Author Topic: Bad science and science fiction  (Read 11272 times)

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Offline Ah.hell

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Re: Bad science and science fiction
« Reply #45 on: June 28, 2008, 01:11:52 PM »

It still bothers me to see blinded pilots. Did you see the episode where the new pilots were practicing shooting at asteroids and trying to dock with Galactica for refueling? No wonder they had problems, they had lights shining in their faces. The pilots could be really rebellious and turn off the lights in their faces; I certainly would. Instantly better pilotage.

Another one:
Have you ever seen a press conference? In real life, they sit quietly and take turns asking questions. On BSG, they are very badly behaved indeed.

The show is about humans living on 12 earth like planets in close proximity to one another who are destroyed by the human clones created by their former robot slaves.  Now they rely on their former education ministers profect visions to lead them to Earth.  And you have problem with lights shining in the wrong direction and disordered press conferences.

Quote
Maybe we should make a distinction between science fiction such as Arthur C. Clarke (hard sci-fi?) and Fantasy science fiction such as Battlestart Galactica and Star Trek? FTL, hypercommunications, Cylon babes etc flying with a light shining in your faces 'cause it looks purty?

How about;

Hard Science Fiction for the really sciencey stuff.
Soft Science Fiction for the less sciencey stuff.
Space Opera for the really not sciencey at all but still happens in space.
Fantasy for the really not sciencey at all and doesn't happen in space.

I've always thought Larry Niven had decent science given that he wrote mostly in the 70's.  Usually there is only one or two really questionable leaps of science.


And because I'm a nerd, it bothers me that the humans had such a hard time detecting cylons.  Boomer plugged herself in to the BSG mainframe in one episode and they can down load.  There has to be some easily detected hardware or a signal that can be detected.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2008, 01:15:05 PM by Ah.hell »

Offline carrotflowers

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Re: Bad science and science fiction
« Reply #46 on: June 28, 2008, 01:14:41 PM »
Well, my husband has actually complained about the Quorum always being depicted like a bunch of spoiled children with no manners and no capacity for logical thought or comprehending words. I am more in the suspension of willing disbelief camp, so even though it may be true that the press conferences and Quorum bits are maybe not done so well, who cares? The show still rules overall. Wah, when will it be back?

As for hard/soft/space opera/fantasy - I mean, I believe those distinctions are already out there. But I think the thread is really about whatever David thinks is bad sci fi, as he already admitted ;)
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Offline DaveTheReader

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Re: Bad science and science fiction
« Reply #47 on: June 28, 2008, 02:04:30 PM »
Quote
Maybe we should make a distinction between science fiction such as Arthur C. Clarke (hard sci-fi?) and Fantasy science fiction such as Battlestart Galactica and Star Trek? FTL, hypercommunications, Cylon babes etc flying with a light shining in your faces 'cause it looks purty?

.....
How about;

Hard Science Fiction for the really sciencey stuff.
Soft Science Fiction for the less sciencey stuff.
Space Opera for the really not sciencey at all but still happens in space.
Fantasy for the really not sciencey at all and doesn't happen in space.

I've always thought Larry Niven had decent science given that he wrote mostly in the 70's.  Usually there is only one or two really questionable leaps of science.


And because I'm a nerd, it bothers me that the humans had such a hard time detecting cylons.  Boomer plugged herself in to the BSG mainframe in one episode and they can down load.  There has to be some easily detected hardware or a signal that can be detected.

As a nerd, I also agree that the humans ought to be able to detect the cylons. If you can’t detect them, the distinction is meaningless.
In Phillip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep / Bladerunner, the androids were given an empathy test. As good as the movie was, the book was better. In the book, the lack of empathy made them unsuitable as playmates. In the movie, Bladerunner, Decker goes off with an android babe. Which comes back to the original problem. If you really can’t tell the difference between the two, then what is the point. I guess that the movie public (16 – 25 year old male?) prefers fantasy (female that does whatever you want) over a better guess at what reality may look like. In DADOES, the androids were not desirable as playmates, so, it didn’t happen.



