Mar. 13th, 2009

kickaha: (Default)
For some reason this has been bouncing around in my head recently, and I finally came up with a decent answer for my own satisfaction, interested in hearing other peoples' take on it.

Science fiction is not spaceships. It isn't lasers. It isn't robots. It isn't clones, telepathy, mutants, nuclear apocalypse, AI dystopias, AI utopias, teleportation, FTL travel, or any of the other trappings that people associate with it.

SF is not fiction about science. SF is applying the methodology of science to fiction.

At least, good SF is. Throwing in (pseudo-)scientific elements into otherwise standard fiction genres leads to a piece that may appear to be SF on the surface, but doesn't *feel* like SF to me.

Good SF observes; it observes cultures, technology, demographics, psychology, behavior, and all the elements we have at our disposal in real life, to create models of interaction and history.

Good SF hypothesizes; it asks 'what if *this* aspect were changed?'.

Good SF predicts; it extrapolates, based on the observational model, and the change, what would happen next.

The testing comes in fandom... "Did it feel 'real'? Did it capture your imagination and hook into that innate sense of an underlying set of mechanisms to our reality, both physical and psychological, that we can toy with, at least here, in ways that feel like they are possible?"

Good SF passes the test of perceived validity and sets another stake in the ground for a benchmark for others to follow and aspire to in their own hypothesizing, prediction, and writing.

Science fiction isn't fiction with science, it's the science *of* fiction... and that's what makes it unique.
kickaha: (Default)
For some reason this has been bouncing around in my head recently, and I finally came up with a decent answer for my own satisfaction, interested in hearing other peoples' take on it.

Science fiction is not spaceships. It isn't lasers. It isn't robots. It isn't clones, telepathy, mutants, nuclear apocalypse, AI dystopias, AI utopias, teleportation, FTL travel, or any of the other trappings that people associate with it.

SF is not fiction about science. SF is applying the methodology of science to fiction.

At least, good SF is. Throwing in (pseudo-)scientific elements into otherwise standard fiction genres leads to a piece that may appear to be SF on the surface, but doesn't *feel* like SF to me.

Good SF observes; it observes cultures, technology, demographics, psychology, behavior, and all the elements we have at our disposal in real life, to create models of interaction and history.

Good SF hypothesizes; it asks 'what if *this* aspect were changed?'.

Good SF predicts; it extrapolates, based on the observational model, and the change, what would happen next.

The testing comes in fandom... "Did it feel 'real'? Did it capture your imagination and hook into that innate sense of an underlying set of mechanisms to our reality, both physical and psychological, that we can toy with, at least here, in ways that feel like they are possible?"

Good SF passes the test of perceived validity and sets another stake in the ground for a benchmark for others to follow and aspire to in their own hypothesizing, prediction, and writing.

Science fiction isn't fiction with science, it's the science *of* fiction... and that's what makes it unique.

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