Sci-Fi Why Are You A Science Fiction Fan?

Why Are You A Science Fiction Fan?

  • Because I love the syfy Channel

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I'm not much of artist but I have always enjoyed the artwork of others. There are many great examples in the Cool Sci-Fi gallery.

Science fiction is very political (small p). Anyone with an interest in humanity and how it functions when the environment or context changes is interested in science fiction.
I guess escapism is a part of why I like science fiction, but not the main reason. If I only want escapism, then there are plenty of other avenues I can avail myself of which might do a better job in temporarilty pushing the harsh realities of living life out of my line of sight.

For me, the core reason is the sense of wonder that it elicits. But not just any kind of wonder - something directly relatable to my experience of the world and what I know (or think I know).

I love fantasy, too, which offers that wonder in its most unrestricted form. I'm not talking of various, strictly and artificially delineated subgenres like 'epic' or 'sword-and-sorcery' or 'weird', but the concept of the utterly fantastic that strikes at the centre of the Id, that primal mish-mash of contradictory emotions that makes up our subconscious which we struggle with all our lives. Fantasy is a very broad category. Science fiction is fantasy, but we differentiate the type of fantasy it is by highlighting its core characteristic, the emphasis on 'realism' as we understand it from our physical universe and its laws whilst still keeping that fantastic flavour.

I really love science fiction because of the wonder I felt when I first read Jules Verne as a child, or Doyle's The Lost World (actually, my earliest SF experience would be Star Wars and its original sequels). They made me experience the world I knew around me but with certain twists, certain 'what ifs' that really fired my imagination. And ultimately it all comes down to that 'what if?' that stretches our imagination - it defines us as a species, and thank our future Robot Overlords for that.

Then I discovered my father's stash of Golden Age paperbacks: tons of Asimov, Clarke, Pohl, van Vogt, Heinlein, etc., and that took the 'what if' scenario up by a whole order of magnitude. Book after book, it was a smorgasbord of wonders and possibilities. At first, I was pretty much lost in all that wonder, but as I grew older, I started to appreciate a much more subtle aspect of science fiction that wasn't apparent to my younger self (at least, not consciously): how many of these stories, with their outlandish technologies and scenarios, were criticisms (often very oblique and sometimes of the 'in yo face, bitch' variety) of the way we lived and the things we put up with in the here and now. How certain stories pointed to trends that, if they continued unabated, might have significant effects on our society, often negative; how certain changes that were envisioned in these stories, if followed through, might lead to more socially just futures compared to our current experience; and how, if we did things right (more-or-less), the potential for us as a species might be unparalleled.

Obviously, science fiction isn't the only type of fiction that offers such criticisms and perspectives on the way we live, but I think it does it better than most. And whilst mainstream, 'realistic' literature can offer scathing perspectives on the human condition, it's restricted to the here and now. Science fiction can tackle those same issues, but with the added flexibility of looking at it from multiple points of view and, most important of all, approaching it from out of left-field and projecting it into the future. I think science fiction does a better job of tackling those holy cows that even 'literary' fiction sometimes avoids, or just doesn't how to properly approach. Science fiction offers us options, multiple scenarios of how things *could* turn out, and it's up to us to decide what type of future we might want to work towards, or actively avoid.

Most of all, though, it all comes back to that sense of wonder I felt as a child. So, no matter how sophisticated a science fiction work might be in the issues it tackles, first and foremost, it has to elicit that sense of wonder and offer me a kick-ass story. I don't read fiction (SF&F or anything else) for moral lessons or to have a treatise on societal ills shoved down my throat, I read it for the story.

My two favourite subgenre of science fiction are: 'hard SF' - because I love science and gadgets and the extreme perspectives on how that can significantly alter humanity and our sense of self/identity; and 'space opera' - because I also love the emphasis on adventure and romance (I mean Romance, not romance) and how, as Joseph Campbell outlined, it's that primal call to adventure, the hero's journey, that takes us out of our comfort zone and tests our resolve. Best is when they're both combined: space opera with hard SF sensibilities.
"SF" Speculative Fiction is my choice for the 'What If/Adventure' diversion that excites me. I see science expanding at an incredible pace which sets everything into a 'Science Fiction' type setting if you think too hard on it.

