Goto Thread: PreviousNext
Goto:  Message ListNew TopicSearchLog In
Goto Page: 12AllNext
Current Page: 1 of 2
Science Fantasy, the richest of all fiction genres
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 18 August, 2020 04:42PM
Science Fantasy has always been my favorite and most glorified fiction genre. It brings together the best from different worlds. It enhances both Science Fiction and Fantasy, generating an interesting interchange between these two, that is naturally harmonious and beneficial. Science and fantasy do belong together! An often recurrent theme, seems to be decaying culture; for a society that becomes over-reliant upon materialism, technological inventions, and machines, (which it is prone to do), cannot hold up infinitely. It will deteriorate, and must retrace its steps to find a balance with the spiritual, magic and supernatural. Another point, which Arthur C. Clarke held, is that "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic".

Clark Ashton Smith and Jack Vance have been my favorite writers along with Lovecraft.

But, hmm, ...eehhh, I have never read Gene Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun, or Michael Moorcock's Elric, Hawkmoon, and Corum series, or Leigh Brackett's The Sword of Rhiannon. Would you believe!!! I have been aware of their names since the 1980s, but did not pick up their books. I guess it is about high time to get going, huh!

Do you have any particular thoughts and passions about these or other Science Fantasy writers, or about the genre in general?

Re: Science Fantasy, the richest of all fiction genres
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 18 August, 2020 08:33PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> ... a society
> that becomes over-reliant upon materialism,
> technological inventions, and machines, (which it
> is prone to do), cannot hold up infinitely. It
> will deteriorate, and must retrace its steps to
> find a balance with the spiritual, magic and
> supernatural. ...

And the other way around, a primitive, less intelligent society without science and technology, that base its thinking only on magic and spirit, will develop religions which lead to a superstitious worldview, and senseless fanatical behavior.

So both science and the spiritual benefit from each other, and need to be mutually balanced.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 18 Aug 20 | 08:41PM by Knygatin.

Re: Science Fantasy, the richest of all fiction genres
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 19 August, 2020 03:38AM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> An often recurrent
> theme, seems to be decaying culture; for a society
> that becomes over-reliant upon materialism,
> technological inventions, and machines, (which it
> is prone to do), cannot hold up infinitely.
>

Why? Because the technology takes over, and becomes a self-going monster. First subtly and imperceptibly (as we can note in today's society that runs without wisdom of direction or the insight of super-natural truths), and in the end literally so, like the Science Fiction writers John F. Campbell and A. E. van Vogt displayed in their future nightmare visions.

Re: Science Fantasy, the richest of all fiction genres
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 19 August, 2020 09:28AM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Knygatin Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > An often recurrent
> > theme, seems to be decaying culture; for a
> society
> > that becomes over-reliant upon materialism,
> > technological inventions, and machines, (which
> it
> > is prone to do), cannot hold up infinitely.
> >
>
> Why? Because the technology takes over, and
> becomes a self-going monster.

I respectfully offer a somewhat different interpretation.

I am not comfortable in thinking that "the technology takes over, and becomes a self-going monster". This anthropomorphizes technology, making it something akin to a sentient entity. I don't see it that way.

Technology is the collection of knowledge that allows humans to alter their environment. It comes from within humankind, and is its creation. Mankind *uses* it, and if it "takes over", it is because mankind wills it so.

Here's what happens, I think...

In my view, much can be explained by the mechanism of species evolution. Humankind, as well as most animate entities (maybe all, for all I know...) has evolved toward caloric efficiency: greatest average gain from minimum amount of energy expended. Over time, those individuals who hewed closest to this have trended towards greater reproductive success during times of varied resource availability within their constant physical environment.

OK, we like to get as much product for as little energy as possible, and this is due to evolutionary forces--that's the shorter way to think of it.

Technology offers a constant flow of techniques/devices that, on a basic and instinctive level, appeal to the reptile brain of the collection of humanity by offering more for less. And at declining levels of expenditure to obtain this popular technology, hence the deep penetration of technology into all societies/cultures.

Diverging, there are some really grim and ironic implications along this path: that technology was created by those who are best able to defer gratification in favor of long term gain--which leads to the idea that mental capacity is a pre-requisite to the ability to defer gratification for long-term advantage. The converse is--GULP!--hinted at, too: that overuse of technology to gain immediate satisfaction is a trait of the less intelligent.

This would mean that most of mankind is too dumb to be allowed access to technology, and that it is widely available to them thru the mechanism of a capitalist society. That technologies were invented by those most capable of using them in a limited fashion, but these same technologies are over-used by those with insufficient intellect to resist overusing them.

Gosh! This is just *awful*, isn't it? :^)

To avoid this it takes the exercise of heroic amounts of will power--sort of like people who exercise regularly when they don't have to, for the reason that within their understanding it is better for them in the long term--to resist or reverse further penetration by technology. Now, there are also those who exercise for reasons of personal vanity, and in fact the rationale is mixed in most case: part vanity, part health consciousness.

