1. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    Sci Fi Story Evolution

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by MilesTro, Jul 12, 2013.

    How come most new science fiction stories are so different now from the old days? Think of the time period when H.G Well's books are published, and then jump to the modern day when books like Hunger Games are published. Books back then seem like to focus more on science with character conflicts. Now our stories have more character driven plots and characterization whether than the science. I know characters are important, and back then, they are use to observe and explain the science to the readers. Now we get to know them and how they deal with their human issues. It's like stories are evolving into character driven stories, which is okay. But what about writers who want to write stories that focus more on science then their characters' lives and personal issues? Should there be a balance, or it doesn't matter as long as the story is entertaining.
     
  2. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    You can still find those older-style science fiction novels in the 'hard scifi' subgenre. There aren't as prominent as books like Hunger Games, but I guess the latter sells more.
     
  3. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Is The Hunger Games the only sci-fi that has been published recently? I'm certain it's not. Besides, Nineteen Eighty-Four is classed as sci-fi (it's speculative fiction, and people always forget it takes place after a limited nuclear war that happened in either the 50s or 60s) and that's not science-driven at all, so your theory ... has flaws.
     
  4. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Soft sci-fi like Hunger Games has wider appeal, whereas the sort of sci-fi, or I guess hard sci-fi or whatever you wanna call it, will be a very niche market. Both can be very successful, only you may be less likely to hear of the latter unless you're following certain blogs/twitter/pages where you get up-to-date news of that particular market.

    I've never read H.G Wells so I can't comment on him, but I do know his works are classics, so he must've struck a good balance somehow, somewhere. With these things, it's also not just about story and writing quality - a lot of times it's to do with the mindset of the society when the work was published. If your work was written in such a way that captures what people were thinking or cared about during that period, it's gonna be a success. Hungers games is very relevant to today's society, with its critique on reality TV and violence. Usually the classics are the ones that somehow hit the heart of what that society in time cared about, something extremely relevant and core to that society. 1984 is another such example, hitting the heart of our worries back then and even til today. H.G Wells may well have done the same thing with his works, I wouldn't know. That's why sometimes we read something and we don't see what's so special about it other than that it was well-written and/or had a good story, but at the time, it was like a knife to the heart of the masses that struck a cord.

    Anyway, I've probably gone off on a tangent lol.
     
  5. B93
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    B93 Active Member

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    To generalize: In the earlier decades, science was much admired. People who didn't understand it still thought it was good to understand it, and it was going to improve the world. That view was reflected even more intensely in SciFi writing.

    Now it seems that few people care that they don't understand it. Most take the improvements for granted, and focus on the problems that come along with the benefits. That's reflected in fiction of the times.
     
  6. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    So it depends on what issues or fears that people can relate too. Like War of the Worlds, people back then fear about communist invasions. And The Time Machine warns us what we might evolve in the distant future. Hunger Games is about our culture and how we corrupt kids to into becoming what we want them to be; competitive celebrities. If the idea works, that story can succeed.
     
  7. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    Science Fiction is merely each author's view of what the future will be. Some people are optimistic and their stories show it. Others, like me, see man's true nature and don't expect it to change over the next several centuries. I still see greed and lust for power to be problems even in the year 3000. Another subset see things even more negative than I do, and they write dystopian works. Blade Runner comes to mind.

    So, there's more than just one way to think about science fiction.
     
  8. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    There are dozens of sci-fi books that are best sellers. They just don't all have movie versions out yet.

    Not my favorites but Terry Pratchett books, the Ring World books, Orson Scott Card, Star Wars, Iain M Banks (who died recently :( ) all these are modern sci fi best selling series or authors.


    *It's spelled evolution. Hopefully that was just a title typo.
     
  9. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    Guess it is just new ideas that are coming. Still I would like to read new classics with adventures and strange mysterious. I am writing one of them, but still freshing out their ideas.
     
  10. maskedhero
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    maskedhero Active Member

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    I pick up collections of classic sci-fi short stories. Thankfully, there are lots of these around. Science Fiction today has changed, as most fiction has. We don't get many stories written like 19th century work anymore either...
     
  11. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    I guess you can mostly find those new classics in science fiction magazines now.

    I couldn't find the Asimov's Science Fiction magazine series at Barnes and Noble.
     
  12. Sheriff Woody
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    Sheriff Woody Active Member

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    Storytelling as a whole has changed since that time.

    I watched the pilot episode of the original Star Trek TV series last night for the first time ever, and was struck by how plot-centric it was. Character was superficial or non-existent. I think only 3 people were given names. Their function was not to exist as a person in that world; they existed only as cogs in the plot machine. The episode was all about ideas, not people. Compare that to the Star Trek films of today, which go to great lengths to establish who all of the primary players are.

    It's even the same in other genres, like fantasy. GRRM goes into more detail about absolute nobodies who will die in 20 pages than Tolkien did with Aragorn in Fellowship of the Ring. Back then, it was about telling a story. Today, it's about creating characters to live in a world, and then have things happen to them. This means every detail is shown and the only lapses in time happen between chapters. In Fellowship of the Ring, a lot of that is left out. Time passes quickly. It's all about telling an over-arcing story that just so happens to involve these characters. Today, it's about developing living, breathing characters that just so happen to be in this current circumstance.

