1. Bolu Kai

    Bolu Kai Member

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    What would you like to see in science fiction?

    Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by Bolu Kai, Sep 3, 2017.

    I think every genre has an opportunity to do this, but I always enjoy seeing writers explore the human condition in science fiction through potential scenarios. I am personally tired of seeing the same elements in science fiction. Moreover, there seems to be a unanimous movement to recycle the various elements of science fiction. For instance, how often do we see cryo-stasis/cryogenics used for deep space exploration or to colonize a distant solar system? Or how often has artificial intelligence evolved to a point where they are driven by emotion? I want to know what elements of science fiction you think writers should be exploring. I mean anything from character types, race, story, technology, and so on. In short, in 2017, what should science fiction be about? Your comments can be related to soft or hard science fiction.


    THANKS IN ADVANCE! :superhello:
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2017
  2. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It's hard for me to answer your question because I feel like there's a fundamental conflation of {the props of Science Fiction} with {things I would like to see explored in Science Fiction}.

    Those are two different things to me, the former being the tool to investigate the latter.

    The thing that Science Fiction allows as a genre is a particular kind of absurdity or extrusion of the Human Condition that allows us to focus on abstract concepts in a way that would be more difficult (but not necessarily impossible) in other genres.

    Good Science Fiction - for me - is Science Fiction that remembers that the props are only tools; they are not the central thing under consideration.
    • Octavia Butler's Dawn, Imago, and Adulthood Rights, explore the question of what kind of creature is a human being, fundamentally, and what does this inform us about the problems of being a Human Being amongst other Human Beings, why do we keep fucking up in the same ways when we are perfectly aware that we are fucking up. What is the underlying drive of that illogic?
    • In the film Her, an A.I. is used to explore the question of why are humans often so very, very bad at relationships.
    • In Samuel R. Delany's Stars in my Pocket like Grains of Sand, we are asked to ponder how words shape thoughts as much as thoughts shape words, and can our grasp of others really be separate and autonomous from the way we chose to engage them and the words we call them. Is a person a person because of the shape they have or their biological lineage, or is a person a person because we've been taught to call him/her/other a person from the start?
    _______________________________

    I don't care what props are used. Cryostasis/no cryostatis, A.I./no A.I., xenomorph/no xenomorph. I mean, just look at the last Alien film that was released. Proof positive that all the props in the world can be there (several different flavors of alien, kick-ass ships, A.I. androids) and the story can still be an empty, hollow, meaningless waste of celluloid/pages that will be forgotten as soon as you leave the theatre/close the book because it has no fundamental, underlying question of any importance or intrigue or interest. For me, your 2017 Science Fiction story should start with a fundamental question about the Human Condition that you wish to explore. The question should serve as the scaffolding for everything else. Everything else should be used to ask that question, whatever that question may be.
     
  3. Bolu Kai

    Bolu Kai Member

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    @Wreybies

    I really enjoyed reading your response, but I don't know if I agree with your statement regarding fundamental conflation between props and things explored. I think you can write a story that explores a prop. The story doesn't need to be about that prop, but you could still explore it. Moreover, you can pick whatever human condition you want to and still explore a prop that is unrelated to the human condition. The first thing that comes to mind is the marriage between origami and engineering (i.e. engineers have used origami to develop new ways to fold structures). You could easily incorporate new props into science fiction that aren't related to props commonly used (e.g. cryogenics or artificial intelligence). You could also explore those commonly used "props" and subvert them thus changing them. Going off your conflation statement: If I wanted to explore origami when applied to structures, I could do that. I feel like your statement about props and things explored is focused more on how props and exploring the human condition are linked.

    You answered my question in a roundabout way and there's nothing wrong with that. I wasn't really asking what good science fiction is, or for a lesson on the difference between props and things explored. My initial question has no guidance; it is very ambiguous because "good" is subjective. I understand that, which is why I never once asked what good science fiction is. I wasn't asking for an answer specifically about the human condition or props. Your last paragraph would have been sufficient. I literally just wanted an answer that stated what people would like to see writers incorporate into/explore in science fiction stories. It could be as ridiculous as an alien with phones for hands and that uses the dial-up sound to communicate. I stated what I liked and dislike above. I think that my personal preferences may have influenced your answer.

    I appreciate the time and effort you took to respond though! A good discussion for sure but for a different thread :p

     
  4. Gadock

    Gadock Active Member

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    In my opinion what's being asked here is what makes the props better. Having a really great story with bad props doesn't make it a bad story, however having nice quirky props enriches the story.



    So what do I like in science fiction? Well, let me start with what I find most frustrating.
    • When existing theories get used, but are completely butchered to make it fit in the story. Physics are completely/partially discarded, destroying the plausibility of the story ever happening.
    When you're within the realm of the unknown things can often get quite tricky. Forexample; when you enter a blackhole we have not even got the slightest clue what could happen. When authors play around making it a portal to a different universe I'm not really bothered even though it's quite unlikely something like that would happen. As long as the things that are known are accurate, like make the journey towards accurate and I'm already happy. (In order to survive massive gravity forces you'll have to travel extremely fast)

    I'm fine with cliche's as long they're not the main focus. I personally like technical stuff, with explanation, and world building in general. So yeah, too vague?
     
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  5. Mouthwash

    Mouthwash Senior Member

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    More schemes by greater-than-human intelligences, like those in Understand and the Firefall novels. Nothing gets me higher.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2017
  6. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll I said I write, didn't say good. :P Supporter Contributor

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    Less laser based weapons, they are so over done as a cliche.

