1. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    Science Fiction In Second Place

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by MilesTro, Feb 26, 2013.

    I heard most readers enjoy fantasy novels more than science fiction today. George R. R. Martin said that genre is in a down cycle, but some writers are redoing the classics. Plus most of the bestselling genre novels are fantasy epics. Science Fiction is one of my favorite genre, but I want to know why most of them are not as popular as fantasy right now. Are there too many cliches or too many scienific errors in the new novels? Or readers are just tire of space ships and alien encounters? I believe there are some major plot holes, which authors never have time to check because of their business. And maybe their science fictional facts are sometimes ridiculous to readers. I also believe that some science fiction novels limit the readers' imagination. Perhaps science fiction is too much similar to reality, and most readers want a book that helps them escape from reality. Fantasy is their answer because nothing is real or similar to our realty in fantasy. What is your explaination?
     
  2. Talmay
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    Talmay Member

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    Can't say I'm all that broken up about this trend. Fantasy is my favorite genre for the sheer fact I don't need an explanation. If the author incorporates an idea well enough, why should I care about the logistics of it all? Good fantasy backs up its own mythology, but it's never a requirement. Would Alice In Wonderland be half as fun with an intricate deconstruction of every idea? No, it'd lose its charm.

    Science fiction, like you said, limits the imagination to an extent. You get caught up in the why, rather than the why not (not counting the rare blend of the two). In fantasy you expect the unexpected and very rarely question it. Unless it's a complete and utter rip-off, you just go with the flow.

    As for an explanation on the trend, look around. What are the hottest movies out now, the most popular franchises? Fantasy: Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, Twilight, Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit. It's just perfect timing. Don't worry, sci-fi will come back around. It always does.
     
  3. NellaFantasia
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    NellaFantasia Member

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    A lot of it is personal preference. I'd rather read about ancient castles and deviously plotting dragons than men in clunky suits flying on a spaceship. I can't pinpoint exact reasons why I dislike the science fiction genre, I just know I do. It doesn't appeal to my tastes.
     
  4. Merkabah
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    Merkabah New Member

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    I can only speak for myself, but my gripe with scifi is that it tends to be overly descriptive. I described it as wordsoup when I was talking about it with the wife a few weeks back. Its like most scifi authors just can't let the reader use their imagination for anything. It makes it feel like the author is trying to use the setting to prod the story along. Not all of them are like that, but a lot of the ones I've picked up have trended that way. You can call me lazy, but even a book with a good story backing it up can feel like they're a chore to read when it's writen like that.

    Thats just my gripe with the genre though. Otherwise I don't think the fact that it isn't fantasy is a good excuse for it. The things that modern day physics tells us is possible is as close to magic as most fantasy novels ever come. We only lack the practical means to pull any of it off. Modern and historical fiction don't do bad for themselves either and they are handcuffed to reality far more than scifi.
     
  5. Xatron
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    I would say that science fiction is not even in second place. My guess would be it would be romance novels follow after fantasy novels both in quantity of works coming out and the quality of said works. I guess the main reason is that people nowadays need one of two things from a novel:either a story that lets them escape to a completely different world they can use their imagination to construct, or a story about a better version of their everyday life. Science fiction used to be the outlet of the first tendency back in the day when the technological progress was much slower and the ideas in the novels seemed to come from a completely different world. Now that technology advances in leaps and strides in contrast to the shy small steps of the past, most of the ideas used by science fiction authors are either outdated or ridiculous. Add to that the fact that science fiction needs to have a scientific basis for everything that happens in the story, and you get the general idea. I can much easier like the premise of a different world with races with seven eyes and five hands rather than the premise that a scientist on earth created a device that fits in his pocket and can do all sorts of scientifically impossible things. Instead of "what" and "why" something happens, a sci-fi novel also has to answer the "can it actually" happen.
     
