Monday, May 24, 2010

Defining 'Real Science Fiction'

Got another email from Alby, this time concerning the definition of 'real science fiction' so here's my definition:

Science fiction needs to be a fictional story which hinges upon some genuine science concept. Like all storytelling SF is about people but in this case it is about people in relation to scientific knowledge and achievement. The science in the story should be grounded in actual currently existing scientific ideas but then extrapolated in some way to see what might happen in a given set of circumstances or in a future time.

Any idea could, potentially, be used in science fiction and this even includes magic but only if the basis of the magic is somehow rationalised.

I can understand how some people who say they love science fiction are actually only in love with movies about rockets and robots etc. I can see how such an audience will get a great thrill from virtually anything which throws some special effects at them and an off-planet location. However, most of that audience will never read 'Behold the Man' by Michael Moorcock, 'Barefoot in the Head' by Brian Aldiss or 'The Alteration' by Kingsley Amis. I've seen reviews of 'The Matrix' series of movies where the reviewer clearly believed the movie's storyline to be original. Now for anybody to think that they would have to be unaware of the long history of science fiction stories where the central character discovers his world to be a fabrication.

However, 'The Matrix', even though highly derivative, is real science fiction because the writers take the effort to rationalise all the elements of the story. Doctor Who and the Stargate series are not genuine scifi because they cut corners and sacrifice rational storytelling in favour of action/adventure and visual effect.

Just my two penn'th.

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