Sci-fi actually needs science

Ray Pullar

Licensed operator
Joined
Dec 11, 2011
Messages
148
Thank psikey for running the Authorised version of the Bible through his linguistic program. It seems to have explained Mel Gibson's troubles in signs - "and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers." Isaiah 61:5
 

psikeyhackr

Physics is Phutile, Fiziks is Fundamental
Joined
Jul 17, 2013
Messages
1,437
Thank psikey for running the Authorised version of the Bible through his linguistic program. It seems to have explained Mel Gibson's troubles in signs - "and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers." Isaiah 61:5

Ha, it never occurred to me to try my program on the KJV. The date on my Bible file is older than the first word count program I wrote.
 

Joshua Jones

When all is said and done, all's quiet and boring.
Joined
Apr 6, 2017
Messages
1,437
Location
Maryland
I suspect the general public will not be bothered; more it is a matter for scholars and sf writers to anguish over.

To me, boiling a kettle is pretty science fiction-y so I’m happy with pretty much any claims in Sf.

Also, comparing the film SW to the written word is imprecise, if not reductive. A film can show great detail and things that suggest logic and purpose in a flash without lingering on the why’s and wherefores. A book has to include relevant world-built facts more frugally.

pH
Absolutely. The typical reader wants cool stuff shooting other cool stuff with cool weapons, making cool explosions. Or, they want rich characterization and interesting storylines. Some want to explore an idea. Few are genuinely concerned with my solutions for biological space engines, and those that are will by my book of schematics and technical illustrations. So, while the tech is a piece of the puzzle, it most certainly isn't the whole puzzle or even the ever important edges.
 

psikeyhackr

Physics is Phutile, Fiziks is Fundamental
Joined
Jul 17, 2013
Messages
1,437
What does physics matter in reality?

Who asks about the distribution of steel and concrete down 1360 foot skyscrapers?
 

Droflet

I don't teach chickens how to dance.
Joined
Apr 15, 2010
Messages
3,515
Location
Australia
Indeed. I have only enough science in my science fiction series in order to support THE STORY. Not the other way around. Like I've said before, the three elements most important in a novel are story, story, story.
 

Vertigo

Mad Mountain Man
Supporter
Joined
Jun 29, 2010
Messages
8,087
Location
Scottish Highlands
To my mind the difference between hard science fiction and just straight science fiction is that the former is very much about the science, which absolutely does not excuse having a rubbish or even no story, whereas the latter is not specifically about the science but also does not ignore science that already well known and tested, which does not mean it cannot have purely speculative science, such as FTL for example. If known laws of physics are broken as in the original post in this thread then, so far as I'm concerned, it is science fantasy.

I love hard science fiction but that does not mean I don't enjoy good space opera with purely speculative technology, but start breaking known laws or introducing mysticism like numerology to, say, produce fields by running numbers through your head then it is firmly in the fantasy genre so far as I'm concerned, and I likely won't finish the book. To be honest I find it hard to define the line at which speculative science turns into fantasy but, for me, whenever I meet it it is always very obvious that it has crossed that line.
 

psikeyhackr

Physics is Phutile, Fiziks is Fundamental
Joined
Jul 17, 2013
Messages
1,437
To my mind the difference between hard science fiction and just straight science fiction is that the former is very much about the science, which absolutely does not excuse having a rubbish or even no story, whereas the latter is not specifically about the science but also does not ignore science that already well known and tested, which does not mean it cannot have purely speculative science, such as FTL for example. If known laws of physics are broken as in the original post in this thread then, so far as I'm concerned, it is science fantasy.
I find the novel Komarr very interesting in how Bujold treats "wormhole science" as something to be investigated scientifically to solve a crime. If a space faring culture is dependent on some technology then there will be experts in the theory along with technicians keeping it running day to day.

Bujold has a 5-way physicist solve the problem created by another theory guy killed accidentally by his own technology that caused a minor catastrophe for Miles to investigate.

But the majority of reviews totally ignore the quasi-science and focus on the marital issues of his new love interest. This story scores 0.7 on my SF density, higher than Dune and Ender's Game exactly half of Clarke's Fall of Moondust.
 

Vertigo

Mad Mountain Man
Supporter
Joined
Jun 29, 2010
Messages
8,087
Location
Scottish Highlands
I find the novel Komarr very interesting in how Bujold treats "wormhole science" as something to be investigated scientifically to solve a crime. If a space faring culture is dependent on some technology then there will be experts in the theory along with technicians keeping it running day to day.

Bujold has a 5-way physicist solve the problem created by another theory guy killed accidentally by his own technology that caused a minor catastrophe for Miles to investigate.

But the majority of reviews totally ignore the quasi-science and focus on the marital issues of his new love interest. This story scores 0.7 on my SF density, higher than Dune and Ender's Game exactly half of Clarke's Fall of Moondust.
That's actually a good example I wouldn't call it fully hard science fiction. It's focus is, as you say, on the science in this particular story but that science is almost all speculative. However it doesn't break any fundamental known science or turn mysticism into 'science' so, for me, it's not fantasy (I actually consider that Dune does and is, though in this case I loved it!). So I would probably describe Komarr as solid science oriented science fiction, and that also falls into the realms of SF that I love (sadly the romance definitely didn't! :p ).

However I'm the first to admit this is a very slippery concept to pin down. For example, take Weir's The Martian, for the most part it is solid hard science fiction but Weir himself admits that some of the science was broken. The best example of which was the opening storm which in the thin Martian atmosphere simply wouldn't have caused the destruction it did. Ironically a later storm is presented much more realistically when it is not even apparent to Watney on the surface but it is enough to reduce the solar radiation necessary for his energy. So does that make The Martian hard science fiction or science fantasy. By my original definition Weir (knowingly) broke known physical laws so I should relegate it to fantasy but instead all the really sound science in it makes me forgive him and still classify it as hard SF. :D
 

psikeyhackr

Physics is Phutile, Fiziks is Fundamental
Joined
Jul 17, 2013
Messages
1,437
There is sci-fi that I consider to be "serious" even though it has nothing but sci-fi tropes.

Rite of Passage by Alexei Panshin would be called a YA story today about a girl growing up in a society on a huge FTL space ship.

For me the story raises the question of "who owns knowledge?" Do people have the right to keep others ignorant to take advantage of them?


I think this applies to life today. Why don't we have a K-12 National Recommend Reading List so kids that want to learn can find what interests them. I decided on engineering in 7th grade after reading Clarke's A Fall of Moondust. If I hadn't discovered science fiction at an early age I would not have gone to college for Electrical Engineering.

A lot of reviews are just about how much the reader "liked" the story, or didn't. It is sometimes difficult to understand why. Hardly ever an explanation of serious ideas in the work that are applicable to the real world.
 

psikeyhackr

Physics is Phutile, Fiziks is Fundamental
Joined
Jul 17, 2013
Messages
1,437

Rite of Passage has an SF density of 0.272, lower than Dune and Ender's Game. Definitely not hard SF.
 
Last edited:

Fiberglass Cyborg

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 13, 2021
Messages
127
Some of my favourites would be more accurately described as "Space Fantasy"..... I'm pretty happy with the whole range of the soft - hard SF spectrum. It can be a bit jarring, though, when something that presents itself as very hard SF contains elementary misunderstandings of the relevant science which even I can detect. So if anything, softer SF can end up /less/ annoying on scientific grounds.
 

Top