  6. NigeTheHat
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    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    What Talmay said. It's just what's in vogue right now, and it'll cycle. Give it a few years and there'll be sci-fi franchises ruling the cinemas and people will rush out to buy books about spaceships.

    I don't think it's any inherent problem with science fiction as a genre - sure, some books get you focusing too much on the practicalities and some have plot holes and some have bad characterisation, but that's not because they're sci-fi, it's because they're badly written. Every genre includes a few books that are, shall we say, quality-challenged.
     
  7. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    I am more into sci fi because I kind of grew up with it. I watched a lot of Star Trek shows when I was a little kid, and I like most of interesting ideas in some Sci Fi movies like Juassic Park and Distinct 9. But Star Wars is my most favorite.

    I do like the fantasy genre because how much freedom you can think of in it. However, to me, there are too many sword and socery books that are too similar to the Lord of the Rings and World of Warcraft. They are always about heroes saving the day, and not all of them can be taken seriously. Even Harry Potter has some flaws. But some fantasy like Alice in Wonderland and the Lord of the Rings I respect. Even if most cliche fantasy books are on the bestseller list, then still need to be new unique ones that isn't about saving the world, rescuing the princess, or crap like that.

    I guess we are moving through the age when fantasy is popular for now. I bet when the new Sta Wars movies come out, Sci Fi will be back in business.
     
  8. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    You do know that Star Wars is more of the fantasy genre than science fiction, right? And both Star Wars and Star Trek are about saving the world for the most part (not to mention princess Leia).
     
  9. Bimber
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    Sci Fi was the hot stuff in the 80's and 90's but it will be again.

    I love the movies but when it comes to books i stick to fantasy only at least for now, as i like to read about simple times like how someone walked from this place to that and had an adventure on the road, its just not the same as someone traveling by ship or transporting to another place for me.
     
  10. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    If you read classic sci-fi you'll find that it's not about the future or fantastic technology. It's the discussion of contemporary ideas and problems through the filter of fantasy. If you view the original Star Trek TV series you'll see the open discussion of women in the workplace, racism and social mores. They also depicted the first inter-racial kiss.

    Considering that, knock-off sci-fi is more of the titanium jump-suit, time machine, space ship glitz. The CGI enhancements become the story rather than have 'the story' become the story.

    If writers spent as much time on a solid plot, good character development and a rousing conflict to fuel the interest of the reader, then sci-fi would be as popular a genre as any other. I like sci-fi, but for the life of me I cannot think of a good modern example in the last +five years.
     
  11. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I believe sci-fi isn't as popular as it once was because the writers pretty much destroyed it. I loved sci-fi as a kid, partly because it presented a very positive vision of the future. I was dazzled by the possibilities - we could go anywhere, to any planet; we could cure any disease; we could build any machine; we could solve any problem. It was beautiful, if a little naive.

    But then, along came dystopian sci-fi. Suddenly the future sucked. Pollution was killing everybody. Overpopulation was ruining the world. Drugs were destroying the minds of the young. Etc. etc. etc.

    This stuff was necessary; we need to be warned about the consequences of what we're doing, and that's one of the functions of sci-fi. But it sure isn't attractive. Maybe we need one or two major novels like that to smack us across the face and make us understand what we're doing, but it seems to me that the whole genre degenerated into that negative vision - a slagheap of ugliness. I haven't read any new sci-fi for decades now. When I was a kid I turned to sci-fi to show me wonders, and now it only shows me disaster.

    That's depressing.

    Science fiction needs to bring back that innocent joy. It needs to recapture that young spirit that attracted me when I was a kid. Then it will be popular again. And we need it - there's always a new generation to inspire.
     
  12. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Class sci fi wasn't dark? Didn't focus on things like time machines?

    Ever read H.G Wells?
     
  13. NigeTheHat
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    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    Start with Iain M Banks.
     