Lets have a look at what Speculative Fiction is: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror, Utopia, Distopia, Alternate History, Apocalyptic & Post-apocalyptic. (Ref Wikipedia)

Science Fiction is the easiest to quantify. I mean Science is in the name. But in today's real world of science can't all the other genres of Speculative Fiction also be grouped under Science Fiction?

Fantasy (Includes elements and beings from human cultural imagination, such as mythical creatures dragons and fairies, for example, magic and magical elements, sorcery, witchcraft, etc.) Fantasy can now be imagined as Science Fiction because of Gene-Splicing, Medical Growth Experiments, Nano-Medicines and Designer Drugs. Presently in their infancy, its only a matter of time until this technology gets privatized and distorted. In my mind, I can 'see' accidents and aberrations in our world in reality. I 'see', eventually, a human race that is divided into genetic mutations. Genetic or Drug enhancements to mimic qualities found in other animals. Not only "Wolf-People" but Cat-People, Fish-People and eventually Humanized Animals. If Nano-Technology ever gets out of infancy and we develop Nano-Fog or Nano-Assemblers our idea of Magic may come to pass. Nano-Tech promises the ability to morph lead into gold. Any Wizard worth his peaches can do that.

Horror (Somewhat similar to fantasy, but focusing on terrifying, evil and often powerful beings, such as monsters and ghosts. Also aims to transmit actual fear and confusion to the reader/watcher.) Nano-Technology also can create monsters. Look at the failed gene-splicing experiment that escapes. Chemical compounds can be released in confined areas like old houses or buildings that induce terror making you 'see' things not really there. Sound frequencies can be projected to make you feel sick or queasy. In the future, these technologies might be advanced as governments attempt to control their populations and direct mass changes. Plus, as technology grows, the killers among us will be able to get more and more creative.

Utopia (Takes place in a highly desirable society, often presented as advanced, happy, intelligent or even perfect or problem-free.) Utopian stories often depict societies with some advanced technology or cultural adaptation that is based in science. Concepts of wealth are abolished, Sickness is gone and Power generation is not an issue.

Dystopia (Takes place in a highly undesirable society, often plagued with strict control, violence, chaos, brainwashing and other negative elements.) Dystopian stories are usually designed around a science gone wrong. Cultural Science is science too. Most of us already live in a Dystopian Utopia society. Our impressions of life balances on the edge. Political Science could send us crashing into a Dystopia while technological science could send us into a Utopia. But its all Science.

Alternate History (Focusing on historical events as if they happened in a different way, and its implications on the present.) You scratch your head and wonder how this could be related to real science. Science Fiction uses ideas taken or based in real science. String Theory is a real science in its infancy. Dimensional Phase Shifting has been done in laboratories during Quantum Tunneling experiments. Right now its just small occurrences with limited results but the theory of multiple dimensions is quickly becoming science fact.

Apocalyptic (Takes place before and during a massive, worldwide disaster.) Science is firmly rooted in the Apocalyptic story. Not just because we have the means to destroy ourselves but because we are getting better at predicting natural disasters. Disease can not only be manufactured they are being uncovered as we expand our civilization.

Post-Apocalyptic (Focuses on groups of survivors after a massive, worldwide disaster.) With world-wide disaster relief agencies and methods, Science is changing the Post-Apocalyptic story.

One final word on Fiction:
Fiction is something that is not true. It is in essence Fantasy. Every work of fiction is some type of fantasy until such work becomes Science.
'Speculative fiction' has come to be an umbrella term for anything, well, speculative. I think it was originally coined by Robert A. Heinlein as an alternative descriptor for science fiction - to distinguish novels that weren't obviously predicated on science and technology per se, but were still essentially science fiction, like his Stranger in a Strange Land. I have never confirmed this bit of etymology, though. I was told this by someone whom I've had no reason to doubt and so accepted it on faith.

