The Sword and Laser discussion

Why is fantasy more popular than scifi?

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message 1: by Jason (new)

Jason Craft (vigroco) | 20 comments The fantasy genre has exploded in the last decade, leaving science fiction to slide back into obscurity. Why do you think this is?

I personally feel it has a little to do with a false assumption that all scifi is hard scifi. People don't really care to read about physics puzzles solved with technobabble. They want stories about real people having awesome adventures, which fantasy delivers very well.

It was a struggle for me to introduce one of my friends to scifi because she literally thought all the stories were going to be about people cruising around in deep space doing tedious things. I finally convinced her to read Dune and watch BSG, and she loved them both. I have recommended a few more books to her, so we shall see if she comes over to the laser side of things.

message 2: by Rachel (new)

Rachel | 34 comments My theory is that, when science fiction was really popular, back in the 50s and 60s, our society tended to be more optimistic about the future. Science was going to solve all our problems, take us to the stars, allow us to reach our fullest potential as human beings.

But as time progressed, I think we started seeing the future as less I, Robot and more Blade Runner. It became less hopeful, less optimistic. Science stopped being the solution to our problems and started being the cause. It's interesting that in most science fiction coming out today, the Earth has usually been destroyed or severely damaged (as in Hyperion and The Hunger Games and anything about the zombie apocalypse.)

So I think the pendulum swung back towards fantasy - to a time before we discovered how to split the atom or even how to make gunpowder. Science can't make everything better, let's think about a world where magic can.

message 3: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 919 comments I have a ten year old daughter, and I noticed that her school is not pushing the wonders of the planets and outerspace. I remember a time when you see pictures of the planets, milky way, etc. all around the classroom. I believe that you're most influenced by what you're exposed to in your childhood. If the wonders of physical sciences and the galaxies were not presented in a delightful way, children will not care for it.

I find the sciences and math mysterious and wonderful, along with the beauty of art. If people were never exposed to those things in ways that tshows the beauty of them, they go toward what they find easiest to comprehend.

message 4: by Random (last edited Jun 01, 2012 04:00PM) (new)

Random (rand0m1s) Aloha wrote: "I find the sciences and math mysterious and wonderful, along with the beauty of art. If people were never exposed to those things in ways that tshows the beauty of them, they go toward what they find easiest to comprehend. "

Very true.

We also tend to go through cycles. At least in movies, when something popular comes out, people want more of the same and people make more of the same because they're all trying to ride the coat tails of that first successful item. I remember the most recent switch towards fantasy around the time The Fellowship of the Ring and the first Harry Potter movies came out. Before then, SF type movies were more common and more successful.

While attitudes might drive the themes of the more genre science fiction, realize that in the main stream this not so much the case. Five years ago, if you asked the average person what they thought of when you said science fiction they would answer Star Trek and Star Wars.

The closest most people would get to dystopian SF would be The Matrix.

message 5: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 919 comments That is also my thought. Things are more fun when everybody is into it. I have the most difficult time getting my daughter to try the classics that I enjoyed. But whenever her buddies rave about a series, such as The Hunger Games, she chews through it. My policy is that reading should be enjoyable, so I don't push it.

There should be more books that make math and the sciences full of fun, adventure and drama. Most people respond to the sensual quality of things. Until you have a good background in math and the sciences, you're limited to only seeing the dryness of a classroom, instead of the possibilities, which is sensual to the mind. Nothing is like a mind high from learning something compelling, and that spins your imagination.

message 6: by Felina (new)

Felina Rachel wrote: "My theory is that, when science fiction was really popular, back in the 50s and 60s, our society tended to be more optimistic about the future. Science was going to solve all our problems, take us ..."

I think you are exactly right.

message 7: by Felina (new)

Felina Aloha wrote: "That is also my thought. Things are more fun when everybody is into it. I have the most difficult time getting my daughter to try the classics that I enjoyed. But whenever her buddies rave about..."

