science fiction 

by Paul Niquette
Copyright ©1997 Sophisticated:The Magazine. All rights reserved.

    science fiction Fiction in which scientific discoveries and developments form elements of plot or background; especially, a work of fiction based on prediction of future scientific possibilities.
The juxtaposition of utterly contradictory terms: science and fiction?
Come on! The stuff is fiction. The scientific elements are incidental, same as the geographical settings or historical events surrounding any story.
Not constrained by the canons of evidence and proposition, authors of science fiction vary widely in purpose, knowledge, and qualifications. They misuse the sciences while appropriating their aura.
    In a word, that's cynical.
What bothers me about science fiction is the appearance of plausibility, derived from pretentious terminology and from themes suffused with a superficial allegiance to the methods and ethics of science.
    In a word, that's phony.
Science fiction readers must judge for themselves if there has been careful and informed extrapolation from known facts and principles or if instead the author took off on a flight of farfetched fantasies.
"The most essential gift for a good writer," said Ernest Hemingway, "is a built-in, shock-proof shit detector."
"Sensible constraints" might be a less salty way to say it. And no sensible constraints apply to science fiction. Instead, the authentication burden gets shifted to the reader, concept by concept.
    Writing science fiction is like playing a game without any rules or rhyming gibberish and calling it poetry.
Thus you have...
  • amenable atmospheres on every planet,
  • spacecraft gridlock,
  • piloting by humanoid robots,
  • acoustical echoes in space,
  • computers that emit sparks when overloaded,
  • credit-card time travel,
  • microscopic people speaking in basso profundo voices,
  • green-blooded life-forms that radiate force-fields and digest teflon,
  • antigravity hover-craft with heavy objects inside,
  • teleportation booths,
  • hot and cold running ESP, and
  • enough supernatural vulgarity to scandalize a stadium full of psychics.
{Reader Response}

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