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Off-World Discussion Forum

Forum for science fiction related material not listed in Movies Galleria or Upcoming Movies ONLY. If you want to chit-chat, please visit the Pilot's Mess.

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Old May 28, 2004, 03:08 PM   #1
mack
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Question An Inquiry Into "Science Fiction" and its Incidents

I think this is a subject that comes up quite a bit in Sciflicks, and is very much hinged on subjective thoughts. Nevertheless, I think that it might be a good discussion topic, and the ideas/gray areas can certainly stand to be fleshed out in a public forum.

While examples may be good, as much as possible, please endeavor to keep the discussion to the esoterical and not decline into specific people-bashing.

1. What is definable as science fiction per se? for the purposes of sciflicks.com? Please give examples if possible.

2. To what degree is the fantasy genre or do fantastical ideas qualify as science fiction for the purposes of Offworld discussion? Please give examples, if possible.

3. To what degree do games qualify as science fiction for Offworld discussion? Please give examples, if possible.

Finally: I placed this thread here in Offworld, because I think it is a discussion regarding science fiction. However, if a moderator feels that it is better placed in the Mess, please PM me, and I will move it there.
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Old May 29, 2004, 09:01 PM   #2
Autechre
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Re: An Inquiry Into "Science Fiction" and its Incidents

1. fiction, with a bit of science

2. about 45

3. anythings possible
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Old Jun 2, 2004, 10:30 AM   #3
Jove
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Re: An Inquiry Into "Science Fiction" and its Incidents

Quote:
Originally posted by mack
1. What is definable as science fiction per se? for the purposes of sciflicks.com? Please give examples if possible.


2. To what degree is the fantasy genre or do fantastical ideas qualify as science fiction for the purposes of Offworld discussion? Please give examples, if possible.


3. To what degree do games qualify as science fiction for Offworld discussion? Please give examples, if possible.
1. Science Ficition is just that - fictional science - fictional either because it is unproven or because it is impossible.
For the purposes of sciflicks.com, it must be movie-based references to be valide for the main threads, and be any reference at all for off-world.
For example, The Time Machine film is SF because it involves the concept of time travel - a fictional science. It can be discussed in the main film threads - as can the book in as much as it is being compared to the film.
A SF book, such as, say, David Feintuch's "Prisoner's Hope", is valid for OffWorld but not the main film threads.

2. Fantasy could be defined as "unprobable" or "unrealistic" fiction. It is thus not necessarily SF.
For example, "Lord of the Rings" is not SF - but Fantasy.
You could argue that the existence of MAGIC is a fictional science, I suppose, and I guess the borders do merge into confusion somewhat.
However, if "LotR" portrayed magic, for example, as some form of intricate science hidden from the masses but used by "wizards" then this would move LotR firmly into SF - and still remain fantasy.

Star Wars is undoubtedly SF - but I would also say it is a fantasy.
2001 is undoubtedly SF - but not fantasy.
LotR is fantasy - but not SF.
Being John Malkovich is clearly fantasy but not SF.
Brazil is clearly fantasy as well - but also SF.

So, IMO, SF is clearly related to the science used (barring the conventions of film-making - such as cars that explode when shot etc), and fantasy is more about the creativity and imagination of ideas. A subject could be both, one, or neither.

3. Games are just another medium - as is TV, book, radio etc and a perfectly legitimate source for Off-World discussion.
So, would "Mario Karts" qualify for Off-World? No. There is no real fictional science. It is definitely fantasy (seeing little animals race round in cars etc) but not SF.
Would Half-Life qualify - of course.

Hope this helps. They are of course just my own opinions and not the rubric of this web-site. They may have set definitions.
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Old Jun 4, 2004, 12:50 AM   #4
mack
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Re: Re: An Inquiry Into "Science Fiction" and its Incidents

Quote:
Originally posted by Jove
2. Fantasy could be defined as "unprobable" or "unrealistic" fiction. It is thus not necessarily SF.

You could argue that the existence of MAGIC is a fictional science, I suppose, and I guess the borders do merge into confusion somewhat.

Interesting point. And a very nice distinction, I must say. To the extent that the fantastical is justified by "science" in the movie/book/game portrayal, it is firmly scifi?