I don't know that it's about it being more fun when more people are into it but more like it gets on mo people's radar. Take my mother for instance. Pretty much a chick flick/chick lit pro. I introduced h to Harry Potter and she is now in love with fantasy. She's reading The Name of the Wind and Mistborn. It's not so much that she's jumping on wagons but more that her exposure changed.

message 8: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 919 comments Funny, but I can't get my 10 year old to read the Harry Potter series. It is not cool anymore. The Hunger Games is the happening.

message 9: by Rachel (last edited Jun 01, 2012 05:07PM) (new)

Rachel | 34 comments There should be more books that make math and the sciences full of fun, adventure and drama.

I heartily recommend Neal Stephenson, especially Anathem, Quicksilver and Cryptonomicon. Also, nearly any robot novel written by Isaac Asimov, especially Prelude to Foundation (the hero is a mathematician, but you need to have read his earlier robot books to really get the most out of it. The good news is that they're still accessible, even though they were written in the 50s - The Caves of Steel is effectively a whodunit with a robot detective).

Edit: Re-reading your post, I saw that your daughter is 10. I suspect most of the titles I listed above will go right over her head. But stick 'em on the shelves anyway, and she might drift over to them when she gets older - I read Caves of Steel when I was 12.

message 10: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 919 comments Thanks, Rachel. I definitely have all of Asimov's. I'm pretty sure I have Neal Stephenson's collection, too. My friend, the social scientist, gave Asimov's Robot series a low rating. He thought the robotic rules were silly and wouldn't make good sense in application.

message 11: by Rachel (new)

Rachel | 34 comments I think they'd make sense when you start dealing with AI, if only because you need a pretty advanced AI to even comprehend concepts like 'harm'. But as a response to the stories contemporaneous with Asimov's, they make sense - Asimov was responding to what he dubbed the 'Frankenstein Complex', the fear that any sufficiently advanced AI would eventually turn on it's creator. He wanted to point out that robots were tools, and tools have safeguards (like the handle of a knife).

message 12: by Rob (new)

Rob Osterman (robosterman) Aloha, only they're not meant to make that much sense in the field. The point, mostly, of the laws were to have laws with unintended consequences so he could explore ~those~ themes rather than the laws themselves. He could create logical mysteries for the readers and still have some fun Sci Fi.

On point, I also think that in addition to "society" not being as optimistic about science saving the world, I think there's a comfort in the relatively inexplicable fantasy. Magic doesn't need to be explained. It just works and works well and ~no~one can argue why it works.

Think about how the internet has changed sci fi. Back in the 60's, you'd have to go find a group of geeks to even get a hint that the Transporters on Star Trek won't work without getting around the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. Sure someone might write in to the show but that's about the long and short of it.

Now, today, look at how we dissect our Sci Fi. Look at the groups that pop up to analyze and re-analyze and debate. For a writer, we have to basically learn everything we can about how our science fiction could be science "possible" otherwise we risk being dismissed as "too" speculative.

Fantasy on the other hand... no such problems. It's magic. It works because it's Magic.

Makes it a lot easier to digest since it's less likely to come with baggage.

message 13: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 919 comments I, Robot is on my soon to read list. According to my friend's review, the laws, the events and the consequences did not make logical sense. One of the thing he pointed out was that one of the rule was to not harm a human being, but the robot ended up harming a human being, anyway. I'll have to see whether the logic pans out or is it so incongruent that it ruins the enjoyment of the book.

This goes to your point, Rob, about it being tougher for SciFi authors to compose a story because they have to worry about scientific accuracy, whereas a Fantasy author does not have to prove anything but a good and imaginative story. The people interested in SciFi, particularly hard SciFi, will probably be interested in scientific accuracy and logic. On the other hand, space operas like Hyperion managed to do okay with its monster and speculation. I think that's because it has more of the fantasy element in it, which appeals to a wider range of people.

