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Author Topic: Does proper science fiction still exist?  (Read 2843 times)

Offline Yora

Does proper science fiction still exist?
« on: October 23, 2015, 12:03:18 PM »
I've been thinking about how many of todays technologies have been predicted by science fiction writers from the early to late 20th century. It might very well be that I am not properly informed, but as far as I am aware, there don't seem to be any popular and famous writers or even film makers today who deal with fiction about future science and technology.
There is a lot of space themed entertainment, no doubt about that. And also a good number of fiction set in the future. But the space themed stuff is action adventure and the future settings are post-apocalyptic adventure. But I am not really aware of anyone who is creating works that deal with the developments of science and technology and how they will affect our lives. In the 50s to 70s, that was science fiction.
Does it even still exist, or has it just disappeared into some obscure corner where very few people take notice?
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Offline Raptori

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Re: Does proper science fiction still exist?
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2015, 01:32:08 PM »
By "proper" you mean "hard" - there's nothing that makes soft science fiction of less value than hard science fiction.

Hard sci-fi does still exist, and I'm pretty sure it still gets recognition even though it's less popular than other genres. Vernor Vinge jumps to mind straight away - though I haven't read any of his books, but there are several on my tbr list - from what I've read he explores the implications of potential technological advances. With a little googling you can find articles like this that list loads of relatively new hard sci-fi.

And in terms of popular books, The Martian by Andy Weir fits in the subgenre - the story is driven by all sorts of logic problems that are solved by realistic science. It's a massive bestseller, and the film adaptation is massive too. Sure it's using almost entirely existing technology, but it shows that hard sci-fi does still have an audience.
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Offline Nora

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Re: Does proper science fiction still exist?
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2015, 01:33:46 PM »
Well, catastrophist post apocalyptic words are targeting our future, it's just more low technology...  ;D

I think of the Martian and its great success, or The Quiet War, if you want some pretty hard core sci fi... But it's not really my usual field, so it's true, I don't know about more indie publications.

There was the movie Aurora report that was proper sci fi, shot as a "sent" footage.

And Interstellar still got to count. Even though the trip through dimension via Tesseract ship was a bit too much for many people, it still assumes that the tesseract is a form of super-futuristic technology, so imo it still counts.
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Offline Arry

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Re: Does proper science fiction still exist?
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2015, 02:47:23 PM »
Emma Newman's Planetfall has some pretty cool technology, and honestly technology that feels feasible, at least to some extent. She has taken todays 3D printing technology and expanded it to the point where people can print on demand pretty much whatever they need/want (clothes, medicine, building elements and support structures for houses). They also have implanted chips that let people text and email straight from their mind. The chip can also be used to monitor health, regulate/trigger biological or neurological events.
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Offline ClintACK

Re: Does proper science fiction still exist?
« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2015, 04:09:19 PM »
James Halperin had a pair of what-if-this-one-invention style hard sf novels just before 2000: The Truth Machine (exactly what it sounds like) and The First Immortal.  Both were really about how changing technologies would change everything else.  There were a number of interesting little extrapolations -- like streaming video "life recorders".

I'd say the problem is right now if you look at likely technological changes in the next twenty years... all of our most brilliant innovators seem to be working on things like improved gaming systems.  Not exactly fodder for great storytelling.

Offline Yora

Re: Does proper science fiction still exist?
« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2015, 04:15:43 PM »
Where Clarke and Asimov popular during the time when they were writing? I think Philip Dick only got famous after he was already dead. Has "great science fiction" always been niche, or is that a more recent development?
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Offline Mr.J

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Re: Does proper science fiction still exist?
« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2015, 05:48:43 PM »
I'd say so. The book I'm reading at the moment, Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald isn't a dystopian look at the future, just a speculative story of the colonisation of the moon, with two powerful capitalist families at its centre.

The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi and Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (haven't read but heard good stuff)

Lock In by John Scalzi, The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu, Annihilation by Jeff Vandemeer, Something Coming Through by Paul McAuley. 

As for film: Ex-Machina, Moon, The Zero Theorem, Interstellar (maybe), Edge of Tomorrow (again maybe),

TV: Humans, Orphan Black, Black Mirror and maybe Fringe and Sense8 (haven't seen these last two) 

Can't wait for people to tell me these suggestions are poop. :P

Offline Rostum

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Re: Does proper science fiction still exist?
« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2015, 06:12:56 PM »
Have you read any Iain M Banks?

