Sci-fi actually needs science

Onyx

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Independence Day 1996. The character David Leveinson uses a computer virus to take down the shields around the attacking alien mothership . Not possible given the fact you have two vastly different technologies and computer operating systems.
Of course it is "possible". They already had the operating system from the crashed ship. Programming is called "coding" because a computer language can turn instructions from one type of operating system to another, just like translating numbers into words like Enigma did in WWII could be broken by a computer. See "emulator".
 

Venusian Broon

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My point was simply a logical/linguistic one. If there is no science in it, why call it science fiction not just fiction? (If there is no fiction in it, can it be SF?).

I personally take the 'S' of SF to mean speculative, not science. So I don't have a problem with no real science in SF :)

After forty years reading the genre, and following the history of it, I do agree with @Onyx, that Science Fiction is really an anachronistic term. The terms did, at some point, really get the zeitgeist of the cutting edge that was being produced (1930-50?). But I think the field has developed and moved into other pastures.

But hey, it's a personal definition, and the above is my take and tastes. Feel free to disagree.
 

BAYLOR

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Of course it is "possible". They already had the operating system from the crashed ship. Programming is called "coding" because a computer language can turn instructions from one type of operating system to another, just like translating numbers into words like Enigma did in WWII could be broken by a computer. See "emulator".

If I recall the story correctly , the ship that was in Area 51 didn't become fully operation until the mothership arrived , They would have been unable to access any software routines form. invite system And yes you might argue that with the ship active David Levinson was there but even so, they wouldn't have had enough time to crack the alien operating system to come up with a virus. There are too many other things they would have to have to. order to even a a hope of creating a virus. You would need to know their language and that alone would take years.
 

Onyx

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If I recall the story correctly , the ship that was in Area 51 didn't become fully operation until the mothership arrived , They would have been unable to access any software routines form. invite system And yes you might argue that with the ship active David Levinson was there but even so, they wouldn't have had enough time to crack the alien operating system to come up with a virus. There are too many other things they would have to have to. order to even a a hope of creating a virus. You would need to know their language and that alone would take years.
In your experience, what other computer languages take years to crack?
 

BAYLOR

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In your experience, what other computer languages take years to crack?


The Invading aliens written language . You'd would need to know it in order to have any hope come up with a virus.
 

Onyx

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The Invading aliens written language . You'd would need to know it in order to have any hope come up with a virus.
No you wouldn't. You'd just need to know the machine language that everything mechanical functioned on, which is mathematical.
 
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Parson

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The point is, most people watch/read fiction to be entertained. Frankly, much of the sci-fi discussion on Chrons puts me off sci-fi. I don't want to read any fiction I have to judge as to its professional accuracy.

I agree with you in general Cathbad. Most/nearly all people who watch/read fiction want and expect to be entertained. If the story isn't entertaining, it will not sell many copies, nor will it be often read. Here, we have SF aficionados. You have certainly noticed that there are a lot of seriously smart people on this site (can't be everyone as I am a member who does some of the discussing). When we talk about Science Fiction we find it hugely entertaining to think about how something could or could not actually work. For a book to be vastly popular this discussion is largely irrelevant.
 

psikeyhackr

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I personally take the 'S' of SF to mean speculative, not science. So I don't have a problem with no real science in SF :).

It is so curious that Robert Heinlein was one of the first people to use the term "Speculative Fiction".

Speculative fiction (I prefer that term to science fiction) is also concerned with sociology, psychology, esoteric aspects of biology, impact of terrestrial culture on the other cultures we may encounter when we conquer space, etc., without end.

Speculative fiction is not fantasy fiction, as it rules out the use of anything as material which violates established scientific fact, laws of nature, call it what you will, i.e., it must [be] possible to the universe as we know it. Thus, Wind in the Willows is fantasy, but the much more incredible extravaganzas of Dr. Olaf Stapledon are speculative fiction—science fiction.
SF Citations for OED
 

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Hi. New to the forum today.