  14. jazzabel
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    (Disclaimer: I'm only referring to the well written books in both genres, not the crap that every genre has)

    I think the main reason is, in order to appreciate good science fiction, the reader must have certain level of scientific knowledge, but they also need to be fascinated by astrophysics, universe, future etc. Interpersonal conflicts are universal but sci fi specifically discusses future technologies in some form.
    To read fantasy, one needs no prior technical knowledge. In fact, I think the lack of technical knowledge and lack of interest in such things is an advantage in reading fantasy, because absence of logical explanations tends to infuriate anyone analytical as badly as a glaring plot-hole.

    For example, someone mentioned dragons in a medieval castle. I'm thinking 'Dragons? Really?! How come? A pterodactyl hybrid, surely, because only they could fly. Ok, what are they doing? Guarding treasure and asking questions?! Wow! Ok, I suppose there is a way to explain away sentience and language, perhaps the first evolution, before the asteroid strike, but hang on, they would need to have an opposable thumb because it is the area closely connected with language so one stimulates the other. Why is there no opposable thumb?" Etc, but this is how my brain is reading the first chapter of a dragon medieval fantasy. When by the third page, no answers or clues are forthcoming, I lose all interest.

    I think the answer lies both in the writers as well as the readers. All that's needed to write fantasy is good imagination and decent writing skills. All those are essential for sci fi too, but what's also essential is a technical mindset which comes only with study and long-term interest in science. Numbers-wise, not many writers have that. If you combine it with how much research is needed for a good original sci-fi plot, quality sci fi books are few and far between.

    But it is the sci fi that inspires actual technical progress the most, so I think sci fi is overall a higher quality genre and I am certain that it's going to remain one of the most influential ones around (if not the most lucrative). :)
     
  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    has anyone considered that sci-fi may have fallen off in popularity because so much of the science fiction staple diet of story premises has become science fact, or so close to it, that it doesn't seem like fiction any more?
     
  16. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    Hmmm. I find "20,000 Leagues" to still be relevant despite the fact that oceanographers have better submarines now. I did find Jazzy's comment to eliminate "crap" to be a major crux of the debate.

    For me "crap" has now become the 'new normal.' But if we segment off the truly horrid examples then Jazzy doesn't have a horse in this race. LOL. The problem is fixed! Shred the junk!

    We consider writing to be art, and then of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But in automobile manufacturing a lemon is dropped from the line without a care. I don't think that works in writing. But I agree with the premise of the thread. Sci-fi is losing steam. I don't care for it at present, I just do not see good writing on the horizon.
     
  17. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well said! Also, science fiction often (at least classic sci fi) poses philosophical questions about morality, reality, and the human condition, that I just don't ever see in fantasy.

    Sci fi, to me, is all about "the question." That question could be anything. What if we had a colony on the moon? What if we could recreate dinosaurs? What if a meteorite hits our planet? Could cultures on other planets exist? Its very inspiring.
     
  18. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    I know Star Wars is part fantasy, which makes it unique. I like it more than Star Trek because the freedon of imagination in a sci fi setting. Star Trek, to me, has too much science flaws that is impossible or not too serious. It is the medievel magical setting in most fantasy novels that I am sick of.

    I don't care reascuing a princess and saving the world is common in Star Wars and Star Trek.

    Maybe there should be more science fiction stories like Star Wars, which doesn't need logic to explain everything.
     
  19. alexa_
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    alexa_ Banned

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    The reason for it may lay in the fact that reality has been already filled with extraordinary scientific breakthroughs. And people may want to read about something outstanding.
     
  20. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    Some writers probably think post apocalyptic is popular now, and they are trying to make the next Road Warrior series. And good inventions going wrong seems to be a good set up for conflict.

    In the orignal short story of minority report I think is unique. In that story, the characteres believe the system is good, but there is a villain who wants to shut it down for profit. In the adapted movie, they made the system flaw, which is cliche. But you do learn a lot about the main character and what he is trying to do is right.
     

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