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Author Topic: Science fiction subgenres: hard vs soft vs mushroom fiction :D  (Read 433 times)

Spike

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Re: Science fiction subgenres: hard vs soft vs mushroom fiction :D
« Reply #15 on: September 23, 2020, 10:54:59 PM »
I believe the film you are talking about is Solaris, which I believe is based on very well regarded russian Sci-fi (Stanislaw Lem?)...


Its an interesting case, actually. The science is fairly hard, with regard to the interstellar travel (I guess. I mean part of the point is that they are sort of stuck out there because easy, fast FTL isn't an option... I've never seen it. I have better ways to take naps.), so the issue is the planet, which is clearly psychic (is it the planet or a planet covering life form? One being sentient is Hard, the other is obviously far more speculative. THe relatively hardness of psychic stuff is debatable, I suppose), while the entire point of the story, and the reason it is well regarded (again: Never seen/read it) is to reflect humanity back on itself by showing us ourselves... in this case George Clooney and his survivors guilt over a suicided wife or something... by having an alien intelligence try to communicate through our own memories.  The core idea of the story is classic sci-fi territory, if the presentation is a bit wonkish that's a stylish issue, but how is it much different in 'topic' than, say, The Uller Uprising from H. Beam Piper? Or perhaps more accessably: The Fuzzy Papers?


Dune again drips into that strange catagory of Space Opera that I mentioned earlier. There really isn't any science at all. Shiga-wire is a common feature in the technology, but what is Shiga-wire? Its a metal fiber taken from an alien plant root... if I recall the same plant that produces the Semuta drug (from the ashy reside of burning said plant), which gives you a better trip when paired with music.


Herbert, compared to Lucas, at least pretends to care about the process of science, but that's mostly because he is writing in the future and not in some nebulous 'galaxy far away', so we have names for the principles and processes, like the Holtzman effect.


But like Solaris, the actual purpose of ALL of this is to address universal human themes. I've mentioned it is an explicit response to the Great Man theory of History, and a reflection of Herberts own interest in Ecological Conservation.   The technology might be handwavium (well, the idea of dynamic optics using liquids suspended in force fields is pretty hard science-ish, if you can replace generic and impossible force fields with a more practical idea, a flexible transparent membrane perhaps?), but the ideas and even the cultures presented are grounded very much in the real.


Is Space Opera sci-fi? You asked me earlier. I say it is, just very soft, and because I think Genre Assignment is a fools errand so I prefer to err on the side of easy communication rather than grognardy pedantry.
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Omega

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Re: Science fiction subgenres: hard vs soft vs mushroom fiction :D
« Reply #16 on: September 24, 2020, 12:56:32 AM »
Solaris I have the original movie, and have read the book it is based on, and seen the US made movie.
The book and original Russian movie are mostly in the hard SF range and is an early SF book to explore the idea of something so alien that we may never really be able to comprehend it and the unreasoning fear impulse some will have when confronted with something so outside the norm, even when wrapped in a form meant to be comforting or familliar.
Base premise of Solaris is theres been discovered an alien world with just one planet covering organism like a living ocean that is constantly making shapes from its mass and then re-absorbing them. In the book the reason for the investigator is that the research station personell have been acting weird and I believe one of the main characters friends there died.
In book and movie he gets there and soon finds out the hard way why everyone is acting weird. The planet has been trying to communicate with them. How? By searching their memories and creating a copy of someone important to them. Problem is, the scientists kept freaking out and killing the doppelgangers. Theres a beautiful line in there going to the effect of.
"An alien mind reached out to us to make contact. And ran screaming from it in terror."Its mostly hard fiction with the research station floating in the atmosphere, rather than in orbit I believe. Its been a few decades! And the space travel takes some time. I believe it was some manner of FTL, but not a very fast one as it takes the main character a month or more in cryo to get there.It then jumps into soft SF as Solaris has some manner of ability to scan memories and create its doppelgangers from nothing. It does get explained some eventually. But for most this power falls into the soft SF.

Omega

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Re: Science fiction subgenres: hard vs soft vs mushroom fiction :D
« Reply #17 on: September 24, 2020, 12:58:04 AM »
As for Space Opera. Depends on the type? Early space opera was more hard than soft. The opera part came from the focus on adventures and romances.
But seems over time its just become another term for "science Fantasy".

