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Why have Hard SciFi, Space Opera and Science Fantasy?


soltakss

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From another thread and taken absolutely out of context ...

For the same reason, would it be inappropriate to guess that BRP fans would prefer hard SF to space fantasy?

Why is it that SciFi fans always make distictions between Hard Sci Fi, Science Fantasy, Space Opera and so on?

It's all SciFi, isn't it?

You don't get fantasy fans splitting hairs about different types of fantasy, even though they do exist, so why are SciFi fans so uptight about this?

Edited by soltakss

Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

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I separate them because they are two different poles of a continuum. Hard SF is more science oriented and draws on know physics. Space Fantasy dispenses with the science for the most part, and extrapolates a future without bothering with how technology functions. I think the two are very different. I suppose technically, something like Star Wars isn't really science fiction at all, since it has little science in it - it's more akin to fantasy. But a lot of people lump the two together, and even lump fantasy and sci-fi together (like they do in smaller bookstores), and I suppose they are all 'speculative fiction' (although what fiction isn't speculative, really?). For sci-fi I really only have those two categories. I don't think that space opera is just a term for a long, multi-world spanning story and could fall almost anywhere on the continuum.

I see this categorization paralleled in the 'history genre', where you have 'factual history' at one end and 'alt history' at the other.

And I think there are many types of fantasy, too. So many types that they defy easy categorization. Science fantasy (star wars), techno-fantasy (gamma world), modern fantasy (nephilim), dark fantasy (warhammer), high fantasy (ars magica, also alt history), classic fantasy (d&d), traditional fantasy (tolkien), gritty fantasy (harn), something called 'magic realism', and so on. Some defy categorization (mechanical dream).

Why the need for categorization? Because when I have the itch for something technical and scientific, I don't want to read Star Wars. When I have the itch to explore history, I don't want to see a bunch of near eastern sorcerers on the Odessa steps levitating all the baby carriages out of harms way. We are no longer in an era when fans of genre fiction must be happy with what little we can get, no matter the style. We are now spoiled for choice, and I, for one, choose to exercise that choice.

"Tell me what you found, not what you lost" Mesopotamian proverb

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...It's all SciFi, isn't it?

Clearly not for many people. Where the exact utility lies can vary depending on the conversation and participants, but many people clearly either find it useful or at least worthwhile to NOT lump Stanislaw Lem's the Chain of Chance, Greg Egan's Schild's Ladder, Burrough's A Princess of Mars and Star Wars together as the same thing.

You don't get fantasy fans splitting hairs about different types of fantasy, even though they do exist, so why are SciFi fans so anal about this?

Most serious discussions of fantasy will very rapidly draw distinctions between different subcategories actually - again because it is useful to be able to discuss REH's Conan, Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, LeGuin's Earthsea and Holdstock's Mythago Wood without treating them as indistinguishable from each other...

Now, SF has, as the more "junior" genre, more of a chip on its shoulder about being taken seriously and so its fans and practitioners tend to get more defensive when fantasy with ray guns and spaceships (mostly what the mass media refer to as science fiction) gets lumped in with the SF where there is a real effort to respect and extrapolate from our current understanding of (or plausible speculations about) the way the universe works.

But then there are plenty of fantasy fans and writers who are openly dismissive of the mass market fantasy that gets churned out by the likes of WotC and get very precious about there particular sub-genre... *shrug*

Any field of human endeavour will evolve its own nomenclature to aid discussion - and pretty much all of them go beyond practical utility and use the smokescreen of jargon to build their own protected sense of unique value. The trick is to use enough of the jargon to facilitate communication, but not so much as to obscure the actual object of discussion.

Cheers,

Nick

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You don't get fantasy fans splitting hairs about different types of fantasy ...

Of course they do, just ask fans of D&D (Classic Fantasy), Mars (Space Fantasy) and Shadow-

run (Urban Fantasy). :)

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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Why is it that SciFi fans always make distictions between Hard Sci Fi, Science Fantasy, Space Opera and so on?

It's all SciFi, isn't it?

You don't get fantasy fans splitting hairs about different types of fantasy, even though they do exist, so why are SciFi fans so anal about this?

Whatever you've been snorting Soltass I want some. Thats some trippy shit!;):7;-D

Edited by Conrad
http://www.basicrps.com/core/BRP_quick_start.pdf A sense of humour and an imagination go a long way in roleplaying. ;)
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Drive Thru RPG lists the sub-genres of science fiction and fantasy.

