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Madeleine
September 13th, 2004, 01:52 AM
To me, SF is anything where currently impossible things happen and the explanation is a scientific one. Asimovs thinking and feeling robots are no different from Pinocchio in some respects - but one is explained with an Enchantment, the other with Positrons.

Fantasy is anything where the impossible happens and Magic or some similar thing is how it happens.

Is that a reasonable definition? Agree, disagree? Is there an 'Official' definition?

~~~~~~

Some people are very picky about what is SF and what isn't. I've heard it said by some afficionados that Stargate isn't 'proper' SF cos its science is so flawed and it relies on too many fantasy staples. Ditto Star Wars. I don't feel that way myself, but I'd be interested if anyone here feels that.

Then when Star Wars is mentioned it brings to mind the fact that the creator of the franchise himself doesn't consider it SF. It's a 'fairy tale set in space'. Oh. Likewise people like Margaret Atwood, a 'proper' author, will claim that she doesn't write SF, she writes "Speculative Fiction". Right. Is this snobbery, or have I put the boundaries of what is and isn't SF in the wrong place?

Mio
September 13th, 2004, 03:14 AM
I agree. If it uses science to explain something, It's Sci-Fi.

Whitster
September 13th, 2004, 05:12 AM
I agree. If it uses science to explain something, It's Sci-Fi.
Which is exactly why i didn't see Firefly as a sci-fi.

Madeleine
September 13th, 2004, 05:27 AM
Okay, in another thread you typed

<<Because the plots never seemed to focus around any sort of science, just the crews missions and relationships, sorry if I expect science fiction to feature some fiction involving science, I just found it more of a drama/soap. Also what was with the lack of aliens?>>

So basically if the plot revolves around something other than science it isn't SF? Most SF shows or books are either drama/soap in space, detective story in space, horror in space, futuristic mystery - there's no such thing as SF that doesn't draw from other genres too. It may be SF diluted with other stuff, but it's still SF, isn't it? What about the one where blue-gloved weirdies walked around a hospital doing something SFish that killed people, in order to capture a SFishly 'altered' girl with some sort of rather SFish prescience? would that be SF, or does it count as Not SF due to the lack of sciencey stuff in other eps? I'm really trying to understand.

What's with the lack of aliens? Okay, I'm not going to try arguing that there's even the possibility of us being alone in the universe, cos the people who disagree include a lot of vociferous and very bad mannered folk ;). But there's certainly the possibility of us being alone in the *galaxy*, especially in this little corner of the galaxy. I think it extremely original of Firefly not to fall back on the staple of Aliens, who are invariably not particularly alien at all anyway (B5's Shadows are a rare honourable exception). Lack of Aliens didn't stop Asimov's Foundation series becoming popular.

Slainey
September 13th, 2004, 05:54 AM
I think of SF as a speculative future and Fantasy as a spectulative past. For SF I think the social ramifcations of technology are an essential part. Whether in illustrating how an entire society reacts or just a couple of people.

Trying to identify the basic definition of a genre is a useful acedemic exercise but my favorite books and stores are the ones that cross over.

keshou
September 13th, 2004, 05:55 AM
I certainly thought of Firefly as science fiction - but I generally think of most shows set in the future, in space, as science fiction. I've heard people praise Firefly for some of its accurate scientific concepts - i.e. can't hear an explosion in space, etc.

Stargate is a little different in that it's set in present-day and yet explores classic science fiction elements. Aliens, other planets, wormholes, alternate realities, space travel, etc. I think it has elements of both science fiction and a little fantasy at times.

Here's an interesting link that has definitions of science fiction from some well-known authors, etc.
http://www.panix.com/~gokce/sf_defn.html

I rather like these two -

John W. Campbell, Jr. - The major distinction between fantasy and science fiction is, simply, that science fiction uses one, or a very, very few new postulates, and develops the rigidly consistent logical consequences of these limited postulates. Fantasy makes its rules as it goes along...The basic nature of fantasy is "The only rule is, make up a new rule any time you need one!" The basic rule of science fiction is "Set up a basic proposition--then develop its consistent, logical consequences."