Offline DaveTheReader

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Re: Bad science and science fiction
« Reply #48 on: June 28, 2008, 02:18:32 PM »
Well, my husband has actually complained about the Quorum always being depicted like a bunch of spoiled children with no manners and no capacity for logical thought or comprehending words. I am more in the suspension of willing disbelief camp, so even though it may be true that the press conferences and Quorum bits are maybe not done so well, who cares? The show still rules overall. Wah, when will it be back?

As for hard/soft/space opera/fantasy - I mean, I believe those distinctions are already out there. But I think the thread is really about whatever David thinks is bad sci fi, as he already admitted ;)

Probability theory gives you something of a different perspective on things. The average adult American doesn’t read books, probably under 15%. What percentage of Americans who do read, are reading science fiction, maybe 10%? Of the science fiction reading Americans, how many read the books I read? Don’t know. The number making it through all of those probabilities is quite small, probably well under 1% of all Americans. SGU fans seem to be people who read. There is a grouping called “books”. Under books, I noticed that there are mentions of science fiction.
So, I have managed to find a small group of people against the odds.
In California, the Huntington Beach Barnes & Noble had a science fiction reading group. Unfortunately, I am on the other side of the country.
It has been great to throw ideas around, particularly when others throw them back.

Thanks everyone!


Offline KarenX

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Re: Bad science and science fiction
« Reply #49 on: June 28, 2008, 02:32:02 PM »
From a 2007 USA Today poll:

Quote
One in four adults read no books at all in the past year, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll released Tuesday.

That means about 75 percent of American adults did read books last year. They do report that in 2002 only 57 percent of adults read a book. They did not say how many people read sci-fi.

Offline DaveTheReader

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Re: Bad science and science fiction
« Reply #50 on: June 28, 2008, 02:52:53 PM »

...
...

...
...
How about;

Hard Science Fiction for the really sciencey stuff.
Soft Science Fiction for the less sciencey stuff.
Space Opera for the really not sciencey at all but still happens in space.
Fantasy for the really not sciencey at all and doesn't happen in space.

I've always thought Larry Niven had decent science given that he wrote mostly in the 70's.  Usually there is only one or two really questionable leaps of science.


...

Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle’s The Mote in God’s Eye is one of the best science fiction stories I have ever read. Fortunately, there are no gods in the story. I would have read it sooner if I had known that.
I also recently read The Gripping Hand.
A few weeks ago, I finished Dream Park By Niven and Barnes.
I am working my way through the Ringworld series. There are also books on the Kzin.
I enjoyed Footfall – Niven and Pournelle.
I recently read The Draco Tavern.
Burning City was very disappointing.

When a sci-fi writer writes a book with someone else, does that mean the other person wrote the book?
For example, when Arthur C. Clarke wrote the Rama series with Gentry Lee, after the first one, does that mean that Lee wrote most of the book? Yes. When Niven wrote with Pournelle, does that mean Pournelle did the wrting? Niven oversaw the project?

Offline Kurt

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Re: Bad science and science fiction
« Reply #51 on: June 28, 2008, 03:23:24 PM »


When a sci-fi writer writes a book with someone else, does that mean the other person wrote the book?
For example, when Arthur C. Clarke wrote the Rama series with Gentry Lee, after the first one, does that mean that Lee wrote most of the book? Yes. When Niven wrote with Pournelle, does that mean Pournelle did the wrting? Niven oversaw the project?


I think it varies greatly. The only thing I have ever read on how a book with two authors was written is this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_Omens#Authorship

I suspect however that Arthur C. Clarke's last few co-authored books were largely written by his collaborators.
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Offline KarenX

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Re: Bad science and science fiction
« Reply #52 on: June 28, 2008, 03:26:31 PM »
I don't know about how the "and" collaborations work, but the word "with" is a guaranteed ghostwriter. The lead name puts forward the story idea and maybe gets veto power and the supporting name does all the work.

Offline DaveTheReader

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Re: Bad science and science fiction
« Reply #53 on: June 28, 2008, 03:35:29 PM »
From a 2007 USA Today poll:

Quote
One in four adults read no books at all in the past year, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll released Tuesday.