It has five sub-genres of Science Fiction:

Cyberpunk

Hard Sci-Fi

Mecha

Postapokalyptisch

Space Opera

And eight sub-genres of Fantasy:

Asiatische/Wuxia Fantasy

Dark Fantasy

High Fantasy

Historische Fantasy

Klassisch

Romantic Fantasy

Steampunk

Sword and Sorcery

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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Why is it that SciFi fans always make distictions between Hard Sci Fi, Science Fantasy, Space Opera and so on?

It's all SciFi, isn't it?

You don't get fantasy fans splitting hairs about different types of fantasy, even though they do exist, so why are SciFi fans so anal about this?

Hi Simon,

Ohhhh, I *so* agree with you! :D

I think it's a bit like Einstein at university getting squashed by his professors because what he was proposing was "impossible". Everything which doesn't agree with science as we understand it is "impossible" until science as we understand it is proven wrong. Arguing that science-fiction must satisfy the requirements of "science as we understand it" is therefore, imho, completely missing the point - what you've got there is "science", not "science-fiction". There's a clue in the name... ;-)

I suppose it boils down to what you want from your scifi. A scifi story which completely throws the baby out with the bathwater on the "logic" front (say, just for the sake of argument, Star Wars - The Phantom Menace >:>) *does* blow away the illusion of any kind of credibility or realism. On the other hand, telling a scifi story 10,000 years in the future where biotech, extreme longevity, and extreme enhancement haven't irrevocably changed posthuman society is, again imho, running completely counter to credibility and realism - even though it might agree 100% with "science as we currently understand it".

I want my scifi to be speculative and transformative, and not ludicrously silly. I avoid the worst excesses of "hey, we'll fly through the planet's core in this submersible" type schlock of really *bad* scifi, and also the "industrial age gearhead nostalgia" of some incredibly restrictive so-called "hard" scifi, where everyone's driving Newtonian spaceships as though the (post-?)quantum revolution never happens. It's a balance which is deeply personal, based on what's personally acceptable to you, your understanding of science, and fiction, and people.

Small wonder that everyone argues their corner tenaciously and almost no one agrees on definitions! :D

Cheers,

Sarah

"The Worm Within" - the first novel for The Chronicles of Future Earth, coming 2013 from Chaosium, Inc.

Website: http://sarahnewtonwriter.com | Twitter: @SarahJNewton | Facebook: TheChroniclesOfFutureEarth

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From another thread and taken absolutely out of context ...

Why is it that SciFi fans always make distictions between Hard Sci Fi, Science Fantasy, Space Opera and so on?

It's all SciFi, isn't it?

No, it isn't.

There is a distinction between Science Fiction and Science Fantasy.

Science fiction is a genre of fiction. It differs from fantasy in that, within the context of the story, its imaginary elements are largely possible within scientifically established or scientifically postulated laws of nature (though some elements in a story might still be pure imaginative speculation).

Where the problems start is that much of what people consider to be Science Fiction (for example, Star Wars and most Star Trek episodes) isn't.

You don't get fantasy fans splitting hairs about different types of fantasy, even though they do exist, so why are SciFi fans so anal about this?

It's not splitting hairs, it two different genres. Much the same way SciFi and Horror DVDs get lumped together in the same shelf space at some stores.

You don't see this happen with fantasy because all the sub-genres are sub-genres of fantasy. But SciFi and Space Opera are no more the same that a Historical Wargame or RPG is to L5R or some western RPG with Zombies.

Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

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Why is it that SciFi fans always make distictions between Hard Sci Fi, Science Fantasy, Space Opera and so on?

It's all SciFi, isn't it?

Oooooooooooooooh Simon I *so* agree with you! And you know those scientists they're *soooo* anal with their physics, chemistry and biology. I mean its all just science isn't it? Likewise with literature, those folks at the Guardian Review keep dividing books into thrillers, romance etc. They're *sooo* anal,I mean its just literature isn't it? Feeling foolish yet Soltass?:P

You don't get fantasy fans splitting hairs about different types of fantasy, even though they do exist, so why are SciFi fans so anal about this?

So when Chaosium describe Elric! rpg as "dark fantasy" do you call them anal too? There is also another problem with your comment. Most sci fi fans are also fantasy fans, so you're trying to separate them is black and white thinking, a bit of a false dichotomy.;-D

The fact that you are trying to make out that some imaginary separate group of fantasy fans are cool while "SciFi fans" aren't makes me think that you're being more than a little *anal* yourself.

You might want to lay off the Columbian marching powder before you post, it kinda ruins your facility for logical argument ;-D

Edited by Conrad
Having too much fun!
http://www.basicrps.com/core/BRP_quick_start.pdf A sense of humour and an imagination go a long way in roleplaying. ;)
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Oooooooooooooooh Simon I *so* agree with you! And you know those scientists they're *soooo* anal with their physics, chemistry and biology. I mean its all just science isn't it? Likewise with literature, those folks at the Guardian Review keep dividing books into thrillers, romance etc. They're *sooo* anal,I mean its just literature isn't it?