So really, what we have here is the human failure to defer gratification in favor of quick and easy results.

Move along, folks: nothing to see here. No evil, merely a bunch of lazy apes... ;^)


> First subtly and
> imperceptibly (as we can note in today's society
> that runs without wisdom of direction or the
> insight of super-natural truths), and in the end
> literally so, like the Science Fiction writers
> John F. Campbell and A. E. van Vogt displayed in
> their future nightmare visions.

How about this: we put technology under the control of a priesthood: currently, it is created by something like a priesthood, but they immediately surrender control of it. It would then be "magic" and hence unavailable to the common man, except as granted by the priestly hierarchy. The expansion of technology into the great mass of humanity would then be driven by a select consortium rather than willy-nilly, by market forces.

I realize that all this may seem like a snide trap, like "A Modest Proposal", but I don't mean it that way. I mean it as an exercise in imaginative speculation.

I mean, that's why we all read sci-fi and fantasy, isn't it? :^)

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 19 Aug 20 | 09:50AM by Sawfish.

Re: Science Fantasy, the richest of all fiction genres
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 19 August, 2020 10:12AM
Sawfish, that was an interesting convoluted interpretation, ... and, I am not sure it stands all in opposition to mine. I agree on the main points.

As for technology becoming a self-going monster, I have read enough Science Fiction and scientific articles, to become convinced that theoretically there is nothing in principle to prevent that machines in the future can made so advanced, that they become self-repairing, regenerating, and can be programmed to protect themselves from harm directed against them. A company called Boston Dynamics has already constructed robots that are quite good at handling physical abuse.

Re: Science Fantasy, the richest of all fiction genres
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 19 August, 2020 10:50AM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Sawfish, that was an interesting convoluted
> interpretation, ... and, I am not sure it stands
> all in opposition to mine. I agree on the main
> points.

Yes, it was orthogonal rather than in opposition.

>
> As for technology becoming a self-going monster, I
> have read enough Science Fiction and scientific
> articles, to become convinced that theoretically
> there is nothing in principle to prevent that
> machines in the future can made so advanced, that
> they become self-repairing, regenerating, and can
> be programmed to protect themselves from harm
> directed against them. A company called Boston
> Dynamics

This is a human-run company, right? Humans created the technology you describe? There is, so far, no "self-generating" technology?

Not saying there never will be, but we're not there yet, so far as I know.

> has already constructed robots that are
> quite good at handling physical abuse.

How so?

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: Science Fantasy, the richest of all fiction genres
Posted by: Cathbad (IP Logged)
Date: 19 August, 2020 11:05AM
I've always had a soft spot for Science Fantasy, albeit of the old school variety - but maybe there isn't any other kind? The Maze of Maal Dweb is a pretty much perfect example. You have a sorcerer living in lofty isolation, but the way to his retreat is guarded by giant robots and there are four moons in the sky. So you have a very familiar fantasy concept - a sorcerer in his citadel - but with a few touches that are wholly SF. The Hawkmoon books are another case in point. The Granbretan have a technological edge, but this is presented in much the same way as Ming the Merciless's superior technology is presented in Flash Gordon; not as hard science, but as something other than just 'magic'.

Not sure if there is any equivalent today - unless you count SteamPunk - and it's years since I've seen a book categorised as 'Science Fantasy' (as a lot of Moorcock's books were).

Re: Science Fantasy, the richest of all fiction genres
Posted by: Hespire (IP Logged)
Date: 19 August, 2020 12:28PM
I have little to say about technology, as a sort of barbarian myself, but am reading this discussion with much investment!

Science fantasy always intrigued me in today's world of strict genre categorization, though I prefer its earlier roots, when fantasy and science-fiction weren't strongly defined genres. The best science fantasy, for me, are stories that don't try so hard to represent any genre, but rather use the tropes of science and sorcery seamlessly, so that neither genre sorely sticks out, creating a natural world rather than a novelty. Clark Ashton Smith and Jack Vance, I think, handle this balance pretty well.

Other examples of CAS' science fantasy include "A Voyage to Sfanomoƫ" (savants travel from fabulous Atlantis to alien Venus on a vessel they built), "The Door to Saturn" (a wizard travels to Saturn, which is full of creatures out of a medieval manuscript, but are revealed to be quite mundane and even disenchanting), and "The Light From Beyond" (all details can be explained by science-fictional terms, but are portrayed as a mystical fantasy, like the fairylands CAS described in some of his poems).

I like that many of CAS' stories feel less like pure fantasy or science-fiction and more like worlds in which anything is just naturally possible. Even his Martian stories display mystic tendencies, and had he written more of them they could have been quite wild. His incomplete "Mnemoka" involved a guilt-ridden space traveler and a Martian drug that causes memories to haunt him, and the premise for his unwritten "God's Tale" concerned a Martian idol having a technical conversation with an Aztec idol.

