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> Is Shadowrun Science Fiction?, What is science fiction, anyway?
Geekkake
post Jun 15 2006, 07:01 PM
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I figured I might try to save this thread, as much as I hate the new trend of ridiculous "OMG THIS IS MY CHAR LOLZ DEDICATED" threads.

Nevertheless, to address the topic being discussed there, science fiction does not require social commentary to be science fiction. It's right in the goddamned name of the genre. Fiction, with a scientific or pseudo-scientific slant. This has expanded, over the years, to include other things, such as social commentary and futurist masturbation, but the sciency slant is still there. It's not "Social Commentary Fiction". It ranges from pulp to highbrow intellectual literature.

Consequently, Shadowrun is science fiction.

In short, I think UndeadPoet is being an elitist cunt in this particular instance.
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X-Kalibur
post Jun 15 2006, 07:03 PM
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QUOTE (Geekkake)
I figured I might try to save this thread, as much as I hate the new trend of ridiculous "OMG THIS IS MY CHAR LOLZ DEDICATED" threads.

Nevertheless, to address the topic being discussed there, science fiction does not require social commentary to be science fiction. It's right in the goddamned name of the genre. Fiction, with a scientific or pseudo-scientific slant. This has expanded, over the years, to include other things, such as social commentary and futurist masturbation, but the sciency slant is still there. It's not "Social Commentary Fiction". It ranges from pulp to highbrow intellectual literature.

Consequently, Shadowrun is science fiction.

In short, I think UndeadPoet is being an elitist cunt in this particular instance.

No comment on the final part, however, I'd say it qualifies to some extent as Sci-Fi (cyberware, bioware, cyberzombies), some extent fantasy (magic, dragons, etc), and entirely Cyberpunk. Thats right, the genre is Cyberpunk.

Personally, I also feel it qualifies as Dystopian Future.
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Glayvin34
post Jun 15 2006, 07:15 PM
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I took a Science Fiction writing class in college. We spent the first few days defining exactly what SciFi is, is the Hunt for Red October SciFi? How about the GI Joe Movie?
In any case, the instructor had a pre-defined definition for SciFi, she was under the impression that anything that contained a novum was SciFi. A novum is a literary concept referring to any phenomenon that cannot not exist in real life and that the plot cannot exist without. This is still a fuzzy definition, because it blurs SciFi and Fantasy, SciFi typically deals with a novum that is related to real-world physics, while Fantasy deals with a novum that is typically unexplained or removed from the concept of physics.
In the case of Shadowrun, the extant nova (plural) are the presence of Astral Space (the source of Magic) and the presence of advanced technology. So, purposefully, it is both SciFi and Fantasy. In my opinion it errs on the side of SciFi, because while Magic does exist, it is readily explained by physics, and seems to obey the laws of Thermodynamics and the conservation of energy, if you assume that the earth is an open system with the astral.
And I'm just diving into this discussion with reckless abandon, so feel free to attack my points.
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Platinum
post Jun 15 2006, 07:27 PM
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Future Fantasy.
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Witness
post Jun 15 2006, 07:30 PM
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Yeah I couldn't agree with UndeadPoet on this one either.
It's got cyberware, nanotech, space stations... dude, it's sci-fi.
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Glayvin34
post Jun 15 2006, 07:30 PM
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This is a bit of a hobby of mine (defining what SF is), so here a great quote from Darko Suvin, a leader in SF literary thought:

"SF is distinguished by the narrative dominance of a fictional novelty (novum, innovation) validated both by being continuous with a body of already existing cognitions and by being a "mental experiment" based on cognitive logic.
This is not only nor even primarily a matter of scientific facts or hypotheses, and critics who protest against such narrow conceptions of SF as the Verne-to-Gernsback orthodoxy are quite right to do so. But such critics are not right when they throw out the baby with the bath by denying that what differentiates SF from the "supernatural" genres or fictional fantasy in the wider sense (including mythical tales, fairy tales, etc., as well as horror and/or heroic fantasy in the narrower sense) is the presence of scientific cognition as the sign or correlative of a method (way, approach, atmosphere, world-view, sensibility) identical to that of a modern philosophy of science."

