1. Left

    Left New Member

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    Has it all been done?

    Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by Left, Jan 24, 2019.

    As far as science fiction, is there such a thing as original any more? For example, you can relate almost any modern day writing back to a classical Shakespeare work or other past author. In science fiction, the worlds of star trek and star wars provide for vast amounts of ideas. Not that they cover everything, but they are among the most main stream and well developed I can think of. I often feel science fiction writings could easily fit into one of these two universes.
     
  2. Thomas Larmore

    Thomas Larmore Member

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    No, there is nothing original. But that's OK. You don't need to be totally original to have a great story.
     
  3. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    If it makes you feel better, this isn't a new thing. Even the Bible says, "The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun."
     
  4. Jillian Oliver

    Jillian Oliver Member

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    I don't think it's possible for anything to be 100 percent original. Taking the sci fi example, the sentiment expressed in Jurassic Park by Malcolm that "scientists were so busy wondering if they could they didn't stop to think if they should" goes back to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Frankenstein's general themes run through a lot of science fiction and yet the stories it inspired are never completely identical to each other. I think literature changes inevitably the way cultures change, as long as authors are inspired by their experiences as well as literary history.
     
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  5. Matt E

    Matt E Ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8 Contributor

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    The human brain can't imagine anything that it hasn't seen before. Everything we imagine is basically just a remix of what we have already seen. But the human experience is so vast that there are an extremely large number of possible stories. More than anyone could ever possibly read. Though the stories that resonate most profoundly with us are the ones that resonate with the reader's personal experience. And those often have similar themes: death, discovery, coming of age, etc. All things everyone experiences, so can connect with in fiction.

    Your best shot at picking something original is in writing about something that is "hot off the presses" in the human experience. Pick something new that just happened, that has never happened before. And throw that in the pot along with older ideas. Scientific journals could be an interesting source. When new things are discovered, those won't have been written about yet. Though most discoveries are not entirely unique, as we can often speculate about what they will be in advance.
     
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  6. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    No one has written the story I've written. It's unique. Some usual themes, sure, but the story is new.
     
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  7. Harmonices

    Harmonices Senior Member

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    Arguably, if you wrote something completely original, no-one would be able to identify with it. That said, I did enjoy Brian Aldiss' Hothouse, which is utterly bonkers. He must have been on acid when he wrote it.
     
  8. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Oh, I have no doubt we'll continue to get science-fiction that seems original. Of course if you break any story down to its core you'll probably find similarities to other stories. But still. If the writer's focus is on BEING original, rather than on apeing the success of other stories by writing similar ones, we're bound to get some pleasant surprises.

    I do think that one of the factors that holds space-oriented sci-fi back at the moment is the lack of collective enthusiasm for the future. It all looks pretty bleak. We live on a planet in decline, as the political will isn't strong enough to save it. Space travel—which used to be our get-out-of-jail-card really isn't going to happen in the forseeable future, is it? Not the way we believed it would, back in the heady 1960s. We're not going to be 'rescued' the way we thought we would ...at least nothing we know about now is likely to save us from our own folly.

    However, I do get excited at what the space probes are discovering, and the photographic images of planet surfaces, etc, that get sent back. Those places are NOT just points of light in the night sky, and we have proof of that. They all have surfaces we can now see, and maybe speculate about. If there is any enthusiasm about 'space' these days, I think it comes from these images. And the fact that scientists are still sending the probes. Somebody still sees merit in learning about what's 'out there.'
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2019
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  9. Veltman

    Veltman Active Member

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    I don't think so. The way I see it, it's impossible to visualize something completely new before it exists.

    Surely a lot of inventors in the 18th and 19th century must have thought that everything had already been invented and there was nothing new to create. But that was before we had cars, radio, tv... maybe the same rationale can be applied to writing?
     
  10. StaggeringBlow

    StaggeringBlow Member

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    If it's science fiction, anything is possible, there is always something original out there. Just no one smart or creative enough to "discover" it...
     
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  11. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I do think some of the slowdown in sci-fi has to do with the fact that we, as a culture, no longer have that firm belief we used to have that science will find all the answers we need. I think it's become very clear—especially recently—that shortsighted, stubborn and reactionary human natures refuse to accept what scientists have discovered. We tend put scientific discoveries and principles that we don't like down to 'fake news'—and then adopt actual fake news as our 'reality.'

