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Science-Fiction: Tool for Education and Enlightenment

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posted on Jan, 14 2009 @ 03:08 PM
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reply to post by apacheman
 


Yeah. I was so bored at school. Sci-Fi helped me to look into topics I would have never looked into without.

I think imagination is more important than information.




posted on Jan, 14 2009 @ 03:09 PM
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reply to post by TheWayISeeIt
 


Your husband makes sci-fi movies?

Good choice



posted on Jan, 14 2009 @ 05:07 PM
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Originally posted by Skyfloating
reply to post by Byrd
 


Ive never visited a convention before, but recall you saying you have. I like the idea of a sci-fi con not only being about fantasy and role-playing but about specific futurist plans and science.


Furthermore, if the artist/author/filmmaker gets continuity (or science) wrong, the fans will be all over him or her about it. There's a huge fan subculture and lots of segments to it. We are now seeing grandchildren and great-grandchildren at the conventions. Kids of fen generally are pretty sophisticated about a lot of things... unlike most folks they don't become uncomfortable around people in costume and they've tried weird drinks and foods that many people haven't tried.

In fandom you will also encounter people who are transgendered (I remember my surprise meeting Jessica Amanda Salmonson back in the 80's and the real debate that raged about whether she could or should join a women's APA (Amateur publishing association). It's a fairly un-threatening encounter, so my kids had met gays and bisexuals and transgendered and heavily tattooed people and people with all sorts of piercings and so forth by the time they were 15. They'd eaten with people of many nationalities and tried lots of ethnic food.

So they were pretty well prepared to deal with unusual encounters as adults.

Kids of fen (as it's called) generally grow up to be tolerant and interested in many things. They, too, are often futurists and planners and dreamers.

Another thing about the fan groups is that quite often they are involved in doing things -- they're participants in life and not spectators.



posted on Jan, 14 2009 @ 05:14 PM
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Mmmmm this thread is delicious.

I belong to the religion/cult/world of Kurt Vonnegut, may he rest as the happiest dead man ever.

I've written three essays on him in my high school career. One was a critique. One was a Junior Research Paper that counted for 1/4 my grade in a course. And one got me into college.



posted on Jan, 15 2009 @ 07:38 AM
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reply to post by Byrd
 


Interesting.

Same here. Wanting to travel and see other cultures and eat exotic foods often goes hand in hand with science-fiction, the theme always being "other worlds".



posted on Jan, 15 2009 @ 02:27 PM
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Originally posted by apacheman
The problem with movie science fiction is that too often, they pick directors who are unfamiliar with the genre, haven't read the book, don't understand the book's place within the sf universe, and can't be bothered with the subtle nuances. Thus you get Starship Troopers, good theater but bad sf.

Absolutely. Starship Troopers was the most disappointing movie I ever saw.
Everything that was important/thought provoking about the book was left out of the movie. All the discussions about patriotism and citizenship were the backbone of that book. The movie didn't even touch them. Basically, the movie was just a return to the giant bug movies of the past, like "Them" or "Tarantula".

A real shame, if you ask me.



posted on Jan, 15 2009 @ 08:12 PM
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Apparently German rocket scientist Wernher Von Brown wrote science fiction for magazines and films .

I find it fascinating that films must "keep up" with peoples increased general knowledge of science etc.
Some sci-fi films age gracefully, most age like big hair and leg warmers.


[edit on 15-1-2009 by UmbraSumus]



posted on Jan, 15 2009 @ 08:27 PM
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I agree totally, it's a great tool for education and enlightenment.

A great example for me is the Matrix. It really explores a lot of concepts. Like the story behind the machines trying to create a world that people would accept, and how people would rebel.

I love to read well thought out explanations for the movies and what everything means from various points of view. I particularly enjoyed reading this, It is this guys interpretation of the movies the matrix revolutions and he also has one for the matrix reloaded. Just a great read imo www.wylfing.net...



posted on Jan, 16 2009 @ 12:56 PM
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Originally posted by UmbraSumus

I find it fascinating that films must "keep up" with peoples increased general knowledge of science etc.
Some sci-fi films age gracefully, most age like big hair and leg warmers.



Recently I thought I`d re-watch an old science-fiction series from the 70s, "The Martian Chronicles" by Ray Bradbury.

After having watched more modern stuff such as Stargate Atlantis or Terminator S.C.C. the old stuff already feels totally outdated and even silly.

We`ve even caught up with some of the concepts of old movies, making them mundane rather than "science-fiction".



posted on Jan, 17 2009 @ 10:27 PM
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I've just skimmed through the posts so far, but I haven't seen William Gibson mentioned yet. He has to be one of the most amazingly prescient sci-fi writers who is still active.