That means about 75 percent of American adults did read books last year. They do report that in 2002 only 57 percent of adults read a book. They did not say how many people read sci-fi.


An interesting article! Well worth reading.

I try to limit my definition of reading to books.

Our group leader at Barnes and Noble for the science fiction group, worked at Barnes & Noble. She thought that about 25% of people read books. Anecdotal.
I find that when I ask people about the books they read, I usually get something about how they have been really busy and haven’t been doing as much reading as they would like. On the other hand, they are usually well up on the things where I fail, such as Friends, Seinfeld, Sex and the City and many that I don’t know about.

If you do a survey, how many people will answer honestly?

On one of the other threads, mention was made of TANSTAAFL and grok. You either know what it means or you don’t. I don’t think that they have been turned into movies. So, these people probably read Heinlein’s books or heard of it from someone else.

It would be interesting to know how accurate the data is. Also, what is the precise definition of reading?
One thing that I became aware of recently was the bias of surveying people by telephone. Older people have land lines, younger people often do not have land lines, only cell phones. In my case, I haven’t had a personal land line since 2002. I don’t answer surveys when I am working. I was living in the Los Angeles area, where I was being charged long distance to call from one area code to another. With a cell phone, I can call anywhere in the continental US for the same rate. It was cheaper to simply disconnect the land line.

Since I don’t have anything better than the AP-Ipsos poll, I guess that will have to stand, though it goes against my own informal survey. The people I ask, are typically computer programmers and network engineers that I work with, perhaps that is the bias.

Do the statistics fit your own experience? I assume that you read, since this is a book blog.

Offline DaveTheReader

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Re: Bad science and science fiction
« Reply #54 on: June 28, 2008, 04:15:51 PM »


When a sci-fi writer writes a book with someone else, does that mean the other person wrote the book?
For example, when Arthur C. Clarke wrote the Rama series with Gentry Lee, after the first one, does that mean that Lee wrote most of the book? Yes. When Niven wrote with Pournelle, does that mean Pournelle did the wrting? Niven oversaw the project?


I think it varies greatly. The only thing I have ever read on how a book with two authors was written is this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_Omens#Authorship

I suspect however that Arthur C. Clarke's last few co-authored books were largely written by his collaborators.

I haven’t read much Gaimen or Pratchett, but an interesting article.

I have noticed that female science fiction is distinctly different from male science fiction. There seems to be few female science fiction writers, so, when I find such a book, I try to read it.

I don’t remember where I read it, but Orson Scott Card wrote an “And” book with Kathryn H. Kidd called Lovelock. I greatly enjoyed the book and I think that it was fairly obviously written by a female. Card said that collaborating on the book was twice the work for half the pay. I haven’t seen any other Kathryn H. Kidd books.

I have read a few anecdotes on Clarke and others. One of the better sc-ifi books I have read is The Trigger by Arthur C. Clarke and Michael K. Kube McDowell. I did read another Kube McDowell book – Alternities, not a bad read. It seems that there are a lot of emails, before that there were faxes. As I understand it, Gentry Lee wrote most of the books in the Rama Series that were “and” books. It would be interesting to know.

Offline Kurt

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Re: Bad science and science fiction
« Reply #55 on: June 28, 2008, 05:26:14 PM »


When a sci-fi writer writes a book with someone else, does that mean the other person wrote the book?
For example, when Arthur C. Clarke wrote the Rama series with Gentry Lee, after the first one, does that mean that Lee wrote most of the book? Yes. When Niven wrote with Pournelle, does that mean Pournelle did the wrting? Niven oversaw the project?


I think it varies greatly. The only thing I have ever read on how a book with two authors was written is this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_Omens#Authorship

I suspect however that Arthur C. Clarke's last few co-authored books were largely written by his collaborators.

I haven’t read much Gaimen or Pratchett, but an interesting article.

I have noticed that female science fiction is distinctly different from male science fiction. There seems to be few female science fiction writers, so, when I find such a book, I try to read it.

I don’t remember where I read it, but Orson Scott Card wrote an “And” book with Kathryn H. Kidd called Lovelock. I greatly enjoyed the book and I think that it was fairly obviously written by a female. Card said that collaborating on the book was twice the work for half the pay. I haven’t seen any other Kathryn H. Kidd books.

