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Science Fiction & Fantasy Farscape, Babylon 5, Star Wars, Firefly, vampires, genre books and film.

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Old September 28 2012, 03:09 PM   #76
Ian Keldon
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

Deckerd wrote: View Post
The warp drive article depends on 'exotic material'. Therefore I could sketch out the most Amazing Fantastic Engines and provided exotic material was the essential component they would be plausible.
Exotic material which is quantifiable, measurable, and describable in purely scientific terms.

Was "enriched" uranium "fantasy" before we had the tech to make it? Was steel "fantasy" when all we had the tech to make was iron? Obviously not. There was nothing scientifically implausible about either...we just lacked the means to implement it.

Same with "exotic matter". We may not be able to make it (yet), but we know what it must look like and what properties it must hold to be suitable for our purpose.
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Old September 28 2012, 03:10 PM   #77
Ian Keldon
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

iguana_tonante wrote: View Post
Keep insisting.
Back under your bridge... *cracks whip*
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Old September 28 2012, 03:13 PM   #78
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

So disagreeing with you gets me an accusation of trolling? Tzk, tzk. Such bad manners.
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Old September 28 2012, 03:24 PM   #79
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

Ian Keldon wrote: View Post

Same with "exotic matter". We may not be able to make it (yet), but we know what it must look like and what properties it must hold to be suitable for our purpose.
Like unobtanium?
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Old September 28 2012, 03:45 PM   #80
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

There were certainly efforts to categorize Lord of the Rings as science fiction in the 1960s, leading to confusing assumptions like the idea the novel took place in some post-apocalyptic Earth that had then reverted for some reason into this magical neverworld (which may explain the peculiar 1970-ish fascination with magical post-apocalyptic Earth scenarios).

Ian Keldon wrote: View Post
^Uh, no. They make frequent references throughout Avatar to the interconnectedness of all life on the planet down to a neural level. The process is even demonstrated between the Na'vi and their riding animals as well as with the Tree of Voices and the Tree of Souls. The implication is that in some way the entire biosphere of the planet is part of a "group mind" that may or may not be conscious in and of itself.

The Na'vi may have personalized this group mind as the "goddess" Ewa, but that does not make an entirely plausible scientific concept into fantasy.
Even if you consider the group mind element of Pandora's ecology plausible (which I don't), it doesn't change the fact that it's extremely similar to idealized, fantasy views of nature. It is in narrative terms the same thing just couched in slightly different language.

stj wrote: View Post
However, most popular literature tends to be in some degree escapist. Some of the older SF tropes have been around long enough to be regarded as mere conventions, no more to be viewed critically than, say, the faux mediaeval social structure in most fantasies or the neo-Victorian empires of most steam punk.
Just so. Hell, the rise of steampunk in itself is a pretty good example ofthe popularity of backward looking genre fiction* (in ways that some critics have found problematic).

Third, as stated, the God that works is in fact plainly supposed to be natural in origin. I suppose it is possible that the sequel will reveal the natural origin to be due to the blue guys' command of natural science.
It's possible. I personally think with Avatar the alien society has little interest evolving beyond the tribal level because they live in a magical equilibrium. How the ecology operates, complete with the world-net implications of Eywa, doesn't require for the Na'vi to improve their lot with technology. It's extolling the virtue of a static, harmonious society, as opposed to the progressive (and thoughtlessly destructive and reflexively imperial) world of humanity.

*Of course, steampunk can be either science fiction or fantasy, or possibly both, depending on how it's being presented. Typically whether or not the steampunk is set in an invented world or an alternate history Earth is the quickest way to determine which.
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Old September 28 2012, 04:11 PM   #81
Ian Keldon
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

Deckerd wrote: View Post
Ian Keldon wrote: View Post

Same with "exotic matter". We may not be able to make it (yet), but we know what it must look like and what properties it must hold to be suitable for our purpose.
Like unobtanium?
While unobtanium's exact nature and role is never defined within the film itself, it's observed properties seem to indicate that it is either superconductive (meaning that the mechanism by which it "floats" would be magnetic in nature), or anti-gravitic in nature.

Before you start hollering about "anti-gravity=fantasy" I would remind you that we now know of and are starting to understand the nature of how mass and gravity is "attached" to matter, via the Higgs boson.

Therefore in a scientific context, anti-gravity could be explained as a variance in the way that Higgs bosons attach to the unobtanium, altering their mass and hence the effect of gravity on them. Either they attach in a way that is oppositional to that of boson attachment in normal matter, or possibly that unobtanium's bosons are "negative" bosons or "anti-bosons".

And before you bring up M/AM and "boom", since bosons do not appear to have any actual mass themselves (as I understand the reading), no mass=no energy release. An "anti-boson" would simply cancel out a boson, rendering the unobtanium either mass-less or at a negative mass (assuming a surplus of anti-bosons.