Introduction, Analog 6, Garden City, New York, 1966Top

Terry Carr - Science Fiction is literature about the future, telling stories of the marvels we hope to see--or for our descendants to see--tomorrow, in the next century, or in the limitless duration of time.
Introduction, Dream's Edge, Sierre Club Books, San Fransisco, 1980

ibwolf
September 13th, 2004, 06:06 AM
Which is exactly why i didn't see Firefly as a sci-fi.
When you get right down to not even Stargate, Star Trek or even Babylon 5 is actually a Science Fiction series in the 'hard' sense.

Hard science fiction requires that you do not contradict anything in established science. You extrapolate based on it, sometimes maybe making some assumptions we hold today be false, but you do not go against any established fact (i.e. some phenomena that has been confirmed via multiple experiments). The truth is that every SciFi show that has ever aired on TV has made at least some comprimises. Sometimes it's a matter of ignoring things which would just bog the story down (everyone speaks english on Stargate), sometimes it's just the writers being lazy. Sometimes (like with Farscape and Firefly) the science isn't at the heart of the series.

Is it really any better to be inundated with technobabble? Is that what makes a series 'SciFi'? Farscape and Firefly are both (generally) considered SciFi, if for no other reason than that they take place in space. Firefly is set in the future, Farscape has aliens. This is generally considered enough.

Of course they are also fantasy. Any science fiction that is not 'hard' SciFi is by definition also fantasy. The two are most certainly not mutually exclusive.

Slainey
September 13th, 2004, 06:16 AM
Thank you for the link Kes. I especially like Frederick Pohl's definition.

(It just occured to me that the "science" part of SF isn't in danger so much as a the "fiction" part. Hey, Sci-Fi Network - no more "reality" programing please.)

I don't need my definition of SF to denigate fantasy. The world is big enough for both. I find Campbell's definition above a little mean. A fantasy novel can have lots of internally logical and consistant rules.


edited to fix a spelling error so that it wouldn't turn into stars.

Tok'Ra Hostess
September 13th, 2004, 07:11 AM
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.

Asimov's definitions of SF are closest to my own; that's why, his writing style aside, I consider Asimov's books to be about the best SF ever written.

What many in the industry would stick in the SF bookshelves, I would place in the Historical Romance sections of a bookstore. Just because a story is set in the future, on a different planet or in an alien's skin doesn't automatically make it SF. Not to me, at any rate.





Then when Star Wars is mentioned it brings to mind the fact that the creator of the franchise himself doesn't consider it SF. It's a 'fairy tale set in space'. Oh. Likewise people like Margaret Atwood, a 'proper' author, will claim that she doesn't write SF, she writes "Speculative Fiction". Right. Is this snobbery, or have I put the boundaries of what is and isn't SF in the wrong place?

I have never been able to consider SW as SF. The whole midiclorian(sp?) thing, whether or not it was part of the original plot, always felt like a total cheat. There's no science, there.

I like Atwood's work but I don't really see much of a SF connection. I'd say Atwood writes Historical Romance, set in the future, so, speculative fiction.

Babylon 5 was(IMO) a SF/Historical Romance set in the future and involving aliens. Though there was very little technobabble,the science was there in solid, everyday form(the way humans created artificial gravity, the green spaces, the fact that JMS relied heavily on NASA consultants) and played too large a part for me to not consider it SF.

ibwolf
September 13th, 2004, 07:23 AM
Isaac Asimov:

Asimov's definitions of SF are closest to my own; that's why, his writing style aside, I consider Asimov's books to be about the best SF ever written.

What many in the industry would stick in the SF bookshelves, I would place in the Historical Romance sections of a bookstore. Just because a story is set in the future, on a different planet or in an alien's skin doesn't automatically make it SF. Not to me, at any rate.
Unfortunately the 'general public' (whatever that is) would disagree with you. And when it comes to labels (and that is what this is all about; labels) what is in general use is 'right' (whatever that means).

I too love the 'hard' SF books. Asimov in particular could be a delight. Yet if you read his books with a critical mind you realize that the science aside, most of his stories are quite weak. I don't mind because the science aspect carries the story.

Sadily such hard core science fiction is not likely to gain widespread appeal. Much as that saddens me. We are generally lucky is some element of it manages to come through. Usually though it is the social sciences that have the most luck in those matters. Star Trek is full of interesting (and of course not so interesting) stories that examine the rammifications of certain social aspects. Physics tend to degenerate into technobabble.