Most of those subgenres - dystopian, utopian, alternative history, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction - all came to be as science fiction stories, though they've also been more noticeably co-opted into the fantasy genre as the decades have rolled on. And as you say, all fiction is pretty much fantasy, but that's being too pedantic - let's say anything that is speculative is essentially fantasy, but we differentiate between science fiction and [non-scientific/non-rational] fantasy fiction as separate marketable genres.

As for horror, I've never really seen it as a genre, more a 'flavour' that can permeate everything. Granted, it's become popular enough to bring out this 'flavour' to a substantial enough amount to warrant its own shelves in bookstores and be called a genre. But I see horror in all kinds of fiction, non-fiction and other mediums or genres. I would still classify horror with supernatural elements as fantasy.

And weirdly, if you take Clarke's Third Law into account, then much of market fantasy (esp. of the epic and sword-and-sorcery varieties that feature 'magic') can be considered science fiction with hidden or non-obvious scientific premises, just as you've pointed out with your examples of nano-technology and gene-splicing.

World building is one my favourite aspects of a genre novel. And one of my favourite types is a long and firmly established science fiction trope: where a future is envisioned and described in [mostly] non-technological terms whilst still being very advanced; or a future society that has regressed to a less technologically advanced state whilst still uncomprehendingly utilising advanced technology.

Some examples that fit either of those descriptions are Book of the New Sun, Dune, Broken Empire (though this one is a proper science-fantasy), Hegira, Lord Valentine's Castle (also approaching the science-fantasy designation), Radix, Neverness, The Dying Earth (the quintessential science-fantasy), The Last Castle, etc. I love figuring out the world (the 'tech', the history) based on clues left by the author, especially when the advanced tech is cleverly disguised. Some of these novels are described in low-tech terms (not always), but are sprinkled with plenty of clues to flesh out the SFnal underpinnings of the book. Sometimes it's blatantly obvious (Broken Empire), sometimes it's more subtle and hard to catch all the clues the first time around (Book of the New Sun).
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The possibilities. In the world of science fiction, the possibilities are quite literally unlimited.

Want to write a story about time-travelling space ostriches? Yeah, that'll work in a science fiction universe. How about a planet of life forms that get their nutrition entirely by watching The Andy Griffith Show? Yep. We can do that.

On a deeper level, the alien and unknown are fascinating. We as humans are both intrigued and terrified by the unknown. Alien concepts and landscapes make the perfect settings, villains, etc., because they tap into human interest in things we don't fully understand.
Sci-Fi is a great outlet for folks young and old to enjoy a break from reality. Most sci-fi writers envision a different future based on an unusual point of view. With the films, you do get lucky enough to have a lead actor like William Shatner, who is cool, and very comical! So sci-fi and sci-fi fandom is a healthy way to go.:einstein::cool:
I am drawn to futuristic fiction because it often presents a current problem as solved, because often humans appear smarter & kinder, calmer. We seem better.
Even the science fiction that is horrific (ex-The Handmaid's Tale) belongs in my optimistic taste because it is clearly presented as a nightmare.
As for horror, I've never really seen it as a genre, more a 'flavour' that can permeate everything. Granted, it's become popular enough to bring out this 'flavour' to a substantial enough amount to warrant its own shelves in bookstores and be called a genre. But I see horror in all kinds of fiction, non-fiction and other mediums or genres. I would still classify horror with supernatural elements as fantasy.
I agree that supernatural is fantasy.
Technically, most horror is a contrast of society's values. There are many fields of study that deal with the concepts displayed in horror so technically it is scientifically rooted.
Sociology is the scientific study of society, including patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture. It is a social science that uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about social order, acceptance, and change. ~ wiki
Horror deals with the many facets of depravity of social order, unacceptable actions and cultural atrocities.
When considering horror from a sociology viewpoint, it can be a form of science fiction.
I am drawn to futuristic fiction because it often presents a current problem as solved, because often humans appear smarter & kinder, calmer. We seem better.
Future (Time Displacement) science fiction is an optimistic view of a possible utopian society.
I too enjoy futuristic science fiction and fantasy, whether utopian or dystopian.
One thing I feel cheated about is that most stories are not really that far into the future.
Mostly a few hundred years to a few thousand (those are few and far between).
Its very difficult to find science fiction of any kind that is set a million or more years into the future.
Some will say that in a million years humans won't be humans anymore.
I disagree because the humans species is around two million years old now, for the last million years we have had pretty much the same body style too.