In addition to being probably the founding voice of cyberpunk noir, he's the man who coined the term cyberspace – back in the early/mid-eighties


I'm more of a reader than a movie-goer, but I definitely attribute some of my mental flexibility to a lifetime of reading science fiction and fantasy (not sword-and-sorceror mostly, but stuff like Ursula K. LeGuin that's on the fringe between the two).



posted on Jan, 21 2009 @ 10:33 PM
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I agree with the OP to some extent. The scary modern world doesn't scare me because I grew up on science fiction. All the thorny science-and-technology issues of today, from environmental destruction to artificial intelligence to cloning, were thoroughly explored and their implications laid out in the SF I read when I was younger. Good SF also dealt in depth with metaphysical questions such as the ultimate goal of all life and even theological ones such as whether intelligent aliens should be considered as part of fallen creation or judged innocent of sin.

However, I think that era is over. Science-fiction is dying for want of new ideas*; most of the territory has been well and truly covered, and real life has caught up with SF writers' imaginations. Notice that most SF now features technologies that already exist in at least rudimentary form, or else is based, like the novels of Iain M. Banks, on standard science-fiction tropes like faster-than-light travel and terraforming.

I still read SF, and though I am often disappointed, a few good writers still appear in the field from time to time. Banks was, I think, the last of the acknowledged masters; my money right now is on Neal Stephenson, a science-fiction writer for our times who has lately taken to writing historical novels with science-fictional and even fantastical elements. His rather odd approach to style is reminiscent of Thomas Pynchon, a heavyweight 'literary' author whose masterpiece, Gravity's Rainbow, is often claimed to be science fiction, although it isn't.
 
*It has largely been superseded by 'sci-fi', which is based on old ideas.

[edit on 22-1-2009 by Astyanax]



posted on Jan, 21 2009 @ 11:50 PM
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Originally posted by apacheman
The problem with movie science fiction is that too often, they pick directors who are unfamiliar with the genre, haven't read the book, don't understand the book's place within the sf universe, and can't be bothered with the subtle nuances.

I agree, although I think this is a problem with the general public and not with studios, producers or directors. The studios and producers pick directors who can create a movie that will have mass marketing appeal. Unfortunately to acheive mass marketing appeal you need to strip away any context or subtle nuances. But I completely agree that it's depressing.


...do sci-fi writers practice a form of "remote viewing" or "channeling" without knowing it?

It's funny you mention this. It's something that I've often wondered about in an abstract sense. A few years ago I got back into screen-writing. As a huge sci-fi/fantasy fan, that's the genre that I stuck to. I've written a few features and a couple of pilots and every single one has felt as though the ideas, and even the specific words, have been coming from an external source and have been channelled through me. This could be just a gap between my subconscious and conscious minds, but I always said that it felt like I was channelling.



posted on Jan, 22 2009 @ 06:17 PM
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reply to post by Astyanax
 


I agree with your estimation. I dont read much sci-fi anymore, because much of it is not really "new". Ian Banks was indeed the last master and a successor is not yet in sight.

I think in order to take sci-fi to the next level it needs to become more metaphysical. There's an old classic called "Star Maker", by Olaf Stapledon...a style of sci-fi way ahead of its time. If more stuff like that were made I would read it.

And thats also the issue I have - americandingbat - with William Gibson. Its not sci-fi anymore.



posted on Jan, 22 2009 @ 06:30 PM
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I love science fiction the most when it is speculative fiction. There's a dichotomy it creates, when it's at its best.

The dichotomy is this: the setting and environment is fantastic: in presentation, nothing like our day-to-day lives. Yet with consistency and depth.

But the characters, be they human or non, are real. With understandable motivations, internal lives, diversity and differences that make sense within the context. Complete, 3-dimensional characters.

It's that sense of universality that I find so inspiring. Too often, our lives give us the 'trap' that 'this is the way the world is, and must be'. Vividly imagining otherwise, seeing the essence of what is wonderful, unpredictable, and lovable of humans, cast into a new yet real form.

So science fiction gives hope for the future, one of infinite possibility, through way of example. It awakens a sense of wonder that anything is possible, that humanity has infinite diverse adventures ahead of it. That's why I read.

PS Sky have you read The Algebraist? Truly excellent, but I was a little disappointed by Matter. But rest assured, Banks has still got his game!



posted on Jan, 22 2009 @ 11:30 PM
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Originally posted by Skyfloating
And thats also the issue I have - americandingbat - with William Gibson. Its not sci-fi anymore.



That's a fair criticism. It's amazing to realize that a book like Neuromancer was written in the mid-80s not the late 90s, but while the world has caught up with his imagination, his imagination has stayed in the same place. I still love Gibson, but I can't think of anything he's writing that others (or he himself) haven't written about before.

I really like China Mieville(Perdido Street Station, The Scar, Iron Council and Ian MacLeod (The Light Ages), both of whom are probably more in the fantasy tradition than the science fiction tradition, but I think the distinction is blurry. As Ian said, "speculative fiction". Among other things, both of these authors set their work in a world where the lines between energy, science, and magic are blurred and where humanity is being altered by both a toxic environment and its own deliberate machinations.



posted on Jan, 23 2009 @ 12:08 PM
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reply to post by Ian McLean
 


(no havent read the algebraist...yet).

