Bad Science In Good Fiction - Page 5
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  1. #41
    Quote Originally Posted by ironpony View Post
    Oh okay, on the special features of the DVD, they said that the movie was called Silent Running, such as when submarines run silent to not be detected by sonar.

    And even though the science would have been disproven in Frankenstein, it would still cast a lot of disbelief and doubt, and they even made it into a movie and updated the setting to the 1930s, and still kept the same science, of sowing parts together. What does Mary Shelley being 19 have to do with it?
    I think Kevin answered that last sufficiently. They kept the same science because that's what audiences were familiar with, as it's part of the story. Also spectacular sfx.
    And even though the science would have been disproven in Frankenstein, it would still cast a lot of disbelief and doubt
    What does this mean?
    You can get DNA by swabbing dead cells off the surface of a table, but you then have to examine the DNA. You're examining the Lemon Pledge.
    Try googling 'hard science fiction'. You'll find oodles of scientific accuracy, a goodly portion of which is/was written by actual scientists like Gregory Benford, David Brin, Carl Sagan...some of the best hard sf was written by high-school science teacher Hal Clement and self-taught polymath Frederik Pohl. That's a start. You'll find mathematicians like Rudy Rucker and Larry Niven, humanists like Ursula LeGuin and Alice Sheldon, feminists like Joanna Russ...and more.
    DVD jacket copy is not authoritative. The shine may be lemon good, but it covers up the real wood.





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  2. #42
    Frankenstein is not a science-fiction novel. Science-fiction, as a genre, didn't exist until about a century later. Frankenstein is a fable, a morality tale. As such, the conventions of 'science fiction' do not apply. The book has been retroactively lumped into the SF category, but I'd bet Shelly wasn't too worried about being scientifically accurate.
    “Fools” said I, “You do not know
    Silence like a cancer grows
    Hear my words that I might teach you
    Take my arms that I might reach you”
    But my words like silent raindrops fell
    And echoed in the wells of silence : Simon & Garfunkel


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  3. #43
    Terry makes a very good point. Who dictates the genre of a story? Who even dictates what genres exist at any time? When I wrote my novel I didn't plan to write within the framework of any science fiction genre. It simply happened that the story embodied science that was fictional because the science wasn't what the story was fundamentally about. I read a really hard science fiction story and I found it boring because nothing unusual happened despite fantastic things happening, but they were fantastic in the sense of being outside of everyday experience rather than founded in fantasy, which is how much of science strikes most of us.

    On another thread someone recently asked how to avoid a character in their story simply phoning for help on their mobile phone, which is what would most likely happen in that situation in reality nowadays. My answer was that society strives so hard for perfection, finding stock solutions for every anticipated problem, that it is difficult for a writer to construct any intriguing story without relying on flaws of some kind that diverge from reality. Given that, I don't understand why science buffs insist on seeking out flaws in science fiction when the genre title includes that key word "fiction". Is science such a sacred cow that a writer can, and indeed is advised to, make his characters seriously flawed, grotesques even, in order to create his story but must not deviate from science as accurate as he can make it through painstaking research? Why? A writer creates a story by asking himself the question "What if ... ?" and there are no constraints that I can see on what that question might be.

    The film The Martian apparently contained a great deal of hard science, but it was criticised by hard science buffs because the initial premise was flawed. The situation was brought about by a storm on Mars, but the atmosphere is actually so thin that a storm involving high winds wouldn't do any structural damage and, even if it could, that factor would have been taken into account when planning the expedition as society always strives to be perfect. In reality when a manned expedition to Mars is planned it is likely that the plan will include everyone coming back again and the qualification for being part of the planning team won't simply be that one criticises science fiction stories.

    For some reason basing a story on a flaw in the science rather than a flaw in a character's personality is frowned upon by hard sci-fi buffs. This is strange because when my angel and I watch films or read books we are more critical of flaws in the characters than anything else. During television programmes we shout at the screen that a stereotypically wayward child should have been drowned at birth or that a particular person in a position of authority or responsibility simply couldn't have been put there in reality because they were so inherently flawed, and yet this is apparently how allegedly "good" stories are created. I'm sorry, but that mystifies me. Humans are only as chaotic as the rest of the universe, no more.

    Society creates its own reality by eliminating the flaws and equally it creates its fiction by putting them in. Just accept that.

    In such discussions I always come back to Arthur C. Clarke's book The Fountains of Paradise, in which he applied his usual diligence to scientific accuracy but introduced flawed geography, a shortcoming which he openly admitted. The story involves building a space elevator from a mountain top in Sri Lanka to a satellite in geostationary orbit above it as an energy efficient way of getting into orbit. The flaw is that geostationary orbits are conventionally over the equator but Sri Lanka isn't on the equator and Clarke only based the story there because that was where his home was. His solution was to relocate Sri Lanka to fit in with the science! So, apparently it's to hell with the geography and everything else in a story so long as we don't violate any of the science. That seems a distorted way of looking at fiction to me.
    'Sharing an experience creates a reality.' Create a new reality today.
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    'The most difficult criticism that a writer has to comprehend is silence.' So speak up.

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