Social Science.
    The only people who make a real distinction between science fantasy and science fiction are pedants.

    And if we stopped to care about their opinions, the world would fall apart.

    Really, the big issue is that sci-fi has come to be represented by Star Wars, which is just a fantasy with a bad layer of chrome.

    And if that's a distinction that's important to you, I feel bad for you son. I got 99 problems, but a physicist ain't one.

    Lh96QHG.png
  • BagginsesBagginses __BANNED USERS regular
    shryke wrote: »
    When your definition of Science Fiction doesn't include Star Trek or Star Wars, it's probably a stupid one.

    It's largely irrelevant anyway. Real science is a harsh unforgiving bitch who has continually, consistently and ruthlessly stomped on the dreams of every sci-fi writer who ever lived.

    Most just gave up and accepted it was never gonna happen.

    Star Wars is a verbatim rendition of the monomyth that takes place "a long time ago." What does that sound like to you?

  • DirtyDirtyVagrantDirtyDirtyVagrant Registered User regular
    I think my definition of science fiction is basically any story that adds scientific validation (however tenuous) to my nerd fantasies.

    My nerd fantasies happen to be FTL travel, galaxy-spanning civilizations, city-planets, and body replacement/cyborg prosthesis.

    Star Wars has all of these things (although my cyborg thing is more of a Ghost in the Shell flavor) and makes no attempt whatsoever to explain any of them. It pretty firmly exists within the realm of pure fantasy. Just because the characters are riding on hoverbikes instead of palominos doesn't mean it's not a generic sword-and-sorcery tale.

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