I'll have to give the Hawkmoon books a try, from that tantalizing description!

Re: Science Fantasy, the richest of all fiction genres
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 19 August, 2020 01:50PM
Sawfish Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Knygatin Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> > A company called Boston
> > Dynamics has already constructed robots that are
> > quite good at handling physical abuse.
>
> How so?


This is one of Boston Dynamics's earliest efforts. Very entertaining and startling to see how this robot dog struggles through obstacles, and abuse from its makers.
Robot Dog

Here are some of their more recent efforts. The progress is impressive. I think Boston Dynamics have contracts with the military, and some robots are meant to be used as pack mules and others as soldiers. A few adjustments in the programming, and they will go to attack. Imagine where this might lead in a few decades, or centuries! When production reaches the factory assembly line. It is scary. This is yet in its early child stage. But will entail great responsibility or potentially lead to catastrophe.
Boston Dynamics

I see Man creating in the likeness of God, and our intelligence and persistence is capable of advancing us closer and closer towards the essence of divine creation. By the simple act of procreation, we are able to make self-going life; so we are already creating divinely. And by understanding biology, and cellular and medical science, and technology, humans increase direct control, and are soon able to create artificially shaped organic life in laboratories. Another fascinating science is nanotechnology, which can build mechanical microstructures from molecule building blocks, to fit and be expanded into larger structures. They may be used as refinement for future robots - artificial neural connections, flexible breathing skin, etc., or whatever the specific requirements would be in individual cases.

Re: Science Fantasy, the richest of all fiction genres
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 19 August, 2020 02:39PM
Yes, Hawkmoon sounds appealing. I really should have tried Moorcock long ago. But I didn't know he wrote Science Fantasy, I thought Jack Vance was unique in this. Then I discovered C. A. Smith, and gratifyingly saw similarities to Vance, which in no way were inferior, but equal or even superior in their archaic archetypal form, using supreme language. As to who of these two is the greatest prose artist, I think it's a draw. Possibly Vance wins for his wilder structural experimentation, with interesting notes (I don't know the correct word for it) introducing chapters and at the bottom of pages, and variations in paragraphing.

Re: Science Fantasy, the richest of all fiction genres
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 19 August, 2020 09:01PM
The robots are impressive, but we need to get an accurate idea of where they actually are in development.

[phys.org]

[www.wired.co.uk]

Impressive, but not what you seem to think they are.

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: Science Fantasy, the richest of all fiction genres
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 19 August, 2020 10:32PM
Sawfish Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The robots are impressive, but we need to get an
> accurate idea of where they actually are in
> development.
>
> [phys.org]
> y-robot-videos.html
>
> [www.wired.co.uk]
> botics-roboticist-how-to-watch
>
> Impressive, but not what you seem to think they
> are.


Naturally. That is exactly what I think they are; and where in development. Those links do not really debunk, they reveal the long gradual process of reaching these results. All science and creative work is like that. 1000 failures, then 1 success and call for celebration. This technology is yet in its early child stage. But more than impressive enough for me.

Anyway, I got really off topic bringing this up. The subject of Science Fantasy seemed to motivate it. Let's get back to imaginative literature.

Re: Science Fantasy, the richest of all fiction genres
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 20 August, 2020 09:11AM
Fair enough.

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: Science Fantasy, the richest of all fiction genres
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 20 August, 2020 12:06PM
What I have read about Moorcock, Elric is said to be his finest fantasy (Science Fantasy?) creation. But Hawkmoon is also well regarded, and the first trilogy of Corum. He is not known for particularly refined prose, but is famous for straightforward, very rich and unhampered imagination.

Any fans here of Wolfe's Book of the New Sun? I hear it is demanding reading, but rewarding.

Re: Science Fantasy, the richest of all fiction genres
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 20 August, 2020 01:20PM
Hespire Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The best science fantasy, for me, are stories that
> don't try so hard to represent any genre, but
> rather use the tropes of science and sorcery
> seamlessly, so that neither genre sorely sticks
> out, creating a natural world rather than a
> novelty. Clark Ashton Smith and Jack Vance, I
> think, handle this balance pretty well.
>

Perhaps my favorite Science Fantasy book cover is this one: The Pnume (Mayflower). A medieval looking painting, that beautifully blends in a fight with a dragon* at the center, and at the back, not too obtrusively, a spaceship or shuttle has landed. It kind of embodies Science Fantasy for me.


*That dragon creature could also, almost be, in my imagination, one of the "great crimson-wattled things, half dragon" guarding the portals of Namirrha's house in "The Dark Eidolon". I just love it when I (think I can) see spillovers between Vance and Smith, affirming their "mystical" affinity; it becomes a sort of triumph over the denials of their literary connection, which even Jack Vance was uncomfortable to fully admit. And CAS likely never even knew who Vance was, which I find sad; separated by being born of different generations.

Goto Page: 12AllNext
Current Page: 1 of 2


Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.
Top of Page