Does Science Fiction have an equivalent to Fantasy's LotR as a trend setter?

JaimeRetief

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I can point to a number of influential and well-known works of science fiction, but I just do not think that there is anything with such a profound impact to the genre as Lord of the Rings's impact was on Fantasy.

I have seen the argument that Dune is the Science Fiction Lord of the Rings, but personally I doubt that.

What do you think?
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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I think you are correct. The gigantic number of works directly influenced by LOTR -- not to mention things like Dungeons and Dragons and the like -- cannot be compared to what might have been influenced by any single work in science fiction.

If I had to pick something, I suppose the space operas of E. E. Smith might have set the pattern for at least one kind of science fiction. Edgar Rice Burroughs for science fantasy adventures, I suppose. Neuromancer set the pattern for cyberpunk, and so on.

Maybe I could venture a guess that the Astounding style of science fiction during the time of Asimov, Heinlein, and so on was the precursor to "modern" (now old-fashioned) science fiction.
 

JaimeRetief

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Maybe I could venture a guess that the Astounding style of science fiction during the time of Asimov, Heinlein, and so on was the precursor to "modern" (now old-fashioned) science fiction.
What do you mean by old fashioned?
Pure space opera?
 

Ray McCarthy

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I've been reading SF & F since 1960s. I read A LOT. I can't think of anything comparable. Dune certainly isn't it.

EE "Doc" Smith for Space Opera.

Not a single title as they are all different, but Philip K. Dick a huge influence

In certain niche of readers (does the US officer college REALLY read it?), Hienlen's "Starship Troopers", though I think it second rate.

For TV, it's got to be "Star Trek" (TOS) I suppose.

There are many "cult" following SF books and films.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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What do you mean by old fashioned?
Pure space opera?

Well, I suppose I mean "Golden Age" SF. Not necessarily space opera (of which I am not a fan) but traditionally narrated, plot over style, heavy on science and technology, and so on. Everything that the "New Wave" was a reaction against. (I can enjoy Golden Age, New Wave, and post-New Wave, so it's a matter of perception.)
 

JaimeRetief

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Well, I suppose I mean "Golden Age" SF. Not necessarily space opera (of which I am not a fan) but traditionally narrated, plot over style, heavy on science and technology, and so on. Everything that the "New Wave" was a reaction against. (I can enjoy Golden Age, New Wave, and post-New Wave, so it's a matter of perception.)
There were quite a few Golden Age-era science fiction works that, at least in my own opinion, do not conform to your description.
Take a look at the works of Clifford D. Simak and Cordwainer Smith in particular.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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There were quite a few Golden Age-era science fiction works that, at least in my own opinion, do not conform to your description.
Take a look at the works of Clifford D. Simak and Cordwainer Smith in particular.

I agree to some extent, although much of Simak is traditionally narrated. It's certainly more humanistic than most writers of the time.

Smith I would categorize as unique.
 

Ray McCarthy

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Smith I would categorize as unique.
And quite wonderful, sadly lost most of mine in 1990. Now only have one. Must get them all.

Dune came to my mind.
It's very significant. But I can't really think of other derived books. Or masses of board games etc. I did have the Dune Computer came (franchise), it's junk.
There is a film, which falls far short and then the later two mini-series (I only saw the first one).

If there is a whole Dune derived eco-system and fan-fic etc and pastiche, I've missed it. I bought a lot of the Herbert books as they came out, but the first was really best I think.

With LOTR you even have the not really LOTR take offs like Donaldson, Fiest etc as well as D&D, Dragonlance and a gazillion other things. Of course even without LOTR you'd have a Fantasy sub genre with Elves, Dwarves, Wizards, Gnomes, Goblins, Dryads, Warrior Humans etc as Tolkien wasn't first nor did he invent as much as people think (the Hobbits is about it, well Ents are different to Dryads). The SF genre is far more diverse even by 1946 than "High Fantasy". Fantasy even has "The Ring" saga popularised by Wagner, Beowulf etc.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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What do you mean traditionally narrated?

Well, in a nutshell, I would would say a story told in linear fashion, generally from one viewpoint. This would be opposed to jumping back and forth in time, multiple viewpoints, post-modern tricks like breaking the fourth wall, and so on.

I guess it would be writing which does not draw attention to itself as writing.
 

JaimeRetief

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And quite wonderful, sadly lost most of mine in 1990. Now only have one. Must get them all.
Baen released several Smith anthologies, I think they even have those as DRM free e-books.
There is also an SF Masterworks anthology titled The Rediscovery of Man, which is available as an Amazon e-book as well.
 

Ray McCarthy

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This would be opposed to jumping back and forth in time, multiple viewpoints, post-modern tricks like breaking the fourth wall
The only one of those reasonable, and only usually in a few chapters (one POV per chapter) is multiple viewpoints.
I hate "back and forth in time", one flash back as important backstory is only just bearable. The "breaking the fourth wall" is only occasionally bearable, for more comediac TV, it's old fashioned and destroys immersion in a book, (Reminds me of "Dear Reader ...").

Lots of modern fantasy I like, but not GRR Martin style grittyness. But I've liked very little modern SF done in last 10 years, other than some old timers still publishing.

