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Old 11-27-2017, 11:48 PM   #61
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I remember when I was in a college English lit class, we read a short story about a woman walking through a garden. I'm not going to remember any details here - it was too long ago. But I remember that I read the story at face value. It was a pretty story abut a garden. When it came time for the class to discuss the story, the professor told us the story was about a woman's sexual awakening, cloaked in metaphor or allegory. (Everything he assigned for reading ended up being about sex one way or another - so I left the class thinking the guy was a bit of a pervert, to be honest.)

But I can see a bunch of college kids reading a simple-seeming story labeled as "literary fiction" about a waitress and looking for the symbolism or metaphor or something "more" than "just a story about a waitress". Give them the same basic story but call it science fiction, and they probably figure "Whew, I can just enjoy the story and not have to work so hard!"

I also agree with others here that have said part of the problem could be what they saw as the type of story (military SF). I like some science fiction, but military SF is not usually high on my favorites list.
I'm thinking more than a bit.
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Old 11-28-2017, 11:20 AM   #62
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Travis S. Taylor made an observation in a video interview. He noted that a good deal of 'sci. fi' was more magical than science based. To me science fiction has an element of actual science in it.
Literary SF has enough of a fan base that there will always be a market for complex and thoughtful stories, and even the "Hard-SF" subgenre.

However, when it comes to movies and TV, where they require mainstream audiences to pay for them, not just fans, then we see this dumbing down carried to an extreme. Thus "it's only sci-fi, of course it doesn't make any sense" if you mention any stupidities in the story. So that's the audience most writers and producers pander to: one that doesn't want to think.

There is barely a handful of actual SF, as opposed to magic with tech, made each year. Recently on TV "The Expanse", which of course was based on a book series.
Movies: "The Martian" (also an adaptation of a successful book).
Star Trek (all series) and Doctor Who long ago gave up even trying to be SF.
Black Mirror is very thoughtful, but mostly fantasy.

I don't really expect to see any adaptations of Greg Egan, Kim Stanley Robinson, Iain M. Banks. The more mystical stuff, the "X in space" stories is where the money is.

Fantasy is considered of more inherent worth: Game of Thrones is taken very seriously, with endless discussion of the plots and characters. Though since they ran out of books to adapt it's sliding into fan service.
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Old 11-28-2017, 11:37 AM   #63
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Black Mirror is very thoughtful, but mostly fantasy.
Some episodes of Black Mirror are close to documentary.
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Old 11-28-2017, 01:42 PM   #64
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... However, when it comes to movies and TV, where they require mainstream audiences to pay for them, not just fans, then we see this dumbing down carried to an extreme. Thus "it's only sci-fi, of course it doesn't make any sense" if you mention any stupidities in the story. So that's the audience most writers and producers pander to: one that doesn't want to think ...
This might also explain why SF movies tend to be pessimistic, while books tend more to optimism. The movies and TV also seem to be more militaristic, with hierarchical structures. Easier to keep it simple, I guess.
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Old 11-28-2017, 02:02 PM   #65
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This might also explain why SF movies tend to be pessimistic, while books tend more to optimism. The movies and TV also seem to be more militaristic, with hierarchical structures. Easier to keep it simple, I guess.
Maybe we're thinking of different movies, but the SF popcorn movies inevitably have an optimistic happy ending (usually the aliens are defeated by the hero that we all thought was dead but pulled through thanks to the power of love).

SF movies that have bleaker/ambiguous endings tend to be smaller scale, less crowd pleasing and more like what I expect from a sci-fi novel (Arrival and Moon, for instance).
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Old 11-28-2017, 02:31 PM   #66
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Maybe we're thinking of different movies, but the SF popcorn movies inevitably have an optimistic happy ending (usually the aliens are defeated by the hero that we all thought was dead but pulled through thanks to the power of love).
Careful, you'll run up against the "real" SF crowd.
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Old 11-28-2017, 02:40 PM   #67
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Maybe we're thinking of different movies, but the SF popcorn movies inevitably have an optimistic happy ending (usually the aliens are defeated by the hero that we all thought was dead but pulled through thanks to the power of love).

SF movies that have bleaker/ambiguous endings tend to be smaller scale, less crowd pleasing and more like what I expect from a sci-fi novel (Arrival and Moon, for instance).
You're probably right. I don't actually go to movies. I just go by what I see in the trailers. There seem to be a lot of monsters and explosions.
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Old 11-28-2017, 02:47 PM   #68
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Careful, you'll run up against the "real" SF crowd.
True. I like 'real' sci-fi and do think it's a shame what Star Wars did to science fiction in movies.

But then I also don't mind Geordi La Forge out-thinking Einstein on a weekly basis.
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Old 11-28-2017, 09:20 PM   #69
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There is barely a handful of actual SF, as opposed to magic with tech, made each year.
Yep. Most "SF" is fantasy dressed up with technology ... thank goodness.
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Old 11-28-2017, 11:02 PM   #70
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Yep. Most "SF" is fantasy dressed up with technology ... thank goodness.
For movies and TV, not for books.

On the written page, you cant distract from stupidity with CGI and attractive actors.

