Author Topic: Bad science and science fiction  (Read 10673 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline musteion

  • Well Established
  • *****
  • Posts: 1010
  • Lord of The Pants
Re: Bad science and science fiction
« Reply #15 on: June 23, 2008, 04:13:47 PM »

When the author or director gets many of the details wrong, doesn't that make you a bit suspicious about the big ideas?

Not usually.  At the risk of flinging tautologies... ideas are ideas.  Technology in books becomes just like any other plot device.  It's used to drive and frame the narrative and give the characters something to talk about.  The social commentary (and plot for that matter) comes from how people relate to each other and their environment.

And that's why this...

Quote
Which brings back the question about whether there is much value in reading 50 year old science fiction?

...is an odd thing to ask.

Electrifying dead flesh will never (as far as anyone knows) reanimate a corpse. And yet, the tale of Frankenstein's monster is still relevant and interesting today. Why?  Because the monster's confusion and search for purpose, Victor's short-sighted but somewhat pure motives, and the sometimes catastrophic drive to create for the sake of creation... these ideas and analogies are relevant to all of science, even today.  

The regret of many of scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project isn't unlike the regret that Victor felt toward what he had created.

And that's why ideas matter in sci-fi, and the science doesn't.  




Offline MisterMarc

  • Too Much Spare Time
  • ********
  • Posts: 7508
  • The universe seems ...merely indifferent.
    • Schlock Treatment
Re: Bad science and science fiction
« Reply #16 on: June 23, 2008, 05:54:26 PM »

When the author or director gets many of the details wrong, doesn't that make you a bit suspicious about the big ideas?

Not usually.  At the risk of flinging tautologies... ideas are ideas.  Technology in books becomes just like any other plot device.  It's used to drive and frame the narrative and give the characters something to talk about.  The social commentary (and plot for that matter) comes from how people relate to each other and their environment.

Well in defense of David, I agree that if an author fails to convince me of some technology, it makes me enjoy the story less. I mean, a good author can make you believe that little kids can fight wars with scary bug-eyed aliens better than adults. Doesn't have to be accurate, just written with verisimilitude.

Offline musteion

  • Well Established
  • *****
  • Posts: 1010
  • Lord of The Pants
Re: Bad science and science fiction
« Reply #17 on: June 23, 2008, 06:31:01 PM »
Well in defense of David, I agree that if an author fails to convince me of some technology, it makes me enjoy the story less. I mean, a good author can make you believe that little kids can fight wars with scary bug-eyed aliens better than adults. Doesn't have to be accurate, just written with verisimilitude.

Well, I'm not saying sci-fi shouldn't obey its own internal logic... only that if you drop an otherwise good book or series because of the laser swords or spice... you're not seeing the ngem for the drzewa.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2008, 07:04:47 PM by musteion »

Offline MisterMarc

  • Too Much Spare Time
  • ********
  • Posts: 7508
  • The universe seems ...merely indifferent.
    • Schlock Treatment
Re: Bad science and science fiction
« Reply #18 on: June 23, 2008, 06:39:08 PM »
...  if you drop an otherwise book or series because of the laser swords or spice... you're not seeing the ngem for the drzewa.

True dat! I don't know why, but that laser sword mention reminded me of Thundarr the Barbarian. ;D

Offline MikeHz

  • Too Much Spare Time
  • ********
  • Posts: 6884
Re: Bad science and science fiction
« Reply #19 on: June 23, 2008, 08:36:33 PM »
Science fiction can have a short shelve life. This is especially true if it is supposed to take place in the near future, say 20-50 years. I put out a novel ten years ago, and already it's outdated by the facts.

Heinlein wrote "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" at a time when computers were huge, costly things that no one imagined would get so cheap and so common. The general assumption was that the machines would be time-shared, with a large number of people utilizing the same mainframe.

The way I get around anachronisms in fiction is to imagine that whatever science fiction book I'm reading takes place in some other reality, maybe in a nearby parallel universe which is almost like our world, except for some differences.
"It's easier to fool people than to convince them they have been fooled." Mark Twain

Offline KarenX

  • Too Much Spare Time
  • ********
  • Posts: 6226
  • A Simple Girl with an Evil Plan
    • More Women in Skepticism
Re: Bad science and science fiction
« Reply #20 on: June 23, 2008, 08:54:54 PM »
Stupid facts.

Offline pandamonium

  • Skeptical Beer Inspector
  • Planetary Skeptic
  • *
  • Posts: 26014
  • they/them
Re: Bad science and science fiction
« Reply #21 on: June 24, 2008, 02:42:55 AM »
Stupid facts.

stupid fax.

on another note, i like how MikeHZ put it:
Quote
The way I get around anachronisms in fiction is to imagine that whatever science fiction book I'm reading takes place in some other reality, maybe in a nearby parallel universe which is almost like our world, except for some differences.

and MisterMarc:
Quote
these ideas and analogies are relevant to all of science, even today.

also, the fact that science fiction and fantasy are lumped together irritates me, not because i'm opposed to fantasy, but because the two are definitely two distinct genres.  altho i'm sure that there are plenty of line-blurring authors - mercedes lackey.  speaking of which, this podcast is pretty great.  well, the first book is the better half.  it starts to weaken in the second book, but is still ok.
I am become destroyer of biology.

