Author Topic: Why is science fiction so hard to define?  (Read 2143 times)

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Offline Machiavelli

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Why is science fiction so hard to define?
« on: August 02, 2014, 12:27:44 PM »
Quentin Cooper
BBC
July 30, 2014

Quote
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.

More

This article links two other articles, The 100 best sci-fi movies: Leading sci-fi experts, filmmakers, science fiction writers, film critics and scientists pick the best sci-fi movies ever made and '2001' and beyond, Neil deGrasse Tyson names his top 10 sci-fi films.

I always thought Blade Runner was overrated, but perhaps I need to give it another viewing.


Offline AbaraXas

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Re: Why is science fiction so hard to define?
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2014, 12:34:11 PM »
It is like Metal music. You know it when you hear it and can easily distinguish it from every other genre, but it has such a large family tree, one definition never works.




Offline Chieftain

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Re: Why is science fiction so hard to define?
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2014, 03:02:45 PM »
No Larry Niven??  Ringworld?? Pac Protectors??  Pierson's Puppeteers?? Bussard Ramjets??  Lucifer's Hammer??
« Last Edit: August 02, 2014, 03:03:14 PM by Chieftain »

Offline aligncare

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Re: Why is science fiction so hard to define?
« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2014, 03:26:19 PM »
The music world seems to have developed pathological need for labels, making music discussion kind of loopy.

For example, listening to certain songs, I have difficulty distinguishing between Indy and Alternative. And, further, does it matter to my enjoyment how the music is labeled?
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Offline EC

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Re: Why is science fiction so hard to define?
« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2014, 03:30:47 PM »
No Larry Niven??  Ringworld?? Pac Protectors??  Pierson's Puppeteers?? Bussard Ramjets??  Lucifer's Hammer??

I'm noting a distinct lack of Heinlein and Asimov too.

Reminds me - if you haven't already, grab a copy of Variable Star, by Spider Robinson. It were written from notes Robert Heinlein made before he died. He did bloody well with it. Got the voice perfect.
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Offline Chieftain

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Re: Why is science fiction so hard to define?
« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2014, 04:29:47 PM »
I'm noting a distinct lack of Heinlein and Asimov too.

Reminds me - if you haven't already, grab a copy of Variable Star, by Spider Robinson. It were written from notes Robert Heinlein made before he died. He did bloody well with it. Got the voice perfect.

on my wish list at Amazon....

 :beer:

Offline Machiavelli

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Re: Why is science fiction so hard to define?
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2014, 04:42:13 PM »
No Larry Niven??  Ringworld?? Pac Protectors??  Pierson's Puppeteers?? Bussard Ramjets??  Lucifer's Hammer??

I'm noting a distinct lack of Heinlein and Asimov too.

Reminds me - if you haven't already, grab a copy of Variable Star, by Spider Robinson. It were written from notes Robert Heinlein made before he died. He did bloody well with it. Got the voice perfect.

The article is about films, not books.

Offline EC

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Re: Why is science fiction so hard to define?
« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2014, 04:45:26 PM »
on my wish list at Amazon....

 :beer:

 :beer:

His Callahan series is a bit odd, but incredibly fun. He's a nice man. I did something I almost never do and wrote him an email when Variable Star came out. He replied at great length. Still got the print out somewhere, probably tucked inside the book cover.  :laugh:

Met Heinlein once too. Were on a road trip (I get bored easy) and, being young and stupid, didn't think that authors rate their privacy. Doing the fan thing, basically. Spent the afternoon lugging rocks in the sun while we talked. He were a cold bugger but frighteningly smart. His wife were charming as hell.
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Online DCPatriot

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Re: Why is science fiction so hard to define?
« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2014, 05:02:59 PM »
Today, Minority Report is science fiction.  Not sure if in another decade or so, it would qualify.

Ironically, even aliens from another dimension or an earthly underworld, while science fiction today....not sure in another decade or so..... :laugh:
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Offline Oceander

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Re: Why is science fiction so hard to define?
« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2014, 05:44:02 PM »
It is like Metal music. You know it when you hear it and can easily distinguish it from every other genre, but it has such a large family tree, one definition never works.






so many good bands on that diagram!


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