I have never been able to consider SW as SF. The whole midiclorian(sp?) thing, whether or not it was part of the original plot, always felt like a total cheat. There's no science, there.

I like Atwood's work but I don't really see much of a SF connection. I'd say Atwood writes Historical Romance, set in the future, so, speculative fiction.

Babylon 5 was(IMO) a SF/Historical Romance set in the future and involving aliens. Though there was very little technobabble,the science was there in solid, everyday form(the way humans created artificial gravity, the green spaces, the fact that JMS relied heavily on NASA consultants) and played too large a part for me to not consider it SF.
And yet Babylon 5 had telepaths (there is no scientific basis for telepathy), it had beings with almost godlike powers, hyperspace, souls (maybe) and interspecies breeding !!! None of that would be considered 'hard' science.

Don't get me wrong. I LOVED Babylon 5. It is the best SF series yet (no disrespect to SG meant, but B5 is better). Yet it wasn't a hard science fiction show, despite all the hard work JMS put into getting it as right as possible.

Slainey
September 13th, 2004, 07:54 AM
What many in the industry would stick in the SF bookshelves, I would place in the Historical Romance sections of a bookstore. Just because a story is set in the future, on a different planet or in an alien's skin doesn't automatically make it SF. Not to me, at any rate.


So where would you put Stranger in a Strange Land. :)

Have you seen the historical romance section lately? They are really strict about what defines their genre. While they do occasionally have a story set in the future there's little variance in the plot. Yet this is the best selling genre in the world. Half of all mass market paperbacks are romances. Don't throw anything else in that market? lol

Jprime
September 13th, 2004, 01:08 PM
I personally think that Star Wars shouldn't be considered SF because science pays no significant part, it does not carry the story, nor act as a plot device, or anything.

Whitster
September 13th, 2004, 02:36 PM
I personally think that Star Wars shouldn't be considered SF because science pays no significant part, it does not carry the story, nor act as a plot device, or anything.

SW is a sci-fantasy, same with Farscape that people have been mentioning but whoever it was who said Farscape had no science involved obviously missed the whole wormhole research and theory and all the technobabble that went with it. The whole idea of a living ship is very sci-fi too. Infac tare you sure you've actually seen Farscape.

crazylinguist
September 13th, 2004, 02:53 PM
I personally think that Star Wars shouldn't be considered SF because science pays no significant part, it does not carry the story, nor act as a plot device, or anything.

Science plays NO part in Star wars??? What?? The technology in Star Wars is a big part of the movies. Just because they don't focus on it doesn't mean it plays no part. The ability to travel in space (thanks to science) has caused the whole chain of events that takes place in the movies.

If science doesn't carry the plot...why are we so concerned about the Death Star?? (It was certainly devised through science).

Lugal
September 13th, 2004, 03:00 PM
The general definition of Science Fiction (if you were to ask someone off the street) they would probably say anything set in the future, with aliens, ray guns, rockets, space etc. This is a catch-all term, which is why there are so many subdivisions: hard, soft, time-travel, sociological, planetary romance, and so on.

I personally consider science fiction as anything where science (whether real or imagined) is the explanation of how the universe works.

Fantasy would be anything where there is no explanaition at all, or it is explained as magic, gods, fate, etc or anything we don't understand.

Of course there can be a lot of overlap between scifi and fantasy, and there's a lot out there that's hard to classify, (which is some of my favorite stuff)

crazylinguist
September 13th, 2004, 03:10 PM
I took a class in school with the title 'Science fiction'. We read alot of short stories, not all of which contained 'classic' elements of science fiction. I tend to think alot of the stories were more 'speculative fiction'

Sci fi...hmm..there really are alot of grey areas in what is considered Sci fi and what isn't. I tend to think of it as anything where technology (that we don't have) plays a role. It could be classic space-operas...or even some of the stranger examples where aliens are used to explain past events. It has no time period.

fantasy is more of a magical genre. where explanations are left to faith, imagination, and whatnot...

