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Science Fiction Genre - Religion vs Scientific Origins, and the Nature of Self Destruction

Lean'n'mean

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All that crud out of the way, I have often wondered what terrifying science fiction and horror films are preparing our society for. Are they a mechanism whereby we prepare for the future OR do they create it?

I think future science fiction will be just that, fiction. It will show us what might have been rather than what will be. Space travel for example, has come to a stand still due to lack of funding & political ambition & a certain technological stagnation. Time is running out for the human race with dwindling natural resources, climate change, over population, pollution & the ever increasing threat of 'deadly mutant bacteria' thanks to the overuse & abuse of antibiotics................hold on, that reads like a recipe for a science fiction movie,:D but Bruce Willis won't be here to save the world :eek:.....on the bright side, past civilizations & species never knew their time was up, even when their extinction was well underway, so, thanks to the human traits of denial & self-delusion, we can carry on as usual & pretend that everything is going to be OK. the world will remain unchanged & we can continue with our prime occupation of economic growth,which in layman's terms means, waste ever more resources to manufacture goods that people don't need & than persuade them that they must buy them.... after all isn't that the foundation & so salvation of our civilization ?......can't help thinking though that we're probably heading for a scenario more akin to 'The Road' than '2001 a space odyssey' :rolleyes:
As for the origins of science fiction, at least not in the written word, the merit must go to the Australian aboriginals, whom, with their ancestral beliefs of such things as 'Dreamtime ' & 'the rainbow serpent' were already tens of thousands of years ahead of European novelists & film makers. :D
 
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BlueTrain

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I agree, science fiction is just fiction. Even though many amazing things have appeared, things in fiction never seem to pan out quite the way they were presented, not even when mass destruction is involved. It's never as good as or bad as it was written about. The first science fiction appeared in the mid-1600s. It's surprising it didn't appear earlier, except that fiction as a literary style was rather rare, partly because of the difficulty of reproducing books and partly because of illiteracy. Plays have been around for probably 3,000 years by comparison.

Science fiction and futurism may not exactly be the same thing. We jump from science fiction to thinking about possible futures and that really isn't talking about the same thing. The people at Popular Mechanics are the most optimistic people on earth, if you ask me, and every issue is full of the very latest things, though not necessarily things to do with science, just with the future. But not so many of their whiz bang ideas come to pass, at least not for most people. I suppose there are a few people living by an airstrip with a flying car but no doubt they all live in Arizona. But otherwise, Popular Mechanics doesn't spend much time talking about possible alternative futures. The future's not ours to see.

Readers of science fiction usually don't notice any sort of evolution of the genre unless they've taken a literature class and the professor (or more likely, instructor) told them about it. The reason is simply that when you read something for simple pleasure, other than for the other reasons, you don't start at the beginning and progress through the body of literature. What you read is what you want to read tempered by a large amount of chance. In other words, you could be reading in turn, works from any decade on any subject ever covered in science fiction. But I agree there have been trends over the years in what people have written. Personally, I like science fiction that has to do with space travel and visiting other planets. I don't like stuff that has to do with the end of the world or of civilization or for that matter, the end of anything. Sometimes it seems like it might be a lot of fun to tear everything down and start all over but, really, I'l too old for that.

Religion has nothing to do with science. It's really just about people. No people, no religion. Of course, there are those who concern themselves with the beginning (as covered in the first three or four pages of Genesis, not to be mentioned again) and the end (barely mentioned at all). But the rest of us are stuck in the middle, where we have to make the best of things, dealing with other people.

Sometimes science fiction is blurred with fantasy and adventure. Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote both kinds of stories and as far as I know, he's the only one who has a town named after one of his characters.
 

LizzieMaine

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It's also important to distinguish betwen science fiction as a literary genre and science fiction as a cultural phenomenon. Science fiction "fandom" in the sense that we know it today didn't exist until the late 1920s, but by the end of the 1930s it was fully formed, with clubs, fanzines, and conventions. Many of the people who first organized that fandom during the Depression became, for want of a better term, professional geeks -- and remained extremely prominent as publishers and promoters of that fandom into the 1980s and 90s.

It's impossible to divorce the popularity of science fiction as a genre from the fandom movement it created. You could even argue that aside from the military and pornographers, science-fiction fandom -- lineallly descended from that original fan movement of the twenties and thirties -- was more responsible for the early popularity and growth of the internet than any other factor. If you go over old Usenet archives from the '80s you'll be awash in posts about whether Picard was better than Kirk, or whether the Seventh Doctor was really any improvement over the Sixth.
 

BlueTrain

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If you have to be told it exists as a cultural phenomenon, does it? It's like a tree falling in the forest. But I take your point.

But there were other, similar interests in the 1920s and 1930s that captured the imagination and enthusiasm of youth and one such interest was aviation. It was reflected in movies and literature, mostly juvenile, and newspapers and newsreels loved to report on the latest feats of flying. It made heroes out of Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart and Robert E. Byrd, Jr. Nothing they did would have been dreamed possible fifty years earlier, yet none of them would have thought anything they did was remotely connected with science fiction. Too much work involved.
 