I think Steven King's movie Rose Red dealt somewhat with this issue. The female scientist at the university was actually a quack---she was in the new Paranormal Division of the science department. As such, she was treated with ridicule by her colleagues, and was the resident quack. Ok. Fine. It is quacky in RL (I think so, anyway--as I abhor witchcraft!), but I do also think that these themes are really gaining steam in RL, what with the reemergence of witchcraft, and its seeming acceptance in society thus far.

I honestly believe that as society more and more accepts witchcraft as a viable religion, it will be studied, and attempts will be made to merge it into a science.

You also have the emergence of popluar literature that deals with this theme. For example, Laurell K. Hamilton's breakthrough books in the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series also dealt with the idea that necromancy, vampirism, witchcraft, etc. were sciences, and were accepted as such. The idea does beg the question that such things exist---the existence of such creatures alone is a fantastical idea.

And I could go on and on naming books and movies about the trend toward the acceptance of the paranormal as science: The Dead Zone tv show, the paranormal quack talk shows about talking to dead people, etc. But why further oppress you with more words?

Anyway, consider even the Blade movies versus Underworld: in Underworld, the scriptwriter clearly delineates the scientific from the mystic---he set up the script to create Vamps from a viral infection. Clearly scientific. As opposed to Blade, which has a similar type of basic vamp storyline, but posits the creation of its creatures clearly in Mysticism and fantasy.

In sum, I agree.
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Old Jun 4, 2004, 05:04 AM   #5
Jove
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Re: An Inquiry Into "Science Fiction" and its Incidents

The main obvious difference between Fantasy and Sci-Fi is the use of magic.
In Sci-fi there is no magic - it is all technology, although may have the appearance of magic to those that know no better.
In Fantasy the magic is unexplained and just accepted. There may be reasons for its existence but these are usually unscientific.

And then there's Arthur C. Clarke's well known pradigm: "The difference between magic and technology is that one works"
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Old Jun 4, 2004, 06:33 PM   #6
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Re: An Inquiry Into "Science Fiction" and its Incidents

Quote:
Originally posted by Jove
Arthur C. Clarke's well known pradigm: "The difference between magic and technology is that one works"

I feel a new sig coming on. . .
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Old Jun 7, 2004, 03:11 PM   #7
merlin
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Re: An Inquiry Into "Science Fiction" and its Incidents

Quote:
: "The difference between magic and technology is that one works"


Nothing wrong with my magic
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Old Jul 2, 2004, 08:51 PM   #8
mack
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Re: An Inquiry Into "Science Fiction" and its Incidents

http://www.uweb.ucsb.edu/~jjones/whatisfantasy.htm

Definitions:

What is the difference between science fiction and fantasy? In the most basic terms, science fiction can be defined as what could happen and fantasy as what could not. Sci-fi is traditionally characterized by advanced technology, experiences with alien beings, and explorations of new planets, while fantasy tends to revolve more around magic and quests being an extension of the fairy tale genre. Science fiction pushes your imagination to the limit, but fantasy goes far beyond that. Hybrid texts combine aspects of both genres to create plausible fiction where anything is possible.


Fantasy:

Max. Fantasy is crawling through incredible worlds, riding a dragon, a magic sword by my side, cruel, horrible monsters flying around a mushroom ring.

Smith. Fantasy is a powerful aspect of the imagination” – not one that is less significant than other parts, but itself an important way of imagining the world.

Manlove. [Fantasy is] a fiction evoking wonder and containing a substantial and irreducible element of the supernatural with which the mortal characters in the story or the readers become on at least partly familiar terms.

Science Fiction:

Isaac Asimov. Modern science fiction is the only form of literature that consistently considers the nature of the changes that face us, the possible consequences, and the possible solutions. That branch of literature which is concerned with the impact of scientific advance upon human beings. (1952)

James O. Bailey. The touchstone for scientific fiction, then, is that it describes an imaginary invention or discovery in the natural sciences. The most serious pieces of this fiction arise from speculation about what may happen if science makes an extraordinary discovery. The romance is an attempt to anticipate this discovery and its impact upon society, and to foresee how mankind may adjust to the new condition. Pilgrims Through Space and Time (New York, 1947)

Darko Suvin. It [science fiction] should be defined as a fictional tale determined by the hegemonic literary device of a locus and/or dramatis personae that (1) are radically or at least significantly different from empirical times, places, and characters of "mimetic" or "naturalist" fiction, but (2) are nonetheless--to the extent that SF differs from other "fantastic" genres, that is, ensembles of fictional tales without empirical validation--simultaneously perceived as not impossible within the cognitive (cosmological and anthropological) norms of the author's epoch. Preface, Metamorphoses Of Science Fiction, (Yale University Press, New Haven, 1979)

Frank Herbert. Science fiction represents the modern heresy and the cutting edge of speculative imagination as it grapples with Mysterious Time---linear or non-linear time. Our motto is Nothing Secret, Nothing Sacred.

