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Sci Fi Question

 
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 28, 2017 2:46 pm    Post subject: Sci Fi Question Reply with quote

When I was a teenager, I read my Sci Fi ABCs (Asimov, Bradbury, and Clarke). In my 20s, as a hopeless hippie chick, I zoomed in on Fantasy because in that era it was all about trekking through endless forests and meeting magical creatures, etc., all of which rung my hippie bells.

So I am wondering where SciFi has gone in the last 30 years? I read Neuromancer, I read the Gap Trilogy (Donaldson, though, is almost a genre unto himself!).

What can Sci Fi afficionados tell me about the general trends in Sci Fi, and what should I read now in order to catch up?

Thanks in advance!
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 28, 2017 4:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's a really tough one.

I can only answer as I see it, and not try to be authoritative.

Sci-Fi has become a lot more aware of the power of computers, to put it simply. They've explored farther into the possibilities of virtual reality. Farther into the possibilities of artificial intelligence. Farther into the possibilities of instant communication. Farther into the possibilities of man-machine integration. Farther into the possibilities of social networking.

I just rewatched Blade Runner 1. Near human replicants -- but the computer in the car looks like an Atari. And they still used pay phones. Sci-fi really blew it in terms of understanding where we were headed in the computer/telecommunications area. They were all flying cars and androids and space shoot-em-ups instead.

This has been corrected now. This is the point I am making. There are some very good and deep stories which go farther than they ever did in the sixties into new possibilities because of these things.

And, if anything, it's closer to fantasy than it was before. Science is a lot more like magic, it's more infused into everything and taken for granted. Imagine a story from the point of view of a AI who lives entirely in a virtual reality which contains his whole society and culture - it's as limitless as magic.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 5:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, haven't really been reading any modern sci-fi lately...not sure where they're going. Gibson, Stephenson, that's about where I stopped.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 10, 2017 5:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wayfriend wrote:
Sci-fi really blew it in terms of understanding where we were headed in the computer/telecommunications area. They were all flying cars and androids and space shoot-em-ups instead.

You remind me of an article I read that explained why the movie version of Children of Men had such staying power: they completely avoided futurism in the production design, so there is nothing "outdated" about the film even years later.

Remember the James Bond movie where the camera shows a closeup of his digital watch? 007 presses a button a couple of times to check the time. Back in nineteen-seventy-whatever it was like, OooOOooooh!! Now it's like, Why are they showing his watch? Why does Roger Moore keep pressing the button?

Think of a story like Fahrenheit 451. There was very little "tech" in that. The action was in the relationships and with ideas. So I am not surprised that the "trend" in Sci-fi is away from gadgets, and more about ideas. That's what made Bradbury so amazing in the first place.

A good story will outlast shiny new tech every time.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 10, 2017 6:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I absolutely agree. I can still read and love 60s and 70s sci-fi. But to do so, you need to adopt a willing suspension of technological knowledge. Or something like that. When you read about a future world, you have to consider it as an alternate future world, one where cell phones were never invented.

That being said, new stuff is good stuff. And I'm kinda picky about what I read, I like things to be deep and profound. There's already book recommendation threads here in the Watch, so I won't start.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 10, 2017 7:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I enjoy older sci-fi more than modern.
Modern is to....real?
Too much time is spent trying to explain what is happening rather than enjoying the moment.
I don't really need three chapters explaining how hyperspace/warping works.
Just take me where we need to go.

It also doesn't seem to be as creative as before.
One of my favorite parts of "the mote in God's Eye" 1974 by Nivens and Pournelle was when there was first contact and the aliens were trying to setup living quarters for their human guests.
The aliens couldn't figure out (or maybe thought it was wasteful, I can't remember) plumbing for sinks and toilets so they came up with frictionless surfaces instead of running water. Humans were like...WTF?...getting that alone was worth the trip! Smile

deer (and everyone else), if you're on Reddit check out
https://www.reddit.com/r/HFY/
It's short sci-fi and fantasy stories about humanity being awesome.
Some stories are so uplifting.
My favorite is:
Part1 and 2
https://www.reddit.com/r/HFY/comments/2r33u0/oc_first_contact/
Part 3 and 4
https://www.reddit.com/r/HFY/comments/2r5zp4/oc_first_contact_part_34/
Part 5 and 6
https://www.reddit.com/r/HFY/comments/2r9odw/ocfirst_contact_parts_5_6/
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2017 9:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, I tend to love the old classics more for the most part. Some exceptions.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2017 6:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

High Lord Tolkien wrote:
I enjoy older sci-fi more than modern.
Modern is to....real?
Too much time is spent trying to explain what is happening rather than enjoying the moment.
I don't really need three chapters explaining how hyperspace/warping works.
Just take me where we need to go.