Maybe there is something to allowing SciFi to be more speculative and fun, and less rigorous to scientific accuracy.

message 14: by Rachel (new)

Rachel | 34 comments I, Robot is not really a novel, it's more a collection of short stories featuring the same cast of characters. Each story is about examining one of the Three Laws from a particular perspective, analyzing it's shortcomings and implications. I don't really want to say any more, but I'm definitely interested in what you think of it once you've read it!

message 15: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 919 comments I'll let you know, Rachel. This would be really interesting considering my recent reads on robotics. Thanks!

message 16: by Scott (new)

Scott Allen | 25 comments I don't really think that fantasy is anymore popular as a genre as it was previously. I mean there has been a flux of people reading Game of Thrones, but I think we can attribute that to the television show. Same with Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. People read books that are popular. People do what everyone else is doing. I really think that is all there is to it. As a high school English teacher I have seen my students reading these books, but when you ask them if they are going to read anymore fantasy books most say that they aren't. Most of my students tell me that they do not read for fun. (Sad I know).

I think the same effect happens when a new super-hero movie comes out because Marvel and DC will make comics of The Avengers more readily available right after the movie comes out. They are banking on people coming out of the movie and saying, "Hey, I really liked that. I would like to know more about these Avengers." They hit the comic shop and low and behold there is a Avengers shelf, front and center.

People are just sheep.

message 17: by Jason (new)

Jason Craft (vigroco) | 20 comments When it comes to film and TV, scifi still dominates, but fantasy outsells it in print something like 3:1.

message 18: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 6350 comments I think scifi is harder to do. It's a balance between good science and a good novel.

message 19: by Scott (new)

Scott | 45 comments Rachel wrote: "My theory is that, when science fiction was really popular, back in the 50s and 60s, our society tended to be more optimistic about the future. Science was going to solve all our problems, take us ..."

Interesting thought; seems to ring true for me.

Society is progressing, we're optimistic about our future ----> SciFi gains in popularity.

There's a deep sense that something is wrong with society, we feel a need to escape it ----> Fantasy gains in popularity.

Fascinating. This is one to mull over!

message 20: by Robert (new)

Robert (the_one) | 5 comments I feel that GoodReads needs to develop a Like button system or something similar, because I want to give this thread and the insight/speculation provided in this thread a thumbs up!

message 21: by John (Nevets) (new)

John (Nevets) Nevets (nevets) | 1592 comments Darren,

I was just going to jump in on something, and you gave me the perfect intro.

I think part of the resurgence of fantasy is that it is taking on one of the key aspects of sci-fi, rules. Granted those have been around for longer then the the last decade, but I believe authors are much more conchise of them in their world building. Look at how rigid the authors have been in Name of the Wind, or Mistborn, or even Harry Potter.

I love Lord of the Rings, but Tolkin played a little loose with some of his rules, and I don't think you see that as much these days.

And being a fan of hard sci-fi, I don't mind it.

message 22: by Kevin (new)

Kevin Xu (kxu65) | 1081 comments I know people who love fantasy, but would not be caught dead reading science fiction at all.

message 23: by Kamil (new)

Kamil | 372 comments Rachel wrote: "There should be more books that make math and the sciences full of fun, adventure and drama.

I heartily recommend Neal Stephenson, especially Anathem, Quicksilver and Cryptonomicon. Also, nearly a..."

while I can't argue whith you recommending Asimov; I'd skip on his robotic books and start whith "the sentinel". I think I was 9 when I've read it and I really, really, dug the twist at the end of the story

In my opinion the reason people prefere fantasy over sci-fi is that fantasy topics are all about the endless possibilities humanity has, while sci-fi heroes are faced whith all the mistakes man-kind made; pollution, environment, overpopulation ( I remember a short story in which a boy had to take an inteligence test and since he was labbeled too inteligent, a governement officer called his parents and asked them what they want to do whith the boy's corpse). Also to appreciate a good sci-fi story one must have a basic knowledge of science.