Robert A. Heinlein. A handy short definition of almost all science fiction might read: realistic speculation about possible future events, based solidly on adequate knowledge of the real world, past and present, and on a thorough understanding of the nature and significance of the scientific method. To make this definition cover all science fiction (instead of "almost all") it is necessary only to strike out the word "future." Science Fiction: its nature, faults and virtues, in The Science Fiction Novel, Advent, Chicago:1969

Hybrids:

Science Fiction: how the world one day can look. Technology plays an important part. Fantasy takes place in an alternative world, often in an era that has similarities to the Middle Ages where magic often is an important ingredient and technology seldom is very far developed.

Robert A. Heinlein. Science Fiction is speculative fiction in which the author takes as his first postulate the real world as we know it, including all established facts and natural laws. The result can be extremely fantastic in content, but it is not fantasy; it is legitimate--and often very tightly reasoned--speculation about the possibilities of the real world. This category excludes rocket ships that make U-turns, serpent men of Neptune that lust after human maidens, and stories by authors who flunked their Boy Scout merit badge tests in descriptive astronomy. Ray Guns And Spaceships, in Expanded Universe, Ace, 1981

Donald A. Wolleheim. Science fiction is that branch of fantasy, which, while not true to present-day knowledge, is rendered plausible by the reader's recognition of the scientific possibilities of it being possible at some future date or at some uncertain point in the past. "The Universe Makers"

Paul Brians. [Science Fiction is:] a subdivision of fantastic literature which employs science or rationalism to create an appearance of plausibility Posted to the mailing list SF-LIT, May 16, 1996

Sam Moskowitz. Science fiction is a branch of fantasy identifiable by the fact that it eases the "willing suspension of disbelief" on the part of its readers by utilizing an atmosphere of scientific credibility for its imaginative speculations in physical science, space, time, social science, and philosophy.
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Old Jul 2, 2004, 08:59 PM   #9
mack
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Re: An Inquiry Into "Science Fiction" and its Incidents

http://www.sff.net/people/lwe/miscel...les/VERSUS.HTM

Scientific Magic?
by Lawrence Watt-Evans


What do I see as the definitive difference?

The SF purists will want to lynch me for this, but the fact is, there IS no definitive difference.

I have written both -- shucks, I've won awards for both. And I've written articles on the difference before -- ''Watt-Evans' Laws of Fantasy'' was published in Starlog years ago, and gave my definitions of the two genres.

Basically, the difference is that in fantasy, you write about things you believe to be impossible, while in SF you write about stuff that hasn't been disproved. Everything else is window-dressing.

Thing is, one person's SF is another person's fantasy. Is time travel possible? Faster-than-light travel? Parallel worlds? Psi powers? Nanotechnology?

Sometimes you have a story that's clearly one or the other -- nobody seriously contends that The Lord of the Rings is science fiction, or that A Fall of Moondust is fantasy. And maybe once upon a time, it was pretty easy to classify most stories.

SF has managed to lay claim to large chunks of it, more out of tradition than anything else -- and because of the trappings, the window-dressing. In SF, if you present something that looks like magic, you have to give a rationale; in fantasy, you can just go ahead and call it magic.

Often the real difference between the two, whether the SF folks want to admit it or not, is whether the author bothers to make up a rationale.

You have a world dominated by wizards living in castles, who battle each other by casting lightnings about -- it's fantasy.

But say it's a planet of another star, and the lightnings are high-energy particle beams, and all of a sudden it's SF.

Your hero rides a dragon -- it's fantasy.

The dragon's the result of careful gene-splicing -- it's SF.