I think part of the problem there is that a significant portion of the audience fucking INSISTS on explanation, and will troll you endlessly if you go light on it, and THEN troll you mercilessly if they think there's something wrong with your "science."

But there are definite SF divisions, some always existed, some evolved more recently.
There is some that's as hard as steel.
Some that is mostly just techie-coated [often also Moral Superiority frosted] action/adventure/war stories.
Some that is mostly fantasy encased in chrome/holography/Artificial Overlords.
And some that is more like "normal"...or even "literary"...fiction. Just interesting "people" in interesting situations leading interesting "human" lives.
All those subgenres have some decent storytellers within them.

Oh, there's also the Fucking Assholes school that hates all other kinds/shapes. Vox Day and his ilk.

I don't actually like all that much of the older stuff anymore---I did, and not really that long ago. Don't know if I'm getting more discerning or just grumpier....There are exceptions---classics that deserve to be classic. But even among the "greats" there is horridness. I love the Foundation books---but 95% of Asimov is bad stories badly written with flat/boring characters. The Laws of Robotics were a cool invention...but the robot STORIES mostly aren't good.
I love the Moties books. The idea/phrase "on the gripping hand" is pure genius--not just in fiction, but as a real life thought tool. But they wrote almost entirely shitty stuff otherwise, alone and together.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2017 8:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You know why I loved Star Wars when I first saw it in '77? It blew my mind.

When I read Dune for the first time, it blew my mind.

Nova blew my mind.

That's why I read sci-fi. I want my mind blown.

If I read the old stuff now, my mind is not blown. I may feel some nostalgia. I may enjoy the lasers-and-starships mileau. I may love the characters and the story arc. But it no longer blows my mind.

But when I read Hyperion, my mind was blown. When I read Fire in the Deep, my mind was blown. When I read Pandora's Star, my mind was blown. Excession: boom.

If you value the spatial integrity of your mind, keep reading the old stuff. Wink
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 12, 2017 4:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For me, it's simple familiarity. The quality of the writing hasn't changed, but I've seen and read so much, I can't find anything new. I focus more on characters now. Understanding people will always be important, always complicated and always new.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 26, 2017 10:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Heh...returning to the point ignored in my first post and answering what to read...
There's a LOT.
But keeping it really really ridiculously short...

For the 80's, Attanasio's Radix Tetrad, particularly the first book. It is special.

For the 90's, Stephenson's Snowcrash. It's kinda "Neuromancer" if Gibson was more fun and imaginative.

Also, I quite like Brin's Uplift books...one trilogy is from the 80's the other/next the 90's.

2000's to now...
John Scalzi...Old Man's War universe has a lot in it, pretty good stuff.

Ann Leckie's Radch books [ancillary justice, sword, and mercy].

There are sooo many others...in the last 15-20 especially a breakout of interesting women writers [though SF has had some spectacular women since at least the mid-60's].

One don't: no matter what anyone says, do NOT read ANY Dune-related books by [or co-authored by] Frank Herbert's son. If you MUST, then read only the two that finish the Dune series from Frank's notes [Hunters of Dune and Sandworms of Dune].

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2017 12:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vraith wrote:


Ann Leckie's Radch books [ancillary justice, sword, and mercy].



Just reread those. Highly recommend. Also noticed she has a new book out, which I haven't read yet but it's near the top of my list. Though it's apparently not related to the trilogy. Last I'd heard, she was going to write more set in the same universe, but with different characters.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2017 6:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Must remember to get those.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 12:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There's a lot of good stuff about AI, computronium, downloading (and making copies of) minds into this or that matrix, and the Singularity out there. Lots of bad, too, of course.

Charles Stross' Accelerando is excellent. It has all of those things.

William Hertling's Avogadro Corp and its three sequels also.

I love the WWW trilogy (Wake, Watch, and Wonder) by Robert J. Sawyer tells the tale of the internet's awakening to consciousness. He teaches a lot of things while explaining how it happened. Cellular automata; game theory; yadda yadda.

Ted Chiang is writing some excellent stuff. Stories of Your Life and Others is a collection of short stories. The one called Story of Your Life was made into the movie Arrival. Understand is an awesome story about a man who gains greatly enhanced intelligence. The novella The Lifecycle of Software Objects is an AI story, following what start as digital pets as they evolve.
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 4:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Need to start making a list... Very Happy

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