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Old 07-29-2009, 12:33 PM   #1
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An argument we are having at work...

I was talking with some co-workers (one of whom does not read for fun) about a current book I am reading, and a problem I am having with it. Basically, I feel that the book does not make any sense. The two main characters get transported to the future, where there is a highly advanced technological utopia-esque society. Yet the entire world (except for a portion of mid-town Manhattan) has been rendered uninhabitable by nuclear war and other catastrophes. There are literally no people living anywhere else.

So, after pages of a parade of cool new technology including some special bathtubs, I started wondering how a society as 'large' as mid-town Manhattan would be able to sustain the manufacturing and agricultural infrastructure to support such things. It just did not make sense to me. If Manhattan was all you had to work with, you'd lose a lot of useable space just growing food to support the people, never mind manufacture the special bathtubs. It just defied logic that the society portrayed in the book could exist.

And he told me that it's all pretend anyway so it doesn't have to make sense. I say fiction or not, it still has to make sense and if there is some special explanation for something illogical, they need to clue the reader in. So, what do you think...it's all pretend so who cares, or I am right to demand an explanation.
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Old 07-29-2009, 12:47 PM   #2
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They use Star Trek replicators that were built before the end of the world in a factory in New Jersey.

My scifi doesn't have to make sense, as long as the story is good.
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Old 07-29-2009, 12:47 PM   #3
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I think you're right to want an explanation.
The 'willing suspension of disbelief' has its limits!
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Old 07-29-2009, 12:50 PM   #4
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I totally agree with you whether fiction or not the premise behind the story and the technology must make sense (wow I think the grammar in this sentence is really bad but I can't think of any other way to say it!).

If things are just unfeasibly fantastic, as your example is, then I personally can't read the story anymore as I just start picking fault with everything and that destroys the enjoyment. I have to admit though I do the same with films most of my friends refuse to go with me anymore because I just spend most of the time picking holes in the plot lol.

Last edited by Mnementh; 07-29-2009 at 12:50 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 07-29-2009, 12:52 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DixieGal View Post
They use Star Trek replicators that were built before the end of the world in a factory in New Jersey.

My scifi doesn't have to make sense, as long as the story is good.
If it doesn't make sense, arguably it isn't science fiction.

- Ahi
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Old 07-29-2009, 01:09 PM   #6
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The idea, "it's fiction; it doesn't have to make sense" shows a lack of critical thinking skills. It says that you can't predict likely outcomes from given circumstances and premises... when that's how all of science works. It also shows a lack of imagination, a lack of ability to posit circumstances different from the ones that exist right now--because the idea that all not-factually-true situations are equally likely and believable is only possible for someone who never considers possibilities.

If a book snaps your disbelief suspenders, it could be that you're reading it from a different mindset than intended for the enjoyment of the book. (If you're gonna enjoy romance books, you have to accept the concept of instant-true-love-happy-ever-after, no matter how much real life tells you that it doesn't happen like that.) But it could also mean that the author has failed at worldbuilding--that she hasn't explained why Thing X works when Things Y & Z don't.
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Old 07-29-2009, 01:11 PM   #7
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You said the population is limited to mid-town Manhattan? Is Central Park mentioned at all? If it's not radioactive I'd imagine that it would be a large enough growing area to support a population limited to that small an area. There's also the possibility of fishing; Manhattan is almost completely surrounded by water. (Or is the river unusable as well?)
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Old 07-29-2009, 01:32 PM   #8
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Mark Twain said it best: "Of course real life is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense."
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Old 07-29-2009, 01:46 PM   #9
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First off, I would find it highly unlikely that the only habitable place after a nuclear war would be a portion of Manhattan. I would think that Manhattan, being the third largest borough in New York at approximately 23 square miles and very densely populated, would be one of the FIRST places targeted by a foreign power (or terrorist group) to nuke off the face of the earth. That to me is illogical scenerio #1. How could that one itsy-bitsy spot on the planet escape all harm????


Secondly, I agree with the subsequent illogical nature of the story without explanation as to how and where this advanced technology was manufactured along with the production of enough food and water to sustain whatever population was fortunate enough to have been protected by the magical "anti-catastophe bubble" they must have had over Manhattan when the proverbial sh** hit the fan.



I pick movies apart too, especially when the story line defies possibility far beyond all reason or extreme stretch of the imagination. At least make the science and fiction reasonably plausible.
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Old 07-29-2009, 01:53 PM   #10
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It is becoming clear that what we are all talking about is our frustration with bad scifi books and movies versus what can be done right if the author is skilled at telling a good story. I know that if I begin picking apart a book or movie, it is because I have suddenly realized that it is a big heaping pile of crap.

There is the point where they become so bad that they are good. I record every new SyFy network movie because they are in this category!

PS: I just reached that point with The Time Traveler's Wife. It's a train wreck and I can't put it down!

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Old 07-29-2009, 02:00 PM   #11
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Ah, but there are different rules for science fiction than literary fiction, and The Time Traveler's Wife is clearly literary fiction.
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Old 07-29-2009, 02:01 PM   #12
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food can be made in the park or in sky gardens

room to make thing can be made if you build up or if you build over roads
or hell make the city one big building if you realy need the room.

that being said Manhattan would be hit 1st and im not sure of where you would need to be to have the knowagle to be able to keep making suff(anything outside of what is normaly made in that area) if everything hit the fan...

somewhere near on of the google datacenters I would think.
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Old 07-29-2009, 02:05 PM   #13
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just thinking the issue would be where would you get the raw stuff from.. you would need to go into the nuclear waste to get the metel then treate it.


note: This should be in the Lounge right?
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Old 07-29-2009, 02:06 PM   #14
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Ah, but there are different rules for science fiction than literary fiction, and The Time Traveler's Wife is clearly literary fiction.
Maybe, but in my orderly fashion, I can't not rearrange the timeline in my head. And so in a chronological progression, it is a much less interesting story, to me at least. More like an outline and less like a narrative. I'm reading on, however, hoping he leaps back and accidentally kills his own grandfather or something.
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Old 07-29-2009, 02:09 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by DixieGal View Post
Maybe, but in my orderly fashion, I can't not rearrange the timeline in my head. And so in a chronological progression, it is a much less interesting story, to me at least. More like an outline and less like a narrative. I'm reading on, however, hoping he leaps back and accidentally kills his own grandfather or something.
You might enjoy --All You Zombies-- more.
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