But I suppose the popularity of tie-ins, like Doctor Who, Trek, Star Wars novels, that just remembering the CGI and actors is enough. The book stories are usually a bit less dumb, though they can't rewrite the basic assumptions of their shows.

And really, "thank goodness"? Watch "The Expanse", "2001: A Space Odyssey". Tell me they'd be better if they used "The Force" and light sabres.
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Old 11-28-2017, 11:39 PM   #71
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And really, "thank goodness"? Watch "The Expanse", "2001: A Space Odyssey". Tell me they'd be better if they used "The Force" and light sabres.
They wouldn't be better. But that doesn't mean SF shows (or books) that take a different tack are "bad" or inherently dumb. Nor does it exclude them from the so called "real" SF club. All fiction is a form of fantasy anyway.

I really like The Expanse--both the books and the show. But the show is short-changing the humor present (dark or otherwise) in the books and is really forcing the Belter patois. There are whole conversations that are entirely unintelligible in the show, where it is used more sparingly in the books (and is easily picked up on via context). If being too serious and forcing viewers to learn a new language in order to understand what characters are talking about is smart, I'll take a bit more dumb any day.

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Old 11-28-2017, 11:51 PM   #72
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For movies and TV, not for books.

On the written page, you cant distract from stupidity with CGI and attractive actors.

But I suppose the popularity of tie-ins, like Doctor Who, Trek, Star Wars novels, that just remembering the CGI and actors is enough. The book stories are usually a bit less dumb, though they can't rewrite the basic assumptions of their shows.

And really, "thank goodness"? Watch "The Expanse", "2001: A Space Odyssey". Tell me they'd be better if they used "The Force" and light sabres.
You're talking to the wrong guy. I hated "2001: A Space Odyssey" (or, as I called it, "A Space Idiocy".) I don't know about "The Expanse," never heard of it. If it's like "2001," I'm happy not to have heard of it.

As for "Star Wars" ... I liked the first one (I was barely out of my teens and nothing like it had been seen before). Watched the second one and thought, "A huge galaxy and everyone is related to everyone ... gee, what are the chances of that?" Special effects were pretty cool, that was about it. Got to the third one and didn't like it much and then, when they got to the walking and talking teddy bears, that was the end of "Star Wars" for me. Haven't seen the others, don't want to. Don't want to see the originals ever again. I'll never get the "ewoks" out of my head. I never bought into all the BS saying the original "Star Wars" was really the fourth one anyhow.

Here's what I don't like about most "hard" SF I've read (or started to read). Stories should be about people, not about technology or philosophy. Hard SF is almost always about someone's worldview or philosophy – and the author is almost always obnoxiously "religious" about it. They also tend to explain EVERY little goo-gah in their story in minute detail, while pretending that their science FICTION is actually "reality" ... or reality that is "just waiting to happen." Problem is, it's just theory. Maybe it'll happen, maybe it won't. But if you want to write a book on technology or philosophy, don't call it a novel, call it non-fiction.

Now, I know that this is the extreme position, and that there are (probably) good hard SF books with realistic (and interesting) characters. Unfortunately most of the "hard" SF I've read (and there hasn't been a lot, because I hate it) is written by cranks.

Sorry, I'll step off the soapbox now.

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Old 11-29-2017, 12:43 AM   #73
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You're talking to the wrong guy. I hated "2001: A Space Odyssey" (or, as I called it, "A Space Idiocy".) I don't know about "The Expanse," never heard of it. If it's like "2001," I'm happy not to have heard of it.

As for "Star Wars" ... I liked the first one (I was barely out of my teens and nothing like it had been seen before). Watched the second one and thought, "A huge galaxy and everyone is related to everyone ... gee, what are the chances of that?" Special effects were pretty cool, that was about it. Got to the third one and didn't like it much and then, when they got to the walking and talking teddy bears, that was the end of "Star Wars" for me. Haven't seen the others, don't want to. Don't want to see the originals ever again. I'll never get the "ewoks" out of my head. I never bought into all the BS saying the original "Star Wars" was really the fourth one anyhow.

Here's what I don't like about most "hard" SF I've read (or started to read). Stories should be about people, not about technology or philosophy. Hard SF is almost always about someone's worldview or philosophy – and the author is almost always obnoxiously "religious" about it. They also tend to explain EVERY little goo-gah in their story in minute detail, while pretending that their science FICTION is actually "reality" ... or reality that is "just waiting to happen." Problem is, it's just theory. Maybe it'll happen, maybe it won't. But if you want to write a book on technology or philosophy, don't call it a novel, call it non-fiction.

Now, I know that this is the extreme position, and that there are (probably) good hard SF books with realistic (and interesting) characters. Unfortunately most of the "hard" SF I've read (and there hasn't been a lot, because I hate it) is written by cranks.

Sorry, I'll step off the soapbox now.
Tribbles.
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Old 11-29-2017, 01:11 AM   #74
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Old 11-29-2017, 02:12 AM   #75
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Maybe we're thinking of different movies, but the SF popcorn movies inevitably have an optimistic happy ending (usually the aliens are defeated by the hero that we all thought was dead but pulled through thanks to the power of love).
Don't forget the application of sufficient amounts of handwavium.
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