Actually many of our classic 'sci fi' shows and books are a mix of both. (Use the force !) which is a good thing..but many times they tend to lean one way or another. The way they lean the furthest is usually the title in which they get classified.

Jprime
September 13th, 2004, 04:42 PM
SW is a sci-fantasy, same with Farscape that people have been mentioning but whoever it was who said Farscape had no science involved obviously missed the whole wormhole research and theory and all the technobabble that went with it. The whole idea of a living ship is very sci-fi too. Infac tare you sure you've actually seen Farscape.

I LOVED Farscape. Also, about science playing a significant role in SW, couldn't it just as easily have been made into a present day movie?

crazylinguist
September 13th, 2004, 04:51 PM
I LOVED Farscape. Also, about science playing a significant role in SW, couldn't it just as easily have been made into a present day movie?

Yes. I suppose it could have. It wouldn't have been the same...but yes. Though, you could do that for any movie if you moved things around a little. (tries to imagin SW in a modern day setting...hmm..hard to imagine...It would be interesting to see what someone would come up with though :) )

Jprime
September 13th, 2004, 05:02 PM
Well some things (maybe that odd show I see sometimes involving a massive wheel that teleports ppl) can't be turned non-sf without screwing it up (due to the part that science plays).

Tok'Ra Hostess
September 13th, 2004, 05:48 PM
[QUOTE=Slainey]So where would you put Stranger in a Strange Land. :)

Fair question. SIASL has been called a great work of SF and who am I to argue? Truth be told, I don't remember ever reading it, so I have to ask: Does it, to quote Asimov's definition of SF, "consider the nature of the changes that face us, the possible consequences, and the possible solutions?"


Have you seen the historical romance section lately? They are really strict about what defines their genre. While they do occasionally have a story set in the future there's little variance in the plot. Yet this is the best selling genre in the world. Half of all mass market paperbacks are romances. Don't throw anything else in that market? lol

<nods> Ain't it the truth:rolleyes: I just wish the SF genre would be so strict. I really do hate it when I find more fantasy than SF in the SF section of my local bookstore. :(

Same with all the so-called paranormal stuff on the Sci-Fi channels. HEY! Get yer own air space! :D

Manic
September 13th, 2004, 06:19 PM
If sci-fi is anything where science plays a role, then what do we call some of the James Bond movies? In fact, a lot of spy films use science as a basis for the story. Where does that leave them? We could easily classify them as action movies, but the Star Trek movies have quite a bit of action, also.

The simple truth is that anything you classify as "sci-fi" can easily be placed in any other category. Stargate is packed with action, adventure, suspense, and even some humor... yet we call it science-fiction.

What makes any story considered science-fiction above any other genre?

Tok'Ra Hostess
September 14th, 2004, 04:45 AM
What makes any story considered science-fiction above any other genre?

Just my opinion.

Since every fiction genre will contain healthy doses of romance, action, adventure, intrigue, etc, I'd say that for a story to be SF science has to play more than a bit part; it would have be more than a mere plot device or power tool(a la James Bond or Star Wars), wielded by the main characters, but rather, the science would drive the story.

Asimov's Foundation did this, I think. It took one scientific principle - the mathematical mass mechanics of huge populations to plot the future, and built an amazing history from there - one that resembles reality a little too closely, perhaps, but that, I think, was the point. Hari Seldon's psychohistory remained at the forefront throughout the series and drove the plot.

His Robot series did the same(IMO), examining morality and human nature through the lens of human scientific achievement.

The characters in movies like Blade Runner, Gattaca, Brazil, Tron, AI, Solyent Green, etc, don't use science, the science uses them; it shapes their culture, mindset and actions. That's why no matter how action packed or funny or romantic some of these movies might be, to my mind they are true SF.

ibwolf
September 14th, 2004, 04:53 AM
Just my opinion.

Since every fiction genre will contain healthy doses of romance, action, adventure, intrigue, etc, I'd say that for a story to be SF science has to play more than a bit part; it would have be more than a mere plot device or power tool(a la James Bond or Star Wars), wielded by the main characters, but rather, the science would drive the story.
So you are saying that space based super weapons and Death Stars don't qualify as anything more then 'plot devices'. (I'm not saying that it's particularly good SF)

By this definition not much is actually SF. Even the Stargate would be little more then a plot device.

