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Old 07-14-2010, 06:56 AM   #31
Lemurion
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Originally Posted by Worldwalker View Post
"Space opera" is a specific sub-genre that focuses on adventure, super-science that has minimal connection with real science, and galaxy-spanning action. This is the SF of the pulp era. Doc Smith's "Skylark" and "Lensman" series are perfect examples. "Star Wars" is very emphatically (and intentionally) space opera. Science and technology, usually with a lot of hand-waving, are there solely to get the heroes where they need to go, or provide them with superhumanly powerful enemies and more powerful ray guns. It's all about the action, the heroics, and the big explosions.

(snip)

By the way, if you've never read "The Machine Stops", you should.
"Doc" would have only partially agreed with you.

Not about the Skylark series, they were definitely all about bigger, faster, wilder, and hang the science; but he would have defended the Lensman series as SF rather than pure pulp Space Opera. As he put it (and according to the science of the time), nothing in the Lensman books was impossible; though some of it was highly improbable.

As for "The Machine Stops."

I agree completely.
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Old 07-14-2010, 07:06 AM   #32
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nothing in the Lensman books was impossible; though some of it was highly improbable
I think that statement is true for just about anything you can imagine.
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Old 07-14-2010, 07:49 AM   #33
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Worldwalker wrote:
>It's been waaaay too long since I read it, but in Space Cadet,
>didn't Robert Heinlein have the new students required to turn
>in their personal communications devices, which were effectively
>cell phones? Now there's a bit of very accurate prediction!

The cadets were allowed to keep them --- if they were w/in their weight limit, but most shipped them home since they wouldn't work in orbit.

William
(who regretfully recently purchased the ebook of _Space Cadet_ and has yet to forgive Tor for spending the following weekend proofreading instead of leisurely reading)
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Old 07-14-2010, 09:32 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by mike_bike_kite View Post
I think folks should call the genre whatever they feel comfortable with. I've been reading SF for decades and didn't realise there was a difference between SF, SciFi, Sci-Fi, and science fiction until now - so I now stand educated but my rebellious streak will mean I'll continue to mingle the terms.
I'm pretty much in the same boat. Although I've never felt the urge to go hang out at conventions, SF has been the mainstay of my reading for the past 30 years or so and I would consider myself an avid fan. On top of my cabinets in my office here at work I've got a Dalek and a Darth Vader bobblehead proudly displayed for anyone to see (I've also got a stuffed Y2K Bug, and one of those Intel Pentium "Bunny" men up there). So I'm certainly not in the closet.

During all that time I've never even once experienced any condescension from anyone about my choice of reading material. I've never had anyone sneer, "SciFi" at me. As a matter of fact, I doubt anyone that I've ever met in person would even know to use "SciFi" as an insult.
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Old 07-14-2010, 10:16 AM   #35
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I enjoy the old Science Fiction, even with its errors in prediction. Isaac Asimov mentioned how quickly one of his early stories, written when the scientists thought Mercury was tidally locked to the Sun, was overcome by the discovery of Mercury's rotation. Science is built on errors, and so is SF.

But there are a ton of spot on predictions, too. Some actually defining the future themselves. Two Robert Heinlein examples: Waldoes from "Waldo, Inc." and the waterbed from "Stranger in a Strange Land."

I remember the pre-SciFi days, too. I grew up on Heinlein, Asimov, Del Rey, etc. There was a lot of scorn for those who read SF. Pseudo-intellectuals, who never read SF, looked down on anyone who did. I heard the snearing in grade school! It was funny when schools started including Ray Bradbury in their literature books.

I've learned not to cringe (physically) when someone innocently says, "The SciFi books are over here."

Dean

Last edited by RDaneel54; 07-14-2010 at 11:25 AM.
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Old 07-14-2010, 11:06 AM   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RDaneel54 View Post
I heard the snearing in grade school! It was funny when schools started including Ray Bradbury in their literature books.
I always thought the way the Ray Bradbury stuff was included in school curriculums was a fairly shallow decision. (Maybe I'm the only one in the world that doesn't like the Bradbury stuff, but I found F451 intensely boring and largely unreadable.) Sort of a "follow the leader" thing where each school board did what all the others were doing. An obvious choice for something better would have been almost anything by Phillip K. Dick, but I've never heard of anyone reading his stuff for school.
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Old 07-14-2010, 11:56 AM   #37
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By definition, there is no such thing as "hard SciFi" -- if it's hard, it's SF or Science Fiction, not SciFi.
Maybe this distinction is necessary while at a Con to thoroughly describe what you're talking about, but berating someone for their word choice in this forum is completely inappropriate.

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It has nothing to do with being a pretentious snob. "SciFi" was the term used by outsiders for years to belittle the literature we enjoyed. "SciFi" means "that Buck Rogers stuff", space opera, corny 50's monster movies, and anything else where there's not even a nod to science, and little more than that to fiction.
Buck Rogers??? The hell is Buck Rogers? In today's world (I was born in the 80s) sci-fi is an abbreviation for science fiction. If it was ever considered derogatory, it no longer is, and no amount of blustering on your part will make it reality.

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It's the "N-word" of science fiction. It is a word that has been used as an insult to science fiction readers for decades, and even though a lousy, clueless cable TV channel chose to apply the word to itself, it is not, and never will be, free of its pejorative meaning.
It's already free of its pejorative meaning. And if you truly believed it was the "N-word" of science fiction, you'd follow the "N-word" path: embrace the word and make it your own.