message 24: by Aloha (last edited Jun 03, 2012 06:31AM) (new)

Aloha | 919 comments Neal Stephenson has a point when he thinks we should be promoting optimistic SciFis. In fact, I find reading books by scientists who reach out to the general public much more optimistic and imaginative than reading the dystopians, which get tiring in the theme of many ways technology can destroy mankind. I would think most people who do well in high school sciences would be able to grasp SciFi. It's only a matter of being interested in learning more that you can build upon your information base. Once you become familiar with the varying sciences, the knowledge and possibilities are astounding. It's knowledge that is priceless for yourself.

message 25: by Space (new)

Space Council (spacecouncil) | 109 comments I think sci-fi is more dificult to imagine.
Which is why sci-fi does good in theaters but in books its much easier to imagine a castle with archers and dudes wearing armour and carrying swords and shields, even shooting fireballs out of thier hands with magic then imagining someone piloting a space craft through a wormhole while being chased by something not unlike the Dalek with a android on board with a 'bad motivator'. It becomes much more difficult for most people, if only because there are real life examples of armor and swords, and castles for that matter while examples of alien space craft, what life is actually like in space is only known to a few people on earth and isn't terribly well documented.

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 45 comments Speaking for myself, I find fantasy less limited than science fiction. I think science fiction has a tendency to be more rigid and must have established order and rules of world-building and content than fantasy. As long as the world-building and content is consistent within that book or series, there are no set in stone rules for a fantasy story. People who are escapist readers want to go to a world that is completely divorced from the one in which they live, so fantasy provides a doorway to that new/different experience.

message 27: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn Weis | 126 comments Felina wrote: "Rachel wrote: "My theory is that, when science fiction was really popular, back in the 50s and 60s, our society tended to be more optimistic about the future. Science was going to solve all our pro..."

Also that was the height of the space race, the "New Frontier" when as a country we (the US) were space obsessed. Now we're struggling with a time where NASA's funding is being cut left and right and no one is looking to the stars anymore. :(

message 28: by Jason (new)

Jason Craft (vigroco) | 20 comments Darren wrote: "Pretty sure poetry would still kill for those numbers. Where are you getting your numbers from, btw? Because those can be misleading."

I've read a few blogs that talk about this trend, but I haven't actually seen any hard numbers.

message 29: by Michelle (new)

Michelle | 3 comments Science fiction has the unfortunate stigma of having to be a plausible projection of the future. Not all of it is written that way, but many people open a sci-fi book and expect it to read that way.

David Eddings once wrote that science fiction tends to be bogged down with mechanics of the time. The author can get caught up explaining why something happens. He compares them to a watch. The dynamics of sci-fi can sometimes be like reading the operation manual while good fantasy should tell you the time and move along.

In my experience, the opposite can be true for fantasy. So this is a half-baked answer. I think the trend moves in cycles depending on who has the strongest character-driven story out.

message 30: by Jason (new)

Jason Craft (vigroco) | 20 comments Martin wrote: "Do you think that trends in the book world take a while to filter through to TV and film?"

I do believe that recent book buying trends follow whatever Hollywood or TV puts up on the screen. Hunger Games and Game of Thrones are two big and recent examples.

message 31: by Rob (new)

Rob Osterman (robosterman) Off Topic: Seeing the Avengers movie did not inspire me to buy Avengers comics or read Avengers books. It did inspire me to buy schwarma.

message 32: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 6350 comments Get the first two trades of The Ultimates by Millar/Hitch.

message 33: by Dharmakirti (last edited Jun 04, 2012 01:59PM) (new)

Dharmakirti | 942 comments Generally speaking, I think people have a world view were intentionality plays a large role which resutls in people, consciouly or not, anthropomorphizing the world and fantasy fiction plays right into this. Fantasy worlds are intentional worlds. For this reason, I think it is easier for a general reader to pick up and get into a fantasy novel.

