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What is the point of Sci-Fi. A Mad Doc Grotsnik lefty brain fart.  [RSS] Share on facebook Share on Twitter Submit to Reddit
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Made in gb
Princeps of the Emperor's Titan!

How do? As warned, my political leanings (but hopefully not my own politics) are about to show.

See, I’ve been a Sci-Fi fan so long as I can remember. Given I’m 39 in a few weeks, that’s not really all that old, but not all that young. But it’s still a substantial part of my life.

And to me? The point of sci-fi is to hold up a mirror to our current culture and prejudices. What those might be, I’ll leave to you, because I don’t much fancy having a thread shut down this early. And I really don’t want to antagonise The Mods.

But when you think about it, that’s what so much of Sci-Fi does. It takes the way we’re headed, and adds an extreme spin to things, following progression to a twisted, but not illogical conclusion.

And many modern scientists will be of a similar vintage to myself, and likely be aware of the same films and series and books I’m into, even if they’re not necessarily fans.

A clear example is Star Trek. I’m typing this on my iPad. Would a young Me actually believe I’d have such a fantastical device? Ain’t no cable to be seen. And I grew up with the humble, rubber keyed Spectrum. That required a separate monitor/telly, and a tape deck to load the games. Yes, tapes. A technology pretty much vanished entirely within my own lifetime. And being born in 1980, it didn’t predate me by all that much. Where would be if Star Trek (particularly TNG) hadn’t postulated such things? How many well clever fellow Nerds watched the same shows I did as a kid, and decided ‘I’m gonna make that, but like, for reals’? And then, y’know, actually did?

Then there’s the warning. Asimov’s rules are all fine and well. And make good sense. But then clever folk found logical ways out of it. We therefore get to Terminator (message there, programme it properly and cleverly), iRobot (not very good to be honest) and so on. And as we edge ever closer to entirely automated warfare, who knows what influence and wisdom said films might’ve imparted into those that will ultimately usher in that age?

Sci-Fi. It’s not just predicting the fyootcha, but giving clear warnings of ‘you don’t wanna do it like that, because extinction’

There. Wasn’t too political. Feared it would be, but seem to have dodged it!

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Made in ca
Boom! Leman Russ Commander

London, Ontario

I’d agree. Sci-fi is either hopeful, or a warning, in my experience. ST:TNG was full-on optimism while there are too many warnings to list.

My anecdotal experience is that creatives tend towards lefter politics than right, so I expect most fiction has a leftist bias. One of the reasons I loved BioShock, the video game series, is that *extremism* is portrayed as villainous, not just left or right. I think that’s unusual for science fiction, and was refreshing for me.

I agree with the general sentiment. Sci-fi is likely the inspiration for many developments in technology. I am in a similar boat, born in 1981. I’ve seen technologies come and go. It’s wild. I’ll get to tell my kids about the days before cell phones and the internet the way my great grandparents told me about radio and television.

“Back in my day, we used to keep a quarter in our shoes so we could call home from a pay phone, if we got into trouble! None of this cell phone wifi data overages gibberish you kids go on about today!”

I hope sci-fi continues to inspire, and warn, future generations.
Made in us
Decrepit Dakkanaut

Sci-Fi is weird. . .

There was a documentary I watched quite some time ago, where they talked about how, looking with the largest scope/painting with the broadest brush, taking the "whole" of sci-fi for a given period people notice that major dystopian films/books are released during a "high point" in society, usually right before an economic crash or social change that is negative. On the flipside, super hopeful sci-fi had a tendency to be released during the major effects of said crash/negative change.

There are times where I think that some high-minded academic talk of sci-fi can "ruin" a good book/story with overly dissecting and discussing how a story reflects our times, etc. but I agree with both of you by and large. . . Writing as someone with a history degree who has used some rather odd-ball sources in various academic papers, I think that most writers DO reflect "today" (whenever today happened to be when they were writing) even if unintentionally.

Made in us
Awesome Autarch

Eh, I think Sci-Fi as a genre is far too broad to categorize too easily.

Science Fiction can be simply a different platform for an ancient story, whether that story is tragic, hopeful, comedic, etc. Sometimes it's just a different place setting - different props on stage, etc. Star Wars is a good example. It follows that ultra-classical story arc as dictated in that famous book (drawing a blank) and really is not anything about "where we're headed" unless your version of that is...."things'll still be the same in the future", etc.

Sometimes Science Fiction is simply used as a device to make a plot work because otherwise it's too tough. How many science fiction movies have we had where there is an arbitrary "condition" which is less a warning, and simply a plot device to produce a conflict or struggle. "Oh we're out of water" - "Oh we're out of land", "Oh we can't have babies", "Oh there are thought police" etc. Some of these may be intended as actual social commentary (blah blah blah) but a bunch of them are not that deep. Having been in film school and grown up in the arts I've seen far too many people over-analyze EVERY single component of a film, when often the answer is that the director or writer just thought X was cool.

Films which take place in the modern world or the 20th century are often tough to justify because we have to create a bunch of increasingly silly situations to get the drama, conflict, or threat in. How many hilarious ways have you seen cell phones out of service, dropped in water, left at the gas station, run over by a car, etc. etc. etc. You have things which you need to establish "Well, why don't the police show up?". In a fantastical setting, Science Fiction or Fantasy you can more easily maneuver the story without having to cover all of your "realism" bases which can really feel forced.

So I think you get the full range from:

A) Let's make a deep social commentary piece which will cause people to re-evaluate...etc. etc.


Z) You know what's fething cool? Robots with fething lasers. Let's do that.

Made in us
Depraved Slaanesh Chaos Lord

Inside Yvraine

All fiction is a reflection of ourselves. It's people who write it afterall, and the inspiration for ideas has to come from somewhere. Big or small, real life plays a part in any story that humans people.

Made in us
Leader of the Sept

Sci-Fi also allows people to swallow concepts and th8ings easier then without.
For example, my mother. I doubt she would have enjoyed a story about a african american Radicalist who seeks to destroy the world by overthrowing governments and one mans attempt to stop him and make peace with his own sheltered upbringing now that he has power.
But she did when it was Black Panther, She even came out of the movie sympathizing with the villain saying "He did bad things but I didnt want him to die, but he did them for the right reasons"
Also, Sci-fi some Extent fantasy always tend towards liberal leanings. I feel this is first, creative types of people always tend towards the fringe edge of society, and if you are there, you probably tend to reject society and be critical of it at the very least. And being critical of the status quo is always gonna be liberal.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/04/15 20:29:45

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