Offline Espresso Frog

  • Not Enough Spare Time
  • **
  • Posts: 245
  • Obey Lemurian mind control !
    • Analysis Paralysis
Re: Bad science and science fiction
« Reply #22 on: June 24, 2008, 07:57:55 AM »
I sort of see a line between anticipation novels that focus just on a new technology and less on character development and the literature form of Sci-Fi which uses a new setting as an excuse to explore one more trait of humanity and society.  Then again I've fled the A.C. Clarke genre of sci-fi to embrace the P.K. Dick mindfuck scenarios where society gets reversed or changed.  other examples RenĂ© Barjavel, Pierre Boulle




Electrifying dead flesh will never (as far as anyone knows) reanimate a corpse. And yet, the tale of Frankenstein's monster is still relevant and interesting today. Why?  Because the monster's confusion and search for purpose, Victor's short-sighted but somewhat pure motives, and the sometimes catastrophic drive to create for the sake of creation... these ideas and analogies are relevant to all of science, even today. 

The regret of many of scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project isn't unlike the regret that Victor felt toward what he had created.

And that's why ideas matter in sci-fi, and the science doesn't. 

Indeed, and there is also this other line of though (feminist) which mentions the death of Mary Shelley's mother when she was giving birth.  Later, Mary would lose her 3 children successively at a very young age.  This may have marked her enough to equate birth with death and may have had an influence into the Frankestein's monster story.  Some say Mary finds herself in that monster. 


All that to confirm that sci-fi that only rely on one gadget or technological context end up pretty fast in the rubbish bin.  Maybe "Sci-Fi" is too vague a category.


Offline Espresso Frog

  • Not Enough Spare Time
  • **
  • Posts: 245
  • Obey Lemurian mind control !
    • Analysis Paralysis
Re: Bad science and science fiction
« Reply #23 on: June 24, 2008, 08:03:03 AM »

also, the fact that science fiction and fantasy are lumped together irritates me, not because i'm opposed to fantasy, but because the two are definitely two distinct genres.  altho i'm sure that there are plenty of line-blurring authors - mercedes lackey.  speaking of which, this podcast is pretty great.  well, the first book is the better half.  it starts to weaken in the second book, but is still ok.

Yup, pretty much.  Being associated with Trekkies just because you like P. K. Dick or Jorge Luis Borges is an insult, a humiliation, a degradation.   


Offline carrotflowers

  • Frequent Poster
  • ******
  • Posts: 2677
  • skepti-feboist
Re: Bad science and science fiction
« Reply #24 on: June 24, 2008, 08:42:28 AM »
And vice versa.
on last.fm & librarything | I loathe you
______________________________________
With great intelligence comes great contempt for humanity. - thefellswooper

Offline MisterMarc

  • Too Much Spare Time
  • ********
  • Posts: 7508
  • The universe seems ...merely indifferent.
    • Schlock Treatment
Re: Bad science and science fiction
« Reply #25 on: June 24, 2008, 11:36:08 AM »
and MisterMarc:
Quote
these ideas and analogies are relevant to all of science, even today.

also, the fact that science fiction and fantasy are lumped together irritates me, not because i'm opposed to fantasy, but because the two are definitely two distinct genres.  altho i'm sure that there are plenty of line-blurring authors - mercedes lackey.  speaking of which, this podcast is pretty great.  well, the first book is the better half.  it starts to weaken in the second book, but is still ok.

Well, actually, musteion said that. I know, I know, usually you see something smart written down and automatically think it's me. 8) It's cool, but credit where credit is due. ;)

Offline pandamonium

  • Skeptical Beer Inspector
  • Planetary Skeptic
  • *
  • Posts: 26014
  • they/them
Re: Bad science and science fiction
« Reply #26 on: June 25, 2008, 12:40:37 AM »
and MisterMarc:
Quote
these ideas and analogies are relevant to all of science, even today.

also, the fact that science fiction and fantasy are lumped together irritates me, not because i'm opposed to fantasy, but because the two are definitely two distinct genres.  altho i'm sure that there are plenty of line-blurring authors - mercedes lackey.  speaking of which, this podcast is pretty great.  well, the first book is the better half.  it starts to weaken in the second book, but is still ok.

Well, actually, musteion said that. I know, I know, usually you see something smart written down and automatically think it's me. 8) It's cool, but credit where credit is due. ;)

 :'(  many great apologies, musteion.

in my defense, i was posting at 30% brain capacity. (tired, not drunk... unfortunately).
I am become destroyer of biology.

Offline pandamonium

  • Skeptical Beer Inspector
  • Planetary Skeptic
  • *
  • Posts: 26014
  • they/them
Re: Bad science and science fiction
« Reply #27 on: June 25, 2008, 12:43:23 AM »
Maybe "Sci-Fi" is too vague a category.

definitely.
I am become destroyer of biology.

Offline musteion

  • Well Established
  • *****
  • Posts: 1010
  • Lord of The Pants
Re: Bad science and science fiction
« Reply #28 on: June 25, 2008, 08:25:34 AM »

Well, actually, musteion said that. I know, I know, usually you see something smart written down and automatically think it's me. 8) It's cool, but credit where credit is due. ;)

*adjusts his tie*

Can't get no respect, I tell ya...

 ;)

Offline wastrel

  • Great poster... or greatest poster?
  • Technical Administrator
  • Poster of Extraordinary Magnitude
  • *****
  • Posts: 13472
  • Science: A cold-hearted bitch with a 14" strap-on
Re: Bad science and science fiction
« Reply #29 on: June 25, 2008, 03:17:30 PM »
BSG is filled with robots, the Cylon. Some very nice looking robots, but robots none the less. Chrome toasters in the old series?

You really aren't bother by this, are you?  This is the central plot point to the entire series.

 

personate-rain