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"Deal-breaker" Scientific Inaccuracies


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Showing 101-125 of 155 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on Aug 3, 2012 7:50:20 PM PDT
Tom Rogers says:
The best SF treatment of increasing intelligence I've read postulated that destroying the brain in just the right way was the easiest way to go: Camp Concentration: A Novel

It would probably be of interest to the Brajiista:)

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 3, 2012 8:06:26 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 3, 2012 9:08:01 PM PDT
P. S. Wright says:
Are you actually attacking me as if I am trying to avoid "the work" to get smarter? Seriously? This is a thread about BOOKS and movies, not my real life. I have two degrees and plan to get my advanced degree soon. I have spent years doing all sorts of puzzles and games and, oh yes, writing and reading, to expand my mind. I've studied Arabic and genetics and physiology and neurology.
eta: edited to remove last sentence plus a little, which was in reaction to a misunderstanding.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 3, 2012 8:11:43 PM PDT
PSW

I'm not attacking you, I just think the desire for pixie dust is wrongheaded. You merely spoke of a wish fulfillment fantasy. I had no other basis with which to work.

I think what you are doing is great, working instead of wishing.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 3, 2012 8:48:34 PM PDT
Good grief Mark.
This is the Science fiction forum. A type of fiction devoted to unexplored possibilities. And yet you are talking as if we already know absolutely everything there is to know about the human brain. Perhaps you need a blood letting to draw out some of the foul humors. I have been assured by historical texts that an imbalance of humors is responsible for all illnesses. And the authors were absolutely certain of their conclusions.

Posted on Aug 3, 2012 9:02:23 PM PDT
Two SF works exploring increased intelligence (with little or no real extrapolated science behind them) were Daniel Keyes's "Flowers for Algernon" and Olaf Stapledon's "Sirius" (and "Odd John"? or was that more super powers?), all excellent.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 3, 2012 9:06:33 PM PDT
P. S. Wright says:
Sorry it took me so long to reply. I'm using my 4G for access and right now it's not even on 3G level. {:-(

Glad it was just a misunderstanding. Don't want to ruin a great conversation with silliness. I shall edit my above post.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 3, 2012 9:09:49 PM PDT
P. S. Wright says:
Loved Algernon though I never connected it in my mind with science fiction, probably because we read it in "Literature" class.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 3, 2012 9:10:43 PM PDT
P. S. Wright says:
That sounds really interesting. I've wish listed it. As soon as I finish off the 3 I'm currently piddling around with, I can start ordering a few more. Thanks for the rec!

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 4, 2012 6:51:03 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 4, 2012 6:51:41 AM PDT
Interesting. I've always thought of Algernon (the short version) as a prototypical science fiction story, exploring the human consequences of an extrapolated scientific advancement. (As for SF bona fides, it was originally published in F&SF, and won a Hugo!)

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 4, 2012 9:58:32 AM PDT
P. S. Wright says:
One the few stories that can actually make me cry. Well, there was a part of The Harper Hall of Pern or was it another... where the Master Harper dies?

I know some people consider flying dragons that actually "breathe" fire to be a scientific impossibility and therefore a dealbreaker. I find McCaffery's explanation just plausible enough to accept it. Of course, it helps that she's such an awesome story teller that you get wrapped up and forget about the implausible premise.

Posted on Aug 4, 2012 10:09:23 AM PDT
As a reader I overlook most of the fictional facts and just enjoy the book.

My question is: should the genre be "science fiction" or "fictional science"?

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 4, 2012 10:24:16 AM PDT
"is to increase the number of synapses"

or dendrites

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 4, 2012 10:28:33 AM PDT
Meh. Harry Potter won a Hugo (or was it a Nebula?)

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 4, 2012 10:52:46 AM PDT
Most of your comments are well taken, but they illustrate the difference between scientifically expressed "reality" and "dramatic license".
In "reality", humanity will NEVER reach any star system other than our own, because the sheer logistics of sending humans (not unmanned probes which are barely possible) to another star system would defeat any realistic attempt. Decades of travel time to the system and an extremely unlikely chance that any planets there would support human life, without another impossible job: terraforming.

Since all that is true, none of the other objections even matter. But if you want to tell a story, you ignore a lot of these realities.

Posted on Aug 4, 2012 11:04:31 AM PDT
Kenneth,

"In "reality", humanity will NEVER reach any star system other than our own..."

I don't know. If things get bad enough, someone might try it. Stephen Baxter's Ark was a pretty good novel where the Earth has basically become "Waterworld" and humans try to escape [avoid the first in the series, "Flood" as totally boring].

The whole idea of things like Kepler and the [now defunct] Terrestrial Planet Finder is to find possibilities so that someday we can send probes and then far future a mission. See-> http://www.theweek.co.uk/politics/10421/100-year-starship-nasa%E2%80%99s-plan-colonise-galaxy

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 4, 2012 11:04:58 AM PDT
Never is a long time.

Generation ships are theoretically possible, if not economically possibe for the 21st century.

Unmanned probes would tell you which planets could sustain life without terraforming, so you're not wasting your time travelling to unviable systems.

On my "to be read list" is Kim Stanley Robinson's "Red Mars/Green Mars/Blue Mars" trilogy. Terraforming may not be completely impossible.