Below is an excerpt from the the essay Dragons Over Spaceships: Fantasy and Science Fiction as Cultural Prostheses at R. Scott Bakker's excellent (if you like philosophy, literary theory, criticism) blog, Three Pound Brain

Given the cognitive opacity of the future one might expect a culture to offer ‘cognitive seeming’ accounts of what we might expect. Since we know only that the future will be different, and since what we want is cognition–or the semblance of it, anyway–what need is someway of getting from here and now to there and then which gives the impression of cognition. What we need, in other words, are pseudo-cognitive transformation rules that provide the semblance of a horizon of expectation. Since science is the paradigm of knowledge, one might expect these rules to be ‘apparently scientific.’ Since technological innovation is the obvious ‘problem,’ one might expect it to constitute the primary locus for these rules.

In other words, one might expect the development of science fiction or something like it.

Given the gap between the intentional world of our experience (what is commonly called, following Husserl, the Lebenswelt, or ‘lifeworld’)–the world we recognize–and the deintentionalized world described by scientific theory–the world we cognize–one might expect a culture to generate surrogates, worlds where recognition is cognition. Since the scientific deintentionalization of the world has caused this lacuna, one might expect these alternate worlds to repudiate the validity of science. Since all we possess are pre-scientific, historical contexts as models for ‘intentional worlds without science,’ one might expect these to provide the models for these alternate worlds. Put differently, one might expect culture to provide ‘associative elimination rules,’ ways to abstract from the present, for the production of alternate intentional contexts which conform to, and so repatriate, the otherwise displaced space of our experience.

One might expect the development of fantasy literature or something like it.

For us, the future world is as opaque to cognition as the present world is transparent and alien. For our prescientific ancestors, the situation was the opposite: the future world was as transparent to cognition as the present world was opaque and familiar. Where the future is our mirror, the present was theirs. We now bounce light off the future to symbolically illuminate ourselves, while our ancestors, unable to penetrate experience, saw themselves literally reflected across their present–they anthropomorphized. Where we write science fiction and fantasy, they wrote scripture–what we now call myth.


1) The prevailing assumption seems to be that science fiction and fantasy are wedded in the vague sense that both are ‘speculative,’ and that, for arbitrary historical reasons, they share the same cultural industrial outputs–the publishers of the one tend to be the publishers of the other. The suggestion here is that their connection is both far more intimate and far more profound. We have already considered how, socio-historically, they are both a consequence of the institutional dominance of science.

2) The novum or nova which as as I can tell, are typically thought of as points of differentiation, should be seen the points of extension, the points which explain, and therefore domesticate, the differences which define the alternate context at hand. Science fiction is primarily involved in establishing pseudo-cognitive continuities. The ‘encounter with difference’ characteristic of science fiction, on this account, is simply a side-effect of rule-governed mapping of the familiar onto the alien–which is the structure of cognition. In this account, estrangement is the phenomenological origin, rather than the result of science fiction. Science fiction, in other words, is primarily a literature of recovery. On this account, otherness or alterity belong first and foremost to the future.

3) If science fiction is comparatively ‘socially progressive,’ it has more to do with the implicit understanding that traditional biases against various groups will be progressively discredited, (leaving only the economically rationalized biases against the longest suffering and most systematically oppressed: the poor). In other words, it belongs to the transformation rules. Likewise, if fantasy is comparatively ‘socially conservative,’ it has to do with the elimination rules: the associative connections between traditional biases and traditional conceptions of the world are difficult to overcome.

4) Both genres are invested in providing the semblance of recovery, which is why science fiction is no more about the actual future than fantasy is about the actual past. Both genres offer the illusion of cognition, be it functional or intentional.