    Of course science itself is more subjective than we like to admit, but it has got us where we are today. Whether that's good or bad remains to be seen. But, collectively, we seem to have lost faith in the ability of science to solve our problems, because the solutions must be enacted by corporations, governments, organisations and ordinary people. That doesn't seem to be happening on any large scale these days.

    Now it's fantasy that's the most popular form of speculative fiction, and hard sci-fi has lost ground. I find that discouraging. Not because I don't like fantasy—because I do—but because we no longer seem to have faith in reality, or carry hope that our future will be better than the present.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2019
  12. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I think your story can be original more so than your idea, the way you tell it. And that should be more your concern. If you get too caught up in trying to find something strictly original you might be discouraged if someone comments that it sounds like something else they've read.

    I find sci-fi to be on par with fantasy with the exception that fantasy doesn't bother trying to convince the reader it could happen. For that I find sci-fi has less leeway and more work to get their ideas original and stable.
     
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  13. Matt E

    Matt E Ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8 Contributor

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    In what way is sci-fi being held back as a genre? Sure, we’re no longer in the golden age of science fiction, but the nature of golden ages is that they do not last forever.

    We are making substantial progress in science, technology, and even space travel, though it may not seem as flashy on the outside as the progress made in the 60s. Part of this is in realizing that space travel is actually really hard. The Apollo program made it look easy, but what they accomplished was extremely expensive and dangerous. They developed and executed a plan to put humans on the moon iteratively, practicing each step before moving on to the next. But that plan was well rehearsed, and executed precisely. It is far from the general space travel that we imagine in science fiction, where someone can just hop in their rocket ship and blast off to pluto. If this progress did indeed create the golden age of science fiction, then that progress was a temporary illusion that hit reality fast, as it must. That’s not sustainable, and shouldn’t be used as an optimal benchmark to compare everything else to.

    The progress we are seeing today is building up to something more impressive. Sure, we haven’t been back to the moon since Apollo, but our journey to the moon was audacious. Kennedy captures this well himself — we climbed the highest mountain, sure, but now what? Do we climb it again? What’s the point in that? Do we climb a higher mountain? But the Cold War is over now, and we only really climbed that mountain in the first place to show that we’re better than the Soviets. The Soviets aren’t around anymore, so why bother?

    Instead, we’re building a more firm foundation that can actually take us to where we want to go in a sustainable manner. We’re not flying by our bootstraps anymore. If we want to build a city on the highest mountain after we climbed it, maybe we should build a highway up the slopes first, instead of hiking a million people up there like we did the first time. But that takes time. And we’re getting there.

    Since Apollo, we have seen the space shuttle program, which pioneered reusability. We can’t go about building new rocket ships for every three people we want to put on the moon. We’ve also built the international space station, which pioneers the life support necessary to actually live in space. We’ve put rovers on Mars, which give us the landing and roving architecture that we actually need to explore planets in our solar system. And today, private companies are taking these pioneered technologies and making them cheap and accessible. It takes time: it has to. There is no other way to do it that is affordable and sustainable.

    And sure, there are concerns about the current politics in Washington, but that doesn’t stop the technological advancements that are being made anyway. The government rarely funds technological revolutions, beyond seeding its early development through grants. We can’t rely on the whims of politicians to keep our civilization moving in the right direction. We have to do it ourselves, and we are in large part. Perhaps this mindset is fueled in part by what I see in Seattle, but recycling is possible and people are learning to do it. The products that stack up landfills are becoming compostable. And green energy solutions are being developed, and becoming more affordable.

    The thing is: technologies scale after they become affordable. Progress may seem slow as they are in prototype phase, but that’s how it works, because we need to get through the prototypes before we land on the right solution. It just takes time. And humans move on a much faster time scale than our planet does. We have a chance — once these technologies become affordable, they will spread like wildfire. They always do.
     
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  14. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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    If you were to write a story with the exact same plot as Star Wars today, it would still be different because you live now and are the product of now. You wouldn’t be able to keep your now senabities and tastes from being in it.
     
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  15. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think you're absolutely right about all you say, and there is certainly a core of people working in that direction, and they are being realistic ...looking at sustainability and re-usability as you say. This is great stuff. However, living is space doesn't seem as close to being an everyday possibility as it did when we were regularly shooting men to the moon, etc.

    We keep replacing personnel on the space station—which is a feat in itself—but these transfers hardly get a mention in the news. When I was a teenager, school used to stop for the space launches, and we'd sit riveted to the coverage till it was over. It was an amazing thing, and we just believed that our own generation or the next would have the option of living on space stations, other planets, and traveling through the solar system and beyond.