He's got a great article at Darko Suvin- On what is and what is not an SF narration
The above quote is taken from this article.
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Teulisch
post Jun 15 2006, 07:57 PM
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I would say that SR is indeed science fiction. We take an idea, defined in this case as magic returning in a specific way and science advancing to a specific point, all in a specific timeframe. we then have a great many stories built on this very finite basis of assumptions. I think its the finite changes that make it SF.

SF is about how society reacts to changes. sure the cool super-science toys are fun, but thats simply a part of the setting, not the plot or characters. the plot is about how the characters deal with a problem that the change creates.

what we change is not important. If i have a setting with geneticly augmented mutants, psionics, and technology, that is a basis for a lot of science fiction. but if i replace 'psionics' with 'magic' and 'genetic mutant' with 'Orks and Trolls', then we have people making arguments because they see classical Fantasy elements in a SF series. because people like labels, and hate it when things go across several labels they feel should stay seperate, regardless of how good the fiction is.

Some SF is based on the idea that some basic part of how we understand the universe is just wrong. that what we assume is universal law is in fact just a localized effect of a much more complex system. The SR cycles of magic is such a thing. Having latent genetics that re-activate when the enviroment changes is very SF. It brings about questions of what happened 10,000 years ago that we dont know about?not all SF has to be in the future- some very good SF is set in alternate history timelines

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eidolon
post Jun 15 2006, 08:40 PM
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Some people just never can accept that language is fluid, and that regardless of the fact that a term or phrase had only one, narrow meaning in the past, the meaning that it holds to a majority of users today is the only meaning that matters (from a general use standpoint; anything else is etymology).

In that light, SR is most assuredly SF.
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Nim
post Jun 15 2006, 08:54 PM
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In my lit classes along this line, the accepted expansion of 'SF' was 'speculative fiction', incorporating hard sci-fi, fantasy, horror, alternative history, etc etc etc.
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stevebugge
post Jun 15 2006, 09:09 PM
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In my experience Speculative Fiction should also include most corporate training and policy manuals too.
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Geekkake
post Jun 15 2006, 09:13 PM
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QUOTE (stevebugge)
In my experience Speculative Fiction should also include most corporate training and policy manuals too.

Hahahahaha. Having a fair stack of these from various companies, I'm inclined to agree.
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Dudukain
post Jun 15 2006, 09:16 PM
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I was about to start a thread like this, But I was going to call it "people screaming about shadowrun genres"

Er...I guess it's Sci-Fi. In the same way star trek, Larry Niven novels, and a bunch of other stuff is sci-fi.
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Shadow
post Jun 15 2006, 09:54 PM
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Sci-Fi has been around a long time. I don't know when the first Sci-Fi book was published, I know it was in the 19th century though. Lots of 'serial-science-fiction' came out in the late 19th, early 20th century. It wasn't until the 50's and 60's that Sci-Fi authors started making a lot of social commentary in their books. I think Heinlein is probably responsible for that trend.
Not sure where UP gets the idea that Social Commentary makes Science Fiction. SF is a genre, and like all genre's it can really be about anything. It has something critical in it that defines it as Science Fiction though.

Websters defines it thusly,

QUOTE

science fiction
n.
A literary or cinematic genre in which fantasy, typically based on speculative scientific discoveries or developments, environmental changes, space travel, or life on other planets, forms part of the plot or background.


Now if your saying "all the great works of Sci-Fi have Social commentary in them" then that is your opinion. Don't get mad at other people for not sharing them.

As for Star Trek, and Star Wars, I hate to tell you this, but they are the corner stone of modern Sci-Fi. Without them there would probably be a lot less Sci-Fi both in books, t.v., and film. (Imho) It is important to respect the past of something, even if you don't like it. For instance I love Jules Verne, 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, was about a Nuclear Submarine, in 1860! Some people however do not like his work, that is their right, but it doesn't change the fact that he helped define what Sci-Fi is, and continues to be.
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coolgrafix
post Jun 15 2006, 09:55 PM
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From the thread Geekkake valiantly saved from near obfuscation...