Tok'Ra Hostess
September 14th, 2004, 05:22 AM
So you are saying that space based super weapons and Death Stars don't qualify as anything more then 'plot devices'. (I'm not saying that it's particularly good SF)

By this definition not much is actually SF. Even the Stargate would be little more then a plot device.

The pseudo-science in SW were power tools, IMO. Even the creator of the story would agree.

The actual story was never about how science brought that far away galaxy to the point where it was at, nor did science become the way in which that culture improved its situation. Therefore, IMO, as always :) , SW is not SF.

As to the Stargate, I disagree. Though it is by no means that grandest of SF genres, Hard SF, in Stargate the gate and science do drive the plot.

We have here a reality where aliens use basic/fantastic science principles in order to masquerade as gods and enslave entire populations. They are careful to not allow scientific advancement among these populations and wipe out any culture that tries to grow in that direction.

Along come the wolfling Tauri who use science - principles that they are familiar with, but also, a science that, for the moment, is beyond their grasp - to thwart the Goa'uld. Much of SG-1 successes and failures depend on whether or not they get the science right - whether it's archeology, physics or mechanics. The rest - action, romance, intrigue - are mere plot devices. (IMO ;) )

crazylinguist
September 14th, 2004, 08:05 AM
Okay found this online:
http://www.fictionfactor.com/articles/sfsubgenre.html

If you don't feel like looking at it. Basically it goes through all the sub genres of Science fiction.

Our little debate about SW can be resolved by puting it in the subgenre of science fiction called 'space opera' which is defined as such:

Tales of huge battles between good and evil, taking place on or around planets and stars. Almost a futuristic version of the old Western Horse Opera. Okay to use heaps of non-explained technology as long as there's some form of human element and good overcoming evil morality

Madeleine
September 14th, 2004, 12:15 PM
Okay, I like "Space Opera" as a term for a subgenre / sister genre of SF. I s'pose that could cover Firefly and Blake's Seven for starters.

KorbenDirewolf
September 24th, 2004, 11:26 AM
Speculative Fiction is a catch-all term which includes science fiction, fantasy, alternate history and most horror. The lines between the divisions do get blurred.

Pharaoh Atem
May 19th, 2006, 08:05 PM
-I'm dusting this off might be fun thing to discuss

CeeKay Sheppard
May 19th, 2006, 08:19 PM
I have heard science fiction defined as "a story in which some aspect of future science or technology plays such a critical role that, were the science or technology removed, the story collapses." (I believe that was written by Ben Bova in his book Space Travel, which is basically a how-to for writing convincing SF.) By this definition, Stargate and Star Trek are SF, and Star Wars is not.

Arthur C. Clark has this to say on the distinction between science fiction and fantasy: "Fantasy is something tha couldn't possibly happen, but you might want it to; science fiction is something that could happen, but you wouldn't necessarily want it to." (Maybe not a direct quote, but that's the idea.)

kmiller1610
May 19th, 2006, 10:49 PM
Excellent thread.

I have always felt that if you can imagine the science behind the fiction and it seems credible, then for you, it's science fiction. When it's magical to the point where you can't imagine the science behind it, it's fantasy.

MarshAngel
May 20th, 2006, 11:03 AM
I just wish the SF genre would be so strict. I really do hate it when I find more fantasy than SF in the SF section of my local bookstore. :(

Same with all the so-called paranormal stuff on the Sci-Fi channels. HEY! Get yer own air space! :D

I think this has less to do with the definition and more to do with the fact that hard science novels is a very very small section of scifi. If you were to limit the genre to only scifi that is grounded in hard scientific fact you'd wind up with a short list of books, series, and movies that couldn't justify a section or channel of their own. But since fans of one, tend to appreciate the other, it's much more expedient to group them together, particularly since they tend to cross elements.

This I think, is how the definition came to cover so many bases. At this point, you can't take the term literally since it has expanded to include so much. The "Science" part of Scifi really should be "speculative" but I just don't think the term has caught on quite yet.

Perhaps it's time Scifi got more sub-genres.

Ancient 1
May 21st, 2006, 12:25 PM
This was mine:
Plausible fantasy based on scientific principles.
