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Feature! Serious SF

PostPosted: November 19, 2009, 08:45:43 PM
by TaoPhoenix
You can also have serious SF not by continuing the present course, but if we veer off it. Put simply, it's just having an intent to induce thought, like ipecac for the mind.

PostPosted: November 20, 2009, 12:54:32 PM
by McCamy_Taylor
But to veer from a course, you have to have a course to begin with. I still believe that the most serious science fiction is, at heart, a cautionary tale about what will become of us if we do not mend our ways. That is why I call it "serious".

seriously mending

PostPosted: November 20, 2009, 01:50:55 PM
by rick tornello
Ms Taylor:

Mend our ways implies that everything is bad. That's what I infer from your comments.

Serious Science fiction takes from all the sciences, literature, social events, history etc., and postulates a possible and or probable future based upon those data. The resulting analysis can be cautionary, positively visionary or some combination.

If it's "all" simply serious cautionary verbiage, then it's no different than apocalyptic religions albeit with a stronger scientific foundation.

It's still soothsaying.

RT

PostPosted: November 20, 2009, 02:47:32 PM
by gino_ss
And what, may I ask, is wrong with kicking a few alien butts along our way to whatever we are to become?

gino

Nothing, but...

PostPosted: November 20, 2009, 03:20:18 PM
by Robert_Moriyama
gino_ss wrote:And what, may I ask, is wrong with kicking a few alien butts along our way to whatever we are to become?

gino


Nothing wrong with kicking a few alien butts -- of course, the question of why we are kicking them (xenophobia, or reaction to a demonstrated threat?) and how we react to the situation ("Patriot Act" curtailing of civil and human rights combined with "shock and awe" invasion(s) or diplomacy?) may still make for some VERY serious science fiction. Or even assuming an entirely "just" war (if there is such a thing), the effects on the soldiers (viz. Nevil Shute's "The Checkerboard" (I think), Timothy Zahn's Cobra novels, and Joe Haldeman's "The Forever War") can be more interesting than the war itself.

RM

Veer

PostPosted: November 20, 2009, 03:43:16 PM
by TaoPhoenix
McCamy_Taylor wrote:But to veer from a course, you have to have a course to begin with. I still believe that the most serious science fiction is, at heart, a cautionary tale about what will become of us if we do not mend our ways. That is why I call it "serious".


Sorry if I wasn't clear, so I'll try again.

I feel the other category is "A course best not veered into". The top of the stack is of course the Anti-WWIII stories from the golden age.

But as per the poetry discussion, we veered INTO Orwell's 1984 when we were just fine about 1990. It's quite serious, and I'd like to mend THAT!

PostPosted: November 20, 2009, 05:57:13 PM
by davidsonhero
TaoPhoenix wrote:

But as per the poetry discussion, we veered INTO Orwell's 1984 when we were just fine about 1990. It's quite serious, and I'd like to mend THAT!


I brought up 1984, and I'm not sure if I'm understanding your point here Tao, but I think we were fine in 1990 too. But there are arguably elements of our society today that can be described as Orwellian because of their similarity to elements in 1984.

Concerning McCamy Taylor's article, let me say that fortunately McCamy qualified her definition by saying it was:
For the purpose of this review

I had a graduate course once during which we spent the entire 16 weeks trying to define "Speculative Fiction." At least that was a stated goal of the course on the syllabus. The professor never gave us the answer and by the end I don't think anyone in the class had one. Whatever rules we came up with, there were always examples of exceptions. Where is the line between Science Fiction and Fantasy? Can't you think of examples that blur the line. Does serious Science Fiction have to be didactic to be serious? What about just trying to represent human nature? Is Larry Niven's Ringworld didactic? What is the serious message in Philip K. Dick's The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch or Ubik? What about Heinlein, did he thing he was teaching a lesson? He certainly had views about freedom and independence that he worked into the themes of his work, but I don't know if he was always clearly warning us of the future. Or Ursula K. Le Guin? The Left Hand of Darkness examines gender and our human preconceptions/misconceptions about it, but it doesn't really ask "What will happen if we continue on our present course?"

I would pose that there is probably a subgenre of Science Fiction that more closely fits McCamy's definition. Dystopian fiction, for instance, might better fit the bill.

But again, McCamy qualified her definition so it works fine in the context of her article. I'm sure this discussion could go on for weeks if we let it.

Great article by the way.

:D

Hero

1984

PostPosted: November 20, 2009, 06:07:55 PM
by TaoPhoenix
Wow, I'm clear as mud today.

I meant that I feel we as a nation were doing just fine and dandy in 1990 thank you very much, and I'd roll back the social atmosphere to that if I could.

Instead, we're NOW in the Age of Surveillance. Exactly what was warned against as a "Do Not Do That" is what we're now doing! I actually see it as inevitable, with the rise of computers but insufficient social growth.

I advocate a citizen's movement towards greater privacy protections. Our "Speculative Fiction" can describe all kinds of neat ways to do that.

PostPosted: November 20, 2009, 06:20:43 PM
by davidsonhero
I agree with you 110%, Tao.

Hero

PostPosted: November 20, 2009, 06:40:17 PM
by TaoPhoenix
davidsonhero wrote:I agree with you 110%, Tao.

Hero


"But officer, it CAN'T have been DavidsonHero committing mass rampages with wet noodles because he has an airtight alibi on Friday at 5PM when he posted to the forum!"