I have read a few anecdotes on Clarke and others. One of the better sc-ifi books I have read is The Trigger by Arthur C. Clarke and Michael K. Kube McDowell. I did read another Kube McDowell book – Alternities, not a bad read. It seems that there are a lot of emails, before that there were faxes. As I understand it, Gentry Lee wrote most of the books in the Rama Series that were “and” books. It would be interesting to know.



Um, right now the most award winning scifi author (Hugo and Nebula awards for fiction) is a woman. As for saying there is a distinction between men and women writers, have you never read any James Tiptree, Jr. ?


edit: If you really can't find them, here are a few I recommend:

Kage Baker
Lois McMaster Bujold
Octavia E. Butler
Nancy Kress
Ursula K. Le Guin
Doris Lessing
Elizabeth Moon
James Tiptree, Jr
Joan D. Vinge
Connie Willis



« Last Edit: June 28, 2008, 05:31:21 PM by Kurt »
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Offline DaveTheReader

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Re: Bad science and science fiction
« Reply #56 on: June 28, 2008, 06:21:37 PM »

...

...

...


Um, right now the most award winning scifi author (Hugo and Nebula awards for fiction) is a woman. As for saying there is a distinction between men and women writers, have you never read any James Tiptree, Jr. ?


edit: If you really can't find them, here are a few I recommend:

Kage Baker
Lois McMaster Bujold
Octavia E. Butler
Nancy Kress
Ursula K. Le Guin
Doris Lessing
Elizabeth Moon
James Tiptree, Jr
Joan D. Vinge
Connie Willis






I hadn’t heard of James Tiptree, Jr. until you mentioned her. It looks like she mostly wrote short stories and novelettes.
I didn’t read a lot of science fiction until after 9/11. I read almost exclusively non-fiction. I had read 3 or 4 science-fiction to that point, mostly Heinlein. With all the time on my hands, I looked for some escapism.

I read an Unsula K. LeGuin, which sits near Gentry Lee at the bookstores. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ursula_K._Le_Guin
Where it is described as soft science fiction.
I haven’t tried Elisabeth Moon yet.
My observation, based on a limited sample, is that women authors spend more time on character development and aren’t as concerned about the science aspects, the objects.
For example, all of the physical activity in the LeGuin storey I read could be summarized in a few sentences. The character development was all of the rest of the book.

Thanks for the list. Maybe I will try Moon next. I see that Moon wrote some stories with Anne McCaffrey.
Well, next trip to the bookstore.

Offline Kurt

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Re: Bad science and science fiction
« Reply #57 on: June 28, 2008, 06:46:14 PM »
If you want to try Moon first i would say that The Speed of Dark is her best novel.
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Offline carrotflowers

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Re: Bad science and science fiction
« Reply #58 on: June 28, 2008, 08:52:39 PM »
Kurt - I actually recently added Moon to my queue, but had planned starting with the Vatta's War series. Have you read it / did you like it?
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Offline Kurt

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Re: Bad science and science fiction
« Reply #59 on: June 28, 2008, 09:48:57 PM »
Kurt - I actually recently added Moon to my queue, but had planned starting with the Vatta's War series. Have you read it / did you like it?

No, I haven't read those yet, but I plan on reading them. I've mostly read her short fiction in analog and SF&F. If you read vattas war first let me know what you think. I try to go alternate between "literary" scifi/fantasy and "pulp" scifi and i just finished up Charles Stross's family trade books so as soon as im done with this 2nd damn Malazan book i will need to find more pulp to start, which it sounds like the vattas war would cover. Just to clarify I don't mean pulp in a bad way, just in the space opera / adventure kinda way. Which reminds me the Kage Baker books are awesome too. check those out if you get time. Infact, if you have an e-reader, Tor gave away pdf's of the first book, In the Garden of Iden, I can email it or something. Tor has been giving away a book a week through their newsletter and some have been great. This weeks was the Battlestar Galactica novel.
I eat babies
Well, hell jus froze over. I agree with Kurt here (although he is still a dick).