5) In terms of what Heidegger calls the ‘ontological difference,’ science fiction is primarily an ontic discourse, a discourse concerned with beings within the world, whereas fantasy is primarily an ontological one, a discourse concerned with Being itself. What this suggests is that the socio-phenomenological stakes involved in fantasy are more radical than those involved in science fiction. In Adornian terms, science fiction, it could be said, is primarily engaged in the extension of identity thinking, whereas fantasy, through its wilful denial of cognition, points to the ‘messianic moment,’ the necessity of finding some way out of our functional nightmare.

message 34: by Dharmakirti (new)

Dharmakirti | 942 comments Tamahome wrote: "Get the first two trades of The Ultimates by Millar/Hitch."

They are awesome!

message 35: by Michal (new)

Michal (michaltheassistantpigkeeper) | 294 comments But Literature, at its best, as a reflection of what makes us human, goes the extra mile—the mile found too seldom in SF. Too many SF writers don’t even bother to give it a try. (Fantasy often fares better; the often-dominant obsession with verisimilar explanations that marks much SF is absent.)

-Terence M. Green, “Family, Identity, and Speculative Fiction”

(More adding fuel to the fire rather than reiterating a position I actually agree with)

message 36: by Rob (new)

Rob Osterman (robosterman) Actually I don't think it's totally wrong. With ~any~ genre fiction it's easy to get caught up in the genre (Oooo and then she'll have to marry that bastard neighboring lord! Yes.. and then.. hmm.... he'll cheat on her and she wont' accept it!) and miss out on telling stories that have a compelling nature that transcends the genre.

Though... on the other hand... sometimes the genre is fun just for the genre. Some people just like reading books with dragons without going too into depth about the "human condition". I'm not sure those kinds of genre fiction will be overly popular out side of fans of the genre for the genre's sake but...

I mean I honestly watch CSI because I like crime dramas with science twists, not so much for the deep characters we get. I ~like~ the characters that have grown over the show's run (same as I did with ER for many seasons) but at the end I'm more interested in a solid mystery with good pacing.

So maybe the reason for any genre "Losing" to another is that right now that particular genre is doing better at pushing out of the common tropes and into the more humanizing stories than it has in the past.

message 37: by Stuart (new)

Stuart (asfus) | 67 comments Dharmakirti wrote: "Generally speaking, I think people have a world view were intentionality plays a large role which resutls in people, consciouly or not, anthropomorphizing the world and fantasy fiction plays right ..."

I am going to mull over the article and dust off my old philosophy notes...

message 38: by Travis (new)

Travis (the_hero_of_canton) While I agree with those who say our vision of the future has changed how we see science, I also believe our attitude toward the present has changed. Why wait for space ships and lasers to come along when you can escape through a wardrobe door today?

message 39: by Nick (new)

Nick (whyzen) | 1295 comments I'll admit I haven't read all the posts here but the title of the topic bugs me. It starts with an assumption that puts it in line with the same type of question as "How long have you been beating your wife?". I'm not sure I agree that scifi is less popular than fantasy.

Can you provide some sort of proof other than your personal opinion?

message 40: by Kevin (last edited Jun 06, 2012 07:55PM) (new)

Kevin Xu (kxu65) | 1081 comments Jason wrote: "Martin wrote: "Do you think that trends in the book world take a while to filter through to TV and film?"

I do believe that recent book buying trends follow whatever Hollywood or TV puts up on the..."

I sort of agree, just look at Fifty Shades of Grey, that is not a movie, but hollywood has made certain series big. If it was not for holywood, I would have never heard of Twilight or Sookie Stackhouse, and I even worked at Barnes and Nobles right before I ever heard of them or anyone asked of them. I guess I was not the target audience for those books.

Just like Martin, before the show, if you never read EPIC fantasy, than you would have never heard of them. I was trying to recommand them to many people the time when I discovered them right when A Feast for Crows came out to about a year and a half ago, nobody I talked would take two second look at them, even certain people I know that read EPIC fantasy. Now I see his books everywhere.

message 41: by A.E. (new)

A.E. Marling (aemarling) | 49 comments I run a fantasy-appreciation blog, and the primary reasons people give for loving the genre are: imagination, escape, and creativity. The elements of the impossible give the genre a whimsical and playful nature that tap the inherent need we have since we were children to play and daydream.