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If "scifi" had stayed within the SF community, it would be merely corny. But it was picked up by those outside the community and used to deride its members, our literature, and our enthusiasm.
Did you live in a world where "nerds" were called "four-eyes" and shoved into lockers and given swirlies? Because today, being a nerd/geek is acceptable (even cool in some circles), and wearing glasses and reading sci-fi are just a way of life for many people. There's only an imaginary derision here. Even playing D&D or WOW is socially accepted in today's digital world. Get with the times.
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Old 07-14-2010, 12:13 PM   #38
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I do not agree Sci Fi is an automatic insult. Of course I was told I was wrong about that before here. I used that term myself, lovingly, for 40-odd years. I understand there are some sensitive people about and I started using SF because I recognize proper English is based on use but it still does not feel natural to me.
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Old 07-14-2010, 01:31 PM   #39
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Quote:
But there are a ton of spot on predictions, too. Some actually defining the future themselves. Two Robert Heinlein examples: Waldoes from "Waldo, Inc." and the waterbed from "Stranger in a Strange Land."
Don't forget 'Computer Aided Design' from "Door into Summer"!
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Old 07-14-2010, 02:00 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by Worldwalker View Post
They've been using it as an insult for 40 years or more; it's a done deal.
Ok. I've been reading SciFi since the late 80's. Never once have I heard "Scifi" used as a derogatory term. Now given, I didn't attend a HUGE public school or anything, but still, I had/have a lot of people interaction, and I ALWAYS carry a book with me. And 9.9 times out of 10, it is a SciFi book.

Where and when have you heard scifi used as a derogatory term? [outside of people like yourself claiming it is a derogatory term that is]
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Old 07-14-2010, 02:04 PM   #41
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Don't forget 'Computer Aided Design' from "Door into Summer"!
Indeed. Heinlein beat the beginning of the real thing by about 7 years. DiS was published in 1957; my Dad's Ph.D. thesis (Sketchpad) in 1964. I'm glossing over any questions of writing or research time, of course.

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Old 07-14-2010, 03:17 PM   #42
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Did you live in a world where "nerds" were called "four-eyes" and shoved into lockers and given swirlies?
Yes, I did.

Don't worry too much about the youth thing; you'll grow out of it. Give it 20 years or so and you'll find yourself faced with people who think the universe (or the important part of it, anyway) started the day they were born. It happens to all of us.
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Old 07-14-2010, 03:41 PM   #43
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Heinlein also predicted waterbeds. Although he was postulated them as acceleration couches for multiple-g acceleration rockets.

Predicting the future is a thankless task. Isaac Asimov noted that in the years before 1969, there were zillions of SF stories predicting the first manned landing on the Moon.

Not a single one predicted that when it happened, most of the world would be watching it live on television.

I talk about this a little on my website.
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Old 07-14-2010, 04:43 PM   #44
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Strange. I have been fan of ... Aehm ... SciFi for as long as I could read (the first ever book I remember reading entirely by myself *and* liking was a SciFi book for boys) and I never ever realized that some people might consider it degrading, insulting or improper.
I have read lots of the ... Aehm ... stuff, from Hard SF (is that correct?), even hard military "Baen-style", through milder stuff to space opera. From Verne, Wells, Heinlein, Asimov to the contemporary authors, including obscure (and wonderful) books by Russian and eastern European authors written in 1960s.

The reason for my ignorance might be that I just loved to read those books. There was no possibility to organize with other fans here until the "recent" (shows how old I am) advent of the Internet and discussion forums.

By the way ... the book I read as a boy.
I have been searching for it for quite a few years and I do not remember author or a name.
A group of boys find a crashlanded, preserved spaceship here on earth and start to use its ... facilities. One of strange effects the ship has is that whatever they read on board of the ship or near the ship, while it is still parked somewhere on Earth (in a cave?) they can recall perfectly, so they use it as a learning aid. Later on they continue to have great adventures on wonderful alien planets.
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Old 07-14-2010, 07:16 PM   #45
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Science fiction or speculative fiction?

Hi everyone,

read through this post with interest, but I have a couple of comments.

Firstly, I recall in the Dark Ages of my youth - late 60's or very early 70's reading a comic book that had a gambler who never lost, and was set in the future. Memory tells me the vision of the future was some time prior to my reading, possibly the 50's. The gambler won because he had developed a computer that fitted in his pocket (allowing him to infallibly determine the outcome of any event). It was roughly hemispherical and had protruding buttons. It was not (I think) referred-to as a pocket computer.

Somewhat later, I was taught English in high school by a graduate in literature and she said that science fiction was not about predicting the future, but about social comment set in a future time. I tend to think that this is or was accurate. Asimov's Caves of Steel is a good example, but H. G. Wells makes his comments quite obvious. There may also be some comment Verne's works, but I am not sure. Greg Bear's works (at least those I have read) carry social comment. Given time I am sure I can think of others.

I may be wrong, but terms like "space opera" and "speculative fiction" are often used to describe some of the stuff that is in a futuristic setting, but not offering social comment. Star Wars is a great example of this - and I refer to the first three movies made, and not the execrable and opportunistic follow-ups - for it is in essence, the "hero's journey". In movies, The Forbidden Planet is science fiction as per the definition I was given.

Finally, Asimov wrote a very intriguing story set a fair way into the future, where storage of knowledge was such a massive task, requiring so many planets that humanity eventually filled the galaxy, and so, setting out on the first intergalactic travel, humans finally encounter an alien race. Who just happen to be on the same mission! Cute!

Cheers,
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