And who knows, maybe we can make stable wormholes like "Stargate" or Hamilton's "Commonwealth" series.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 4, 2012 11:24:39 AM PDT
One of the problems any writer has is point of view. Let me take an example from the third post: "Every shuttle/pod whatever - people stick to the floor instead of floating around, with no explanation of how this "artificial gravity" is achieved."

There are two possibilities:
First, the people take the technology for granted and give it no more thought than I do when I turn on a light switch. If we are in the mind of someone who lives in the society, he may give no thought to it, and any story that is shown through his eyes shouldn't discuss it.

Second, the people are of a more primitive background and don't know they are supposed to float around, (baring technology) and thus don't think about it. Even if they know, the existence of a space ship might be more of a wonder, and thus they wouldn't think about free fall vs. gravity.

The author can solve the problem by casually mentioning the artificial gravity, but attention to that kind of detail may not be the focus of the story.

I do get annoyed when I read stories that take place on a planet where there are predators everywhere, outnumbering the prey. I also dislike societies that couldn't function, like those where the majority of the population is engaged in warfare.

I haven't read all of this thread, so I apologize if this is a repeat.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 4, 2012 11:55:53 AM PDT
P. S. Wright says:
I'm always amused when people say we can't terraform. We've been doing it since man started digging in the dirt. Of course you mean wholesale transformation of nonliving rock and dust into livable terrain for humans. It's just that, it is *not* impossible. Difficult, more expensive than it would ever be worth, and incredibly time consuming, but it can be done.

There are in fact other planets out there enough like earth to support human life. Finding them, then actually getting there, I think would be the largest hurdles. Their existence is basically assumed by modern science, given the sheer number of similar rocks and their suns, it's bound to happen, and a few likely candidates have already been identified.

Anything we think we cannot do today, some future human will laugh at us about. How far in the future? Ask your Magic 8 Ball, I just work here.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 4, 2012 11:58:29 AM PDT
P. S. Wright says:
I agree Flowers For Algernon could easily fit in the science fiction genre, not even the big umbrella, the much smaller traditional one. Science Fiction isn't all space travel and robots. The manipulation of human development, including intelligence, is a legitimate field of scientific research, and therefore ripe for exploration in science fiction. The book didn't deal with as many of the scientific principles behind the "research" as it did with the ethical and human implications, but it did base its story on real world principles and extropolation from known facts.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 4, 2012 12:07:03 PM PDT
P. S. Wright says:
Good points, all. When it come to populations that primarily engage most of their people in warfare they have existed, they will again. I think the distinction may be whether they are only engaged in warfare, or so much so that basic living matters aren't dealt with.

How well they succeed is determined by everything from how they are organized, to how many other populations that can "borrow" from to maintain themselves.

Usually, they succeed by giving every member two hats (or more) so that the archer is also the cook, the sergeant at arms is also the historian, the gun crews can also bring in the herd and the women manning the defensive wall are the same ones working the rice paddies or wheat fields or corn. Chilren are "tended to" by incorporating them into the training and practical functions at an early age so that they are less a burden than a back up force and source of menial labor.

People are so adaptable, they can form and reform their societies to accomplish almost any longterm goal.

Posted on Aug 4, 2012 1:25:55 PM PDT
Actually, fantasy has more of a problem with endless warfare than science fiction, but I read a short story recently where the resources given to warfare didn't seem to leave enough for the highly technological society portrayed.

It is a good point that the people can wear two hats. From casual, uneducated reading, I understand many societies have militias with a surprisingly large percentage of people who are trained to fight. Israel and Switzerland come to mind as modern examples.

As a side note, this tends to work better in a democracy, because usually dictatorships don't like trained, armed people in their country who can't vote them out of office and might try other means.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 4, 2012 1:40:50 PM PDT
P. S. Wright says:
That last sounds like a great premise for a book. Two societies at war for exceptionally long, both highly involved in war production and combat, one is a dictatorship, the other democracy... Sounds a little like the cold war, or sort of 1984?

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 4, 2012 7:45:02 PM PDT
Ashwood says:
Kenneth L. Dawson Jr. says: In "reality", humanity will NEVER reach any star system other than our own, because the sheer logistics of sending humans (not unmanned probes which are barely possible) to another star system would defeat any realistic attempt. Decades of travel time to the system and an extremely unlikely chance that any planets there would support human life, without another impossible job: terraforming.

Ash : If we can develop decent AI, the humans can travel as frozen cargo (or even frozen embryos). Once they reach a new system, it might be easier to create space habitats rather than trying to terraform hostile planets.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 5, 2012 8:02:35 AM PDT
< Meh. Harry Potter won a Hugo (or was it a Nebula?) >

Yoiks. Actually "HP and the Gobbet of Fire" got a Hugo for best novel in 2001, and "HP: Dead Hollow" was nominated for a best juvie Nebula in 2007.

But the point wasn't that Algernon's Hugo proved it was a great work, but that it indicated acceptance a a work of SF/Fantasy.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 5, 2012 11:47:32 AM PDT
It sounds to me like he's talking about what might be cool in a science fiction story, not about what an awful American he personally is.

People suddenly acquiring abilities they didn't have before, or a sudden increase in an existing ability, is very much the stuff of science fiction. An experiment makes somebody telepathic; an accident gives somebody an absolutely perfect memory; somebody invents a time machine. These are all solid SF premises, on either side of the Atlantic. Or the Pacific, for that matter.
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Discussion in:  Science Fiction forum
Participants:  38
Total posts:  155
Initial post:  Jul 16, 2012
Latest post:  Aug 8, 2012

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