    I think a lot of people today are bored by the science aspect of sci-fi. They want characters. Would that pilot of Star Trek work today? Probably not very well. People don't want to exercise their minds when they sit in front of a TV; they want to turn their brains *off*. With little to no character development to speak of, all that's left is the science. Most people don't watch TV to learn, sadly.

    I think the same goes for fictional stories in book form, as well as TV. They just want to be entertained by character conflicts. That's why reality TV is so popular. It's cheap and fake as anything, but still captivates millions. Why? Because of all the character conflicts. They don't care that it's all manufactured and artificial. It's stil characters in conflict, and that's what today's audiences want. They don't care if it's something as stupid as Jane is mad at Joe because he can't get his tractor started to plow the field. Story almost doesn't even matter anymore in some cases, so why would people care *how* the hyperdrive works? They don't.
     
  13. Dante Dases
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    Dante Dases Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just to correct you, The War of the Worlds was nothing to do with communism and everything to do with the British Empire. It's basically the Martians wading in on tripods and doing to us what we did to about half of the population of the planet. Think about when the tripod emerges, towering over Big Ben. Imagine the impact that would have had on a reader who just knew his country was invincible.
     
  14. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I suspect that because travel to other planets (especially outside our own solar system) doesn't look as 'do-able' as it did, say 50 years ago, people are less optimistic about a future for humankind in space. That's probably why we've turned to monsters beneath high schools, vampires who attend them in broad daylight and comic-book heroes who walk among us for our 'sci-fi' entertainment these days.

    I bet if light-speed technology were actually developed, you'd see a big recharge of interest in 'hard' sci-fi. Or, of course, if an alien ship arrives and strange beings step out of it, demanding to be taken to our leaders...
     
  15. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    There is a truth here. There was a time in the past when the phrase "In the Atomic Age we will be able to" could be followed by pretty much anything the speaker wished to conjure and there would be a sense that yes, it could very reasonably be true. The savvy of the average Joe/Jane/Chris regarding modern tech is light years beyond what it was in the past regarding their contemporary tech. We have learned, as a society, that the gloss of science fiction space travel with its warp drives and quantum flux engines is really more fantasy than science fiction.

    But...

    To the OP, I think it's a misreading of the work of the Golden Age of sci-fi to say that it has moved away from a science oriented trope and more toward a character driven genre. Dune is as character driven as it comes and is considered to be one of the seminal works of the genre. Even Clarke's works that have a heavy dose of science are very much character driven.
     
  16. IronPalm
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    IronPalm Banned

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    I'm sure the interpretation depends upon the political beliefs of the reader.

    Anyways, the problem with these types of topics (I'm reminded of this silly, vague one) is that it's an overarching, general statement about a very broad, diverse set.

    While it's possible to make accurate statements about the evolution of science fiction, it takes an almost professional level of familiarity with the genre. A level of familiarity that at least 99% of readers simply don't possess. I read a lot of science fiction myself, but don't feel even remotely qualified to discuss this.

    The fact that only HG Wells and The Hunger Games are mentioned as examples in the first post supports this view.

    Completely disagree. The average Joe/Jane/Chris in the 1950s had a much better science/math background than they would today. I dislike this fallacy that people today are in any way more intelligent or enlightened, even with regards to "modern tech". (Which is built upon a math/science background they don't have, and which they treat almost as magic)
     
  17. BritInFrance
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    BritInFrance Active Member

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    I think Dante was trying to point out that War of the Worlds was published in 1898 and so was not about the fear of communism (like some sci-fi written around 1950's).
     
  18. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Isn't speculative fiction part of science fiction, or vice versa?
     
  19. IronPalm
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    IronPalm Banned

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    No, I completely agree with him that it has nothing to do with communism. But as to whether it's an allegory for British imperialism or not, that's a matter of speculation.

    Just look at all of these competing theories;

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_of_the_Worlds#Interpretations
     
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  20. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    To be fair, Communism was actually a major idea when War of the Worlds was first out; and besides Wells is known for being ahead of curves at all that. After all, The Communist Manifesto was published in the 1840s, and this is a time when Eugenics was a hip and happening kind of thing. At this time, according to Noam Chomsky, America had a very strong and respected Socialist movement that was allied with the isolationist policy. The late 1800s, very early 1900s was the time of great, utopian ideas and Brave New Worlds.

    Sadly this optimism started to die in the carnage of world war.

    Yeah, it's a sub-genre.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2013
  21. Dante Dases
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    Dante Dases Contributing Member Contributor

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    It is only one of a number of interpretations. And I do agree that someone's own views can heavily influence an interpretation. Although the writer's context must always be remembered - all too often we can look back on something in hindsight and apply a false historical interpretation (I'm guilty of doing that with Dune pretty much every time I re-read it - Frank Herbert may have been a philosophical master, but I don't think he saw the War on Terror coming, and it shouldn't be read as such). It should also be said that all theories may be true - Wells was far from the pulp fiction writer going for cheap thrills that my A-Level English Literature teacher thought he was.
     
  22. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    I watched the cartoon version of Star Trek, and it is boring as hell. The characters only focus on the science and what is going on. I agree that character conflicts are more entertaining than the science, but too much character conflicts can be stupid.

    I read the 5th Wave book and there are a ton of teenage issues that I don't care about. The characters have cheesy feelings, tragedy, and wrong choices. I am still reading it, so please don't spoil it.

    I like the old science fiction books about the characters exploring strange worlds and inventing interesting machines. If writers can make those type of novels again with well balance character conflicts, then Sci-Fi will come back into popularity.
     

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