Then I wanted to see what American Heritage had to say:
"Fiction in which the plot is based on speculative scientific discoveries..."

Trek_Girl42
May 21st, 2006, 10:48 PM
Arthur C. Clark has this to say on the distinction between science fiction and fantasy: "Fantasy is something tha couldn't possibly happen, but you might want it to; science fiction is something that could happen, but you wouldn't necessarily want it to." (Maybe not a direct quote, but that's the idea.)
That's a great quote- I don't entirly agree with all of it, but I think it's got the right idea.:)

warmbeachbrat
May 22nd, 2006, 08:44 AM
This has been an on-going discussion for a very long time now. I can remember when Weyr Search by Anne McCaffrey came out (well, ok--when her first Pern book, Dragonflight came out). After she turned that short story into a novel, she was adamant that it was science fiction, but many people regard her Pern books as fantasy.

I think part of the problem is trying to divide sci-fi/fantasy into two categories, when it is really more of a continuum. Science fiction is actually a subset of fantasy and ranges from fairly unbelievable science (Star Wars, perhaps) to hard Sci-Fi (Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov). So you have Science Fact, Science Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Science Fantasy, and so on.

kmiller1610
May 22nd, 2006, 02:19 PM
The need for some division is clearly shown in our current Sci Fi / Fantasy tournament. Science Fiction has always been a venue for projection into the future, imagining ourselves in a different world which has some solid basis in our own. Fantasy can be nearly any magical realm and is often disconnected from our reality. Looks Like Buffy the Vampire Slayer will take third place, beating out every Star Trek TV show, Babylon 5 and a lot of other good SciFi shows.

The point is not that Buffy is bad TV, but that it just has NO connection to the heart of Science Fiction. Many people who love Sci Fi as a defined entertainment really want their stuff to stay away from fantasy. Stargate's last season is a perfect example. Sorry, but the Ori are a fantasy baddie.....

Naonak
May 23rd, 2006, 08:37 AM
I remember reading an article about this in a magazine while back. It had a quote from a 'well-known and respected' TV person (they wouldn't give a name), saying that his new show wasn't sci-fi, but "an extrapolation of the future based upon current technology" - isn't that, like, pretty close to the definition of science fiction?!?

I just class sci-fi as anything with one or more of these: advanced technology, aliens, radioactive/genetic mutants/monsters, space travel, set in the future. Obviously the factor has to be a big part, e.g. I don't count Bond as sci-fi, even though it has fancy gizmos.

And Battlestar Galactica is sci-fi, no matter how much the critics who say it's good but hate sci-fi say otherwise.

kiyuchan
May 28th, 2006, 10:32 AM
Has anyone else read Orson Scott Card's "How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy"? He dedicates a whole chapter to this question. His last definition has always been helpful to me:

"...science fiction and fantasy stories are those that take place in worlds that have never existed or are not yet known."

That's the definition for both. However, he goes further and defines the difference between the two:

"...science fiction is about what could be but isn't; fantasy is about what couldn't be."

Exiled Master
May 29th, 2006, 09:10 PM
2001 Space Odyssey and Ghost in the Shell are rare. They are prophecies to an era that has not yet unfolded.
Stargate and Star Trek are medium. They inspire us to push the next boundary, go the extra mile. (see how William Shatner changed the world)
Star Wars is well done. While by not focused on science, it plunges deeper then this subject that too few will follow with enthusiam, to themes universal and stories epic.

Trek_Girl42
May 30th, 2006, 06:57 AM
Has anyone else read Orson Scott Card's "How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy"? He dedicates a whole chapter to this question. His last definition has always been helpful to me:

"...science fiction and fantasy stories are those that take place in worlds that have never existed or are not yet known."

That's the definition for both. However, he goes further and defines the difference between the two:

"...science fiction is about what could be but isn't; fantasy is about what couldn't be."
Those are great definitions- I just went to look up this book and found that my library doesn't have it! I'll have to look for it.

Toresica
May 31st, 2006, 01:12 PM
"...science fiction is about what could be but isn't; fantasy is about what couldn't be."
I've seen a similar quote somewhere else (don't remember it exactly):
"Fantasy is what we wish would happen but probably won't, and science fiction is what will probably happen that we wish wouldn't."

