I read somewhere that science fiction was like the saying about pornography. You may not be able to completely define it, but you know it when you see it. However, from my conversations about my writing, I'm not too sure this is true.
When I tell people I write science fiction novels, I get one of three reactions. The reaction I get the most is I don't like science fiction. Then I ask them, what's the latest movie they seen or what is their favorite T.V. show?
They would say to me something like Avatar, Transformers II, or even Iron Man II. They would tell me their favorite T.V. show is Lost or Heroes. Then I tell them, you like science fiction…you just don't know it.
I would categorize Avatar, Transformers II an Iron Man II as science fiction. However Avatar is categorized as an Action Adventure Fantasy Sci Fi. Sci Fi is listed last. Transformers is listed as Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller. At least Sci Fi is listed second. Iron Man 2 is listed as Action Adventure Sci Fi. Here Sci Fi is listed last again.
Lost is listed as Adventure, Drama, Mystery and then Sci-Fi. Finally, Heroes is listed as Drama, Sci Fi.
The pattern here is Sci Fi is getting low billing as a genre with many of today's visual arts and entertainment. Why?
It appears science fiction has a bad connotation with the general public. I believe this is because they don't really understand what science fiction really is. I am a science fiction writer and I have a hard time defining science fiction.
To me science fiction is a cross cutting genre. What I mean by this is that any type of story…drama, adventure, action, thriller, and even romance can be a science fiction story. All you need is an element of plausible and or possible science and technological as a crucial element to the story.
Unfortunately to the mainstream audience, science fiction is all about space ships, aliens and ray guns. They are missing the point that science fiction is much more than that. Science fiction can tell a story with heart and soul. It can tell a mystery, it can spin a drama, it can encase a romance, it can be the backdrop of an adventure, it and breathe the excitement of action.
Pundits of Sci Fi argue about what is Sci Fi within the community. There are proponents of Hard Sci-Fi and advocates of Soft Sci Fi – again with the pornography reference.
From what I can tell, Hard Sci Fi is the stories with space ships, aliens and ray guns. The stories are base in the hard sciences with suspension of believe or better said, a leap of faith that the unknown will someday be known. Isaac Asimov and today, Larry Niven are best known for this.
While Soft Sci Fi uses science and technology to set the stage, pepper the environment and / or create the challenge. Ray Bradbury's Martian Chronicles, George Orwells' Ninety Eighty Four are excellent examples.
Then there are subgenres to science fiction. Cyberpunk, Time Travel, Alternate History, Military SF, Superhuman, Apocalyptic, Space Opera, Space Western.
Then there are the cousins to Science Fiction: Fantasy, Horror, Mystery and Superhero fiction. Many times stories blend these genres so much you can't tell what they really are. Sometimes, I think pieces that have this blend should be called Science Fantasy, Science Horror, and Science Mystery. Fortunately the term Superhero, already implies Science Fiction, so I don't think that name should change.
In summary, many of fiction literature touch on Science Fiction. Just because it's not labeled Science Fiction, doesn't mean it isn't Science Fiction.
This and much more will be topics of discussion at my upcoming Book Signing.
Time: August 21, 2010 from 1pm to 3pm
Please come out and join me if you are in the area.