Much of the same could be said of scifi. In fact, I consider space opera to be fantasy, with a different aesthetic. Even if the science is true, most readers will have to take it on faith. A laser gun might as well be a magic wand, and I don't think it's much harder to imagine a spaceship than a castle. Scifi offers the same boundless exploration and possibility as fantasy.

Why is fantasy flourishing in comparison? Is it really? Prometheus does launch this week. But if I wrote scifi, I would be sure to focus on the visuals, the fun, and the characters. Same as fantasy.

message 42: by Anne (last edited Jun 06, 2012 11:35PM) (new)

Anne | 336 comments Much of what is called scifi is really fantasy nowadays.

Ted Chiang is the only new writer of real scifi that I can think of -- he wins so many awards because there is almost no competition. He's brilliant.

Fantasy is typically an easier read - it requires no laws, can use infinite wish fulfillment or titillation, and is very like recreational drugs = an escape from reality yet like what many people perceive as "real people".

To read with interest about a physics puzzle takes a better than average curiousity/education. Therefor it appeals to fewer people.

By the way, I,Robot was about how to protect humans one must harm humans because the biggest enemies of humans are our inbred flaws - greed, lack of caring about water andair quality and so on. A brilliant computer would come to realize this and impose population control and limits, business control and limits, etc. Can't you hear the GOP screaming the rising temps are not manmade??? Or that there is nothing wrong with polluting rivers and streams? Or that the market needs no controls? Or that resouces should NOT be fairly apportioned amongst the population? A logical computer with power would control such appetites if obeying the three laws. LOL. Only a human would interpret such controls as "harm".

"It's for your own good" - the eternal parental refrain.

message 43: by Anne (new)

Anne | 336 comments Also consider "The Day the Earth Stood Still" - only a robot/computer policeman could enforce world peace because it could not be bribed or over-powered. Humans are unable, for the most part, to discipline themselves beyond their self/tribal interests.

message 44: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 919 comments Anne, I've combined your posts this morning together in my head and responded to it in my one post. Here's a copy to respond to this one, too. Sorry for the repeat, too much rushing in the morning, so I don't have time to separate what I wrote:

Anne, I agree that all this playing around with terms can get beyond usefulness. I have to read Asimov's essay to consider whether it's useful or putting on airs, but my opinion now is that it is putting on airs and throws more confusion into the genre.

I don't know what you mean by science is a way of thinking since there are as many different types of people as there are different types of SciFi books. Some SciFi books by science authors are horribly written and I wish they would major in English lit. I think if you're going to set out writing a fiction story for others to read, whether you have a background in science, literature, or erotica, you need to make sure it communicates well and stirs people's interest. The books I appreciate are by people who are multi-talented. They can cross-over and reference many things. They can talk about philosophy, politics, and science but write like a lit. major. I'm a jack of all trades in that I've been educated in areas that may seem opposites to each other, can do well in all of them, but never focused on any one of them. Because of that, I can detect when a writer is strong at multiple points, and see when an author is powerful in only one point but not in others.

I agree with you that not all space voyages are interesting. Science everywhere is interesting to me, especially when it crosses over and studies everything. Science and math are intertwined, but approach in learning the laws of nature from a different angle. I love science books that reference math because it is through mathematics that you can structurally theorize the possibilities. When you see how everything is intertwined, it is amazing. For example, mathematicians are able to apply math to forces and chance events of daily life, such as politics, economics, etc. That, to me, is also a science. Thus, science doesn't have to be in outer space. I would appreciate a science/math/cyber writer who can use game theory, science, math, etc., in fiction to illustrate politics, technology, and so many wondrous things in the world that we can see.