Lurkndog

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Re: Science fiction subgenres: hard vs soft vs mushroom fiction :D
« Reply #18 on: September 24, 2020, 07:19:46 AM »
The term "Space Opera" always makes me think of E.E. "Doc" Smith's Lensman books, where the "opera" part is clearly the huge space battles. They are larger than life, filled with over the top prose and big ideas. Coruscating beams of lambent force!

(Obligatory note: If you want to read Lensman, start with Galactic Patrol, which was the first one written and the true beginning of the series. It is usually listed as Book #3 in modern printings. Triplanetary and First Lensman are prequels that were added later, and are not as good.

Trond

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Re: Science fiction subgenres: hard vs soft vs mushroom fiction :D
« Reply #19 on: September 24, 2020, 11:08:58 AM »

Is Space Opera sci-fi? You asked me earlier. I say it is, just very soft, and because I think Genre Assignment is a fools errand so I prefer to err on the side of easy communication rather than grognardy pedantry.
To me it definitely is. I'm just following what most people agree is SF and spin around that, and as long as it has futuristic tech etc, it is generally thought of as SF.

Trond

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Re: Science fiction subgenres: hard vs soft vs mushroom fiction :D
« Reply #20 on: September 24, 2020, 11:13:38 AM »
Solaris I have the original movie, and have read the book it is based on, and seen the US made movie.
The book and original Russian movie are mostly in the hard SF range and is an early SF book to explore the idea of something so alien that we may never really be able to comprehend it and the unreasoning fear impulse some will have when confronted with something so outside the norm, even when wrapped in a form meant to be comforting or familliar.
Base premise of Solaris is theres been discovered an alien world with just one planet covering organism like a living ocean that is constantly making shapes from its mass and then re-absorbing them. In the book the reason for the investigator is that the research station personell have been acting weird and I believe one of the main characters friends there died.
In book and movie he gets there and soon finds out the hard way why everyone is acting weird. The planet has been trying to communicate with them. How? By searching their memories and creating a copy of someone important to them. Problem is, the scientists kept freaking out and killing the doppelgangers. Theres a beautiful line in there going to the effect of.
"An alien mind reached out to us to make contact. And ran screaming from it in terror."Its mostly hard fiction with the research station floating in the atmosphere, rather than in orbit I believe. Its been a few decades! And the space travel takes some time. I believe it was some manner of FTL, but not a very fast one as it takes the main character a month or more in cryo to get there.It then jumps into soft SF as Solaris has some manner of ability to scan memories and create its doppelgangers from nothing. It does get explained some eventually. But for most this power falls into the soft SF.
Interesting! To me, the Hollywood version came across as pretty "trippy", but who knows how much they had changed it. It is possible that the beginning was more hard SF.

Pat

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Re: Science fiction subgenres: hard vs soft vs mushroom fiction :D
« Reply #21 on: September 24, 2020, 01:44:25 PM »
Lem is hard to fit on the soft to hard spectrum.

While he was intensely interested in science and its possibilities, his stories aren't built on cutting edge research. Instead, he focuses on the nature and culture of science. To give an example, in Fiasco, the method they use to travel is called sidereal engineering. There is no physical or theoretical justification provided. He doesn't throw out words like Einstein-Rosen bridges, or talk about tachyons. Does that sound like soft sf? Well, not quite. Because sidereal engineering is internally consistent. It's not magic handwavium gobbleygook. He follows basic principles through to their inevitable consequences. It's not a science based on anything we currently know, but it's still plausible as a framework for a possible science. He doesn't get into the nuts and bolts of how it operates, but as a black box science, it's believable. In addition, he's also very interested in the human constructs that surround science. His scientists act like scientists, and thus the social elements around the new science also ring true.

Highly recommended author, BTW. Incredibly original, and had a fantastic range. Kandel's translations seem to be the best.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2020, 02:13:07 PM by Pat »

Trond

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Re: Science fiction subgenres: hard vs soft vs mushroom fiction :D
« Reply #22 on: September 24, 2020, 10:47:27 PM »

...... what is the focus of mushroom sci-fi?

:D




Spike

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Re: Science fiction subgenres: hard vs soft vs mushroom fiction :D
« Reply #23 on: September 24, 2020, 11:59:56 PM »
Yup, That is Definitely 'Mushroom Fiction' right there.  You got me on that one!
For you the day you found a minor error in a Post by Spike and forced him to admit it, it was the greatest day of your internet life.  For me it was... Tuesday.

For the curious: Apparently, in person, I sound exactly like the Youtube Character The Nostalgia Critic.   I have no words.

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