Among people who think science fiction is for kids, crazies and dope fiends, 'sci-fi' is a derogatory term. But then, 'science fiction' is equally
a term of contempt to such folk.
Among science fiction fans, things are a little more complicated. Baack, your definition makes 'sci-fi' more or less equivlent to
. I would tend to agree, adding the proviso that sci-fi is usually produced by people
who have no background in science or science fiction and often displays casual ignorance of both, while space opera can sometimes be serious, literate
and hip to the conventions of sf: take Iain Banks's Culture stories, of which I've written in
: I'd be equally comfortable calling them space opera or
science fiction, but could never regard them as (ugh) 'sci-fi'.
I'm not so sure about your definition of science fiction ('sf' to fans). Sf doesn't always have to be set in the future or founded on a scientific
premise. Time-travel stories are sf, and many, from Wells's The Time Machine
to Moorcock's Behold the Man
have been set in the
. There is also plenty of historical science fiction. Most recently, Neal Stephenson turned his historical novel series, the Baroque Cycle,
into science fiction with the addition of just one anachronistic and very minor character. And of course his Cryptonomicon
is a science-fiction
novel set entirely in the past.
Similarly, I can think of any number of sf stories that have no scientific element at their core. Take Dune
, for example; where was the science
in Herbert's study of messianism vs. realpolitik
? A lot of sf has political or literary themes.
Within what used to be called the 'sf community', there was never any general agreement on how to define the genre. If anyone can come up with a
good one, I'd love to see it.
[edit on 6-6-2006 by Astyanax]