Me, I like to play in that gray area, . . . I'm perfectly willing to play around with myth and magic if it'll make a better story.

And I love writing science-fantasy.

SF, fantasy -- who cares? I love 'em both.
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Old Jul 2, 2004, 09:03 PM   #10
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Re: An Inquiry Into "Science Fiction" and its Incidents

http://global.cscc.edu/engl/240/TypesSciFiLex.htm

another great link which explores and explains:

Fantasy Science Fiction
The Space Opera
Hard Science Fiction
Speculative Hard Science Fiction
Soft Science Fiction
Speculative Soft Science Fiction
Mystery and Horror Science Fiction
Comic Science Fiction
Robots and Science Fiction
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Old Jul 2, 2004, 09:15 PM   #11
mack
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Talking SCANDAL! Isaac Asimov ADMITTED?

Science Fiction Weekly: Letters to the Editor

Science Fiction Isn't About Science
---Chuck Rothman

I read Thos. M. Jolly's letter with some amusement. His idea of some sort of "pure" science fiction with a hard scientific basis is a complete misreading of the genre. Science fiction is no more about actual science than Victorian fiction is actually about Queen Victoria.

Even the books he puts forth as paragons of real scientific speculation are not "scientific." The robots in I, Robot have positronic brains--in other words, they are made up of antimatter. Asimov himself cheerfully admitted that the explanation didn't stand up to any sort of real scrutiny; it was just a word he had chosen. And the Ringworld is unstable; another scientific impossibility (not to mention the idea of luck being an inherited trait).

Science fiction has always been a form of fantasy. The "scientific" part of it is just a conceit. If you're only interested in scientific plausibility, you won't find it in SF--and never would have.


SF Isn't About Technology
---Matt Frey

I propose that good SF is not about technology itself but rather about the impact of technological advancement on human beings and their society. Concepts like warp drives and self-aware machines provide writers with literary devices that allow them to examine our species from new and different angles. The focus of Asimov's robot novels, for example, is not on the details of how robots function but rather on the philosophical and social implications of machine intelligence.


And if the "science" in SF must be correct, where does that put two of the greatest science fiction works of all time, H.G. Wells' The Time Machine and The Invisible Man? Both of these works are based on premises that any serious scientist will tell you are totally invalid. Does this make them fantasy? The reason these books are classics is not because of the accuracy of their scientific speculation, but rather because of the way they use that speculation as a springboard to new insights into the human condition.

Last edited by mack : Jul 2, 2004 at 09:21 PM.
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Old Jul 3, 2004, 12:38 PM   #12
Clay
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Re: An Inquiry Into "Science Fiction" and its Incidents

To me....... science fiction is broad spectrum of things but what comes to mind most is.......

time travel
the future
cyber anything
mechanical things/people (robots)
obscure medical/genetic
and my least favorite space flicks
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Old Jul 3, 2004, 07:35 PM   #13
mack
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Re: An Inquiry Into "Science Fiction" and its Incidents

A few defining trends that Ive seemed to notice from the publishing houses are

1) SF used to be a strict technological genre, and over time, it has evolved to incorporate Fantasy. This change is heralded by some and seen as the harbringer of the the "End of SF as we know it" to others. *shrugs*

What I find interesting, is that it all often seems to come down to the writer----As one of the guys I quoted above so candidly pointed out, some of the writers floated their SF manuscripts under Fanstasy, simply because it would get published faster due to less of a backlog. I suppose this sort of underhanded manuevering could have helped topple the Fantasy genre into the SF field. I mean, lets face it: Fantasy is the bastard child of literature. And now, it has come into its own, albeit with help from SF! I find the lines awfully blurry.

I do so love gray areas.
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Old Jul 10, 2004, 06:55 AM   #14
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Re: An Inquiry Into "Science Fiction" and its Incidents

Whats the deadline for this assignment?

I shall be posting my answers in due course
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Old Jul 10, 2004, 08:03 AM   #15
mack
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Re: An Inquiry Into "Science Fiction" and its Incidents

Quote:
Originally posted by pilgrimine
Whats the deadline for this assignment?

*walks down desks to Pilgrimine's row, tapping ruler against hand*

Young lady, just because youve been on hiatus doesnt mean youre allowed to scrimp on your homework!



Quote:
I shall be posting my answers in due course

see that you do!
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