Elves Forever, R2 Soon Will Boom

"What would happen if...?" has always been a staple of Science Fiction. What do you wonder about?

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Neurolanis
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Elves Forever, R2 Soon Will Boom

Post by Neurolanis »

The future is now. Literally. Soon we’ll be colonizing on the moon, visiting those underground structures that you know are there, and experimenting with time travel -- we can already shoot tiny particles through time. But with all this glory comes loss -- for naturalism comes at risk under materialism, a loss of self and thus true direction within all the growing masses of city and suburban living, but also for the further destruction of our fragile planet (that we depend on for survival currently, but are non-doubtfully a spiritual part of.

So where does this leave the genders of Sci-Fi and Fantasy fiction? It gives fantasy a boost, for its naturalism and clearly defined evils are a major breath of fresh air in this growingly materialistic world. It simplifies in a time of complexity, comforts in a time of confusion, and gives truth in a time of gross global political lies and the fragmentation of self. Sci-Fi meanwhile has the power to focus upon these changes, and maybe show us where we are headed -- or could be headed if we’re not careful! It can speak to our time in a different way. I look at Fantasy fiction as a look at the true nature of us and our world UNDER all its materialism, while Sci-Fi is set literally in this world -- or its future -- and allows us to see what’s happening and maybe see its possible outcomes.

You know, it occurs to me that Sci-Fi has a FANTASTIC role to play in the near future of our world. Just as folk rock exploded the 60’s, I feel as though we today desire a spiritual, honest, and powerful expression on who and where we are. Look what films like “Star Wars” and “2001: Space Opera” have done for our culture! Huge things! Most Sci-Fi, like most anything, follows along a common path. That path is rather flat and well-defined right now. All it may take is for a single author to write a Sci-Fi not to write a Sci-Fi, but to throw into our faces the reality -- for its beauty and deceit -- of our world and where it may be headed. Let me try to explain what I mean here more clearly. You look at Sci-Fi right now as science, space ships, aliens, robots, and circuits. I’m suggesting that these aspects may soon take a back seat to humanity, feelings, morals, and spiritualism. That you’ll pick up the latest edition of Analogue not to read about space ships and aliens, but to involve yourself in a massive cult phenomena which speaks to you for the truth of who you are and what you desire, and your mixed feelings on the direction of modern society. (Remember, people listened to folk rock in the 60’s for that reason!)

I know, I know. Comparing 60’s folk rock to Sci-Fi, a bit “out there.” But I’ll ask you to please think on this. On the world for where it is and what it needs, and what else besides Sci-Fi could possibly hold up to these large demands? It seems clear to me that Sci-Fi is a huge cultural explosion waiting to happen, and will happen. It just takes some one to catch on. Folk rock was far more than just guitars and music. Sci-Fi can be far more than just science and theories.

As for Fantasy, I believe it has its role (until this Sci-Fi boom kicks in, anyway!) I am currently typing off an epic fantasy novel that I’ve been working on for a while now. I love Fantasy, I love everything Fantasy. I enjoy good Sci-Fi but it so far lacks a certain humanity that Fantasy supports (people think “that’s Sci-Fi!” but it doesn’t have to be that way!) Fantasy will always have its role, I believe. It is the unconscious us, under all this alien DNA and circuitry. It is where the heart of literacy breathes. And of course, any gender can be -- and likely has been at some point -- inspiring, emotional, and about real human issues. I just feel as though Fantasy is the key for this right now.

Fantasy forever, but Sci-Fi in a BIG way soon. What do you think?

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Post by Anthentar »

I don't really agree with your view of where the world itself is going, but I can say that you make a good point about where the fiction itself is going.
I have always found that the world that an author finds him/herself in is reflected in their writings. When you read Tolkien's writings, you always know who the enemy is, and though there is some confusion about spies and assassins, they don't play a great part in his work, and neither did they play a great part in his world. Those things to a backseat to the Great Wars.
On the other hand, Robert Jordon weaves a very confusing book about an enemy that is always there, but does very little himself. He sends spies out instead, and you can't take a single step without running into some problems with spies or traitors. This reflects his existence during the Cold War.
I think that the writing will be affected by the world around us, and so whatever the future holds, it will be reflected in Sci-Fi and Fantasy.
"He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become one. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into you." - Beyond Good and Evil, aphorism 146

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Post by Neurolanis »

Yes. Agreed. Other genders like mystery and romance will not, while drama and horror will reflect various elements. Fantasy I still see is more escapism, dealing with inner truth. Sci-Fi I think will reflect the world and where it is going the best.

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Post by Magus »

[NOTE: The posts here are only the first three posts from this topic. The rest have been moved here, under "Off Topic Conversations" and with the new title of Formerly of "Elves Forever, R2 Soon Will Boom". Here you can discuss the topic in the direction that it took after the first three posts. But this topic is meant to discuss the original topic as posted by Neurolanis. The topic was split at Neurolanis' request when he said how the topic had gone hopelessly off track. Magus.]