Well, in my day we had Physics, Chemistry and Biology at school, now we just have Science ...

Feeling foolish yet Soltass?:P

Not particularly.

So when Chaosium describe Elric! rpg as "dark fantasy" do you call them anal too? There is also another problem with your comment. Most sci fi fans are also fantasy fans, so you're trying to separate them is black and white thinking, a bit of a false dichotomy.;-D

Well, I'm a SciFi fan as well, and have been for a long, long, time.

The fact that you are trying to make out that some imaginary separate group of fantasy fans are cool while "SciFi fans" aren't makes me think that you're being more than a little *anal* yourself.

Was I? I didn't realise. Thanks for telling me what I was trying to do, that's bery helpful.

You might want to lay off the Columbian marching powder before you post, it kinda ruins your facility for logical argument ;-D

Oh, insults as well. Never mind.

I just wanted to know why people prefer to have very distinct categories for SciFi genres where, in general, people don't have particular categories for fantasy genres. It appears that different people want/understand different things from each term and those terms define a very specific kind of genre/seting, so that explains it.

No need for any more insults ...

Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

www.soltakss.com/index.html

Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

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As a matter of interest, the reason why I was asking was because I was thinking of writing a SciFi monograph or supplement and I was wondering whether it could be a general one of whether it should be tailored for one of the categories.

I'll not be bothering now, though, as it would be seen as clownish.

By the way, I should probably have used "touchy" or "sensitive" rather than "anal", but over here in the UK "anal" is seen as a mild slang term for "anally retentive", meaning "very uptight". Sorry if I offended anyone.

Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

www.soltakss.com/index.html

Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

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Well I was going to post what I thought was a thoughtful response to this thread I must admit I am now afraid of being ridiculed and humiliated by someone who does not share my viewpoints.

They may even make a new account that resembles mine and start a thread just to ridicule me some more. Ah how brave the anonymity of the Internet makes some people.

Oh well. This board still probably holds some kind of record for how long it has operated before someone turns into a total jackass.

Help kill a Trollkin here.

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As a matter of interest, the reason why I was asking was because I was thinking of writing a SciFi monograph or supplement and I was wondering whether it could be a general one of whether it should be tailored for one of the categories.

What would a 'generic' sci fi monograph include, out of curiosity?

"Tell me what you found, not what you lost" Mesopotamian proverb

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As a matter of interest, the reason why I was asking was because I was thinking of writing a SciFi monograph or supplement and I was wondering whether it could be a general one of whether it should be tailored for one of the categories.

Most settings do not fall neatly into one of the categories, and I would consider it a bad idea to

restrict your imagination by writing specifically for one of the categories. Some of the best set-

tings, of literature as well as roleplaying, are "crossovers" that use "typical" elements of diffe-

rent categories. So, in my view you should write whatever you think is a good setting or adven-

ture, ignoring the categories until it is completed.

However, it would be nice if you would describe the monograph or supplement in terms of the

categories once you have finished it and are satisfied with it. This helps to understand what to

expect of it, and to decide whether to buy it or not.

By the way, I should probably have used "touchy" or "sensitive" rather than "anal", but over here in the UK "anal" is seen as a mild slang term for "anally retentive", meaning "very uptight". Sorry if I offended anyone.

Well, I have to admit that "anal" did indeed irritate me, over here it would have been an inten-

tional insult. However, since you are not the kind of user that aims to insult others, I took it as

"a British thing". ;)

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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Yes it is.;D

Rather than going into a pythonesque argument (I don't have a spare fiver ;D ), I'll use an example:

Let's say someone were to write a story about people who, while studying the human genome, discover the cure for cancer. The Story goes on to tell about the difficulty they have in testing and providing the cure, the opposition from groups who are opposed to the cure being used, and the effects of society once the cure has been used.

That would be a SciFi story. It fits the criteria. Now it doesn't have space ships, ray guns, robots, FTL travel, time travel, alien invaders or laser swords, but it would most definitely count as Science Fiction. It would not count as Science Fantasy or Space Opera.

Considing that SciFi and Science Fantasy used to be lumped together under the umbrella term of Scientific Romances, should we consider them a subset of the Romance genre, and place them right next to the Harlequin Romances?

Edited by Atgxtg

Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

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Most settings do not fall neatly into one of the categories, and I would consider it a bad idea to

restrict your imagination by writing specifically for one of the categories. Some of the best set-

tings, of literature as well as roleplaying, are "crossovers" that use "typical" elements of diffe-

rent categories. So, in my view you should write whatever you think is a good setting or adven-

ture, ignoring the categories until it is completed.

