In our Mind Meld posts, we pose a single question to a slice of the sf/f community and, depending on the question, other folks as well.
This week, we asked a seemingly simple question about the definition of science fiction.
Note: Thanks to my poorly worded question, the answers received varied a bit. I meant to ask for personal definitions of science fiction but instead tripped up relating it back to an already-existing set of definitions. Thus my unfortunate use of “New Guard” became the focus of some responses from folks. Nevertheless, I promise the responses make for good reading.
Also: The turn-out for this question was higher than expected, so expect a Part 2 in the very near future. (UPDATE: Part 2 has been posted.)
is a science fiction writer and former scientist. He lives in Wales. His next novel is the far-future House of Suns
(comming in April 2008 from Orion).
Science Fiction is fiction set in a future which is not inconsistent with our present knowledge of the world, or such knowledge as it exists at the time the work was written. In other words, there must be a logically-consistent roadmap between the present and the future. The future may be the moment immediately after the present, or an arbitrarily distant era. Alternate histories are not therefore science fiction, nor are fantasy works incorporating science fictional tropes. Science fiction works may come to resemble alternate histories or fantasies as they become invalidated by historical developments, but since such works were not intentionally written as AH or fantasy, they are still to be considered science fiction.
Having wracked his brains to be innovative in the novels Ventus
, and Lady of Mazes
, Karl Schroeder decided to relax for a while and write pirate stories, starting with last year’s Sun of Suns
and Queen of Candesce
. Of course, these novels are pirate stories set in a world without gravity — but hey, swashes are still buckled, swords unsheathed, and boarding parties formed in the far-future world of Virga. He’s currently writing the fourth book of the Virga series (no, it’s not a trilogy) and thinking about how to hammer science fiction into some new shapes based on current research into cognitive science. When he occasionally pokes his head out of the trenches, he blogs about this stuff at www.kschroeder.com
I hate this question…
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