Me too, I prefer the 'harder' side of the sci-fi spectrum. A while back I found this amusing summary on the topic The Scale of Hardness in Science Fiction. //futurism.media/the-scale-of-hardness-in-science-fiction
(forum won't let me do a hyperlink yet)

Sure, a reader is must willingly suspend their disbelief. But the more an author makes you do this the more their story slides towards Marvel Comics territory. Nothing wrong with that I guess (actually I'm bored senseless with endless Marvel remakes for the screen) but this is a move by the author towards providing wish-fulfillment at any narrative cost. I love junk food, but ultimately it's unsatisfying.

I don't mean to imply simply that science accuracy = good story. That's BS, obviously. Certainly, the fiction part of Science Fiction is what opens opportunities to road test alternative futures that may, or may not, bud off from present. But every extra layer of the incredible laid down insulates the story from the readers life. Fun, but increasingly irrelevant.

But then again I could be wrong about all this.
 
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psikeyhackr

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Hi. New to the forum here.

Me too, I prefer the 'harder' side of the sci-fi spectrum. A while back I found this amusing summary on the topic The Scale of Hardness in Science Fiction. //futurism.media/the-scale-of-hardness-in-science-fiction
.

The Scale of Hardness in Science Fiction

The Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness

One goes to 10 and the other goes to 6 with some X.5s thrown in.

I saw that before I wrote my word counting program.

The first article says Heinlein's The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress is a 9.
For the second Robert A. Heinlein’s The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress falls in class 5.

My SF density program gives is a 1.007. That means a hair over 1 SF word for every 1,000 characters.

Of course the program cannot tell is the words are used incorrectly. Star Wars uses the word 'parsec' and my program would count it but its usage is invalid.

For me the entertainment is not just reading the book. It can be ideas to think about long after I have read the book. SF helped me through grade school because I could sit in class thinking about things far more interesting than the drivel the nitwit nuns were talking about. I like the Flinx books while I read them but that is their limit.
 

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SF helped me through grade school because I could sit in class thinking about things far more interesting than the drivel the nitwit nuns were talking about. I like the Flinx books while I read them but that is their limit.

I'm tempted to ask exactly where the Bible might land on the Scale of Hardness in Science Fiction, but I suspect that might be in poor taste.
 
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Parson

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I'm tempted to ask exactly where the Bible might land on the Scale of Hardness in Science Fiction, but I suspect that might be in poor taste.

Welcome to Chrons @ChatBot! I don't know that the question would be in poor taste, but there is a few rules around here and one of them is that we don't discuss religion, and that question has religious discussion written all over it. It would be like asking where the Bible stands on the history/myth continuum.
 

psikeyhackr

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I'm tempted to ask exactly where the Bible might land on the Scale of Hardness in Science Fiction, but I suspect that might be in poor taste.

My KJV-Bible.txt file is 4.4 megabytes

The SF density is 0.007 and the Fantasy density is 1.093

The input file is: KJV_Bible.txt with 4383569 characters.

experiment 1
addicted 1
circuits 1
planets 1
Mars 1
science 2
gravity 2
circuit 3
aliens 3
Jupiter 3
web 4
alien 5


The input file is: JV_Bible.txt with 4383569 characters.
It uses 12 SF words 27 times for an SF density of 0.007

princess == 1
dwarf == 1
princesses == 1
witch == 2
queens == 3
goddess == 5
castles == 6
unicorn == 6
curses == 8
castle == 9
dragons == 16
oracle == 17
dragon == 19
swords == 24
spirits == 42
queen == 54
prophesy == 79
prince == 97
curse == 98
prophet == 237
prophets == 241
princes == 272
spirit == 337
sword == 422
kings == 613
king == 2181

26 Fantasy words used 4791 times for a Fantasy density of 1.093
 

Onyx

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A while back I found this amusing summary on the topic The Scale of Hardness in Science Fiction. //futurism.media/the-scale-of-hardness-in-science-fiction
(forum won't let me do a hyperlink yet)
I quite frankly hate articles like this. They start with some fairly ridiculous guidelines about what is "realistic". (Spaceships with thermal radiators? Blah.) And then they graduate to these entirely arbitrary divisions where the forcefields, hyperspace and AI in the Culture is somehow 'harder' than the similarly outlandish elements in Dune. And then names a number of works that put people on Mars with no cosmic ray protection as the ultimate in Hard SF.