Edit
The Rediscovery of Man, which is available as an Amazon
Quite a few on Amazon ... I need an income first. I prefer paper too. I'll go for free or up to £2 on eBooks. Or I'd pay £1 extra to get eBook with the Paper copy.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias=aps&field-keywords=Cordwainer Smith
 
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JaimeRetief

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Well, in a nutshell, I would would say a story told in linear fashion, generally from one viewpoint. This would be opposed to jumping back and forth in time, multiple viewpoints, post-modern tricks like breaking the fourth wall, and so on.

I guess it would be writing which does not draw attention to itself as writing.
Non-linear story telling and multiple point of view characters are decent literary approaches if utilized properly, however I do not think that New Age SF has a monopoly on those.
You can see a large number of characters, each with their own indivudial view point and development in other more classical works, in fact they are ra rather old device used as early as classical greek plays.
Flashbacks and non-linear storytelling are similarly an old literary device, but generally I think that they can be rather annoying if misused.

The "problem" with Golden Age science fiction is that it originated with the Pulp magazines, and when you consider the standard length of a short story or a serlialized novella as well as the fact that a Pulp writer had to produce a lot of stories for a casual readership with uncomplicated tastes just to make it becomes quite evident why linear, plot centric and single character fiction was the staple of the golden age.

And besides, Dick and Ellison both had quite a few short stories with single character narratives and linear sotry telling, I would not say that made them worse.

Breaking the forth wall is only useful for parodies and comedy work, it is a cartoonish plot device that has no place in anything other than the cartoons from which it originated.
 

Ray McCarthy

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decent literary approaches if utilized properly
Nearly ANYTHING can be done if done well. But they [modern / new wave SF] don't. Maybe that's why Fantasy sells better / easier to get published unless it's a TV Series/Film spin off.

Hmmm..
Added FOUR Cordwainer Smith to my wish list

But bought this for the Kindle (download to PC, transfer by USB, for posterity!)
http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00PJCEN7A/?tag=brite-21
£0.71
I have "All the Colours of Darkness" in ancient paperback for many years.
 
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JaimeRetief

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Nearly ANYTHING can be done if done well. But they [modern / new wave SF] don't. Maybe that's why Fantasy sells better / easier to get published unless it's a TV Series/Film spin off.
I don't know, I think that some writers are more interested in writing high class literature, than with telling a short, fun story.
And there is always the desire to write something similar to, but better (bigger)than, all the stuff you yourself have read, thus we get massive doorstops overloaded with overused tropes and recycled ideas.
 

JaimeRetief

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Ray McCarthy

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Baen's freely available promotianal CDs
I've had that bookmarked for ages, but I don't like big downloads (whole CDs) as I'm on Fixed Microwave Link for Internet running at about 31 Gbyte of my 60 Gbyte rolling 30 day cap, however it easily gets close to limit once you start downloading ISOs, or watch a video, it was nearly 50G a while back. If exceeded it's 0.064 M bps speed instead of 7.6 Mbps typical, until 10 days under cap!
 

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Just kind of thinking out loud here, but there seems to be to be a major difference in the historical time frames for the two types of literature. Fantasy, to me, seems to have a direct antecedent in the fairy tales that were told throughout the world for the last several thousand years or more; also in things such as the mythology of Greece, and the legends of Arthur et al in England. Science fiction is a much newer type of literature (going back to what, Shelley perhaps? And becoming more widespread through Verne and Wells.).

Tolkien seems to have, in the public's mind, the reputation of being the author who mastered fantasy...he brought it to what many see as its highest level of accomplishment; it was masterfully written by a renowned Shakespearean scholar. TLOTR is an all-time classic and the way to consider it is to consider its influence on the writing of all fantasy that came after it.

Science fiction was perceived as junk literature throughout the first half of the twentieth century (with the exception, perhaps, of only Wells); it was pulp, it was looked down on by almost everyone...authors of most other genres, teachers, parents. It was with works such as Asimov's Foundation series...Heinlein and Clarke's novels...and books such as Dune in the 1960s, that science fiction began to be accepted by a wider audience as a legitimate form of literature. So another way to consider the most successful works of science fiction is to consider what authors and books had the most influence in making science fiction popular, and acceptable to those who before had ridiculed its worth. I guess I'm wondering if, with science fiction, it's not more proper to consider what books influenced other authors to imitate their styles in the attempt to write works that would sell, rather than works that would uplift the genre. From what I've read of the realities of SF in the 1930s through mid 1950s, it was more about quickly churning out masses of words to the pulp magazines to make a few bucks, than it was about writing enduring classics that would change the direction, and reputation, of the field. Maybe I'm saying that the genre isn't old enough yet to have that one certifiably unique masterpiece-of-influence.

I may not have made any sense at all. :) CC
 

JaimeRetief

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I've had that bookmarked for ages, but I don't like big downloads (whole CDs) as I'm on Fixed Microwave Link for Internet running at about 31 Gbyte of my 60 Gbyte rolling 30 day cap, however it easily gets close to limit once you start downloading ISOs, or watch a video, it was nearly 50G a while back. If exceeded it's 0.064 M bps speed instead of 7.6 Mbps typical, until 10 days under cap!
They sldo let you browse the individual cds and download only what you want, in a number of formats.
Also check out Baen's free library.
 

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