So, again, cause and effect completely within the bounds of conventional science or a reasonable extrapolation thereof, which is the very definition of science fiction as opposed to mysticism-based fantasy.
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Old September 28 2012, 04:19 PM   #82
Ian Keldon
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

Kegg wrote: View Post
Even if you consider the group mind element of Pandora's ecology plausible (which I don't), it doesn't change the fact that it's extremely similar to idealized, fantasy views of nature. It is in narrative terms the same thing just couched in slightly different language.
ALL stories have to have narrative terms that are relatable to the reader. Science fiction uses fact and extrapolation of fact as it's narrative term. Fantasy invokes "magic".

While functionally they may serve similar purpose, it is an abuse of the term "the same", IMO to use it to equate the two genres.

It's possible. I personally think with Avatar the alien society has little interest evolving beyond the tribal level because they live in a magical equilibrium. How the ecology operates, complete with the world-net implications of Eywa, doesn't require for the Na'vi to improve their lot with technology. It's extolling the virtue of a static, harmonious society, as opposed to the progressive (and thoughtlessly destructive and reflexively imperial) world of humanity.
I would submit that it is a natural not "mysitcal" equillibrium, just as the human body operates in a natural equillibrium of it's own. In this case, functionally, the human presence would be akin to an invasive virus or dangerous bacterium. When said virus/bacterium became an active threat to the equilibrium of the planet, the planet's natural response was to rally it's "anti-bodies" (the Na'vi and fauna) to fight the threat (a concept that was also at least contemplated in the Trek episode "The Immunity Syndrome").

I think the real issue and thing to watch for in the Avatar sequel will be to see just how robust the Pandoran equillibrium is. Will things return to the status quo absent the human presence, or will Pandora have to "evolve" to meet the challenge of changed circumstances?
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Old September 28 2012, 04:20 PM   #83
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

Since the only way you can get a boson is to smash protons together at the speed of light and then it lasts for a nanosecond, I think we're pretty much in the realms of fantasy here.
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Old September 28 2012, 04:33 PM   #84
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

I incur in the risk of getting another accusation of being a troll, but I'll say that those more likely to defend the "science" in science-fiction as actually plausible or realistic are those who, while somehow familiar with the lexicon of science, lacks an understanding of its working and principles.

In fact, the more they write about it, the more implausible and unrealistic it sounds.

(Science writers intent on selling a book about the science of science-fiction excluded. )
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Old September 28 2012, 05:51 PM   #85
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

These conversations always make me think of this:

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Old September 28 2012, 06:42 PM   #86
Ubik
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

iguana_tonante wrote: View Post
I incur in the risk of getting another accusation of being a troll, but I'll say that those more likely to defend the "science" in science-fiction as actually plausible or realistic are those who, while somehow familiar with the lexicon of science, lacks an understanding of its working and principles.

In fact, the more they write about it, the more implausible and unrealistic it sounds.

(Science writers intent on selling a book about the science of science-fiction excluded. )
Um...I don't know if this has already been suggested earlier in this thread, but it is not the plausibility or even the possibility of the imaginary science or technology in the work of science fiction that differentiates it from most fantasy. What makes it science fiction rather than fantasy is whether, inside the fictional world, those fictional characters consider it a form of science.

Science and magic are NOT the same thing. Even implausible or impossible science is not the same thing as magic. For example, magic, to function, often relies on the personal skill, power, concentration, etc, of the user. Scientific experiments, however, once understood, and with a good, clear instruction manual, can be reproduced, more or less, by any shmoe off the street. Science is provable and repeatable, given all the same variables. It is knowledge that can be passed down and used by anyone who desires to. But no matter how much Frodo memorizes the right words, and states them in the right tone, he'll never be able to scream, "THOU SHALT NOT PASS!" and make crazy shit happen. Only Gandalf can do that. It's not repeatable. That's one of the reasons it's magic, and not science, and why LOTR is fantasy and not science fiction.

Warp drive may be as impossible as Gandalf's spells in our world, but inside the fictional world, that world conceives of warp drives as science. Anyone who studies warp drive long enough can work one. Warp engines work the same way, no matter who's controlling them, and given the same variables, they will always work the same way. So, it's impossible (or fictional, rather) science, rather than magic, or fantasy.

This difference is not, to my mind, superficial or merely set-dressing. It suggests something very different about the way that fictional world works, and the relationship between those fictional characters and their fictional environment. DO they, in fact, live in a world that is potentially understandable and controllable by the masses, given the opportunity? Or do they live in a chaotic world of magic, in which only a certain elite few will ever have control, and, in any case, nothing is predictable, provable, or repeatable anyway? Those are very different fictional worlds, and it changes everything about the story, or at least the good ones.
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Old September 28 2012, 06:50 PM   #87
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

I was thinking about this topic generally and specifically related to the definition of sci-fi versus fantasy and for me one of the key elements of fantasy that differentiates sci-fi from fantasy is in fantasy is the belief or element of the supernatural whereas generally speaking in sci-fi the supernatural is disregarded or even mocked.

For example: in Trek in TNG in the episode Who's Watching the Watchers Picard mocks the Mintankans belief in "The Picard," as a "God," and implies that a belief system in a deity is backward thinking.

DS9 furthers this notion with the Profits. The 'advanced federation folks,' refer to the Profits as 'wormhole aliens,' and look down generally upon the Bajorins worshiping them as gods.