warmbeachbrat
June 30th, 2006, 12:48 PM
I don't know if this was posted anywhere, but I don't remember reading it and I had to laugh and nod my head when I did:

http://www.scalzi.com/whatever/003887.html

MarshAngel
June 30th, 2006, 06:11 PM
I don't know if this was posted anywhere, but I don't remember reading it and I had to laugh and nod my head when I did:

http://www.scalzi.com/whatever/003887.html
Very amusing. That pretty much sums up the way I see it and it's pretty simple.
Of course there's probably a lot more these days that fit into the category of nuclear fuel cell made by dwarves who serve lord typewriter spasm. Prime example is Angel and Buffy. On one hand demons, vampires and hellmouths put it firmly in the category of fantasy... and then they toss in medically souped up commandos, robots, multiple dimensions, and queller demons from outer space. It doesn't stop being fantasy, but it does occasionally venture into scifi territory.

lunarleviathan
July 1st, 2006, 06:37 AM
Genres are not absolutes they are guides. Nothing fits into a single genre.

Science-Fiction is the sub-genre of Fiction which we use to categorize things which blend fictional stories or suggestions with some form of science/theoretical science. It doesn't matter in which way science is a factor, be it the fact the show is set on a space ship, or the show is about travelling through worm holes, or even about biochemistry.

The thing that puts something into one genre rather than another is how much of something there is and how much it matters and shapes the show (or book, film, etc.) For example, if a show is set on a space ship and that's as far as the science goes, it could still be science fiction because the being on a space ship is a defining factor of the shows structure and story. Since space ships are very much seen as a part of science (they're not every day objects I mean, like a toaster is build using scientific knowledge but you don't look and think "science") the show would be science fiction. However if space travel was commonplace in reality and the show was simply set on the ship it wouldn't be science fiction (you don't look at a plane and thing science, you think travel, you look at a toaster and thing toast/bread/food not science.)

It's largely about how we percieve everything.

Fantasy is a bit easier to get your head around as it's a more general word, even though a fantasy doesn't really need to be impossible/unlikely, in terms of a genre that's what we mean. We use fantasy for mostly impossible yet believable (in an abstract way) things, e.g. elves, magic, etc.

Right, so back to my point about nothing being an absolute. Here's an example... Aliens, is that Fantasy or Science-Fiction? Science-Fiction always gets the Alien stuff because the idea of extra-terrestrial life is rooted in science. Still, we often see impossible/unlikely creatures as aliens - this is fantasy. The science aspect is always the stronger of the two, however if we had travelled the stars for thousands of years, and gone pretty far, space exploration being common, what would aliens be? You would then be able to weaken the science association, because we as people might take the fact there are other planets out there for granted (e.g. strange monsters at the depths of the sea are Fantasy usually (although if the show/whatever was Science based it could be Sci-Fi) because we know the sea is there, it just is.) Anyway, so an alien creature based story might not be seen as Science-Fiction if it was just about the fact it's big, nasty, and eats people. In the current world I'd say Sci-Fi right away because we don't even know if there are any exrta-terrestrial lifeforms out there, and if they are it's going to take science to find them and explain them.

Ok, I've done enough waffle, and my explanation is far from perfect as it is impossible to 100% explain why genres are the way they are. it's just something we know to be, and we tend to agree on them, and when we don't we just put them in multiple genres as they arn't absolutes!

One thing is for sure though, thinking about genres and trying to figure out why they are the way they are makes your head hurt. :)

Wraith Scientist
July 4th, 2006, 01:34 PM
I found this interesting: Grading Science Fiction for Realism (http://www.kheper.net/topics/scifi/grading.html)

Stargate is 'soft Sci-fi' (for the most part) accoriding to that realism scale
Firefly is listed as 'very soft'. I would probably rate it higher, although some elements in the series are more realistic than others
Doctor Who ranks as 'mushy soft'
Star Trek is 'very soft'
There's some rather dodgy science in those last two :P

Thoughts?

Maybe I should start a new thread: "Science Fiction Realism, Themes and Cliches"?

