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Well Read- by icon_see_you

D*C Panel Idea # 2

What Is Science Fiction?

Given how exercised the mailing list seems to be getting about the above question, I think we can fill an hour - or more - with some very interesting arguments over definitions and gradations (i.e., hard versus soft versus fantasy) and TV-Guide-style ignorance. And I'm reasonably sure we can talk about this face-to-face without killing each other. *g*

So - listies, what say you?

Comments

There's a very simple definition that a friend of mine once used when arguing with another friend about the status of 1984. He turned to me and asked "Have you read it?" and, when I said yes, turned back to our friend in triumph: "She's read it! It can't be science fiction!"

In fact, 1984 does satisfy one of the definitions I've come up with over the years - or maybe it's not a definition, just a manifesto of what I want science fiction to do. It's an examination of our own society through a refracting mirror, which distorts one aspect of our lives so that we consider it more clearly.
It's an examination of our own society through a refracting mirror, which distorts one aspect of our lives so that we consider it more clearly.

I think that's a pretty good start. But do you believe there's a difference between a show like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and a show like Star Trek? And if so, what is the nature of that difference? I think both shows, in different ways, attempted to satisfy your above definition... yet I would still put them in somewhat different categories.
I don't think I'd classify Buffy as science fiction, which may just be because I didn't watch enough of it to work out what aspect of society was being distorted, or may be because I'm using other guidelines to separate SF and Fantasy.
BtVS was, in many ways, an exaggerated examination of adolescence in American society. It's subtle, but I think it counts as a distortion.