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Thread: What is the purpose of Science Fiction?

  1. #21
    Highly Hollow Array Wandering's Avatar
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    Dec 2007


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  2. #22


    Quote Originally Posted by FMWarner View Post
    I don't think sci-fi is about technology. I also don't think it's about characters. I think it's about ideas.

    The best science fiction encourages us to think about a new idea, or to consider an old idea in a new way. The technology is just a device. It's easier to consider an idea abstractly when it's removed from our current time and place, which is why so many science fiction stories take place in the future world of outer space. Advanced technology also makes it easier to introduce story elements that can be introduced in no other way.

    Look at one of the most famous and beloved science fiction works of all time, Star Trek. Yeah, it's in the future and yeah, they have phasers and spaceships. But the stories are the same morality plays that have worked in drama for centuries. They just get a fresh coat of paint by being staged in the future. Look at perhaps THE most famous science fiction film of all time, 2001: A Space Odyssey. The idea is the thing. The story is about the evolution of man over many thousands of years and the help mankind may have gotten along the way. Now, with such a long timeline, you have to go into the future. And to go into the future, you need technology. So we have the spaceships and the computer with advanced AI. And we have human characters that propel the story. But the tech isn't the thing; the wooden characters aren't the thing; they're the coat of paint on the car, not the engine. The engine is a philosophical idea.
    I mostly agree with this, probably because I am more of a Theatre geek than a sci-fi geek. In general a good play/movie depends on these elements and in this order: plot, character, theme, dialogue, music & special effects. (I put music and special effects together since special effects are more important in movies, so I won't put it in the last place like it is for plays.) In general good plot, characters, theme and dialogue can make even a low budget movie fantastic, while a bad movie with a high budget is still a bad movie.

    Once you know what makes a good movie, then you can look at the strengths of specific genres. I agree with FMWarner that theme is a real strength of sci-fi. When you take something out of context and put it into a fantastic setting it emphasizes the theme more, and this is essentially what sci-fi does. Of course it still helps to have interesting plot and characters.

    The type of sci-fi that annoys me the most is when it seems like the writers are actively trying to predict the future. When will sci-fi writers learn that the future is created and not extrapolated?
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