Commander Ivanova
July 6th, 2006, 12:40 AM
I found this interesting: Grading Science Fiction for Realism (http://www.kheper.net/topics/scifi/grading.html)

Stargate is 'soft Sci-fi' (for the most part) accoriding to that realism scale
Firefly is listed as 'very soft'. I would probably rate it higher, although some elements in the series are more realistic than others
Doctor Who ranks as 'mushy soft'
Star Trek is 'very soft'
There's some rather dodgy science in those last two :P


If you were being unkind you could say there was some pretty soft 'n' mushy thinking behind that 'scientific paper'.
But I found it interesting. Guess I like my sci fi towards the squidgy end of the scale :S

Trek_Girl42
July 6th, 2006, 08:32 AM
If you were being unkind you could say there was some pretty soft 'n' mushy thinking behind that 'scientific paper'.
But I found it interesting. Guess I like my sci fi towards the squidgy end of the scale :S
It was interesting, and I'm with you Ivanova, I tend to like my sci-fi tv/moves squishy-ish, but my books on the harder end of the scale. A nice balence, but really, it doesn't matter how hard or soft the sci-fi is as long as it's well-written/acted, and interesting. I guess the definition of sci-fi is more up the individual viewer/reader then anything.

Tok'Ra Hostess
July 7th, 2006, 01:59 PM
However, I do like that term that defines tech that couldn't possibly function within the known realm of physics: handwavium. :cool:

And then there's the ubercool unobtainium, which is, of course, the first element in the periodic table of unobtainable elements, where naquadah, trinium and dilithium are also found. :D

creed462
July 8th, 2006, 09:34 AM
I consider What is science fiction, basicly what can not be done with current science or set in the future. For instance Space Cowboys would not be science Fiction becase we can do everything they did. (maybe not landing the space shuttle without a computer that would be fantasy ;) ) But in the 1950 going to the moon would be scifi, Today, since we've been to the moon just going by its self would not be scifi.

Pitry
July 10th, 2006, 03:20 AM
LoL aboutbthe blog entry. :)

For me it's not (almost) even about the science - it's about the mechanism. Fantasy has the tendecy of building a world with no mechanism, no apparent rules. Science Fiction, for me, is always first and formost to have consistent apparent rules. I'm so much into it that while I don't define Harry Potter or Pratchett books as science fiction, I also have a problem tagging it as "fantasy". They're pure fantasy - but the idea is clear and the world makes sense, once you've agreed to the basic rules.

That's why I tend to think that there are space-fantasies... :) All those science fiction worlds that act like fantasy - it doesn't matter how much science they have in them, it's whether it's used consistently or not, whether you get thrown Dues-ex-machinas every so often or not - I'd rather the solution to the problem to be based within the world, not thrown out of thin air.
(ha, as I'm wording this it also becomes apparent which genre I like better... ;))

...So for me, Stargate is "real" science fiction because the world has the inner clock ticking. ;) the physically impossible (for all we know) high energy beings are not a problem, as long as they also follow rules (or that it be stated clearly, once and for all, that they don't have any rules to follow, which is also a rule - and then never diverge from it.)

Tok'Ra Hostess
July 10th, 2006, 04:46 AM
I just watched Touchstone and Matter of Time, back to back, and this thread came to mind as I was asked to believe that a tiny machine, hand-calibrated by a fumbling old blind man, could instantly affect weather change - and not merely weather, but climate change. Pure handwavium and not so much as an attempt at scientific rationality to it. OTHO, they adhered to rather strict scientific rules of the stargate reality in order to track and retireve the device.

Matter of Time, OTOH, was pure SF from start to finish.

More recent eps tend to use handwavium/unobtanium more and more and focus less on the actual "science" behind the device-of-the-week. After six years they built one ship; fine, good, but now, suddenly, they're churning them out faster than the navy can build a boat.

Sam's "explanations" are beginning to sound more like the impossible lines from the Star Trek reality. This, to me, puts the SF part of Stargate in real danger - sacrificing science to the special-effect-of-the-week.

Mr Prophet
November 20th, 2006, 09:34 AM
Well, for what it's worth, these (http://www.booktrusted.co.uk/education/education_doc_full.php4?itemid=31&sectname=Genres%20in%20children's%20books&topicname=Science%20Fiction) are my thoughts.