LizzieMaine

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It's certainly more visible now than it was in the Era, but that's largely the result of a few members of that subculture rising to powerful positions in film and television in the 1970s -- that's when it went from being a "geek" thing to a mass-audience thing. The wave of big-budget science fiction/superhero/adventure movies that got going in the '70s really hasn't stopped since.

The whole "aviation hero" genre is something that's all but extinct today but it was gigantic for kids in the 1930s. Every kid born around 1926-32 -- not just boys but a lot of girls too -- knew all about not just the real-life aviators but also about Jimmie Allen, Smilin' Jack, Speed Gibson, Hop Harrigan, Captain Midnight, etc. etc. etc. It was pretty much the equivalent of the the "astronaut/space hero" phenomenon of the 1950s and 60s.
 

MikeKardec

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the current show "Wayward Pines" has done this quite well in a science fiction wrapper.

Not to dismiss Wayward Pines but it and Hugh Howie's Silo series (a Kindle Direct phenomenon that has redefined what "self publishing" means) are currently very popular yet wouldn't have been but the barest blip on the radar during the heyday of SF in the 1970s. Both are post apocalyptic tales written by writers who were not writing during the earlier period. They are okay and nearly as good as you get these days but still not in the league of Asimov, Clark, Dick, Niven, Bradbury (true SF? I don't know but a great writer), Wolfe, Herbert, LeGuin, Vonnegut, Adams, Pohl and Zelazney. I'd put them both on the level of Phillip Farmer or Keith Laumer, guys who could occasionally turn a good tale and come up with a unique idea but weren't legends.

There are few today that could fit in with that august company.

I'd argue that though few of the "futures" popular science fiction foretold have come to pass all science is science fiction in the beginning. You see something interesting and come up with a story/theory to explain how it came to be. Then the hard work of shifting it from speculative fiction to the realm of science begins and decisions are made as to whether the narrative holds up under intense scrutiny begins. It's not nearly as common to find SF authors today with the legit science chops that you did in the golden years.
 

BlueTrain

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Science fiction is someone with a good imagination sitting at a typewriter. Science in the beginning is a guy with an active imagination fooling around with a pile of junk in his garage. Science evolves into laboratories, test rockets and whatnot. But science fiction evolved only to someone with a good imagination sitting in front of a computer. He sits there trying to come up with a good and believable story until blood comes out of his forehead and he starts typing.

But you could argue which came first. Good science fiction is good writing, not necessarily good science.
 

Inkstainedwretch

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Yesterday Elon Musk outlined his plan to colonize Mars within the next couple of decades. It's straight out of Heinlein. No candyass NASA program to send 3 or 4 astronauts and bring them back. He wants to send thousands at once and they stay there until they can manufacture fuel for a return voyage. Say what you will about the man, he dreams big and he's serious. He actually plans to do it. But it took that work by Heinlein and the other SF writers of his era to get the idea into peoples'heads.
 

BlueTrain

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It just sounds like one expert arguing with other experts. I've never met him, so he doesn't know anything about me.
 

Lean'n'mean

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Yesterday Elon Musk outlined his plan to colonize Mars within the next couple of decades. It's straight out of Heinlein. No candyass NASA program to send 3 or 4 astronauts and bring them back. He wants to send thousands at once and they stay there until they can manufacture fuel for a return voyage. Say what you will about the man, he dreams big and he's serious. He actually plans to do it. But it took that work by Heinlein and the other SF writers of his era to get the idea into peoples'heads.

Yeah I heard that this morning, by 2025 he reckons,that's only 9 years away.... No spacecraft capable of carrying paying tourists ( $100,000 a head) has yet been built, no test runs planned......he's just gonna stick untrained people on an untested spacecraft for 18 months (if they make it that far) & then ditch them on an uninhabitable planet........it ain't gonna happen. :rolleyes:
 

BlueTrain

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Could be. But the Wright Brothers were neither scientists or experts; just a couple regular guys who wanted to do something. Of course, it could be argued that what they did wasn't science and no doubt that's what the experts were saying when the Wright Brother's ideas finally got off the ground. Although their efforts and experimental nature is still underappreciated, I believe, they probably wouldn't have considered themselves scientists.

But Robert Goddard, on the other hand, was a scientist. And he was supposedly influenced by science fiction. He almost certainly considered himself a scientist.

Goddard and von Braun wanted to go to the moon. The Wright Brothers just wanted to get off the ground.
 

BlueTrain

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Von Braun is buried in the same cemetery near where some of her relatives are buried, not too far from where we have a burial plot. It doesn't matter whether we get off the ground or not. Sooner or later, well, you know the rest.
 

Haversack

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Lean'n'mean wrote: "he's just gonna stick untrained people on an untested spacecraft for 18 months (if they make it that far) & then ditch them on an uninhabitable planet"

Gotta have a Roanoke before a Jamestown.
 

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