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The Villages

Date: 2008-04-28 23:01
Subject: science fiction, what's that about, then? (part whatever it is)
Security: Public
Location:the utility room in the sky
Some time ago, back before the PreCambrian Explosion, when it was just me and Jean Marie and Selkie and the (even then sadly-LJless) OJM rattling around here, with occasional interjections by Lou Anders and brisingamen and peake (remember those days, guys? Before all these boisterous folk started moving in?) I posted a few rather clumsy and embarrassing rants about the state of science fiction today and my rather namby-pamby views on it.
Well, I'm indebted to Neal Asher for pointing me at this article by Richard Morgan (whose novel Black Man I'm currently enjoying enormously) which addresses a few of the points I sort of approached but veered away from. I think the man talks a lot of sense. Any thoughts?
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RealThog: sunset
User: realthog
Date: 2008-04-28 23:47 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

I'm pretty certain it was Damon Knight who defined sf as follows: "You know what it is when you see it."

That's always struck me as the perfect definition. However, far too many skiffers demand something more explicit. When I was working on The Encyclopedia of SF and Clute and Nichols were debating the issue, I suggested this: "SF is the subdivision of fantasy that panders to the scientific pretensions of its readers and writers." I still think that definition works, too. (Nichols didn't. Clute did, which is where The Encyclopedia of Fantasy in a way originated.)
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User: hutch0
Date: 2008-04-28 23:58 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Yep, I'd go with Damon Knight's definition, too. But that's where the bear trap is. Science fiction is what you perceive it to be. And that opens the doors for the turf wars. Clute's definition does the same thing (and you know I love Clute.) Science fiction has never had properly defined borders, unlike detective fiction. No one has said `This is what it is,' or at least nobody with enough clout. There's always been enough wiggle room - and thank god - for the cyberpunks and the mundanes and the weirds and everyone else. There's never been that doubt in detective fiction, never been a searching for the essence. And that's why detective fiction is the central fiction of our age rather than science fiction. It's gone forward without doubts, with a clear conscience, without people slanging each other off in its wake.
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User: calcinations
Date: 2008-04-29 17:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
So what are the borders of detective fiction?
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User: hutch0
Date: 2008-04-29 22:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
As you say further up the thread (thankfully saving me from attempting to justify what was a rather rash and wrongheaded statement on my part) there seems to be a unifying theme to detective fiction, whereas in science fiction there's a kind of chorus of voices, not usually singing in harmony. I think.
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