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queenhank

Has Science Fiction changed?

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Am I crazy? Am I behind the times? I remember a time when "Science Fiction" meant something very specific, and yet very broad. Just having an alien or a space-ship didn't make something Science Fiction. It had to have a real message. Like the fairy tales of old, Sci-Fi had a message about the way the world is, and maybe the way it should be. Science Fiction was a force for good, a force for change. It led people to think about things they otherwise might not think about, by masking those things as "Aliens" or "Robots". If you could understand that all Denosians are equal, despite number of antennae, you may just start to see that the same holds true for humans and color of skin.

 

And yet, it seems that today, all a work of fiction needs in order to be labeled as "Sci-Fi" is an alien, or astronauts, or time travel. Am I so old that I am in the wrong when I say "Alin vs Predator" is not Science Fiction? Or is there something wrong with the world today? Have people become so blinded by flashy action movies, and cheesy TV shows, that anything played on the Sci-Fi channel is considered to be actual Science Fiction?

 

I suppose I already know the answer to this, and I am just wishing it weren't so.

 

Either way, please post. Tell me what you all think. Why is this? What caused this change in the way people see Science Fiction. Are we better off this way? Should I shut up and go watch some Twilight Zone? Etc. Etc. Etc.

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what you been reading?

sci-fi is anything futuristic but aliens was more horror than sci-fi

prefer asimov type sci-fi myself but if it's sci-fi then i'll read it :)

 

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You might be right, I don't know about earlier times, too young, never saw TOS on TV and such...

 

Could it be that, as networks grew, TV became more accessible, content more available, more content available,.... that the definition changed to take in all this new content, it could be...

 

Is that bad, not necessarily, it's just a name you see, the actual content is more important, though I'd have to agree that more emphasis is put on battle and warfare nowadays, even in sci-fi. Just look at the difference between TOS/TNG and DS9/ENT....

 

As long as there is at least some 'good' content available, I'm happy, no need to watch everything, ...

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No, not crazy. :cyclops:

I agree that extra-large snakes or a crocodile does not make a Sci-Fi film.

And although I liked Alien vs. Predator, it's an Action film with Sci-Fi elements, but still an action film.

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I'll agree that Sci-Fi has and still is changing (Mainstream?).

There are a lot of new shows/movies that are called Sci-Fi, but should instead be categoriezes as something more appropriate.

 

Aliens = Horror

Alien vs Predator = Action

Battlestar Galactica = Sci-Fi

Dr. Who = Sci-Fi

Stargate = Sci-Fi (getting closers to Science Opera every day) ;)

And all other shows with monsters, mutants, supernaturals and a touch of Sci-Fi = Science Opera (Sci-Fi Soaps)

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I've also been really dissapointed with sci-fi lately. Seems the producer for every series made in the past decade (if not longer) has a checklist. Think about your fav show, and mentally check all that apply. Then think of another totally random sci fi show from the past 10 years, and see if any apply to that one too. Repeat steps untill you feel dissapointed and insulted with the tv companies :P

 

[] At least one hot chick in skiimpy /tight outfits, to bring in the male demographic.

[] The show must be set either on the front line of a war, or on an extremely heavily armed ship / space station / colony.

[] At least once a season either introduce, or bring back a charecter / species that hates the main charecters race / way of life, and have some kind of epic good vs. evil confrontation.

[] No matter HOW advanced / omnipatant the bad guys are, the heros of the show will always outsmart / over power them in the end.

[] The show MUST either revolve around the miletary, or have at least 1 hardened officer in the regular cast at all times.

[] Have atleast one token alien in the regular cast.

[] A charecter has a troubled youth.

[] Somebody MUST be killed every 2 - 5 episodes.

[] Every episode must include at least one hand to hand combat / gun or energy weapons fight scene.

[] Every program MUST have at least one charecter in the main cast that is trying to understand humanity (humanity, meaning people from Earth). Also counts the person travels through time, another dimension, or another planet where humans are present, regardless of galaxy, and has to cope in the new setting. (extra points if it's not the above mentioned token alien).

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I took two SF writing courses at Columbia College Chicago, and I was taught that real, honest to goodness SF is dependant upon a scientific (including the social sciences) idea that does not exist, but could exist. The example I use all the time- not only because it's a great novel, but because it really is dependant upon an SF concept- is Alfred Bester's The Stars My Destination. The story is not science fiction because everyone can teleport just by thinking about it- you could just as easily replace jaunteing with high-speed cars- but because it depicts a society that's fundamentally different than our own because everyone can teleport. Most media SF does not revolve around science fictional concepts; change the aesthetics (the starship becomes an aircraft carrier at sea, the bumpy-headed aliens become foreigners, lightsabres become regular swords, etc.) and the story's largely unchanged. Whereas something like The Stars My Destination needs its science fictional concept to tell its story; take away the notion of mental teleportation and you literally have no story.

