The Odd Blog

And when our cubs grow / We'll show you what war is good for

Scifi Stuff

Posted by That Other Mike on 08/01/2008

OK, before I go into my favourite scifi of all time (naturally in my opinion only, list subject to change), I’d like to be a bit geeky about it and post a few thoughts, not necessarily right order in the. Bear with me.

A lot of people get a bit confused about science fiction: they include stuff like the inestimable The Handmaid’s Tale or Aliens, both narratives which seem on the face of it to be prime candidates. A lot of stuff that gets lumped into scifi is really speculative fiction where the science is just handy background or a useful deus ex machine – like Star Trek.

I would argue that the real meaning of science fiction is stories where science drives the story, where it acts as an extra character – it not only enables the story, it is the story.

In light of that, stuff like I Am Legend is science fiction; Star Trek is not.

A little more of Star Trek: it’s utopian or adventure fiction by turns, with the occasional scifi element thrown in for funsies. Gene Roddenbury originally pitched it as “Wagon Train to the stars”, and he was right; nobody ever calls Wagon Train horse fiction.

Ok, I’m done with the geekery. On with the show.

My top five in books:

  • I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson – original novel.
  • Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood, notwithstanding that she doesn’t like to call it scifi. Everyone has a few novelists whom they don’t simply like but adore; Atwood is one of mine. I can even forgive her becoming a little plot-samey in the past few years.
  • Ringworld, by Larry Niven. Thin characters, not much plot… But a ringworld!
  • Lord of Light, by Roger Zelazny.
  • The Gods Themselves, by Isaac Asimov

One Response to “Scifi Stuff”

  1. I’ve just read a few pages of the Asimov on Amazon. That, at the very least, is going in the shopping basket. (I Am Legend is already there.)

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