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Andrei in the office


Andrei's Universe

One man's journey from infinity to nothingness

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Andrei in the office

Sci-Fi poll: A quick update and a new poll coming

So far, I am up to 300 shows. Special thanks to meerkat299 who's single contribution of over 250 programs has been hard to top. I've been pleased to see people come up with shows he left out.

This post will be for discussion, and possible an age old flame war.

Already, I've gotten people who've brought up the Buffy-question. Is Buffy really Science fiction. It is obviously a show based in fantasy (Monsters, ghosts, and things that go bump in the night) but... it also dealt with science fiction in the use of robots, and super soldiers... Where does it lie?

So the question becomes, do we look into the differences between Sci-Fi and Fantasy for this project or do we lump them together? It is certainly possible to collect data where people rank, if a show is sci-fi/fantasy/or both.

So, do I include all 'genre' that could be fantasy, sci-fi, etc... or do we try to fight the debates as we go?

Comments on this will be public :)

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I figure if Bookstores put them on the same shelves, we can consider them similar enough to lump them together on TV. ;-)

No lumping, damnit. Make a sci-fi specific poll. Just because something is fiction or fantasy, that does not make it science fiction.

semi sequitir...

If the boston.com poll included things like Wild, Wild, West because of its crazy "futuristic" inventions, wouldn't that mean they should include Gilligan's Island for all the crazy stuff the Professor cooked up?

This is a really good question

Now, this is my own opinion and gladly open to debate:

In W^3 they were often creating future (modern by our standards) technology out of current contrivances. In other words, they were creating technologies that people of the time period didn't have.

In GI they were not innovating new inventions, just simply ways to use primitive tech to make the things they already knew.

Now, whereas W^3 has been referred to as "Steampunk" I guess it could be argued that a show with real island primitives with a special group directed by the chief to solve mysteries with creative means could be considered, uh... "Islandpunk"?

who you calling a punk?

Ranks right up there with the new sci-fi novel out this year. Outsources it to India - I am not making this up - Khyber-punk.

There is so much cross pollination between sci-fi and fantasy, that I think it impoverishes both when you become too strict in your definitions. Certainly there are many works of fantasy that aren't sci-fi. But for those that have elements of both, include them.

I love sci-fi and robots bore me to death. There's a lot of variety out there.

Science Fiction, along with Fantasy and Horror, is "speculative fiction". As others have pointed out, Science Fiction is just modern Fantasy or Horror. The fantastic explained as science, rather than magic or mystical.
One of the very first science fiction books was Frankenstein, which was also a horror book.

I think that some people object to Sci-Fi and Fantasy mixing, because they don't want those damn elves mixing with their hard science and alien races. Which is just plain silly. If you limit Sci-Fi to hard science only, not only do you miss the point of it entirely (to comment on social situations now in a fantastic setting more open to metaphore), but you make shows like CSI science fiction. Nothing wrong with CSI, but I hardly consider it science fiction (or speculative fiction).

I say science fiction can, and often does includes stories with fantasy and horror elements, and not just spaceships and blue skinned alien babes.

I fully agree.
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
     --Arthur C. Clarke, "Profiles of The Future", 1961 (Clarke's third law)
If anyone tried to draw some line between the Sci-Fi and Fantasy, the person next to him will disagree on which side of the line a certain show falls.

What if a writer creates a future Earth where humans have evolved to the point where things like ESP and telepathy are mundane? Perhaps this evolution has allowed them to forgo much of our current technology because it is more convenient to use these evolved abilities. Is this Sci-Fi or Fantasy? It is a futuristic society, but it is not explainable by our current science.

Perhaps you may say that the latter example is Fantasy simply because of the fact that it is not explainable by current science. How then would you classify a show that involves biological space craft? Current science can only scratch the surface if you try to explain this, but it takes place in space, which is almost universally considered the realm of Sci-Fi.

One of my favorite authors, David Brin, said in an interview at SciFi.com:
Only a fraction of SF authors have backgrounds in science. The topic that nearly all of us tend to read for pleasure is history. I often thought a better name for our genre might be speculative history—extending the human saga in what Einstein called gedankeneksperimenten, or collaborative thought-experiments, with the reader as an active partner. The future is one dimension for such experiments. Others may involve filling in a plausible past or an alternate present, as even Nabakov tried to do, in his novel Ada.

In a general sense, SF is about expanding the available range of settings beyond the parochial present or familiar, freeing literature by extending the human story into realms of the possible. Fantasy goes further, by diving into the improbable. This happens to match what's done by the most recent and powerful portion of the human brain, the prefrontal lobes, or the "lamps on the brow" that we use every day to explore our options, making up scenarios about tomorrow or the next day. Nothing could be more human. Yet some appear compelled to disparage SF with a caricature—that it consists solely of Star Wars pastiches in outer space. That's like claiming all detective films star Cheech and Chong. I have no idea why they do it.

I personally don't care if there's a lumping called sci-fi/fantasy, so long as they at least get shelved by series and alphabetical arrangements are attempted.

To get into the mess of what something actually is. You can have sci-fi/fantasy, such as Anne McCaffery's Pern series, which combine dragons and technology into one. This, I would say is more sci-fi with fantasy elements, cause everything's explained logically. On the other hand, you have a serious mass of subcategories like techno-magic/fantasy (White Wolf's Mage system), cyberpunk, macabre horror, gothic horror, epic fantasy, storybook fantasy, mythological fantasy, historical/high fantasy (camelot, can include dragons and knights in shining armour). With sci-fi, I'm not sure of the divisions, since I'm not as big of a fan. I've listed two, above. Another one the sits on the fence is Dune. I would say this is more fantasy with sci-fi elements, because the world functions more on Spice, than a mass collective of technology.

So, it's a mess, you see. It all comes down to the major elements and their functions as to how to categorize them.

For Buffy. I think I would sway more to the side of modern fantasy/mild horror than sci-fi, because it's set in present time, in regards to technology and culture. The *majority* of the elements present are things we could have if we had spiffy, sparkly Hollywood magic working for real as they show it on screen and not so much in the way of stuff like time travelling machines. Stargate, would be sci-fi, because it pulls in "futuristic" elements like the gate, even though it's supposed to be set, more or less in present time. If Buffy were situated more with things like robots and technology gone haywire, then it would lean more towards sci-fi. What you want to look at is the majority.

Pull from the past? Pull from the future? Pull from the mind? Or dabblings on paper? (I am not a poet. Really. I just pretend to be, now and then). What are the main focus points? That's how you can figure out how to categorize things. I organize this way and I submit art to online galleries this way, cause they always get down to the nitty gritty and ask what your piece is, to better fit with their search engine. Ok. I'll shut my trap now.

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