The Demise of Science Fiction as the Literature of Ideas

DaveK's picture

I started this entry quite a while ago but a thread in Absolute Write caused me to focus on it. See the thread at:

http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=243634

The thread started by asking if SF is still the literature of ideas. I'm paraphrasing of course. There was a lot of good discussion util we come to my response.

I would say that SF has for the most part abandoned its roots of being about ideas and become mostly space opera. When one of the largest magazines, Asimov's, says, "In general, we’re looking for “character oriented” stories, those in which the characters, rather than the science, provide the main focus for the reader’s interest." the literature of ideas concept is mostly gone.

I'm surprised that no one has as yet mentioned OSC's MICE quotient. I would argue that the M, I, and E are all in the "idea" category.

When reading a story I generally skip over the interpersonal stuff and quote Eleanor Roosevelt, "Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people." From, http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/36354.html

In any case, it is the idea stories I like. A great compliment to me is when one of my readers says - that story made me think. They say write what you want to read, I just have problems finding a place to sell them. I'm sure that my writing ability has nothing to do with that lack.

I did evoke some comments. One that the quote should be interpreted as a warning against gossip. Perhaps so, I don't know what ER was thinking, but I would argue that a lot of current SF is that. It s focused more on the interpersonal than on the science or ideas of the story. There is a difference in how people as a group react to an event and how an individual does.

I do pull some comments from the forum without attributes so please go to the thread to get the full responses.

Finally a plug: Check out this site. If it interests you please consider joining our group.

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Congrats on your W1S1 goals!

Congrats on your W1S1 goals!

Great job meeting your W1S1

Great job meeting your W1S1 goals! Best of luck with May. -- Folly Blaine

Congrats on W1S1! I recall

Congrats on W1S1!

I recall seeing that thread over at AW, but I haven't been in a mood to discuss. I have to disagree with some of the quoted material. I love to read about characters. Ideas are great and all, but pretty much all the good ideas have been sucked up and spat out a hundred times already. And why can't you have the best of both worlds and write character oriented idea stories?

~defcon

I agree that characterization

I agree that characterization is key for me as well. If I'm not invested in the characters, I don't really care how freakin' cool the SF ideas are. On another note, well done on reaching your April Write1Sub1 goals!

Milo James Fowler (www.milo-inmediasres.com)