    Folks just don't seem riveted by those possibilites any more. Because we know they are not going to happen in our lifetime to any degree at all.

    I think humanity's near future in space has gone back to being a gleam in the eye of a few, rather than the 'certainty' most of us believed it would be, back when the men were landing on the moon, etc. In fact, our only space station Mir is about to be decommissioned, as far as I've heard. I don't believe they have, or are planning, a direct replacement.

    I maintain that, as far as general interest goes, the focus in speculative fiction at the moment seems to have shifted from 'space' hard sci fi to fantasy, or the 'apocalypse.' I was addressing the OP's point that there seems to be nothing much new happening in Sci-Fi at the moment. I was just positing my own theory as to why. I really want space exploration to continue, but at the moment our future in space doesn't have the feel of certainty that it did at one time. Attack ships off the shoulder of Orion? Not quite.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2019
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  16. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Sci-fi is being refreshed all the time. Watch any 1950's sci-fi or read books from that era and they are often stark and stale with a few exceptions of course. Stories evolve because society evolves.

    When people say there's nothing new one has to ask, well how did it become created in the first place? Surely it was new at some point so why can nothing new be written?

    At the same time writing long-lived themes in a new way makes for a lot of great stories. I don't see the problem.
     
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  17. Matt E

    Matt E Ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8 Contributor

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    Thinking about what is on the cutting edge of science fiction right now, the life sciences seem to be taking center stage, not space travel. Some of the most amazing works of science fiction that have been published over the past few years seem to focus on that area — I’m thinking about the Netflix series Altered Carbon, and some books that I particularly enjoy written by Daniel Suarez. Right now, advances in biology probably are the most interesting. Cloning, editing genes, things like that. That is a more readily accessible frontier at the moment to write about, and as I said in my first post on this thread, I think that the science coming out in the latest editions of the scientific journals will offer the most room for original science fiction, because the cutting edge is always changing.

    Space is really hard. I think that’s why the progress seems slow. But over the past few years, we have seen huge advances, even if there is not public attention. SpaceX’s recent falcon relabdings are an astonishing technical accomplishment that will pioneer the boring parts of space travel, which are the most important. We usually think of the day that the Wright brothers took off as the most important day in aviation, rather than the dozens of miliestones that occurred slowly between that day, and when affordable non-stop flights started running every day across Atlantic.
     
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  18. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Yes. I love your phrase 'more readily accessible frontier.' I think that's apt, for the turn that Sci-Fi seems to have taken recently. I suppose robotics would also be an arm of that. And things like 'the smart home,' which manufacturers hope will transform our lives the way washing machines and vacuum cleaners did in the 20th century.
     
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  19. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributor Contributor

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  20. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Banned Contributor

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    Yes.
     
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  21. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Banned Contributor

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    MOST human brains can't. Creativity of most humans is zero.

    Some can. Some very small percentage of us humans are creative. It mean they can create, not only vary, copy or steal.

    That very small percentage makes most of culture & science.
     
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  22. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Banned Contributor

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    There are people who really are that limited. Most of them are NT:s.

    They are not the only humans in this round cube of soft rock.

    The way I see it, is that it's very easy to visualize something completely new before it exists. Big part of my autistic friends seem to agree. Also many artists see they work first. Then they do it.
     
  23. Matt E

    Matt E Ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8 Contributor

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    I think we mean different things when we say create. What are a few examples, in your opinion, of a truly original creation?

    My thesis is that there is no human who can conceive of anything that is completely outside of their past experience. The difference between a plagiarist and a master is that a plagiarist draws on the work of another exclusively, and a master draws on human experience and stories so old that they have nearly been forgotten.
     
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  24. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

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    A good many parents don't teach their children to be creative or be imaginative or think big - even about business. I babysat a girl years ago and seriously she did not know how to play with dolls. I took out my stuffed animals and made them talk and dressed them up and at first she thought I was out of my mind until she tried it. A five year old girl whose mother never sat down and played dolls with her - yet she knew about make up and facials.
     
  25. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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    I knew some people who had a litter of slow moving cuddly kittens that didn’t know how to play. I thought it was preposterous and bothered one of them with a string for a couple minutes.

    Once it figured it out, it lit up, then jumped on another kitten. They played constantly as a group after that. Ungrateful humans were mad at me about it.
     

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