Saturday, March 1, 2014

Why People Read Science Fiction

By OCAL at
The science fiction reader is a thinker that likes extrapolation. The genre is full of projections into what the unknown future might be like scientifically in a fanciful context. The theoretical elements can be speculated from real science, or hypothesized physical laws.

This reader also likes adventure, action, and speculations about philosophical and political issues. This genre deals with those topics. Though many fans lean more towards hard, or soft sci-fi stories.

There are a lot of sub-genres in sifi. This factor appeals to various reading tastes. The basic division is between hard and soft sci-fi. Hard sci-fi is accurate in its scientific details in chemistry, physics, and astrophysics. It meticulously describes places that forward technology could achieve. It deals with the plausible.That is a working definition that some people would disagree with in some way. This appeals to some readers and puts off others depending on how in depth it is, or if the story ignores the human element.

Soft science fiction relies on economics, psychology, anthropology, and sociology. It explores how people interact in an illusory world. The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction defines it as "science fiction that deals primarily with advancements in, or extrapolations based on, the soft sciences."

In Age of Wonders № 15 D. Hartwell says there are two kinds:  one in which the character is more important than the SF idea; the other focusing on any science other than physics or chemistry (1984).

By OCAL at
P. Anderson Ideas for SF Writer (Sept.) № 24/2 explains: Two streams run through science fiction. The second derives from H.G. Wells. His own ideas were brilliant, but he didn't care how implausible they might be, an invisible man or a time machine or whatever. He concentrated on the characters, their emotions and interactions. Today, we usually speak of these two streams as "hard" and "soft" science fiction (1998).

Whatever the reader's preference in type of sci-fi, it is an escapist habit like reading fiction in general, but more so because the reader escapes into another world as in the concept of world building. The writer has to create a world the reader will accept.

So, people read science fiction because they like exploring imaginary worlds, experiencing adventure and action vicariously, thinking about philosophical ideas in an entertaining way, and speculating about scientific possibilities.

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