a thought about Science Fiction

… put in a seperate post, because it gets confusing when you mix up subjects in blog posts. On second thoughts, cross-posted from my personal blog.

A while ago, everyone was discussing the boundaries between Science Fiction and Fantasy. I don’t know that anyone got a satisfactory answer out of the discussion, but just recently, I was wondering: what is the boundary between *some* space opera and hard SF?

Where does hard SF stop being hard SF and become something else?

Any opinions?


12 comments on “a thought about Science Fiction

    • wel, yes, maybe, but no, really not.

      Ideas stories can be full of made-up pseudo-scientific BS that has nothing to do with reality, and hard SF can have character, but be scientifically sound, if somewhat stretched.

      • But if it’s nto real science, then it’s not science fiction, it’s space fantasy, as far as I am concerned. Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series isn’t science fiction, nor is Elizabeth Moon’s Captain series.

      • yeah, except if it has space ships or futuristic stuff, it will be lobbed in with SF *no matter what*

  1. I guess both those examples (McCaffrey and Moon) are on the edge. But in both cases, the science is there. It’s speculative science, sure. Personally, both of them are favourites – because they’re great stories, written by terrific writers.

    • LOL. Elizabeth Moon is on my TBR list, but the one book I read by Anne McCaffrey I thought was so terrible, I couldn’t finish it. I’ve heard that it was a later book, and they weren’t as good as the earlier ones, and all that, but it will be a while before I’ll venture back into that direction.

      Anyway, to me, those two writers are very clearly on the fantasy side of space opera.

  2. Hard sci fi is strongly rooted in the science of it all. You’re never going to see stuff in hard sci fi that couldn’t be explained somehow without the science. Hard sci fi is all the great grandfathers of sci fi writing like Asimov and Clarke, who were all science thinking people. Rendezvous with Rama is entirely hard. Sure, it’s an alien space ship, but it follows what we know of science and its possibilities.

    Space opera in my opinion is to do with scope. House of the Suns (forget the author, Reynolds?) is great recent space opera. Mass Effect, the game, to a degree is space opera. Its all about the epic scope and the mood of it I think. Characters and story. Revenge of the Sith was (albeit a shit Star Wars film) great space opera. Dump in millions of ships aplenty and sweeping war, and you got space opera.

  3. More on the topic in the post linked below. A consistency with reality (as we experience it) lends to plausibility, which moves a story to the hard sci-fi end of the applied imagination (writing) scale. One aspect of plausibility might be…things break, have flaws. FTL drives may be fantastic, but let it break and your feet are back on the ground. That may make the Millenium Falcon the realest thing in all Star Warsdom.


  4. Hard sf seems to me to have to be at the leading edge of science, what I think of as one end of the spectrum. The other end is psuedo science or fictional science. Speculative science in the middle? Because isn’t speculative science the stuff that might one day be discovered to be real?

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