 

Honestly, I have to say the only true SF films I've ever seen by this criteria are 2001 and Back to the Future 2.

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[] At least one hot chick in skiimpy /tight outfits' date=' to bring in the male demographic.[/quote']

There's also at least one hot dude, because straight women like 'scifi' too. :cyclops:

 

(But, of course, he's usually there to get it on with some hot alien chick. ;) )

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its just harder to remember the alien vs. predators of the past, they were there though, things like that get easily forgotten though.

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From what I know of old, old science fiction, writers wrote alot based on current affairs. If you look at stuff like H.G. Wells, it was out around what, 1937-ish? WWII began in 1938, and we were still building back after WWI. You have a radio show, and book, that depicts the Earth being invaded by Aliens. Not so much aliens we could actually see and hear either (at least, at first). It was a very stark contrast to the political situation, at least thats what I always saw in it.

 

But if you keep that in mind and go with science fiction as time passes, alot of it's very parallel. Look at Planet of the Apes. We had just started to get into space exploration, landing on the moon on a few years earlier, all of a sudden you have two astronauts in a deep space mission, who land back on an Earth that is both foreign and the same to them. Toss in the affects of humans are the slaves and monkeys are the masters you see a very dark contrast of racial tension in the 1960's and 70's.

 

Even today it's still there, the strong relation between world events and science fiction. Look at say, Voyager or Deep Space Nine. DS9 really picked up in it's later seasons as the millenium drew closer, and Voyager did as well. Both going into a more technobabble era of each show. This was around the time of the big ".com" boom where the Internet really took off, things like webcam and the early-portable mp3 players were showing their wings. Granted theres no real direct connection but if you look at say, science fiction from around 1997 through Now, compared to how fast we've come technologically in the last decade it's amazing. Back in 1997 you were still getting your tv shows on VHS, and collections took massive space as those tapes added up. Nowadays, you can get a flash pin drive, the size of a small keychain, that can hold a gig or multiple gigabytes of data quite literally half a season or more in the palm of your hand.

 

The only thing that's really changed about science fiction is delivery. Special effects, design, all that has obviously advanced a ton since the days of When the Earth Stood Still. The only thing that has changed is how we percieve it.

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i like the sov13 list i think that generally applies to all movie, but it didn't much to sliders... so far (re-watching se1)....

 

thier have been a few crappy one i admit!!

 

i do mis the standards though...:(

i rem a time sci-fi also ment family viewing too (not v.little kids),

 

don't get me wrong I love BSG (esp 6 ) & all that but I couldn't watch that with my old man!!! :)

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Speaking purely of television and cinema, this whole idea that science fiction used to have a message always baffles me. Rodenberry does one episode that is arguably a metaphor for racism and intolerance and suddenly that validates the entire show as social commentary? Give me a break. There where a few sci-fi shows that had messages, more specifically made the viewer ask questions, saying TV shows should "have messages" brings out an Orwellian chill down my spine. Isn't that essentially propaganda? Anyway, The Prisoner, Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, etc. The last two have had modern remakes that basically did the same thing, so I don't see any digression there. Cinema wise there has been a steady stream (however thin) of serious science fiction movies since the 50s. Why recently I watched Soderbergh's Solaris. A modern masterpiece. Beats the original, 2001, and Blade Runner hands down.

 

I find most of these “In the good ol’ days†rants are just people exercising their over active nostalgia complexes. Next thing you know people are going to start using the word "wholesome" while completely ignoring the god awful short skirts in TOS or the fact that any science fiction movie predating 1985 is nearly garunteed to have exposed breasts in it.

 

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I diagree with a lot of what was said about defining Sci-Fi. I believe that any show with scientific impossibility as the basis would be science Fiction. FICTION. That would be the most logical definition to me.

Aliens vs. Predator, that was fiction based on science (the science part being that there might be aliens in the universe.)

The original Aliens, same thing.

 

The Sci-Fi channel on the other hand, does not define science Fiction (for those who seem to think they do) just because of thier name. The giant snakes and underground mush-monsters definately don't qualify as sci-fi, but a show like Surface, you could call it science fiction by definition because it is fictional, but based on science.

That said, who said sci-fi has to be all aliens and spaceships? That would make SG1 partly Teran Fiction

wouldn't it? Except for episodes where ships and aliens are present.

