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Old January 23 2012, 10:30 AM   #1
dtoliaferro
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Location: Philadelphia, PA
What Are Science Fiction Writers Writing About?

In the Star Trek Universe, fantastical things are happening everyday. While Captain Kirk was off galavanting about the galaxy, what were science fiction writers on Earth writing about?

I mean, in Kirk's time, it seemed like even time travel was some what routine. What new stories could have been told?

Would science fiction be a dead genre?
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Old January 23 2012, 02:50 PM   #2
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Re: What Are Science Fiction Writers Writing About?

I'm sure there are still writers writing about fighting aliens or messed up time travel stuff, these stories would just be labeled as fiction as opposed to sci-fi.

Or perhaps science fiction applies to fiction set underwater? Not much effort seems to go into exploring oceans of Earth or any other planet, so that's still a realm of mystery. Yeah, that's right, Mega-Shark lives into the 24th century!
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Old January 23 2012, 03:46 PM   #3
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Re: What Are Science Fiction Writers Writing About?

I don't think science fiction as a genre could ever become obsolete. There's always something new to imagine and write stories about.

Perhaps sci-fi writers in Kirk's time would be writing about intergalactic travel, since Federation vessels are only capable of exploring our own galaxy. Advanced artificial intelligence could also be a subject, since Data was still a few decades away and he's pretty much a mystery to Federation scientists anyway.
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Old January 23 2012, 03:51 PM   #4
Christopher
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Re: What Are Science Fiction Writers Writing About?

dtoliaferro wrote: View Post
In the Star Trek Universe, fantastical things are happening everyday. While Captain Kirk was off galavanting about the galaxy, what were science fiction writers on Earth writing about?

I mean, in Kirk's time, it seemed like even time travel was some what routine. What new stories could have been told?

Would science fiction be a dead genre?
I wouldn't say time travel was routine in Kirk's time; remember, when it happened in "The Naked Time," Spock called it proof of something that had only been theoretical to that point (implying that the existence of the Temporal Cold War was classified and Spock didn't know about it).

I actually go into this in some detail in my upcoming novel Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations: Forgotten History (which despite the subtitle is more a TOS novel than anything else). Time travel may have been something the Enterprise did on a recurring basis, but that's because they already knew about it and had experience with it; I assume in the book that it's still classified and largely unknown where everyone else is concerned.

And in both my DTI novels, I've assumed that there's still a genre of "time fiction," speculative fiction focused on the idea of time travel. After all, even if time travel is known to happen by the 24th century, it's still far from routine. We don't see starships using slingshot maneuvers or historians jumping through the Guardian of Forever as a matter of course in the TNG era, and time travel seems to be mainly the result of accidents or intervention by more advanced civilizations. So it would be analogous to the situation today, where space travel is something human beings have done but only to a limited degree (and even less in some ways than they did in an earlier generation), so that fiction based around more extensive or advanced space travel still qualifies as SF.

Beyond that, there could be SF about the invention of more advanced propulsion methods that allow intergalactic travel. Aside from a couple of visits by aliens from the Andromeda Galaxy (and, in Trek literature, a couple of sojourns to the Small Magellanic Cloud), life in other galaxies remains a complete mystery to the Federation, and reaching them remains an elusive goal. It would be seen by UFP citizens the way fiction about interstellar travel appears to us today, or the way fiction about life on Mars and Venus appeared to readers in the early 20th century.

There's also a lot of the Milky Way Galaxy that's still unexplored, so there's room for speculative fiction about what could be discovered there -- although it might be seen more as the kind of fictionalized travellers' tales that you got in the age of exploration (like Gulliver's Travels, say).

I imagine there would also be room for fiction speculating about the future evolution of humanoid life, or of the Federation as a political entity. What if the Vulcans and Romulans successfully reunified? What if the Federation fell? What if warp drive ruined subspace and had to be abandoned? What if sentient holograms replaced organic life? There's still plenty of room for technology, politics, evolution, etc. to advance beyond where they stand in the 24th century, so there would still be plenty of room for speculative fiction.

Not to mention alternate history, the sort of thing Trek literature is already doing with the Myriad Universes series (though those are treated as "real" alternate timelines rather than conjectural histories). Even granting the proven reality of alternate timelines in the Trek universe, people could still write fiction about conjectural alternate histories, with the bonus that they could be presented as realities that might actually exist somewhere.
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Old January 24 2012, 12:01 AM   #5
dtoliaferro
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Re: What Are Science Fiction Writers Writing About?

Christopher wrote: View Post
I wouldn't say time travel was routine in Kirk's time; remember, when it happened in "The Naked Time," Spock called it proof of something that had only been theoretical to that point (implying that the existence of the Temporal Cold War was classified and Spock didn't know about it).
But in Assignment: Earth they were able to go back in time at their own volition.
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Old January 24 2012, 12:31 AM   #6
Christopher
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Re: What Are Science Fiction Writers Writing About?

dtoliaferro wrote: View Post
Christopher wrote: View Post
I wouldn't say time travel was routine in Kirk's time; remember, when it happened in "The Naked Time," Spock called it proof of something that had only been theoretical to that point (implying that the existence of the Temporal Cold War was classified and Spock didn't know about it).
But in Assignment: Earth they were able to go back in time at their own volition.
The Enterprise was able to, but that doesn't make it routine. After all, we don't see them doing it in the TNG era. (Again, my upcoming novel addresses that question.)
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Old January 24 2012, 01:24 AM   #7
dtoliaferro
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Re: What Are Science Fiction Writers Writing About?

