Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from January, 2011

Setting some boundaries for Science Fiction

Given that in the previous 2 posts I have taken each of the tropes and rules I had set forth as the ones governing Science Fiction, and analyzed them in detail, and found them too broad, I feel it is necessary to expand each of them in order to better reflect what it is we mean when we refer to them as the defining aspects of SF.

As Paul Kincaid has stated, there is no ONE element that can be identified as clearly defining of the genre, but rather it is a multitude of intertwined threads, coming from a multitude of origins and sources, which define the genre.

This sits in well with the tropes and rules I have mentioned as the constitutive elements of SF. However, in order to use them as the guidelines for selecting texts clearly belonging to Science Fiction, it is necessary to refine them. Based on the expansion of the tropes to see their relationship with works of other genres, a new expanded version of them would be as follows:

- The story takes place in a different time than that o…

On the rules of Science Fiction

Moving forward on the topic of the previous post, it's time to look at the rules governing the definition of a work as Science Fiction. As I stated on the post about the tropes, they can be applied as well to works from other genres, and logic dictates that this is also the case for the rules.

Well let's look at each one of them in detail, as we did with the tropes.

- The setting must be coherent within itself.
This rule seems pretty obvious, and it definitely applies to other genres. In fact stated as is it would apply to any genre whatsoever. Here we would have to expand this rule, and James Gunn's proposal that a Science fiction story takes place in a world of extended every day experience fits in nicely with that need to add more detail to this rule.

- There must be a clear set of rules within the setting. (I.e, if pigs fly there has to be a rational explanation). One more we have a need to expand on this rule within the specific context of Science Fiction, for this ha…

Elements of Science Fiction. An expanded definition.

In the last post I grazed on the surface on the problem that is defining Science Fiction. Now I feel it's necessary to go into a little more detail.

The first point is, what exactly is the difficulty in defining Science Fiction? Well if you read the last post you'll see that in order for a determined work to be considered Science Fiction, it has to deal with certain tropes, and comply with some simple rules; however it doesn't have to fulfill all of the tropes, and the rules are so broad that they can be applied to most mainstream, or realist fiction.

So let me retake each of the tropes, one by one, and look at them to see if they can be applied to a genre other than science fiction:

- The story takes place in the future (from the authors time).
This trope can clearly apply to mainstream fiction (and therefore to many other genres), and does not necessarily mean that the story is SF. One book that comes to mind is "The Election" by Darryl Greer, or "Patriots…

First off, what is Science Fiction?

In this post I do not pretend to go into the academical discussion of what science fiction is, for this has been a point of contention among many scholars, authors and critics of the field, but in order to proceed with this sojourn into the sociopolitical issues dealt with in many SF stories, whether in the form of a novel or that of a short story, we must have a working definition of which works to include as our working base.

The definitions which have been proposed over the years range from the one given by Damon Knight, founder of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), which is the simplest, most tautological of the bunch:
"...[Science Fiction] means what we point to when we say it"

To others so elaborate and complex that they take up complete academic essays to fully explain it. However in recent years the term speculative fiction has gained a widespread acceptance, as an umbrella to cover what we laymen call science fiction, as well as some other ge…

Speculative Fiction & Political Thougt... and that is?

Ten years ago, while still a college student majoring in literature (mostly Hispanic-American literature) I came across a course called "Parallel Worlds - Science Fiction" and decided that since I was seeing some courses into very dense writers and literary periods (such as the French poets of the late 19th century) I could do with some "light" reading to ease off things... I couldn't have been more mistaken.

One of the first notions I was disabused of was that science fiction was a genre for teenagers or young adults, comprised mainly of a variant sort of action novel set in spaceships and where the cowboy is armed with laser pistols (even though said kinds of stories do exists in large quantities). Science fiction, it turns out, is a much broader genre, one where the impossible can be brought to bear, as long as it is dutifully explained and is believable within its own framework.

This was a doorway into a realm where, as Ursula K. Leguin said in the prologue…