The Tradeoff Between Science and Story

See on Scoop.itNature Conservation & Science Fiction: #EcoSciFi

In today’s comments we fretted over the definition of average, oohed and aahed over some DIY costume skills, and (with the help of Gravity’s science advisor) teased out the precise intersection of science and story-telling.

Garry Rogers‘ insight:

When the science is inaccurate the story is no longer science fiction.  It becomes fantasy.  That’s fine, but even fantasy has rules.  Departure from accuracy without new rules can get you bad reviews.

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3 thoughts on “The Tradeoff Between Science and Story

  1. True… but then what happens when what you hypothesize hasn’t even been proven or dreamed about yet? Think Star Trek or Wrinkle in Time. Both deemed science fiction and both contain “science” that has not been proven capable yet. At what point does a story change from science fiction into fantasy, when a writer’s theories were proven inaccurate, or when there is no science yet to back their claim?

    I can understand claiming this for stories that seem to break their own science… claiming there is gravity in one place while not explaining why there is no gravity in the second scene… But I still think it is a very fine line to walk.

    My thoughts are… if it involves a futuristic use of technology (one that may or may not be possible) than it is science fiction.


  2. Right. Science that hasn’t been proven possible qualifies. We could probably go on and on about this. But I will add that scientific propositions have to be testable. If the explanation of the process that produces a condition or an event can’t be tested then it’s not science. Science fiction writers that introduce something new have to make sure that testing it is plausible even if not possible with our current knowledge.


  3. I can’t get fully behind that quote. Science itself is full of inaccuracies–theories that don’t pan out, experiments that don’t prove what they are meant to (or aren’t reproducible). Also, sci-fi writers aren’t all scientists.That’ doesn’t give us an excuse to toss the laws of physics out the window, but if we have a story that tells itself in a science-heavy venue or uses science to take us to someplace new, then it deserves the title science fiction. I like the rule of thumb that if you remove the science, the story falls apart.



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