There are some wonderful websites dealing with futurism on the web.
Even those sites (some are very in-depth) seldomly relate to anything past 10,000 years.
Unless something really drastic happens we should expect Earth to be habitable to life for another 1-3 Billion years. The Sun is a 12 billion year star and is not even half way thru its life.

Just imagine human technology in 1 million years. We will still look pretty much like humans in 1 million years.
Perhaps we will lose different parts as technology changes our need for them but for the most part, still the same animals.
There might even be different versions of humans by then. Water-breathers, Space-borns, Hybrids and clones. Futuristic science fiction is just waiting for content to be written that addresses million year changes.

wiki said:
Doctor Who

The British science fiction series Doctor Who has featured many events beyond the 10th millennium AD due to time travel being a key aspect of its format:
2,000,000 AD: The Mysterious Planet: Earth is devastated after being moved by the Time Lords and renamed Ravalox. At some unknown point thereafter, Earth is returned to its original position.
4,000,000 AD: The Usurians exploit and ruthlessly tax humans on Pluto.
10,000,000 AD: In The Ark, a group of humans and Monoids make a 700-year star voyage from Earth, which is about to crash into the Sun.
5,000,000,000 AD: The End of the World. The date is given by the locals as 5.5/Apple/26 the episode establishes the destruction of the original planet Earth at this time, caused by the expansion of its sun.
5,000,000,023 AD: In the episode New Earth, humans are shown to have moved to a new planet and called it New Earth in the galaxy M87.
5,000,000,053 AD: Events of Gridlock. Inhabitants of New New York released from quarantine. The Face of Boe (later hinted in Last of the Time Lords to possibly be a future version of Jack Harkness), one of the oldest creatures in the universe, apparently dies.
After c.1,000,000,000,000 AD: Hell Bent establishes that the Doctor's home planet, Gallifrey, has been hiding at the end of time. Later in the episode, the Doctor and his companion, Clara Oswald, travel even further, to when Gallifrey is the last planet orbiting the last star.
100,000,000,000,000 AD: Utopia: The last remnants of humanity (who have mostly evolved back into today's familiar form) seek out a legendary utopia in this year, aided by a Time Lord with suppressed memories, revealed to be the Master.
After c.100,000,000,000,000 AD: Listen: Due to a malfunction involving an experimental time ship, chrononaut Orson Pink finds himself trapped at the end of the universe, though he is later rescued by the Doctor and returned to his proper time.
That list includes a few instances of 1 million years or more.
All are limited stories involving the time frame.
Nothing really in-depth.

wiki said:
28,260–267 AD: Events of Sandworms of Dune. Day of Kralizec ends with the defeat of the Thinking Machines and humanity's move beyond prescient detection.
The year 28,000 is not really that far from now in the real scheme of things.

wiki said:
25,066 AD: Events of Foundation and Earth. Golan Trevize locates Earth, now radioactive and uninhabitable, but ultimately locates Daneel Olivaw, a 20,000-year-old robot who has been secretly guiding humanity's evolution from a base on the Moon.
12,700,000-15,000,000 AD: Humanity has completely died out according to an alternate future described in The End of Eternity. This future was supposedly avoided by ensuring that humanity gained access to intergalactic travel. The book's connection to the Foundation series is contested, but several links have been established.
Again, not a full story of the future at that time but merely a possible future scenario notation.

wiki said:
Olaf Stapledon's novels Last and First Men and Star Maker are speculations on the evolution of intelligence in the universe. Last and First Men explores the future evolution of intelligence on Earth, while Star Maker explores the technological and social changes undergone by various alien species.
Last and First Men