    When did aliens of any type become 'props'?
     
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  7. zoupskim

    zoupskim Contributor Contributor

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    I'd really just like to see some speculation about what day-to-day urban life would be like in the future, given current tech trends, civic development, and psychology. I've lived long enough to personally shift from riding the bike to Gamestop to buy games, and enjoy people's company, and look at magazines, to literally doing all of that through my phone, at work. I use a little computer in my hand to research, review, and purchase all my entertainment, then at the end of the day I go home to my slightly larger computer screen, drink some alcohol to mellow out, and then play.

    I'm literally a cyborg, using chemicals to sharpen my pleasure response; that's literally cyberpunk, and it's just everyone's life now.

    I want science fiction that combines all we know about modern life and technology, and shows us the future of normal life: Just a really well-developed setting, with a world I can feel and smell and really be in awe of, with regular characters... just... living, you know?
     
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  8. Bolu Kai

    Bolu Kai Member

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    Yeah, makes perfect sense! It seems like you enjoy the hard science fiction more than soft science fiction. There's nothing wrong with that; everyone has their own preference. I appreciate your input. I feel like a lot of people these days tend to lean towards the less technical fiction, at least the people I talk to. I can see your frustration with butchered theories. It doesn't make any sense to alter an already-established theory just to fit into a story.
     
  9. Maximum7

    Maximum7 Member

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    I want to see something that hasn't been done before. Something new
     
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  10. Bolu Kai

    Bolu Kai Member

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    :supergrin::supergrin::supergrin::supergrin:
     
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  11. Gadock

    Gadock Active Member

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    I think that's actually rather difficult. Any idea I've ever had I found back partially or entirely in other people's work. "Good artist borrow, great artist steal." Is something I eventually started to agree with.
     
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  12. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    More explicit challenges to the traditional narrative that "Group X and Group Y must kill each other because one is X and the other is Y."

    Like Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Most of the apes didn't want a war with the humans (but one of them did), most of the humans didn't want a war with the apes (but one of them did), but they all-but destroyed each other anyway because
    • The ape who wanted war made the apes think "all humans want war against apes" and rallied the apes to attack the humans
    • The humans became convinced "all apes want war against humans" and rallied to kill them all
    I want more of this: stories where the tribalistic "Us versus Them, kill them all" worldview itself is portrayed as the villain.

    Or Pocahantus, from the non-SFF side. John Smith was a vicious liar and the movie draws far more from his lies than from the truth, but even in between his lies, the movie still manages to portray this truth on top of everything else:



    The true conflict was not "Natives versus Colonists," the true conflict was "Natives and Colonists who want death and destruction versus Natives and Colonists who do not"

    I'd say there's nothing new under the Sun, but the Bible beat me to it by a few thousand years :p
     
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  13. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    So true and it's as frustrating as hell.

    I've come up with what I consider some great original concepts, genuinely without any (conscious) influence, only to discover when I start digging for inspiration, that the exact same idea already exists in film/book. I've tossed some of the ideas onto the forum, only to have someone reply, "This sounds exactly like Logan's Run/Blade Runner/Soylent Green". Of course then you feel like a phoney when you try to claim the idea came from your own head.

    My current WiP borrows a lot from Total Recall/We Can Remember It For You Wholesale, but again neither of those things were consciously in my head. I hadn't got much further than the basic premise of a story when it occurred to me, but despite my heart sinking I told myself to carry on and just do the best I can to make it my own.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2020
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  14. Megs33

    Megs33 Active Member

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    i told my brother about the original version of my MC, and he got really quiet before saying "You know you just described the lead character in Divergent, right?" Dah.

    maybe it's not originality as a function of the content, but the angle we view it from. different perspectives, different situations, same nuts and bolts. The Hunger Games is the same dystopian future, the same political unrest, but presented from the angle of the citizen-made-heroine via reality TV gone wrong.
     
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  15. Gadock

    Gadock Active Member

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    Continue as originally planned, if you know you haven't stolen it and that matters to you than that's all that does matter. People steal and people will tell you you've stolen, but it sinply doesn't matter. Whenever you are accused, don't try to defend yourself since the accuser knows you cant proof it. Heck, Shakespeare has stolen scenes and plot lines and no one cares.

    I entirely agree here and it's something I do really love. Imo it's really achieved when people discuss morals of a character viewing their own side. I'm not a big fan of game of thrones but there they've really achieved that.
     
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  16. Wolf Daemon

    Wolf Daemon Active Member

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    Well what makes any story good? I believe great stories have an underlying thought/view point/question that they are trying to get across whilst you are entertained by them. What sets great science fiction apart is simply the use of (as earlier stated) props that we don't have in other genres.

    As for what 'I' would like to see in science fiction more is simply more "grungy" science fiction in a way. Stories where we have this advanced technology but it feels more realistic due to it not always working or obvious problems and those technological advancements not fixing all our problems. Like we didn't always have telephones and cellphones but now that we do it seems like there is always some problem with it (no bars, no wifi, etc) so it makes more sense to me to have this technology that whilst elegant and amazing to the viewers is still a pain in the ass to the characters as something like a cellphone with a low battery is to us. I guess that is the best way for me to put it.

    To put it simply; Science fiction with amazing technological advancements like space travel that are still realistic in the fact that they have their flaws like our current and past technologies had in their day and age.
     
  17. Wolf Daemon

    Wolf Daemon Active Member

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    Aliens have always been props used to represent racism and the like in a more safe way.
     

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