I would have thought this is a growing market since the 90's.

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Re: Does proper science fiction still exist?
« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2015, 06:54:36 PM »
Science fiction is really thriving right now to the extent that I am reading way more sci fi now than fantasy!A Long Way to an Angry Planet by Becky Chambers, Ancillary Justice/ Mercy and Sword by Ann Leckie, The Expanse Saga by James SA Corey, The Martian by Andy Weir and got a few more lined up to read.
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Offline Lanko

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Re: Does proper science fiction still exist?
« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2015, 12:33:46 AM »
Not a book, but the Deus Ex games are amazing on that category for me. Whenever people talk about this theme i can only remember this game.

Military robots, augmentations, people divided about it, artificial intelligence, tons of political interests in the changing world...

Funny thing, the first game released in 1999 totally foresaw the World Trade Center attack and the rise of terrorism replacing "normal" warfare.
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Re: Does proper science fiction still exist?
« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2015, 01:55:18 AM »
Where Clarke and Asimov popular during the time when they were writing? I think Philip Dick only got famous after he was already dead. Has "great science fiction" always been niche, or is that a more recent development?

Both writers were very popular from the fifties onwards among SF fans, but at that time nearly all SF was "niche".  I believe they both contributed greatly to helping SF gain even more popularity from then onwards, along with other  SF writers like Heinlein, Silverberg, Pohl.  I, Robot and The Foundation Trilogy were fairly well known in general.

 Brave New World  had a huge impact when it first came out, revived around the sixties and then continued to be very popular. Not sure if you count that as SF, at the time it was a dystopian future. Now more like genuine foresight.
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Offline Yora

Re: Does proper science fiction still exist?
« Reply #11 on: October 24, 2015, 10:29:40 AM »
Funny thing, the first game released in 1999 totally foresaw the World Trade Center attack and the rise of terrorism replacing "normal" warfare.
So did X-Files, and many others. There was not really anything surprising about that. Lots of people saw that coming. The signs had all been there for quite a while for anyone who really paid attention. Back in the 90s it was very unclear if the movie Starship Troopers was meant as a satire or a stupid action movie that praises patriotic militarism. Watch it now and you'd think it was made 10 years later. Im the mid 90s it was very predictable how all the involved groups would act, and they did turn out to be exactly that.
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Offline Elfy

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Re: Does proper science fiction still exist?
« Reply #12 on: October 24, 2015, 11:24:53 PM »
Where Clarke and Asimov popular during the time when they were writing? I think Philip Dick only got famous after he was already dead. Has "great science fiction" always been niche, or is that a more recent development?

Both writers were very popular from the fifties onwards among SF fans, but at that time nearly all SF was "niche".  I believe they both contributed greatly to helping SF gain even more popularity from then onwards, along with other  SF writers like Heinlein, Silverberg, Pohl.  I, Robot and The Foundation Trilogy were fairly well known in general.

 Brave New World  had a huge impact when it first came out, revived around the sixties and then continued to be very popular. Not sure if you count that as SF, at the time it was a dystopian future. Now more like genuine foresight.
Had to read Brave New World for school. Our teacher always said that yes it was science fiction, but also a commentary on the British class system, which was very much in force when Huxley wrote the book.
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Does proper science fiction still exist?
« Reply #13 on: October 25, 2015, 01:48:43 AM »
Well, as to the Expanse and Ancillary Justice, they have interesting science, but are mainly adventure.

I think of Neal Stephenson and Stephen Baxter as currently in the vein @Yora is asking about.  Darwin's Radio is fascinating. Crypto omicron, Reamde, and Snow Crash - all great speculative scifi.


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Offline Alexandre A Loch

Re: Does proper science fiction still exist?
« Reply #14 on: November 17, 2015, 05:37:22 PM »
New to the forum, and loved the distinction between hard and soft science fiction.

Maybe in the past scientific predictions were much more for the long term than today. Science today walks at a much more fast pace than in the past and so it becomes difficult to predict truly great innovations for the future. Fifty years ago videoconferencing, travel to Mars and to the moon, micro-cameras, all of that was a dream for the future. What do we have now? Alluding philosophy of science, perhaps we are in a sort of presentification stage of science. That makes it more difficult to write a proper science fiction book.

(still have to read the many recommended books posted here to see if that's true)

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