The Q while it could be argued are more 'mystical,' are always presented IMO as simply a very advanced species. Their 'magic,' isn't magic at all but simply a product of advanced evolution.

Therefore, Trek dismisses the mystical and supernatural generally as nonsense and attempts to explain things through the prism of science.

Conversely, films like Avatar and more hard fantasy like Harry Potter embrace the notion of the supernatural. The characters don't tend to debunk the supernatural but latch hold of it. In Avatar's case, the goddess of the forest is eventually found to exist and is supernatural even by the visiting humans.


Back to the original question - why is fantasy more popular than sci-fi generally?

I believe that most people on this planet want to believe in the existence of a god. 90% of Americans in fact believe in the existence of God. Fantasy and the belief in the supernatural tends to support their belief system whereas sci-fi from their perspective seems less probable despite the fact that it's more based on scientific facts.

You only need to go to the number of people who believe in intelligent design or outright creationism to come to the conclusion as to why people are more likely to embrace fantasy over science fiction.
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Old September 28 2012, 07:10 PM   #88
Kegg
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

^
Honestly not sure how much I'd credit religion there. It definitely plays a role - with Narnia in particular - but it's also true that a lot of the fantasy currently quite popular has fairly godless underpinnings, and to which some religious figures have reacted very hostilely to (the controversy over Harry Potter).

Ian Keldon - You can, if you choose, write the exact same story and then create two versions, one which is fantasy and one which is science fiction, simply by word choice.

Observe:

Fantasy wrote:
"TrekBBS Poster, I am you - from the future. I used an incantation to open a portal between my present and yours. Prophesy has foretold that dragons will attack this world unless I gift you our magic."
Science Fiction wrote:
"TrekBBS Poster, I am you - from the future. I used a temporal translocator to open a dimensional rift between my present and yours. Psychohistory has predicted that alien monsters will attack this world unless I gift you our science."
They're both terrible, incoherent stories, obviously, but you get the idea. I would have to change more than I did to turn them into romances or thrillers.

Ubik wrote: View Post
Um...I don't know if this has already been suggested earlier in this thread, but it is not the plausibility or even the possibility of the imaginary science or technology in the work of science fiction that differentiates it from most fantasy. What makes it science fiction rather than fantasy is whether, inside the fictional world, those fictional characters consider it a form of science.

Science and magic are NOT the same thing. Even implausible or impossible science is not the same thing as magic. For example, magic, to function, often relies on the personal skill, power, concentration, etc, of the user. Scientific experiments, however, once understood, and with a good, clear instruction manual, can be reproduced, more or less, by any shmoe off the street. Science is provable and repeatable, given all the same variables.
There are also fantasy novels where magic is all of these things happen. In fact I've read one which focuses on a physicist teasing out the scientific properties of thaumaturgons, an elemental particle that is responsible for magic.

It's obviously not universally true of magic, obviously, but a fantasy novel that treats acts of magic as provable and repeatable and consistent in the manner of science does not make it a science fiction novel.

And on the other hand there are scientific novels where what is going on surpasses the comprehension of the characters. Solaris is mostly about the entire scientific process being confounded by the unpredictability of a single planet.
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Old September 28 2012, 07:17 PM   #89
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

Kegg wrote: View Post

It's obviously not universally true of magic, obviously, but a fantasy novel that treats acts of magic as provable and repeatable and consistent in the manner of science does not make it a science fiction novel.

And on the other hand there are scientific novels where what is going on surpasses the comprehension of the characters. Solaris is mostly about the entire scientific process being confounded by the unpredictability of a single planet.
Your examples are spot on on the differences between science fiction and fantasy - one has an element of the supernatural and one mostly does not.

However, there is one good example of cross over. Star Wars while mostly viewed as science fiction has the element of fantasy in the force. The force being an inherited characteristic that gives them their powers.

But isn't the same true in Harry Potter because the magicians have also a inherited triat that gives them the magic gift over the muggles.

So had Harry conjured himself up a Star Ship to hide from Lord Voldatmort would that have made Potter partially sci-fi?

Last edited by DarthTom; September 28 2012 at 07:33 PM.
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Old September 28 2012, 07:54 PM   #90
Temis the Vorta
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Re: Is fantasy more popular than science fiction? If so why?

Nerys Myk wrote: View Post
These conversations always make me think of this:


However, there is one good example of cross over. Star Wars while mostly viewed as science fiction has the element of fantasy in the force. The force being an inherited characteristic that gives them their powers.

But isn't the same true in Harry Potter because the magicians have also a inherited triat that gives them the magic gift over the muggles.

So had Harry conjured himself up a Star Ship to hide from Lord Voldatmort would that have made Potter partially sci-fi?
Why the heck not? TV and movies don't do hard sci fi that I've ever much noticed, so it's all just variations on hand-waving magic.

But it's usually easy to tell the author's intent by the surface attributes. For instance, Lucas intended Star Wars to be sci fi and signalled that intent by having spaceships and robots in the story. He cold have told essentially the same story with dragons and elves, but he didn't do that, so I'm willing to accept his own self-label and agree that Star Wars is sci fi.
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