I agree and I think most others will, that really good science-fiction has to have a lot of depth and reality in which to introduce the not-yet-so-real.

Some wannabe-sci-fi-filmmakers dont "get this" and think that making an all-irreality movie equals "sci-fi". I never enjoyed such works because they do not provide any familiar anchor from which to venture into the unknown. And without contrast there is boredom.



posted on Jan, 23 2009 @ 12:18 PM
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Sci-Fi is fine as an educational mind-opening genre but just like any other media it can come with agendas good or bad and be ignored or misinterpreted by its audience.

I know waaaay too many self-proclaimed "socialists" who write-off Harrison Bergeron as a mistake or completely misappropriate the messages of 1984 and Fahrenheit 411 for instance.

Every time I ear somebody cry about equality and fairness it's like nails on a chalkboard because they always look to government to implement their notions of a impossible ideal. It's like using some holy book to justify murdering women and children. It's all wrong and backwards and a raping of the authors intent.



posted on Jan, 23 2009 @ 12:27 PM
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reply to post by thisguyrighthere
 


Its insane how 1984 has been mis-used by various political movements from all sides to warn "of the other side". Orwell himself warned us of all of them.



posted on Jan, 23 2009 @ 01:30 PM
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reply to post by Ian McLean
 


Hmmmm..."speculative fiction" too often turns into mere fantasy, which is NOT science fiction. What distinguishes science fiction is that it proceeds from the known to the known possible to the supected possible, building a chain of intriguing logic to make you think "You know....that might work, if you....", from which we get satellites, cell phones, robotics, and the Internet. That's "hard SF", based on physics, chemistry, and engineering. Most early SF was of this type, and it bred a generation of rocket scientists.

The next type to emerge in the fifties and sixties dealt more with social issues and how new technology interacted with the old social orders and mores. The physics and chemistry and engineering were still there, but the effects they had on society were explored more than the tech was, and this in turn led to a generation of social engineers, mainly because what with the lunar program and all, the then-current tech seemed to have outpaced SF tech, or at least caught up: writers seemed to be awaiting fresh discoveries to play off of and extend. Social engineering seemed to hold great promise, both as a literary field and as an honest-to-goodness way of uplifting humanity.

Then things began blurring into fantasy/speculative fiction: magic, dragons, mental powers, but precious little science. But you could see the effects of steadily diminishing educational budgets and priorities: fewer hard science offerings, dumbed-down curriculums, shortened school hours (mostly the result of trying to "run government like a business", a very bad idea, by the way: remember, in business, everything's for sale, including the business itself; a bad mindset for government leaders). Science fiction went into a long, slow, decline into the current state we find it in: few great authors and books, the best (imho) working the alternative history fields, like Harry Turtledove.

But I think NASA went downhill when the wimpy robotics guys won the argument over manned space flight versus robotics. Besides the fact that they killed a whole field of endeavor and the ideas and technologies that would emerge from meeting the challenges of putting people into space in a big way, they were wrong: it wasn't cheaper, and you didn't get more and better science out of it. The failure rate of robotic missions was nearly 50% the last time I checked, and a lot of the science would have been done better, faster and more comprehensively with "boots on the ground" than with limited little robots. But the worst part is that the robotics program is dry, lifeless, and uninspiring to anyone outside of a computer lab. Who wants to go to space when all it means is looking at a bunch of numbers in a printout in a cold windowless lab somewhere? No one goes to Mars merely for information, no one goes to Mars to save a robot, but the whole world would mobilize to save a human crew. And what passes for SF in the current time reflects this disappointment and lack of engagement on the vast space frontier. Instead of exploring how to build Luna City, and what technological and social effects that might have upon the world, writers' imaginations are stunted and limited to shallow explorations of old cultural mythologies: pretty infertile ground for true SF.

But it could be I'm wrong and just missed the current great authors: I'd be much obliged if someone could point out the current Heinlein or Simak or Clarke. I truly miss being swept up in a great new idea.

[edit on 23-1-2009 by apacheman]



posted on Jan, 23 2009 @ 02:38 PM
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reply to post by apacheman
 

Excellent point about how the fantasy genre can be considered 'speculative fiction', too. Perhaps to redefine and condense my personal definition of 'good science fiction' (if indeed, such a definition could be made):

A: Environment, setting, milieu are logically and consistently described, in a way we can extrapolate to or imagine, without jarring 'bad science'.
B: Characters and plot are emotionally complex and believable, not flat or unable to be empathized with.

Simply put, I like to expand my ability to really care about characters, in unexpected yet believable ways.


If you're looking for newer 'hard sci-fi', with intricacy and imagination, I might recommend Wil McCarthy's "Queendom of Sol" series (The Collapsium, The Wellstone, Lost in Transmission, and To Crush the Moon), and perhaps Charles Stross' "Eschaton" series (Singularity Sky and Iron Sunrise). Wish he'd write another one of those.




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