I'm going to agree with Rust here. Write the book you want to write and don't try and pigeonhole it into any one sub-genre until you're done. Then, you can look back at the work and say "oh, it's mostly space fantasy" or "it's mostly hard sci-fi." Try to do that from the get-go and you might stiffle or exclude some otherwise excellent ideas.

Well, I have to admit that "anal" did indeed irritate me, over here it would have been an inten-

tional insult. However, since you are not the kind of user that aims to insult others, I took it as

"a British thing". ;)

From an American perspective, I was complety non-plussed. We use the word in the exact same way.

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Considing that SciFi and Science Fantasy used to be lumped together under the umbrella term of Scientific Romances, should we consider them a subset of the Romance genre, and place them right next to the Harlequin Romances?

Oh hell yes! That would make my trips to the bookstore so much shorter. There wouldn't be any long, circuitous route to casually walk over to the romances and find myself there "by mistake." :P

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From an American perspective, I was complety non-plussed. We use the word in the exact same way.

Cultural differences. Most Americans wont be offended by the phases like "sod off" or "bugger". Mostly because they don't know what they mean. If they were given a definition, they would probably be outraged.

A few years back I posted a message here as to how I had to act as interpreter for a friend and explain what the characters in a British TV show meant where they were using the word "shag". My friend was curious as to why the characters started talking about the rug, since in the US, "shag" is almost exclusively used to refer to a thick carpet that was popular in the 1970s.

Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

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Cultural differences. Most Americans wont be offended by the phases like "sod off" or "bugger". Mostly because they don't know what they mean. If they were given a definition, they would probably be outraged.

A few years back I posted a message here as to how I had to act as interpreter for a friend and explain what the characters in a British TV show meant where they were using the word "shag". My friend was curious as to why the characters started talking about the rug, since in the US, "shag" is almost exclusively used to refer to a thick carpet that was popular in the 1970s.

Only if they're complete tossers.

BRP 31/420

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As a matter of interest, the reason why I was asking was because I was thinking of writing a SciFi monograph or supplement and I was wondering whether it could be a general one of whether it should be tailored for one of the categories.

I'll not be bothering now, though, as it would be seen as clownish.

Just do what you want, I say - it's just a hobby, and AFAIK no-one's really analysed people's buying patterns to any extent so there's no hard data to go on. I'll add my voice to the pot and say, "write it first and worry about categories later". The only way to get good stuff out of writers is to let them write whatever they want. The marketing department can then decide which bit of the FLGS shelf it sits on.

I've been involved in lots of discussions (some quite serious) about SF supplements for BRP and other games, but I'm coming to the conclusion that "generic" just covers too wide a range to do the subject justice. GURPS Space is a creditable attempt, I guess. But I personally prefer something a little more focussed, because that allows much greater detail in a book of the same size. Of course, that does mean you're restricting your audience slightly, I guess - I have no data one way or the other, all I know is that there are certain types of SF book that don't interest me.

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soltakss,

If you want to write it, write it. Yes, there is a difference between SciFi, SciFan, and Space Opera. Even so, there is a lot of overlap, even among the fanbase.

I've been involved in lots of discussions (some quite serious) about SF supplements for BRP and other games, but I'm coming to the conclusion that "generic" just covers too wide a range to do the subject justice. GURPS Space is a creditable attempt, I guess. But I personally prefer something a little more focussed, because that allows much greater detail in a book of the same size. Of course, that does mean you're restricting your audience slightly, I guess - I have no data one way or the other, all I know is that there are certain types of SF book that don't interest me.

That is why the Spaceship rules I was working on were modular in nature. That way GMs could adapt them to suit a particular sub-genre or setting. Star Trek warp drives, Traveller jump drives, and Star Wars hyperdrives, are not all the same thing.

So any SciFi supplement is either going to be adaptable to handle different settings, or be dedicated to one setting. The problem with the former is that most people won't take to it unless it has a setting to use it with (as I found out from my playtesters). The problem with the latter is that if someone doesn't like the setting, they will probably not take to the rules.

Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

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I'd say that there's a clear difference between Hard Sci-Fi and Science Fantasy, but for RPG purposes there's also a considerable overlap. Unless one goes to the extremes of either direction, supplements would probably work with both genres.

SGL.

Ef plest master, this mighty fine grub!
b1.gif 116/420. High Priest.

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Guest Smallpokss

Oh, insults as well. Never mind.

No need for any more insults ...

Referring to people that differentiate one form of sci fi from another as "anal" is an insult. So you deserve to be insulted and mocked for your clownish comments in return. >:>

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