Putting the Fiction Back in Science Fiction

Digital Jedi

Staff member
There is a type Science Fiction literature that fans refer to as "Hard Sci Fi" or "Hardcore Sci Fi". What this essentially means is that this particular type of Science Fiction has been thoroughly researched and every attempt has been made to make certain that the information is as scientifically accurate as possible. While not considered Hard Sci Fi, Star Trek has been known for making the attempt to be as scientifically accurate as possible since the very first series of the 1960s. The writers and consultants have been known to be locked in raging debates over what was scientifically possible and what was pure fantasy. This trend exists in all forms of Sci Fi to this day, both in Hollywood and on the pages of our favorite novels. Clearly, a great deal of effort has gone into putting the science into Science Fiction.

And here in lies the basis for my thread title. While writers and readers alike feel that thoroughly researching the scientific aspects of your story lends it its credibility, I feel that it countermands the whole concept of the phrase "Science Fiction". At some point, writers and readers began to feel that the more scientifically accurate the Sci Fi, the more credible the story. I feel that this is absolutely ridiculous.

What ever happened to taking completely knew ideas and shaping them into something believable? Not taking established scientific fact and trying to make it look like something new. Star Wars took Sci Fi and melded in a fantasy/mystical element to their story with the concept of this all-powerful "Force". Even when the concept of midicloreans was added, this did nothing to change the mystical nature of the Force and it's unexplainable qualities.

Logan's Run is one of my favorite movies from its era, as it creates a vision of the future that had no political or scientific basis to stand on. The world had been devastated by war and the descendants had been living in domed cities for generations. A strange ritual called Carousel, involved people who'd just reached their 30th birthday to stand in the center of this arena. They would float up to the top of the arean, explode in ball of sparks, and be reborn in birthing center as Logan 9, or Sarah 14 or whatever your next incarnations number would be. (This may sound remarkably like the movie "The Island", which came out last year with Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson. Though some plot points are remarkably similar, the overall truth of the "lie" being told to the characters was completely different, and as to make the stories completely dissimilar in their conclusion. Plus, there were no scheming humans in this one, just mislead humans). While certainly much of the scenery and concepts in the movie were certainly scientific, there was no reason for the science to be the center stage of the story. It had to be real enough to carry the plot points along and keep the audience interested in the unique environ of Logan's bizarre world, but it was never the central point, It dressed the main story up, but never completely covered it up.

Battlestar Galactica, (the original, I've yet to see the new one for lack of a cable connection :() was a beautiful example of Science Fiction not being governed by the science of it all. There certainly was some scientific exposition made, but it never dominated the main points of the story. In fact, characters like the the Cherubs, the Cylons, Imperious Leader, where not driven by the science behind their characters, more so then they were driven by their motivations for existing, however evil or mysterious.

Star Trek on the other hand managed to balance these two quite nicely. There was a great deal of scientific theory explored and expanded upon, like the encounter with the Dyson's Sphere, the exploration of wormholes and Cosmic Strings, and the matter/energy conversion theories. But then you had characters like Q, or Trelane that defied any known type of science and laughed in its face, much to our delight. The Gamesters of Triskelion where just a bunch of translucent glowing brains that liked to play Yu-Gi-Oh with real people. The Medusians where aliens that where so ugly that if you saw one you went bonkers. None of this necessarily rooted in any kind of scientific fact, but a Sci Fi treat nonetheless.

So with my Sci Fi novel and with all my genre writing along these lines, I'm going to make a concerted effort to ignore conventional Sci FI writing, and come up with new concepts for a new age. I love Sci Fi, don't get me wrong, otherwise I wouldn't be inspired to write this long winded novel, but I plan on doing so and laughing in the face of conventional science. I certainly won't ignore all of it. Gravity still pulls a person to a planets surface and water is still wet, that's not what I mean by laughing in science's face. What I mean is that I feel it is time to put some of the fiction, some of the fantasy, the imagination that I feel science fiction has always been about back into Science Fiction. Sci Fi used to be borderline fantasy, and somehow, fantasy took completely over, leaving astronauts and explorers to seek new worlds of wonder, as long as it had some basis of fact in it. Heh, when I read a Sci Fi novel, I want to be shot to the moon in a bullet with a giant Smith and Wesson like Jules Verne imagined. And I want to meet H.G Wells' mooncalves when I get there. I want to travel through time in a horseless carriage and meet ridiculously attractive descendants who I'll later hook up with, an save from cannabalistic offshoots. What good is Sci Fi if it's too truly based on reality, I ask? Let's put the fiction back in Science Fiction and see what we can really dream up, really create, and perhaps steal back some of that thunder from the Fantasy writer's and their Harry Rings of Narnia. ;)