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Speaking purely of television and cinema, this whole idea that science fiction used to have a message always baffles me.

 

Well, it DID. Perhaps you're unable to see the message behind old Sci-Fi unless it is so transparent as a half-white/half-black man versus a half-black/half-white man. I...am genuinely confused as to how you could not see, given Kirk's long-winded speeches every episode EXPLAINING the moral of the story, the message behind TOS episodes. I mean, you might lose the message in, say, an episode of Twilight Zone, or The Outer Limits, or perhaps The Day the Earth Stood Still, maybe even Godzilla, but STAR TREK?! That is truly surprising to me. I think I'll stop now, because I am fairly sure you broke my brain with that comment.

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Speaking purely of television and cinema' date=' this whole idea that science fiction used to have a message always baffles me.[/quote']

 

Well, it DID. Perhaps you're unable to see the message behind old Sci-Fi unless it is so transparent as a half-white/half-black man versus a half-black/half-white man. I...am genuinely confused as to how you could not see, given Kirk's long-winded speeches every episode EXPLAINING the moral of the story, the message behind TOS episodes. I mean, you might lose the message in, say, an episode of Twilight Zone, or The Outer Limits, or perhaps The Day the Earth Stood Still, maybe even Godzilla, but STAR TREK?! That is truly surprising to me. I think I'll stop now, because I am fairly sure you broke my brain with that comment.

 

The Morale of the story? What was the message of the episode when they traveled back in time to 1930s Chicago? Tommy Gun = good? I can recall lots of ambiguous and altogether meaningless statements about Humanity via Kirk and Spock exchanges. Really, people try too hard to add another layer to the show when it really didn't exist and if it did, was executed in such a way it seemed like The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in comparison to the Twilight Zone or Outer Limits. No one watched Star Trek for the mental stimulation or "The Morale". It'd be the modern equivalent of a 40 minute show starring Vin Diesel where he does nothing but hunt and kill people, fornicate with their women, and then comes back to his cabin in the final 2 minutes, sips on a pipe and quotes passages from Genesis.

 

 

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Someone said it above - sci fi has always had a direct parallel to the time it was made. Star Trek TOS was made in an era great social upheaveal in America and show reflects that. The post war rebuilding, the civil rights movement, world war 2 was less than 20 years old etc. It wasn't the first or the last. Look at the Sci-fi movies of the 50's for example. Invasion of the bodysnatchers et al. They were thinly disguised social commentary (usually propaganda) on the threat of the 'Red Menace' - Communism. The orginal Star Wars in the 70s was a deliberate attempt by George Lucas to bring achetypal myths back to a disenfranchised public. The X files in the nineties commented on our distrust of government and it's cover ups and secrecy. And now BSG is commenting on the post 9/11 era when our very way of life seems under threat. I'm sure if you look hard at the eighties sci-fi you will see parallels to the Cold War as well.

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No one watched Star Trek for the mental stimulation or "The Moral". It'd be the modern equivalent of a 40 minute show starring Vin Diesel where he does nothing but hunt and kill people, fornicate with their women, and then comes back to his cabin in the final 2 minutes, sips on a pipe and quotes passages from Genesis.

 

Actually, in its time, that is essentially what TOS was. A bunch of fun stuff, with a moral at the end. Sometimes (when a good writer was at the helm) the message was a bit more disguised, but yeah, I think you made a perfect analogy to what TOS was back in the day.

 

I'm sure if you look hard at the eighties sci-fi you will see parallels to the Cold War as well.

 

The remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. 'nuff said.

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Someone said it above - sci fi has always had a direct parallel to the time it was made. Star Trek TOS was made in an era great social upheaveal in America and show reflects that. The post war rebuilding' date=' the civil rights movement, world war 2 was less than 20 years old etc. It wasn't the first or the last. Look at the Sci-fi movies of the 50's for example. Invasion of the bodysnatchers et al. They were thinly disguised social commentary (usually propaganda) on the threat of the 'Red Menace' - Communism. The orginal Star Wars in the 70s was a deliberate attempt by George Lucas to bring achetypal myths back to a disenfranchised public. The X files in the nineties commented on our distrust of government and it's cover ups and secrecy. And now BSG is commenting on the post 9/11 era when our very way of life seems under threat. I'm sure if you look hard at the eighties sci-fi you will see parallels to the Cold War as well.[/quote']

The 80's were the era of Mad Max, the Road Warrior and a lot of other post-apocalypse movies. The US-Soviet military buildup and the arms gap, Reagan's 'Evil Empire' speech, SDI.

