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  1. The Outer God

    The Outer God Member

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    Sci-fi or not?

    Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by The Outer God, Apr 8, 2020.

    I am just a new fish in this sea, but for me, the sci-fi has always been about how technological or social development, advancements or discoveries affect the further progress of manking, for example the Three body problem is an excellent example. Technology, aliens, social events (honestly, that is a bit new to me, I was surprised the Handmaid's tale is actually considered sci-fi and then I realized, yes, it is) and others are the main point of hardcore sci-fi to me.
    And then there is a Fantasy, which I have always seen as a battle between good and evil in any made up settings, doesn't matter if they are magical or futuristic, there can be medival sci-fi, where magic can be science and there is no battle between good or evil (Smoke, Ve službách klanu - not translated into English) or futuristic fantasy like Star Wars, which is clearly Fantasy.
    My question is, I have never really looked around in the wide world, I have no idea if this is official or only the rules of my own community I move in.
    And second question, if my works have a little bit of both, where it is a classic fight between good and evil but there is also hidden the deep philosophy (really, really well hidden) of sci-fi, what may happen to humanity in far away future, where do I put it?
     
  2. More

    More Active Member

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    Hi
    I not sure if the genre of Science Fiction has ever been sharply defined. Stories like Mary Shelley's Frankenstein were written before the classification existed. Jules Verne wrote stories that were named as Voyages Extraordinaires. George Orwell's 1984 has many different classifications ,including Science Fiction but when it was first published it was Fiction/ Literature . I have written stories that I classified as SF and received complaints from readers . They felt misled and were disappointed that my story did not comply with what they had been expecting . My own feeling now is, classify your stories how you like , in the knowledge some will disagree with you.
     
  3. nutkins

    nutkins New Member

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    for me, it comes down to plausibility -

    fantasy is set in fantastical worlds where anything is possible.
    science-fiction is set in the contemporary world (whichever way you look at it) where events and concepts, no matter how fantastic, have to be in some way honest.
     
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  4. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    I wouldn't say sci-fi has to be set in the contemporary world, much of it takes place in the future or the past (time travel stories for instance).

    There's hard science fiction, which is based on real science and sticks close to reality, often written by scientists or technologists or at least hardcore science fans/nerds. I'm not aware of a category called 'soft' sci-fi, it seems it's either hard or just 'regular' sci-fi, but when it gets mixed with fantasy (like Star Wars or Star Trek) it can be called science fantasy or sci-fi/fantasy.

    Both categories are subsumed into the overarching category of speculative fiction, which seems to mean imaginative fiction that isn't intended to be set in our ordinary social world.
     
  5. nutkins

    nutkins New Member

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    yes Xoic, I'm aware of that, hence the caveat.

    what I mean is that science-fiction is written from the perspective of the contempary world, whether that is extrapolated into the future or the past (Jules Vern wrote from a Victorian perspective) - the honesty is in the plausibility given the current world.

    I'm not aware of any published 'hard' science-fiction on my radar 'written by scientists or technologists or at least hardcore science fans/nerds'
    some famous science-fiction writers were also scientists - but that's not the same thing.

    Star Wars is clearly fantasy - I've only seen the first one, but it has a text at the beginning that says as much - the idealisation of characters and locations, the clear distinction between goodies and baddies, the presence of a magical force all point to that.

    Other than some shocking early episodes, Star Trek is clearly science-fiction - a plausible future mapped-out from the present day - where not everything is black and white.

    there is a whole load of science-fiction set in the present day Xioc - it is not necessarily speculative.
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2020
  6. EFMingo

    EFMingo A Modern Dinosaur Staff Supporter Contributor

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    While everyone is free to argue points of why or why not this is science fiction, we can all agree that personally inflammatory or directed posts are not to be accepted. In any further answers to this question, please refrain from any personally directed attacks of other members for their opinions on the situation, whether they are backed up by peer-reviewed documents or not. The debate of the reach of speculative fiction over aspects of science fiction is a long contested and argued point of contention. Vice versa as well, since many of the revered science fiction authors of the 50's and 60's have argued why their works regarded as peak science fiction aren't science fiction at all. Robert Heinlein and Ray Bradbury are among those numbers. Let's continue this thread in a civil manner. It's an important issue, and I would like to see what everyone can bring to the table.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 19, 2020
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  7. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Smooth like butter Contributor

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    Yes, this always made me a bit nervous. In my genre fiction classes in college, my professor would put together monthly panels of guest in different genres to talk to us about the genre and answer questions. I paid the most attention to the SF guest because I liked SF and always thought of myself as a SF writer. She was very intimidating. She is a scientist who works for NASA and told us that she hates reading what people classify as "science fiction" because they get the whole "science" part wrong. She says she is now a consultant for science fiction writers to get the "science" right because, why would it be called "science fiction" if t didnt stick to the science.

    It still bugs me because, like the OP, I now dont know what genre I fall in to.

    Also, would "space opera" be in the realm of "soft" science fiction i wonder? or is that a different thing all together?

    Side note, in bookstores (and in most libraries), they combine the genre of science fiction and fantasy by simply labelling it as "SF/Fantasy"
     
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  8. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    It seems like some hard sci-fi authors and fans tend to think it's the only kind of sci-fi and they're very disdainful of softer sci-fi and don't like to admit it into the temple. As far as I'm concerned, yes, I would consider space opera to be a soft form of science fiction.

    When I mentioned Star Trek above as science fantasy or sci-fi fantasy, I did so because it never relied on hard science. In fact, in the scripts, whenever they got to any technical talk they would just write Techno-Babble in parentheses and leave it for somebody else to come up with words like Warp Drive and Photon Torpedoes etc. I guess that makes it more soft sci-fi than science fantasy. I just came up with that on the spot and looking at it now I think I was wrong about it being part fantasy. At times I think it was—sometimes there were more magical or fantastical elements, but it was a big show and covered a lot of ground. Overall I guess I'd call it science fiction of the softer, space opera variety with occasional fantasy elements thrown in.
     
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  9. Thomas Larmore

    Thomas Larmore Active Member

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    The stuff I write would probably be called science fiction because there's starships, clones, cyborgs, robots, FTL travel through wormholes, and all the rest but I would also say that there's a good v. evil aspect to it and fantastic elements that would make it a fantasy.
     
  10. Le Panda Du Mal

    Le Panda Du Mal Active Member

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    "Hard SF" was always a subgenre and never the entirety of science fiction. Apart from that SF naturally overlaps with fantasy as its business is imagining a world different from this one, however slightly. Oftentimes SF technology just plays a similar role to magic in fantasy settings, which allows the author to imagine how this technology would affect (or reflect) human behaviors. For instance, does Alfred Bester even attempt to give a scientifically defensible explanation for "jaunting" in The Stars My Destination? Does it really matter whether Philip K Dick's Can-D and Perky Pat layouts are medically possible?
     

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