100,000 AD: Rise and fall of the Patagonians; the First Men enter in eclipse.
About 10,000,000 AD: Rise of the Second Men; the Martian Wars and the Ruin Of Two Worlds.
120,000,000 AD Third men in the wilderness; Rise of Fourth men,
400,000,000 AD: The Moon crashes into Earth, the Fifth Men migrate to Venus.
1,000,000,000 AD: The Sun begins to expand into a Red Giant, migration of the Ninth Men to Neptune.
2,000,000,000 AD: End of Man (the Eighteenth Men).
5,000,000,000 AD: The Sun dies.

Star Maker

20,000,000,000 AD: The War of Worlds occurs.
30,000,000,000 AD: The Second Galactic Utopia occurs.
40,000,000,000 AD: The First Colonization of Dead Stars occurs.
50,000,000,000 AD: The Supreme Moment of the Cosmos occurs.
500,000,000,000 AD: Complete physical quiescence of the universe.
THIS is one of the few works that actually goes into million year futures.
Even these works are limited in scope.
wiki said:
Isaac Asimov's short story The Last Question charts the future evolution of Man as subsequent generations ask ever-more complex computers the same question: "Can entropy be reversed?" The story begins in 2061, when the supercomputer Multivac is asked the question and responds: "INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR MEANINGFUL ANSWER". The story then jumps forward to an unspecified time at least a thousand years later, in which a spaceship-borne computer is asked the same question, and gives the same answer.

ca. 22,000: Humans, now immortal, are filling up the Milky Way galaxy and are considering expanding beyond it. The Galactic AC is asked the question and replies: "THERE IS INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR A MEANINGFUL ANSWER"
ca. 10,000,000,000: Mankind now sleeps in hibernation as minds travel the universe. The hyperspatial computer the Universal AC is asked the question and replies, "THERE IS AS YET INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR A MEANINGFUL ANSWER."
ca. 100,000,000,000: Man, now a single cosmic intelligence, realizes that the stars are winding down. The Cosmic AC is asked the question and responds: "THERE IS AS YET INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR A MEANINGFUL ANSWER."
ca. 10,000,000,000,000: Man fuses with the AC and entropy destroys the universe. Some unspecified amount of time later, the AC, from its home in hyperspace, formulates its answer to the question and demonstrates it with the exclamation "Let there be light!"

Years and years ago (I was a teen), I saw a Buhl Planetarium presentation on The Last Question.
I count this as one of my cornerstone exposures to science fiction that lead me to speculative fiction.
I don't recall ever reading the actual short story but I do recall the presentation. It only touched on certain aspects of beyond a million year future as a timeline of the presentation. It didn't go into depth on the references to the times.

The science fiction franchise Star Trek has made several allusions to far future events:

12,200 AD: Radiation levels in the Andromeda Galaxy are expected to reach intolerably high levels, according to scientists of the Kelvan Empire.
50,000 AD: The androids of planet Mudd will cease to function.
2,000,000 AD: Nella Daren's projected star model is either proven or disproven.
60-70,000,000,000,000 AD: If the genetically-engineered human Jack's prediction was correct, the universe will collapse.
Again, no in-depth study, just referencing.

There are some works worth pursuing...
Has anyone seen THE ORVILLE??? It is my favorite sy-fi show at present. It is produced by the same person who does 3 cartoon shows.... AMERICAN DAD, and 2 others. THE ORVILLE is live action, not a cartoon. :mirelly: :mirelly: :mirelly::mirelly:
There are some works worth pursuing...
Thanks! I love deep future/time stories, and your list has given me books to pick up. I've read a few from the mentioned titles: Clarke's Against the Fall of Night (revised as The City and the Stars), Reynolds' House of Suns, and Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. And while I've never read Hodgson's The Night Land, I did read a comic adaptation of it with art by Richard Corben.

I think the ones I'm going to pick first from the list are Baxter's Manifold trilogy and Pohl's The World at the End of Time.