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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

"To avoid situations in which you might make mistakes may be the biggest mistake of all." - Peter McWilliams

***

From the Gamebooks mailing list, on the problems in Sci-Fi and why it is often another form of magic (with reference to Arthur C Clarke)


"The intrinsic problem with sci-fi is the "science" bit. For example:

Sci-fi author: The ship travels at 10 times the speed of light.
Einstein (and me): That's not possible!
Sci-fi author: Ah, well, in the near future people discovered a way to
do it that involves . . . uh . . . crystals and . . . new metals . . .
and stuff. But it's scientific! Honestly!

The same holds true for superhero sci-fi.

Superhero author: Superman flies across the city.
Newton (and me): Not possible!
Superhero author: Character X is exposed to huge levels of radiation and rather than dying of cancer, they somehow develop strange, mysterious powers.
Me: That's not possible!
Superhero author: But it is! It is because it's "scientific"! And it's "scientific" because I say so!

"Science" in these stories is basically "magic", but because it is called "science" that causes whatever to happen, it's somehow less "lazy" and more "realistic"?

In fantasy, "magic" can do anything--that's an integral part of the genre. Sci-fi claims to be scientific; but a great deal of it is as much "fairy stories" as the Arabian Nights or The Warlock of Firetop Mountain. I therefore find most sc-fi to be lazy. Invent as much guff as you want about FTL Drives and their Beryllium Crystals--it's still just "magic" tarted up as pretend science."
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