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Science Fiction as a genre covers a broad spectrum of themes and styles. Like all other types of fiction whether it be Sci-Fi, horror, action, drama, romance etc, it overlaps and connot be strictly defined. As to "Has Science Fiction changed?", it depends on what you mean. If you are refering to a fictional interpretation of technology, then yes. It will change as scientific knowledge advances. If you mean it's basic premise, then no. Science fiction as a name is just that. It encompases any fiction that speculates on science irrespective of what other sub plots may be involved.

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Somewher down the thread this also became a discussion of the idea behind the sories, not just the technology. What the story is about doesn't make it science fiction, but the setting and props do. A Star Trek episode set in western times, that's science fiction, but a Twilight Zone episode where a child talks to her dead grandmother over a toy phone is not.

Hey...that was pretty good even for me.

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What about Star Wars then - to me that is not Sci-Fi persay more a retelling of archetypal fairy tales.

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Personally, I think that most people lump "science fiction" and "science fantasy" into one big bin and call it -all- 'sci-fi'... I think it'd be more descriptive to have them as two different categories...

 

Science Fiction - Based on actual theories and projected likely science given the current state of knowledge. Also possibly having some social commentary along the lines of, "If we develop THIS technology in THIS direction, THIS may happen!" May or may not be escapist. This is closest to what 'classic' sci-fi is.

 

Science Fantasy - Fantasy in a futuristic setting using unexplained, maybe-or-maybe-not-possible technology to fill the place used by magic in sword-and-sorcery fantasy. Mostly escapist, but not always... I find most TV sci-fi falls into this category, or on the borderline between this and Science Fiction.

 

That's just my take on it, of course ^^'

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Personally, I think that most people lump "science fiction" and "science fantasy" into one big bin and call it -all- 'sci-fi'... I think it'd be more descriptive to have them as two different categories...

 

Science Fiction - Based on actual theories and projected likely science given the current state of knowledge. Also possibly having some social commentary along the lines of, "If we develop THIS technology in THIS direction, THIS may happen!" May or may not be escapist. This is closest to what 'classic' sci-fi is.

 

Science Fantasy - Fantasy in a futuristic setting using unexplained, maybe-or-maybe-not-possible technology to fill the place used by magic in sword-and-sorcery fantasy. Mostly escapist, but not always... I find most TV sci-fi falls into this category, or on the borderline between this and Science Fiction.

 

That's just my take on it, of course ^^'

And furthermore the story itself doesn't have to have a specific purpose in either case...there is a lot of useless sci-fi and fantasy out there.

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[] At least one hot chick in skiimpy /tight outfits, to bring in the male demographic.

[] The show must be set either on the front line of a war, or on an extremely heavily armed ship / space station / colony.

[X] At least once a season either introduce, or bring back a charecter / species that hates the main charecters race / way of life, and have some kind of epic good vs. evil confrontation.

[XXX] No matter HOW advanced / omnipatant the bad guys are, the heros of the show will always outsmart / over power them in the end.

[X] The show MUST either revolve around the miletary, or have at least 1 hardened officer in the regular cast at all times.

[X] Have atleast one token alien in the regular cast.

[] A charecter has a troubled youth.

[] Somebody MUST be killed every 2 - 5 episodes.

[X] Every episode must include at least one hand to hand combat / gun or energy weapons fight scene.

[X] Every program MUST have at least one charecter in the main cast that is trying to understand humanity (humanity, meaning people from Earth). Also counts the person travels through time, another dimension, or another planet where humans are present, regardless of galaxy, and has to cope in the new setting. (extra points if it's not the above mentioned token alien).

 

The one I XXX - that enrages me. It's not just that they're outsmarted, it's that the heroes basically go "Ah, my morals are judeo-christian in nature AND HENCE INFALLIBLE!"

 

That gets on my tits no end as it's almost entirely relentless throughout most sci-fi.

 

I like shades of grey.

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There was a good TNG episode yesterday about a Human boy who is found on an Alien Spaceship. At first Picard & the rest of the crew decide the boy MUST be kept and returned to Earth-based society. But at the very end, Picard admits he was wrong, and the Human boy should be returned to his Alien father.

 

I have no doubt that Roddenberry was involved. He loved to create "And the moral is..."-type stories.

 

 

That's also what sets TNG apart from the inferior V'ger. TNG = intelligent. V'ger = Simplistic. In V'ger Janeway would have blasted the Alien father to bits & then run away, and then lectured the human boy why it was okay to kill his father.

 

 

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