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Post by Neurolanis »

I think Sci-Fi has an important place in the near-future, and I hope fantasy does as well. I think myth will gradually work its way into Sci-Fi and it will become more human, more inspiring. Philip K. Dick made it personal, in a dark way. It doesn't have to be just in a dark way.

Does anyone have any comments on this?

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Post by Freefly Jag »

Interesting topic. I think science fiction is in trouble, though.

In the 70's and 80's, the sci-fi section of the bookstores would alternate between "hard science" stories and "fantasy" stories every few years. Since I only liked hard science, I would simply re-read what I already owned during the fantasy times (though I did buy a few and enjoyed them well enough). In the 90's, the genre seemed to change to cyberscience stories, usually about the dark side of computer technology and information control. Interestingly, it was during one of the fantasy cycles that (in desperation), I picked up the paperback version of CotCB.

The Washington Post has a 'Book World' section every Sunday. The last Sunday each month was dedicated to science fiction. They stopped the science fiction dedication in the mid-90's; there simply weren't enough science fiction books to review!

I think the problem with hard science fiction these days is for several reasons.

1. Science is too incomprehensible - Science fiction used to be about rockets, space travel, odd planetary environments, technology improvements, etc. In short, it was about engineering and physical environments; things any intelligent person can understand with some relative ease. *Kids* could do rocketry, adults could imagine the challenges of different environments, technology and engineering improvements were all around us.

What have we got today? String theory, quantum mechanics, quarks, etc. You can't make much of a story from things like that. The beauty of the older science fiction was that it partly explained the science being used as it used it in a story. And a interested reader could follow most of it. No more.

2. Reality set in - In the last decade, we have come to realize that space travel, lunar or Martian colonies, and terraforming planets for human habitation are far less likely than was once thought. What used to be seen as a bright promise of the not-too-distant future now hangs above like a golden apple forever out of reach. What child can reasonably think that he or she might one day live on the Moon? Outer space is almost depressing because it represents a dream we cannot reach.

3. Science fiction cannot suggest solutions to current problems - I remember when most stories seemed to show how we could solve social problems on Earth by using science. Themes like overpopulation, social inequality, medical advances, food shortages, etc were used by writers to show how scientific advancement and human ingenuity could solve them. I don't think people have that kind of confidence in science anymore.

4. The internet - I used to read voraciously. Mostly science fiction, but also real science, history, textbooks about various sciences. I hardly read at all anymore. Why? Because of the internet. 10 years ago, I would have been reading a book right now. But now, here I am on the internet.

I think there are 2 aspects to this change. First, 10 years ago (and earlier, of course), if I wanted to learn about something, I had to buy a book about it. Today, if I am curious about something, I just search for it on the internet.

Now, what happens in each of those situations? Let's say I was curious about early humans and discovery of fire. In 1990, I had to buy a whole book, like 'Lucy's Child', by Johanson. Today, I might find a couple short articles and be satisfied when some specific question was answered.

What happened here? In 1990, I read a whole book and was exposed to much more information on a variety of subjects relating to ancient humans. I picked up information on questions I had not even thought to ask! Today, I would get my question answered (maybe), but pick up nothing else.

Second, there is the matter of internet "communities of interest". On my own, there are very few people I know who share my interests. And if I find one, I sort of have to take the things not of common interest of the individual, to keep that person as a friend. On the internet, on this site (for example), that is not really the case. When someone posts on a subject that interests me (say, evolution), I read it. When the same person posts on subjects that don't interest me (say, hot-air ballooning), I don't read it. That person doesn't get annoyed with me just because I don't share an interest in hot-air ballooning; they don't even know I don't care about it!

Because I can "talk to" people on-line about subjects that interest me that no one I know in real life cares about. I spend time on the internet that I used to spend reading.

Science fiction has lost out to both reality, internet competition, and lack of easy comprehension of modern science. Temporarily, at least. Perhaps new writers will find a way to make science fiction relevant again, or science will achieve a model more easily comprehensible to the interested layman, or a new technology will demonstrate that great possibilities are once again within reach. But until something changes, science fiction is going to struggle.

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Post by aldan »

I personally think that the 80s were bad for the space age. The reason for that is because it started to really concentrate on the Earth. Sure, they sent up space shuttles, but those stayed close to the Earth and did things that directly involved the people here on the Earth. We seemed to lose sight of the goal of traveling to other planets. Everything was focused here, and it still is. At least we've started again to do the exploratory types of space missions, but those are not manned missions, and I don't know when someone will be willing to do one. We need it, and more than just for the information. We need that "something to believe in" that was just mentioned quite well by FFJ (by the way, WELCOME!). I believe that if we don't really work on the creation of a new type of space craft and SOON, then the "space race" will be lost. Not to another country, but to time.
"It is better to keep your mouth shut and to appear stupid than
to open it and remove all doubt."
---Mark Twain

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