Wikipedia offers some good reading on this topic:

Science Fiction
Hard Science Fiction
Soft Science Fiction
Star Trek
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Glayvin34
post Jun 15 2006, 10:14 PM
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QUOTE (Shadow)
Sci-Fi has been around a long time. I don't know when the first Sci-Fi book was published, I know it was in the 19th century though. Lots of 'serial-science-fiction' came out in the late 19th, early 20th century. It wasn't until the 50's and 60's that Sci-Fi authors started making a lot of social commentary in their books. I think Heinlein is probably responsible for that trend.
Not sure where UP gets the idea that Social Commentary makes Science Fiction. SF is a genre, and like all genre's it can really be about anything. It has something critical in it that defines it as Science Fiction though.

Websters defines it thusly,

QUOTE

science fiction
n.
A literary or cinematic genre in which fantasy, typically based on speculative scientific discoveries or developments, environmental changes, space travel, or life on other planets, forms part of the plot or background.


Now if your saying "all the great works of Sci-Fi have Social commentary in them" then that is your opinion. Don't get mad at other people for not sharing them.

As for Star Trek, and Star Wars, I hate to tell you this, but they are the corner stone of modern Sci-Fi. Without them there would probably be a lot less Sci-Fi both in books, t.v., and film. (Imho) It is important to respect the past of something, even if you don't like it. For instance I love Jules Verne, 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, was about a Nuclear Submarine, in 1860! Some people however do not like his work, that is their right, but it doesn't change the fact that he helped define what Sci-Fi is, and continues to be.

Yep. That link I posted above details a lot of Victorian-era books and whether or not Suvin considers them SciFi. I've always considered Edgar Allan Poe to have written the first SciFi. Around 1830 he wrote a story (can't remember the name) about this guy that goes up in a hot air ballon to heights no man has gone. Poe extrapolates about the effects of pressure and whatnot in the upper stratosphere.

Verne, whom IMHO popularized SciFi, took heavily from Poe and even wrote a sequel to one of Poe's stories, the The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket. Which is an extrapolation about Antarctica before anyone had really been there. AND interestingly enough, Arthrur Gordon Pym was also Lovecraft's inspiration for At the Mountains of Madness.
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Shadow
post Jun 15 2006, 10:18 PM
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You know I went over there and read what they had to say, and found it HORRIBLY inaccurate. So I would take what Wikepedia says with a grain of salt. I did my best to ajust it to make it right, hopefully it sticks.
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Witness
post Jun 15 2006, 10:41 PM
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QUOTE (Shadow)
It wasn't until the 50's and 60's that Sci-Fi authors started making a lot of social commentary in their books.

HG Wells was pretty into the old social commentary.
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Lagomorph
post Jun 15 2006, 11:30 PM
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I had never really considered SR to be SF, but I think that it fits well into the several definitions that have been presented. The world that SR creates is based in scientific reality, and is also fictional.

As for Social Commentary, thats probably an exersize best left to the reader. I think you can find social commentary in any media, especially in a setting where an idea or ideal is extrapolated out into an extreme. That happens just about everywhere. I think my point is that it's hard to make media with out it meaning anything.
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-X-
post Jun 16 2006, 01:59 AM
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To paraphrase a character from a novel/movie that could easily be argued to be sci-fi yet most people don't think of it that way, "Sci-Fi is as Sci-Fi does."

To put it another way sci-fi is that stuff that feels sci-fi-ey to you. Star Wars has plenty of fantasy elements in it, but it also has laser guns and spaceships so it is sci-fi.

Lord of the Rings has a lot of science in it (at least naturalism) yet it has Orksies and Trollsies in it.

Shadowrun is a serious genre sprainer. I'd say its extremely practical approach to magic puts Shadowrun in the Sci-Fi camp... but you can tell just by looking at the poor guy that he isn't happy there and he keeps gazing over at all the kids playing across the wall in Fantasyland. (Fantasy Island? Wait.., nevermind.)