Christopher wrote: View Post
dtoliaferro wrote: View Post
Christopher wrote: View Post
I wouldn't say time travel was routine in Kirk's time; remember, when it happened in "The Naked Time," Spock called it proof of something that had only been theoretical to that point (implying that the existence of the Temporal Cold War was classified and Spock didn't know about it).
But in Assignment: Earth they were able to go back in time at their own volition.
The Enterprise was able to, but that doesn't make it routine. After all, we don't see them doing it in the TNG era. (Again, my upcoming novel addresses that question.)
True.

Question, is your novel going to be a licensed Star Trek work?
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Old January 24 2012, 01:37 AM   #8
Christopher
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Re: What Are Science Fiction Writers Writing About?

dtoliaferro wrote: View Post
Question, is your novel going to be a licensed Star Trek work?
Already is. CBS gave final manuscript approval last week.

http://books.simonandschuster.com/St.../9781451657258

(Ignore the blurb -- it's the one from the first DTI novel, Watching the Clock.)
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Old January 24 2012, 01:38 AM   #9
dtoliaferro
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Re: What Are Science Fiction Writers Writing About?

Christopher wrote: View Post
dtoliaferro wrote: View Post
Question, is your novel going to be a licensed Star Trek work?
Already is. CBS gave final manuscript approval last week.

http://books.simonandschuster.com/St.../9781451657258

(Ignore the blurb -- it's the one from the first DTI novel, Watching the Clock.)
Wow, that's awesome! Congratulations!
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Old January 24 2012, 03:24 AM   #10
Santa Kang
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Re: What Are Science Fiction Writers Writing About?

He's written quite a few official Trek novels. In fact, I highly recommend all of them.
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Old January 24 2012, 03:48 AM   #11
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Re: What Are Science Fiction Writers Writing About?

Science Fiction is speculation about where science and technology may take us for good or ill. I don't see why the folks of some future era, be it ours own or the Futuristic world of Trek, should be any different. Science Fiction will run out when there is nothing left to discover.
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Old January 24 2012, 04:22 AM   #12
Christopher
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Re: What Are Science Fiction Writers Writing About?

Gov Kodos wrote: View Post
Science Fiction is speculation about where science and technology may take us for good or ill. I don't see why the folks of some future era, be it ours own or the Futuristic world of Trek, should be any different. Science Fiction will run out when there is nothing left to discover.
Right. Our world is science fiction by the standards of earlier generations. We've walked on the Moon and sent tourists into orbit! We have pocket telephones that have built-in computers, phonographs, and televisions! We have millions of computers around the world, interlinked by a network of orbiting satellites, that lets us access any information in a matter of moments without needing to call an operator or visit a library! Our wars are fought by robots! And yet there's still plenty of science fiction about the advances we haven't made yet. The future always becomes the present eventually, but there's still more future beyond it.
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Old January 25 2012, 09:56 AM   #13
The Green Mushroom
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Re: What Are Science Fiction Writers Writing About?

In college I took a course called "Science Fiction." The professor defined science fiction as fiction that asks "What if..." I can't see that question going away in the 23rd and 24th centuries, no matter what might happen. In a high tech world like Star Trek, people would still wonder "What if history happened differently?" "What if scientific theory X was true?" "What if this new piece of technology is taken to its logical and potentially scary next step?"

While much of what we call space opera might be reclassified as literature, biography, the classics, or quiant old ideas from the past, the heart of science fiction isn't made up of shiny gadgets. The heart of science fiction is asking "What if..." and that won't be going anywhere.
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Old January 25 2012, 03:29 PM   #14
Christopher
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Re: What Are Science Fiction Writers Writing About?

The Green Mushroom wrote: View Post
While much of what we call space opera might be reclassified as literature, biography, the classics, or quiant old ideas from the past, the heart of science fiction isn't made up of shiny gadgets. The heart of science fiction is asking "What if..." and that won't be going anywhere.
Exactly. Science fiction isn't just spaceships and ray guns, it's any speculation about future progress or change, or about alternative possibilities. A lot of SF is more about social change than technological.

Heck, given how paranoid the Federation is about genetic engineering, there's probably a whole subgenre of dystopian, cautionary-tale literature about transhumanism run amok. There must be some mechanism that's kept those fears alive for centuries. If it were just some ancient history lesson, you'd think those attitudes would fade into abstraction. For there to be such strong, deep-rooted fear toward the idea of transhumanism in the "current" generation in the 24th century, they must've been socialized with those fears somehow, and if they grew up experiencing holonovels about the terrors of eugenics and the loss of humanity, that could help explain it.
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Old January 26 2012, 03:59 AM   #15
Greg Cox
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Re: What Are Science Fiction Writers Writing About?

What do science fiction writers write about these days? The Singularity, transhumanism, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, climate change, steampunk, mutations, bio-warfare, plus the usual staples: parallel universes, time travel, space exploration, alien lifeforms, etc.

There's no shortage of good science fiction books out there . . . .
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