Anne wrote: "Much of what is called scifi is really fantasy nowadays.

Ted Chiang is the only new writer of real scifi that I can think of -- he wins so many awards because there is almost no competition. He's..."

message 45: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 919 comments P.S. I have to read Ted Chiang. He's new to the scene and sounds really interesting. I have his collection and heard great things about his work.

message 46: by Alu (new)

Alu (aluhealz) I really think it depends on who you ask. People who read more fantasy will notice it more then sci-fi and visa verse.

I have always been more of a fantasy reader personally so naturally I notice those books more and play those games more. Also people will surround themselves with othersbof thebsame interests.

I've recently decided I really wanted to give sci-fi a fair try and the best way I can describe it is that someone hit me in the face with an entire book store. Suddenly I'm noticing a TON of books on the shelves I never even looked at before. I'm seeing authors that are starting to click with me. Heck I even noticed a couple people at my work reading sci-fi themes books. I really believe that we only seem to notice our own interests. Makes everything else seem moot.

Another more simple theory is pretty much the same as a few others mentioned. People see sci-fi and think it'll be too hard to follow with techno jargon. I assume it just seems to cold to some people.

message 47: by Anne (new)

Anne | 336 comments Science as way of thinking doesn't believe in magic and looks for explanations of what seems magical to non-scientists. A sci-fi author who depends on magic is writing scfi fantasy at best.

"In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual." Galileo

"...First, critical thinkers possess a certain mind-set with which they approach ideas. Dewey imagined that one must be willing to endure suspense and to undergo the trouble of searching. Second, the critical thinker is a skeptic who is willing to suspend judgement or is unwilling to accept any idea until evidence can be demonstrated to permit its acceptance, perhaps developing a critical thinking ethic as recommended by Halpern (1998). This mind-set or ethic will require learners to reflect on the reasoning of others and on their own reasoning to solve the socio-scientific dilemmas of the future (Zeidler, et al., 1992)."

"...Unfortunately, undergraduate and graduate college students do not seem to exhibit the level of reflective judgement and reasoning skills expected for 16-20 years of education (Mine, King, Hood, & Wood, 1990). In addition, people from various ethnic groups, religions, and social classes tend to form unique but equally egocentric belief systems and use them equally unmindfully (Paul, 1992)..... "

message 48: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn Weis | 126 comments I think many people might also be more comfortable with fantasy. Little girls grow up (In America) watching disney movies and thinking about princesses who get rescued from the dragon/evil witch by their knight in shining armor... And when I was a kid at least I remember watching Fantasy shows on TV, watching the cartoon Hobbit, Xena, Beastman, and later on in life so many things get slapped under the label of "Fantasy."

How many Fantasies could you really re-label romance?
Vampires, Werewolves, Angels, and Demons are mixed with "High Fantasy" Dragons and Magic which are then mixed with Medieval settings and modern-day settings. The "Fantasy" title is so broad that almost everyone can find something to like within it while I think Sci-fi is a little more intimidating because it's not as broad, and people aren't as familiar with it as they are with fantasy (Though I think this may be changing with all the kids now growing up with Clone Wars)

message 49: by Jason (new)

Jason Craft (vigroco) | 20 comments Nick wrote: "Can you provide some sort of proof other than your personal opinion?"

The truth is all publishers are secretive with their numbers, so there isn't really any hard data to go on. io9 wrote an article a few years ago about the drop in scifi sales that gave me this impression:

Bloggers around the net all seem to think that fantasy is way more popular than scifi, so I just wanted to find out why. This thread gives me hope that just maybe scifi isn't as far down as I have feared.

message 50: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 919 comments Yes, science facts make a SciFi book interesting. But don't ignore the fact that if you're going to write a story for people, you better make sure you learn how to be a terrific writer first and foremost. If you can't write a terrific story and learn the wonderful literary art, then you should stick with writing science news. The literary arts is wonderful in its own right and deserve a lot of respect.

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