Skip to comments.Why is science fiction so hard to define?
Posted on 08/02/2014 8:55:22 AM PDT by EveningStar
A recent list of top science fiction films had some unusual choices and left out some well-regarded classics. But, says Quentin Cooper, that's part of the problem sci-fi is such a broad church it's often very hard to define.
Time Out, the weekly listings magazine, recently ranked the 100 best sci-fi movies of all time. They did it by polling 150 "leading sci-fi experts, filmmakers, science fiction writers, film critics and scientists" and getting them to each provide their 10 favourites.
As lists go it's a decent one. It's hard for me to take issue with a top three of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner and Alien. Especially as my not-quite-four-year-old is named Hal partly after the homicidal computer in 2001. If we'd had a girl it was toss-up between Pris and Ripley.
Once you begin to get away from the top though, things soon get less clear cut. With only 150 people voting, some of the films near the bottom of the chart will only have had a vote or two, so if you'd asked different "leading" figures you'd have likely got different results.
(Excerpt) Read more at bbc.com ...
I always thought Blade Runner was overrated, but perhaps I need to give it another viewing.
I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it.
No, wait, that’s porn.
I HATE having to go to sites that make it a big long drawn out production of listing stuff. I hate it.
Where’s the ‘list’ with no interjections from some dweeb in short pants putting in his two cents?
they’re trying to maximize the number of clicks at their site.
It sucks plenty. I don’t even agree with what these experts picked.
Fiction written with some modification to known science
Generally, the fewer the better.
Faster than light travel, extra planetary Intellegence.
Write story about consequences of the modification
Using standard Fiction principles.
There, generally, the more modifications to known science
The more SciFi becomes fantasy.
Don’t try to define it, just enjoy it.
As a film seen simply as entertainment, Blade Runner is overrated. However, once you understand the secret of the movie, the depth of the story and how the story is handled because really fascinating.
The Sixth Sense, for example, reveals its secret at the end and so people will go back and see it again. Blade Runner never reveals its own secret. You either recognize it or have to be told the secret.
The only people who complain about this are FReepers. I don't see the problem here.
I just don’t like wasting my time.
Ah, but what about the “hard” science fiction, where there is no deviation from known science, but just an extrapolation towards the future. I’m thinking some of the Niven stuff, and maybe some Asimov, and such.
May need to expand definition to include engineering advances using known science.
Clicks = ad revenue
I may have a built in bias.
Dune pushes the limits into Fantasy
Sand Worms = Dragons
Spice = Magic elixirs
Instantaneous Travel = Teleporting
But still darned good writing
The movie was called Under the Skin and starred Scarlett Johansson as an alien femme fatale who lures young men to a bizarre demise, until she begins to feel something like compassion for her victims.
Kubrick fans might especially enjoy this movie.
As for the list being offered here, my only gripe would be that the original Planet of the Apes, which Charlton Heston, should be in the top 10.
“with” Charlton Heston.
The more accurate term used in the profession is “speculative fiction” - stories about things that could happen as logical extrapolations of things we know today. It covers everything from alternate history to space opera.
I am not arguing here. I really like your summing up. Especially the statement that the more modifications to known science, the more it approaches fantasy. Not sure I have seen it put that clearly.
While I enjoy the hard science fiction, and even some fantasy - think Asprin’s MYTH series - I don’t like the full out fantasy. At some point it crosses a line into fairy tale. Prefer 100% elf free stuff (now, where did that reference come from?).
The way I have described this to others is that “real” science fiction allows for one broken rule. The plot then examines the impact of that modification. I think it was Asimov that said good scifi does not predict the invention of the car, it predicts the traffic jam, or parking lots.
When reading a story or watching a movie I am willing to suspend my disbelief to a certain point. If you ask me to ignore too many things, then I stop enjoying the book or movie. And this applies to every genre, not just scifi.
And so, logical advancements in engineering or application of existing technology needs to be accommodated into the definition somehow. Maybe even logical advancements in culture. I certainly have read some scifi that justs assumes society continues as it is.
Then we need to add the alternative history stuff into the definition. It was ages ago, but I remember reading Gingrich’s story on WWII and Germany perfecting the jet airplane, and what that would have done to history. That was logical advancements turned into alt history.
Of course, then we approach towards stuff that is not considered scifi at all, like Clancy. I look to his stuff as scifi, alt hist category. But it is generally just considered a basic novel. Now why is that? Why is “action/adventure” not scifi in some cases?
Nice chatting with you.
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