Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Gotham Central, Sep 23, 2012.
Not a fan of the Pern series?
I'm sorry but that just sounds like huge denial to me. The Heisenberg thing was put in as a joke, a nod and a wink to physicists. There was no attempt to 'answer' anything. It was the kind of rare self-mockery that saved later Trek from it's own po-facedness.
Large flying predator =/= dragon.
And there is nothing wrong with humanoid aliens. We're humanoids and we obviously exist, so why could life on another planet ALSO develop a humanoid?
So the assertion that avatar is full of "fantasy" fails. Every "fantastic" element of Avatar has a solid grounding in either actual science or is an extrapolation using science.
Because no one EVER builds castles in real life...
No, just not "do-able"...yet. "not yet achievable" =/= "implausable" or "fantasy" or any other such word.
How I prefer to define the science version versus fantasy argument is I consider something science fiction if it uses science and/or pseudoscience to justify its improbable or impossible elements.
Fantasy, on the other hand, while it might have scientific or use of pseudoscientific elements, will usually have elements that abandon any pretense of a scientific rationale.
Avatar falls into the latter category; even its invoking of a Gaia-like mother earth goddess is couched in pseudoscientific ideas. So does Star Trek, as even some of its most ridiculous conceits - like meeting the Greek god Apollo - are waved away with the idea that beings that thrive on worship apparently evolved organically somewhere, somehow, for some reason. Off the top of my head, the TAS episode "The Magicks of Megas-Tu" is Star Trek at its most fantastic given this description, as it's an episode where they enter a reality where magic actually works for some reason.
^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.
The same could be argued for making "orcs" with genetic engineering. We just lack the specific genetic understanding and technological means to realize that.
I've been mulling this. SF is pseudorealistic, and people in this time hate reality, therefore hate pseudoreality too. Well, this seems to be another Counter-Enlightenment-lite explanation of the relative popularity of SF vs. fantasy.
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. The question, as in my ignored example of SF romance novelists vs. fantasy romance novelists, is why real viewers can easily tell the difference? And, why they don't like the SF? Personally, I'm rather inclined to see more than just familiarity breeding contempt but an deeper commitment to irrationalism flowing from perceptions of the trend of the (social/political/economic) world.
The SF=fantasy proponents however have been arguing that 1) there is no point at all to the pseudorealism of SF, that it serves only as a story device to facilitate willing suspension of disbelief and 2) that SF is manifestly just as unbelievable as any fantasy. Formally this is completely contradictory, except their tacit presumption is that they are too superior to the SF fan to be taken in by such guff.
Yet this doesn't answer the question, why do fantasy fans, the large majority now, find it quite so easy to distinguish SF and fantasy modes, even in genres they like, such as romance? This fact gives the lie to the self-flattering assumption that hoi polloi are unable to distinguish SF's threadbare invitations to willing suspension of disbelief from the blatant appeal to the delight in the impossible and irrational in fantasy, instead seeing escape in both.
The hopelessly confused/deceptive chatter about plausibility seems to be the primary factor obscuring views here. The diversion into Avatar is a prime example. First, dragons in fantasy have been changed to suit images from paleontology of pterodactyls and pteranodons. The "dragons" in Avatar are not just a fantasy trope, not even on a literary lord's say so.
Second, the biggest implausibility in Avatar, bigger even than ignoring the effects of the suppose magnetic fields that hold up the floating rocks, bigger even than the breasts, is the body telepresence machinery. The information needed to carry all the sensory data to the human brain in the bed cannot be transmitted when the movie simultaneously depends on the impossibility of simple voice communications! But, if the machinery is supposed to copy the mind, then the avatars will never be unconcoscious. Not only is this tech implausibile, it is impossible in the context of the story. Except of course we "see" it work.
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. We should then see Avatar pretty much as the first movie commentary on transhumanism and sustainable immortality, a kind of hard SF. But the real issue in Avatar is whether the movie would have been the same if Eywa had just turned out to exist, on grounds that another world must have different rules and magic like Gods is just as "plausible" as any gobbledygook about trillions of neurons. Would Avatar have been just the same? I think the answer should be intuitively obvious: Hell, no!
Interconnectedness of all fantasy life on a fantasy planet, in a way that doesn't happen on Earth? Come on, just because they put a bit of thought into it doesn't make it plausible. If they wanted it to be plausible the humanoids would have breathed through slits their throats and had 4 arms.
After having done a little research into what is being done with genetic engineering right now, it turns out that NEITHER is particularly "implausible". While we cannot make a true"pig-man", we are making pigs that have human-compatible blood, for example.
So "orcs" not do-able, but not fantasy. Same with warp drive. Both entirely plausible extrapolations of science.
So it turn out Star Trek is not fantasy, but Lord of the Rings is science-fiction.
I love this place.
Not "fantasy" in the way you are abusing the word (and, yes, I deliberately chose that term). As you are abusing the term, anything that isn't document-ably real right here and now is "fantasy".
That is not what is meant by the genre title of "fantasy" and you know it.
And you know what is "plausible" and what is "not plausible" how exactly? The human body itself is a terrific example of millions and millions of individual parts (cells), organized into various configurations all communicating and acting together as one unified whole.
Avatar simply takes that concept up an order of magnitude and posits a planet where likewise the entire biosphere, including the complex lifeforms, are interconnected naturally.
No recourse to "fantasy" (paranatural explanation), just science.
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.
You completely missed the point I was making about interconnectedness. A point, I might add, that many geneticists have made since the film came out. It is fantasy not science. If it had been set in the centre of the Earth you would call it fantasy because there's no outer space down there.
If you can't stop twisting what I say, feel free to stop responding. In fact, I insist...
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.
Back under your bridge... *cracks whip*
So disagreeing with you gets me an accusation of trolling? Tzk, tzk. Such bad manners.
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).
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.
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).
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.
Separate names with a comma.