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Old 08-11-2014, 05:17 PM   #31
Ninjalawyer
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Sometimes, I find books can be too enamoured by the science. Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy comes to mind. I loved those books as a kid, but I don't think I have the patience any more to slog through some of the longer technology descriptions he inserted.

One relatively recent book I read, In the Mouth of the Whale by Paul J. McAuley, had lengthy technical descriptions that did nothing for the story but take me out of it. I remember one scene in particular where he spent a paragraph or two just describing the molecular composition of dirt. It wasn't part of a conversation anyone was having, it wasn't pertinent to the plot, and it didn't enhance my enjoyment one iota.

There's definitely a fine balancing act for hard scifi authors - just enough detail to create wonder, but not so much that your prose start to sound like you just cut and paste from your research.
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Old 08-11-2014, 06:46 PM   #32
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A question. Is "scifi/sci-fi" generally acceptable now? That abbreviation used to be disparaged among science fiction aficionados.
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Old 08-11-2014, 06:51 PM   #33
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A question. Is "scifi/sci-fi" generally acceptable now? That abbreviation used to be disparaged among science fiction aficionados.
I've mellowed with age. I'm OK with anything other than 'Syfy.'
That spells 'siffee' you TV marketing dweebs!
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Old 08-11-2014, 06:59 PM   #34
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It is absolutely unacceptable.

The proper term is Sci-Fi/SciFi/Science Fiction -- any are acceptable.

Where is your grammar you illiterate oaf?!?!?!


Last edited by eschwartz; 08-11-2014 at 07:12 PM.
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Old 08-11-2014, 07:00 PM   #35
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I've mellowed with age. I'm OK with anything other than 'Syfy.'
That spells 'siffee' you TV marketing dweebs!
I remember hearing that Leonard Nimoy took some heat yrs ago when part of a quote he had spoken was abbreviated as Sci. Fi. Of course Mr. Nimoy hadn't done so. It was the reporter who did it.
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Old 08-11-2014, 08:06 PM   #36
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It is absolutely unacceptable.

The proper term is Sci-Fi/SciFi/Science Fiction -- any are acceptable.

Where is your grammar you illiterate oaf?!?!?!

For the record, I believe "sf" is the abrv. the scilitterati insisted upon.
Or was it "SF"?
Either way, it is easier to type.

ApK

P.s. Wouldn't that be syntax rather than grammar?

Last edited by ApK; 08-11-2014 at 08:08 PM.
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Old 08-11-2014, 09:46 PM   #37
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Grammar can be broadly defined as anything to do with language errors/errata.

In other words you are wrong -- it is both.

Although some might disagree and say it is spelling, or get nitpicky and say it's orthography. (If only because the broadness of grammar is intolerably offensive.)

And that was too much english.stackexchange.com for me, so I'm quitting now.

Last edited by eschwartz; 08-11-2014 at 09:48 PM.
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Old 08-11-2014, 10:04 PM   #38
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Sci fi was the original, by analogy to high fi. I starting reading it back in the early 60s, when it was pronounced to rhyme with "high fi", then the coming thing in music. Then it was abbreviated to SF or sf by various purists who no doubt thought that the slang phrase was too, well, undignified, and thus was born the initialled version.

Me, I'm easy. But inside my head it's still sounded as "si fi" even when I see SF. Too late for me to change and I can can no reason to. But sf or SF is easier to type.

Isaac Asimov had an amusing distinction. Sci Fi was what you saw on TV or at the movies. SF is what you read.
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Old 08-11-2014, 11:05 PM   #39
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Anyone else remember The SciFi Channel's first year when they had various SF authors and actors as guest hosts?

Harlan Ellison refused to say the name of the channel.
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Old 08-12-2014, 01:23 AM   #40
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Anyone else remember The SciFi Channel's first year when they had various SF authors and actors as guest hosts?

Harlan Ellison refused to say the name of the channel.
Mr. Ellison had a bad experience with SF on TV. He wrote "Phoenix from the Ashes" on which "The Starlost" was based and he felt that the story line was altered too much from his vision. In fact he had his own name taken off the show and used his "Cordwainer Bird" pen name instead.
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Old 08-12-2014, 01:49 AM   #41
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Back in the 60s the preferred term was "SF" -- Sci-Fi was generally not acceptable.

Of course, back then the SF magazines advertised that you would never catch them running stories that would be basically re-cast Westerns. And look how well respected the Firefly franchise is in Science Fiction circles.

Go figure.
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Old 08-12-2014, 05:09 AM   #42
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Back in the 60s the preferred term was "SF" -- Sci-Fi was generally not acceptable.

Of course, back then the SF magazines advertised that you would never catch them running stories that would be basically re-cast Westerns. And look how well respected the Firefly franchise is in Science Fiction circles.

Go figure.
And the 1st stories based on shows like Star Trek were printed via mimeograph machine, and were basically fan fiction. Or so I understand.
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Old 08-12-2014, 03:38 PM   #43
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Sometimes, I find books can be too enamoured by the science. Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy comes to mind. I loved those books as a kid, but I don't think I have the patience any more to slog through some of the longer technology descriptions he inserted.

One relatively recent book I read, In the Mouth of the Whale by Paul J. McAuley, had lengthy technical descriptions that did nothing for the story but take me out of it. I remember one scene in particular where he spent a paragraph or two just describing the molecular composition of dirt. It wasn't part of a conversation anyone was having, it wasn't pertinent to the plot, and it didn't enhance my enjoyment one iota.

There's definitely a fine balancing act for hard scifi authors - just enough detail to create wonder, but not so much that your prose start to sound like you just cut and paste from your research.
Hah, I absolutely couldn't be more opposite. The Mars Trilogy books are among my favorite examples of great Nearly-Hard Science Fiction. (unfortunately there are hardly any examples of Actual Hard-Sience-Fiction to site). I love the Mars books but find a few of the more nonsensical bits (like the quantum brain decoherence problem which was pure phebotinum that served only to shape the plot) disappointing as they mar an otherwise excellent work.

Last edited by sl42; 08-12-2014 at 03:45 PM.
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Old 08-12-2014, 07:17 PM   #44
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Hah, I absolutely couldn't be more opposite. The Mars Trilogy books are among my favorite examples of great Nearly-Hard Science Fiction. (unfortunately there are hardly any examples of Actual Hard-Sience-Fiction to site). I love the Mars books but find a few of the more nonsensical bits (like the quantum brain decoherence problem which was pure phebotinum that served only to shape the plot) disappointing as they mar an otherwise excellent work.
Two that are hard sci fi that I've always enjoyed are
1. Dragon's Egg
and it's sequel
2. Starquake
both by Robert L. Forward. The characters are the Cheela (I hope I remembered the spelling right) and they are a race of beings that live on the surface of a neutron star.
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Old 08-13-2014, 01:24 AM   #45
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Hal Clement was one of the best hard SF authors, but he didn't write a whole lot. If "Mission of Gravity" ever gets made into a movie, I want to see digital slide rules made for it.

Take some magnetic linear scales as are used on some milling machines (they are extremely precise and can be cut to length) and arrange them together just like the slides on an old slipstick. Program a microcontroller to do the calculating and operate a display and it could be a real thing even more accurate than the old wood or plastic ones.
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