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Does the quality of the science fiction bother people?

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Does the quality of the science fiction bother people?

Postby jo » 19 Mar 2006, 13:57

Personally, it never bothered me that the books were not perfect science fiction (ie that they were set on planets that we know are not as they were presented, or that there were other inconsistencies about the ship and the landing and such things), but I wondered if for some people the fact that the science fiction element was not of a terribly high quality was a problem. For me, I just saw it as a vehicle for the story - this is what Lewis is writing about and he happens to be setting it on these planets - but maybe die-hard sci-fi fans would have been disappointed by it and would have found it unrealistic. What do people think? Did it trouble you that the science wasn't particularly brilliant, or that the books were set on planets very near our own?
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re: Does the quality of the science fiction bother people?

Postby Theo » 19 Mar 2006, 16:19

Lewis actually responded to this criticism himself, and cheerfully admitted that the "science" part of the books was mostly bollocks. In the essay, "In reply to Professor Haldane", an unfinished reply to Haldane's scathing review of That Hideous Strength, he starts out by admitting flatly that his science is bogus - but he also notes that this science is also fictional and part of an adventure story. He even gets in a nasty dig at Haldane himself, pointing out that some of his essays contain sweeping and inaccurate generalizations about history - (quoting from memory) "the difference being that my faulty science is part of a fictional book, while his faulty history is part of an essay intended to be believed".

The essay - it's reprinted in "In Other Words", if I remember correctly - is very interesting and gives a lot of insights into both the ideas and preoccupations of Lewis at the time of writing THS, but also into how he saw his books. For instance, he refers to the sci-fi trilogy as "light, holiday fiction" and (to me at least) appears slightly bemused that they are being taken so seriously, if only by a hostile critic.
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re: Does the quality of the science fiction bother people?

Postby Erekose » 19 Mar 2006, 16:52

At some point all Science Fiction becomes outdayed.

To reiterate the Asimov theme from elsewhere, he himself (a scientist no less) wrote a series of books which had Venus as a habitable water planet.

So long as the science in an SF (note not Sci-Fi) novel isn't blatently riduclous by the standards which were then known, the main concern is the quality of the story.

venus Equilateral is a series of stories that centre around, would you beleive, valve technology.. vaccum tubes and the like. There's a lot of "techno-babble" in them which today for the most part is sort of.. "yawn.. how ridiculouse" (no Star Trek didn't invent the technobabble concept.. just over used it as plot get outs). BUT the stories are valid, the social ramifications of uncontrolled technology advanced for example as true today as they were then.

I think the same applies to The Space Trilogy. Having recently managed to speed through them.. yes I know sacrilige to read that way but constraints as usual... I found the science to be iffy.. but the stories to be valid.. and thats what counts

(That Hideous STrength for some reason I found to be somewhat eerie and prophetic)
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re: Does the quality of the science fiction bother people?

Postby Sven » 19 Mar 2006, 18:47

Anyone that would like to read Haldane's review of THS can do so at Auld Hornie, F. R. S. It's posted online at Wardrobian Arend Smilde's web site.
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re: Does the quality of the science fiction bother people?

Postby Messenger_of_Eden » 20 Mar 2006, 07:29

It does not bother me one bit--I read it in context of an early 1900s technological idea and I find it delightful. It does not have to make sense--I'm not a rocket scientist. If it offers some reasonable answer to the problems they face, that is good enough for me. :read:
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re: Does the quality of the science fiction bother people?

Postby jo » 20 Mar 2006, 10:58

Yeah I feel no urge to read wonderfully intricate sci fi .. it's not a favourite genre of mine :). I wonder if the trilogy is read more by Lewis fans or by general sci fi fans though?
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re: Does the quality of the science fiction bother people?

Postby Bill » 20 Mar 2006, 14:20

No problem. It would be like criticizing Wells for using "guns" to launch space rockets before aircraft had been invented.

When Lewis wrote his books it was still the generally accepted scientific view I believe, that it was "impossible" to leave the earth's gravitational pull.

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re: Does the quality of the science fiction bother people?

Postby jo » 20 Mar 2006, 14:51

Was it already known that there couldn't possibly be life on Mars at that point? Or was it still plausible that there might be?

I suppose even if it was still plausible most people probably didn't expect it :D
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Re: re: Does the quality of the science fiction bother peopl

Postby Monica » 20 Mar 2006, 15:03

Theo wrote:"A Reply to Professor Haldane"... gives insights into both the ideas and preoccupations of Lewis at the time of writing THS, but also into how he saw his books. For instance, he refers to the sci-fi trilogy as "light, holiday fiction" and (to me at least) appears slightly bemused that they are being taken so seriously, if only by a hostile critic.


Good point from the essay, Theo. The reader oughtn't to be bothered about the pseudo-science, because Lewis himself wasn't. In the essay Lewis writes: "The professor has caught me carving a toy elephant and criticises it as if my aim has been to teach zoology."
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re: Does the quality of the science fiction bother people?

Postby jo » 20 Mar 2006, 15:10

Interesting .. i hadn't realised that he considered them light holiday fiction. I wonder if we make that mistake at other times as well ... thinking that Lewis's worst writing is intended to be on a par with his best, when in reality the worst writing in question was simply a trifle or a game to him (I say this because I think that there's a huge gulf between Lewis's best and worst writing that has sometimes puzzled me).
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re: Does the quality of the science fiction bother people?

Postby The Bigsleep J » 20 Mar 2006, 15:11

Not really. Its the ideas behind the story that interest me, not the science.
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Re: re: Does the quality of the science fiction bother peopl

Postby Erekose » 20 Mar 2006, 15:13

The Bigsleep J wrote:Not really. Its the ideas behind the story that interest me, not the science.


Now why couldn't I put it as consisely as that?
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Re: re: Does the quality of the science fiction bother peopl

Postby The Bigsleep J » 20 Mar 2006, 15:19

Erekose wrote:
The Bigsleep J wrote:Not really. Its the ideas behind the story that interest me, not the science.


Now why couldn't I put it as consisely as that?


Because you're such an expert at the subject. No expert can ever be brief. :)
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Re: re: Does the quality of the science fiction bother peopl

Postby Messenger_of_Eden » 20 Mar 2006, 19:35

jo wrote:Was it already known that there couldn't possibly be life on Mars at that point? Or was it still plausible that there might be?

I suppose even if it was still plausible most people probably didn't expect it :D


There are still people who believe there IS life on Mars.... Image

:lol:

Hmmm, my pic did not work :cry: it was cool too.
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re: Does the quality of the science fiction bother people?

Postby Bill » 20 Mar 2006, 19:54

And we KNOW there is life on Venus; don't forget the Mekon and his Treens!!

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