It's a battle for the meaning of SciFi - No, wait; I don't want to piss off Harlan Ellison and J. Michael Straczynski, I mean "science fiction" - and it's all Carl Zimmer's fault! How much science do you want with your fiction? That was the question on your lips earlier this week - and the answer may involve Mary Shelley, 17th century fiction, and Moff's sad life. You've been warned.
When Charlie Jane quoted Carl Zimmer suggesting that science fiction movies "are not really about science" and only use "fragments of science," you all found yourselves rather engaged - and not just because of the picture of Jeri Ryan than somewhat inexplicably accompanied the post:
goldfarb: "'Science fiction movies are not really about science.' I'm sure I've said that a dozen times... as painful as it is to even think about - SF really does need a new name."
Grand_Marquis: "I don't think you need 'hard science' to call something sci fi, but SOME kind of reasoned or logical though MUST be involved somewhere. Good lord... It's less of a travesty that there isn't a comprehensive understanding of realistic space travel, than it is that modern sci fi just pulls overused tropes out of its ass left and right like it's some kind of morbidly obese hermit welded to its couch and complaining that it needs more potato chips."
Mister_Adequate: "Anyone who thinks science fiction is about science is shockingly misguided. Science - whether realistic or fantastic - is simply a vehicle used to examine existing issues."
corpore-metal: "Sure, science fiction isn't really about science but anyone who claims that science doesn't matter in science fiction doesn't understand why science fiction and fantasy are different shelves. Really if science didn't matter at all, it would all be fantasy."
twDarkflame: "As long as sci-fi is constant to its own rules and laws, and those laws are clearly ones regular and of a scientific nature, it is still sci-fi. The laws of the universe the sci-fi takes place in *does not need to match our own*. But that dosnt mean they shouldnt be self-consistant, and it dosnt mean it has to be fantasy."
But it wasn't all discussions about what sciene fiction should be; there was also a history lesson, as well:
Belabras: "It's true really. In order to pose interesting questions of story, bad or non-existant science is used to create the situation. SciFi has been moving away from hard science basically since it's inception."
Moff: "Actually, isn't the inception point generally considered, uh, Frankenstein?"
Belabras: "Well, probably The Other World: The Comical History of the States and Empires of the Moon (1657) by Bergerac, but fair enough. What I meant, was that SciFi in the 20th century started out mostly hard science and became more and more story focused. So, really, my original statement is totally false."
The last word, of course, falls to Moff, who came up with the ultimate proof of Zimmer's words:
Substantiation: What always follows the rules of science perfectly and is totally boring? Real life.