Finally, I feel I must respond to something said (because I'm a pedantic loser who can't let stuff go.) in the other thread about the sci-fi label and how 95 percent of folks were 'wrong' about the definition of the label. It is linguistically impossible for 95 percent of people to be wrong about what a word or phrase means. As soon as a new definition for something becomes the one most understood it becomes the primary definition.

As far as dictionaries go there is admittedly some linguistic inertia where they won't actually change the definitions, but with the advent of the Internet and easily updated dictionary databases, definitions have been much better at keeping up with practical usage. (Ironically this might actually effect language in that slang that might have died out could potentially be extended long enough to become standard usage.)

Really there is no right or wrong in language, there is only communicating and not communicating.
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mfb
post Jun 16 2006, 04:58 AM
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by UndeadPoet's definition, no, SR is not SF. but, then, UndeadPoet is the only person i'm aware of who's using that definition.

in other news, i have decided that the word "aardvark" refers to clothing designed to be worn on, and protect, the feet.
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BookWyrm
post Jun 16 2006, 07:10 AM
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Let us not forget this entry in Wikipedia too.

But SR is a combination of Science Fiction & Fantasy, so it falls into that category.
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UndeadPoet
post Jun 16 2006, 07:56 AM
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QUOTE (eidolon)
Some people just never can accept that language is fluid, and that regardless of the fact that a term or phrase had only one, narrow meaning in the past, the meaning that it holds to a majority of users today is the only meaning that matters (from a general use standpoint; anything else is etymology).

In that light, SR is most assuredly SF.

eidolon has understood the problem perfectly. I am too narrow minded to accept the new sci-fi-genre, this is the case. I don't like it. The old spirit is lost.
I like my beer cold and my science-fiction classical.
Surely SR is science fiction, but not classical science fiction. I don't like the same term being used, either, but that's not mine to decide.
To understand how I feel, imagine you like reggae and hate metal. Then suddenly a new form of metal comes up and people call it "reggae", while forgetting what reggae was back in those days.

While eidolon has understood the problem, geekkake has not, insulting me eventually as an "elitist cunt" and taking the discussion to a personal level.
May I leave this thread now and suggest that obviously he feels too elite to have the need to discuss in a mannered way?
Thanks. Have a nice day, even you, geekkake.
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eidolon
post Jun 16 2006, 10:10 AM
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QUOTE (X-)
Really there is no right or wrong in language, there is only communicating and not communicating.


Well said. This is the first concept that's taught in any good language class. (By language I mean "learning a language that you don't know already", not "a class on language"; although I'd be wary of any class "on language" that didn't include this basic thought in some form, and early.)

It doesn't matter if my Chinese is good enough that I know how to say "I'm sorry, but I'm terribly lost and I was wondering if you would be so kind as to show me how to get to the Three Gorges." If I need to get there, all I truly need to know is "How go Three Gorges?" Granted it isn't pretty, but it's communication. (And actually, I'm pretty sure I can say it the first way. I don't think I've lost quite that much of it. ;))
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booklord
post Jun 16 2006, 01:16 PM
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With Shadowrun I have actually gotten into debates about the physics of "magic".

IMHO, that is the Sci-fi in its purest sense.
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mfb
post Jun 16 2006, 06:03 PM
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QUOTE (UndeadPoet)
I am too narrow minded to accept the new sci-fi-genre, this is the case.

it is still wholly unclear to me what you're talking about, when you say that pre-Star Wars/Trek sci-fi was reserved, even in minor part, for social commentary. there was never a time when the majority of sci-fi wasn't cheap, lurid crap being printed out for the masses with no thought given to its social relevance, with the exception of those times when there wasn't any sci-fi being printed at all.

i mean, help me out, here. in the other thread, i linked to Sin in Space in order to make my point. i'm not sure you got it, then, so i'll spell it out now: what differentiates Sin in Space from SR? why is Sin in Space considered sci-fi, but SR isn't? or, if Sin in Space is too recent for you, we can talk about Tommy Tomorrow or, as i said in the other thread, Buck Rogers. classical sci-fi was no more meaningful than any other era of sci-fi. within classical sci-fi, of course, there were some who used it for social commentary, just as some do today.
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