Sci Fi+Pres


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Sci Fi+Pres

  1. 1. The World of Tomorrow: Science Fiction and Fantasy Alex Weber Beijing Capital Library June 6, 2009
  2. 2. What is ‘Science Fiction’ (SciFi)?  Prose writing that presents the possibilities of the future, using known scientific data and theories as well as the creative imagination.  Most science fiction comments on present-day society through the writer’s fictional conception of a future society.
  3. 3. Types of Satisfaction Offered by Science Fiction  Pleasures of escape into “worlds of wonder”  Inspiration of connecting with higher universal truths through the vehicle of the imagination  Satisfaction of a “good story,” well written and well developed  “Stimulation that comes from an encounter with the thought processes of science” (Isaac Asimov)  Satisfaction of a contemporary story that is not as dense as the classic forms  Excitement of encountering a “living art form” that is part of pop or popular culture (media choices that change with culture).
  4. 4. Imagination “IMAGINATION,” said Albert Einstein, “is more important than knowledge.” This statement may seem surprising, especially coming from one of history’s most famous scientists. But, in fact, imagination and fantasy often point the way to real- world developments. Many inventions, such as airplanes, cloning, radio, robots, the laser, and television, were first described in science fiction.
  5. 5. Special “Powers” of Narration  “The power to expand our human capacity for sympathy with great moral ideas” (Thomas De Quincy 1785-1859)  Aristotle and Catharsis: the power of “calling out the emotions, engaging and exercising them”  The “magic” of enchanted tales or fantasy literature is in the satisfaction of certain “primordial human desires” (Tolkien): like communing with animals and nature; connecting with the mysteries (stepping outside of Time; reconnecting with what we feel separated from).
  6. 6. Character Types Nearly all fictional literature, depends on characters to drive the story. Here are a few character types found in most literature. Characters people appearing in a story or creatures who, in some way, act like people. For example, characters in fables are animals who can speak. Protagonist Antagonist Victim Fool the character whom the reader the character who causes the character whom the protagonist a character who causes follows through the story and problems for the protagonist tries to help trouble for him or herself identifies with and other characters in the story the hero-- the villain-- suffers conflict most often found has one or more scary or clever in humorous positive trait(s) stories man vs. man man vs. nature
  7. 7. Mythmaking and Storytelling  Symbolically we face what we find threatening or challenging through our powers of myth- making and story-telling  Fairy-tales: ref. Bruno Bettleheim’s The Uses of Enchantment (pseudo-Freudian)  The wicked witch as a form of the mother  All parental conflicts resolved through a happy ending
  8. 8. Mythmaking and Symbology  Myths are “social” fictions that speak to us about origins and values and that employ archetypes, symbols, and signs.  Dream and Nightmare Symbolism: we “make up” and tell stories to ourselves in order to resolve conflict and issues about power (right of authority over misuse)  Common elements of adventure tales are the chase and falling which may represent lack of control or being out of control  Flying might psychologically represent a fearful escape or quite differently, mastery over a situation  Colors are also symbolic as are the use of weapons, spells, helpers, guides, and even technological devices.
  9. 9. Technology and Storytelling  As change increases in society, science and its discoveries become a huge juggernaut or mindless machine that takes control away from us  Technology aids us, yet is terrifying because in many ways we do not control its effects or by-products  Storytelling is an adult activity that helps us to step back from technology and see it as both necessary and useful, but also threatening because it blinds us to the difference between “knowing” and “truth” (Neil Postman Technopoly 12).
  10. 10. Fiction and Technological Societies  Few utopias (perfect worlds) appear in science fiction and fantasy  Dystopias (perfect worlds gone wrong) are more common  Totalitarian states control individuals as tiny cogs or microchips in a huge social- technological machine; such stories end with our utter annihilation or the possibility of overthrowing the existing social order. But in the end, is the new “system” really better than the old?
  11. 11. Asimov’s Definitions of Science Fiction  “Science fiction is the literary response to technological advance.”  “Science fiction is that branch of literature which deals with a fictitious society, differing from our own chiefly in its technological development.”
  12. 12. Isaac Asimov’s Definitions of SF These include the Standard Definition of Science Fiction:  “Social fiction that adds science and moralizes about a current society through the device of a fictitious society.”
  13. 13. Tolkien and the Definition of Fantasy  Fantasy is about truth, especially higher truths, and our ability to imagine Secondary Worlds that draw on the materials of our Primary World or this Reality.  Literature, however, should “show” not “tell.”  Reveal, but not preach.  However, virtue, morality, ethics, recovery from loss, redemption, and spiritual consolation are all part of the impetus of fantasy-writing.
  14. 14. Science Fiction worth checking out  TV Shows/Movies  Star Trek  Firefly and Serenity  Doctor Who  Fringe  Books  Ender’s Game  Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?  Snowcrash  Neuromancer