And where does this guy get this "SciFi means X" thing from?

I have never read or seen any SF that is truly "hard". 2001 has just as much handwaving about hibernation and AI as Bladerunner has. Hard SF seems to not be about accuracy as much as a penchant for extrapolating on very well understood principles - and sometimes getting them completely wrong, like Mission of Gravity does.

Star Wars uses the word 'parsec' and my program would count it but its usage is invalid.
I can certainly understand why you would jump to that conclusion.
 

Onyx

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I think a good writer with a solid science background could write a brilliantly hard SF story without using a single one of Psykeyhackr's SF vocab words or any known engineering pre-packaging.
 

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Welcome to Chrons @ChatBot! I don't know that the question would be in poor taste, but there is a few rules around here and one of them is that we don't discuss religion, and that question has religious discussion written all over it. It would be like asking where the Bible stands on the history/myth continuum.


I suspected as much. But I am yet to fully decipher the human sentience algorithm.
 

Onyx

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OMG, there is some point to Solo:

Solo's Greatest Accomplishment Was Correcting One of the Most Infamous Star Wars Plot Holes
Han Solo Parsec Kessel Run Plot Hole Correction - Solo's Corrected One of Star Wars's Most Infamous Plot Holes

:lol::lol::lol: :cool:
When did Lucas ever say it was a plot hole in the first place? I've always assumed that the line meant exactly what it was sounds like - he made the run in less distance. Why does everyone think that it was written in error when it clearly can mean exactly what Solo confirms it meant.

It is just a kind of bizarre arrogance on the part of fans that they believe that they know scientific terminology and SF luminaries like Lucas, Dykstra and McQuarrie are idiots. Lucas wrote that line the way he did to be provocative, not because he's a moron.
 

-K2-

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Personally, I believe that the science in science fiction needs to be kept reasonable, interesting, and perhaps more importantly at least advanced enough that it makes readers think "gee, wouldn't that be great?"

Interesting is perhaps the easiest part. Advanced enough can obviously be just about anything, however, reasonable then plays into that. Obviously, if we're speaking of the year 2739, one would just about hope that it would be almost fantastical. 2030, not quite so much, but, if I'm offering nothing more advanced than we have today, then to some degree it's a let down.

Though I'd not claim what I'm working on now as being particularly 'science fiction,' more dystopian frankly, I never the less decided to lace in a touch of advanced 'fictional science' to make it a little more interesting. In fact, with just the protagonists weapons and body armor I tried to suggest a number of items to keep it interesting while keeping in mind that the bulk of it she would have to obtain in 2019/2020, the stories in 2028 & 2029.

To keep those items interesting (at least to me), I chucked in one type that could be made today yet isn't as far as I know. Another would require technology that has been publically unsuccessful to date, to have had a secret breakthrough. A third item is purely fantastical, however, it's not totally unreasonable just simply why would anyone develop it. Finally the forth, I went very low-tech yet put a slick mechanical twist on it to balance it all out.

The point being to make it interesting and reasonable though none of it exists that I know of, and even step it back a bit with the low-tech to rein it all in and not look too high-tech being so close to now.

If you choose to waste your time with the following, please know that it is simply 'rough written.'

Respectively those items would be:

There is no reason this could not be manufactured today:
Gyroscopic Mine – A thrown, puck-sized, radial dispersing, projectile mine. When thrown, the gyroscopic aspect insures a horizontal deployment of the projectiles that are stacked in three rows about its circumference. Trajectory/elevation sensing is used to insure detonation after a timed delay, initiated by the course change at the apex.
_______________________________________
This would take a lot of unsuccessful technology to finally be worked out (obviously in secret) being the magazine held power cells and the rail-gun technology:
(2) ~ Lukdai Industries Co. Ltd.: Lukdai Enforcer-II:
Ventilated Rail Gun, w/550gr.-Combination Solenoid Ass’t. Feed/Counter-Recoil Bolt,
Radial Progressive Full Lgth. Muzzle Brake, Gyroscopic stabilization and recoil dampening.
Custom Fit Grips w/MCT-chipped personal safety interlocks, non-ambidextrous,
Optional Removable Mid-Length (9.0"/228mm) Over Forearm Brace Stabilizers.
No External Safeties, 3,000P/min.-max., 1P/3P-.3A/.25A/.5A/FA Vertical-Slide Selector
Selectable Variable Rate of Fire, Programmable Variable Velocity 3,000-4,500 F/S.
37oz.-E/63.3oz.-F ~ 1049g.-E/1795g.-F, 26.3oz./746g. Full Magazine Weight.

Single use SCB-200/3.2-150 Magazines w/2-LED counters (opposing).
Self Contained 200-cycle Battery, 150-projectile capacity, 5-column chevron ~ 5x30-120° -Incl.
3.2x24 tri-metal KE-Projectiles, DU+CsRb+NIB, 200.0-cu.mm./3.56g/55gr., AP-SSF-KP
3,000F/s ~ 914M/s ~ 2,000P/min. maximum, 1,098.9ft.lb. ~ 1489.9nm(j) testing only
3,500F/s ~ 1,067M/s ~ 2,333P/min. maximum, 1,495.8ft.lb. ~ 2,028.0nm(j)
4,000F/s ~ 1,219M/s ~ 2,667P/min. maximum, 1,953.7ft.lb. ~ 2,648.8nm(j) mean
4,500F/s ~ 1,372M/s ~ 3,000P/min. maximum, 2,472.6ft.lb. ~ 3,352.4nm(j)
Armor Piercing – Self Sharpening Fragmentation – Kinetic Plasma Generating
______________________________
Her body-armor plates are purely fictional, yet I add in hopefully enough 'weird' info (the technical term is BS ;) ) that they make for a 'possible' what if?:
Glow Hide ~ Processing:
"Glow Hide" is made from thick dermis bovines, killed at a particular range from a thermonuclear blast. Resulting from a precise combination of heat and radiation exposure, the hide must be removed, gleaned, and worked (cut and formed) within specific time constraints.

Though the exact calories (heat), and coulomb/kg or roentgens is not known, what is known is as follows. The flash must convert the epidermis to ash and the grain layer of the dermis must experience a 1.6-2.4mm char. The hide must remain intact upon the carcass continually irradiated at fallout levels for 10-16 days, though the ideal harvesting time is between 12-14 wherein it swells and thickens 3.6-5.4x.

Once removed from the carcass and out of the radioactive area, remaining flesh (meat and fat) must be carefully scraped away. The item cut to final shape, thinned (flesh side) if required, fastening inserts added, and formed to shape within 3-days wherein the pad sets, no longer able to be worked.

The grain layer will continue to thicken and harden 1.8-2.6x below the char. The corium layer will continue to expand in thickness up-to 3x and provisions must be made for the expansion along the edges (cuts typically made –30° to the flesh side). The green hide must then be allowed to season for an additional 5-7 days, wherein the transformation-process is ceased and the hide tanned in a common chromium-sulfate solution.

The resulting grain layer should be virtually impenetrable with a surface hardness of Rockwell "C" 57-61, though remains semi-elastic. The lattice of the corium layer will compress, distribute, absorb and dissipate impact retaining its elasticity and spring-back up to 38%. Beyond that limit the lattice will remain permanently compressed. Exact energy absorption figures vary to such a degree that a range of data cannot be established.
____________________________________
Finally the low-tech to pull it all back:
(2) ~ Telescoping Thai Dha-Shay Sword ~ Custom Manufacture:
12-inch gently curved knurled aluminum oval-tubular grips house a 3-section, 22.5-inch x 1.25-inch telescoping blue/spring steel dual-leaf blade.

Each 11.5-inch section extends 7.5-inches past the following with the remaining 4-inches captured between the leaves of the following section for attachment. Each section is made up of two leaves resulting in two opposing chisel edges with the tip section forming a single edge. Squeezing together the leaves at their trailing end and slipping them back past the catch point, then rapping the butt of the grip to slip them back into it manually performs retraction.

Though considered an inexpensive and disposable weapon, the blades may be re-sharpened indefinitely until reaching the alignment/catch grooves. Although the blade may be progressively extended (7.5, 15, 22.5") to be utilized as a knife or shorter weapon, there is no provision to retain the trailing pieces to prevent their extension past the spring pressure.

K2
 
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