f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: Day 6 of Genre – Science Fiction

f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Day 6 of Genre – Science Fiction

Geeks. That’s what most people think of when they think about science fiction. I’m not trying to be cruel or spread stereotypes but those bad-haired, single, comic-book reading, Magic-playing, skinny as Mark Hamill in Star Wars dweebs standing in-line for George Lucas’ latest ego-trip or getting engaged in Klingon are the ones fueling the science-fiction fires. Actually, I’m pretty sure that’s not the case. They’re just the media’s public face for science-fiction and given the how fairly the media always treats groups (i.e. Pat Robertson = Christians) it’s best we don’t get sucked into the rampant generalizations about the dorks who dress like Stormtroopers for Comiccon IV and lust after the Matrix’s Trinity and her hot leather pants. These are the people after all who are going to be fixing our computers or renting us Japanese Anime, so we need to be nice to them. Perhaps even talk to them in Wookie.

Getting back on the topic of the genre of science fiction, I think it’s important to note that I don’t really read science fiction. I’ve read C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy, but that seems more like fantasy set on other planets. I’ve read all four (five?) books of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy trilogy and laughed. I got the Star Wars Christmas Album out of the library and listened to “What Do You Get a Wookie for Christmas When He’s Already Got a Comb.” So I know the basics.

The question is: What do you do with Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park? Here’s where the genre classifications fall apart for me. I know speculative fiction and science fiction often get lumped together and lord knows what with all the chaos theory crap that Jurassic Park had it’s share of science and speculation. But it seems to me much more the “thriller” than science fiction. To me, science fiction needs to be either, 1. in space or 2. in the future, and preferably some dystopic future where there’s either no water or too much water or the water is fine and the problem is that robots are doing mean things to us because we’ve done mean things to them. (Like what? Build them? Give me a break. We gave you life! Stop using us as fuel cells!)

CBA has “pure” science fiction (Kathy Tyers) but it also has lots of speculative fiction. Randy Ingermanson used time travel to try to assassinate the Apostle Paul. Shane Johnson landed people on the moon. Randy Ingermanson and John Olson landed people on Mars.

You could make a pretty valid case that, in a lot of ways, end times thrillers fall in this category too though I suppose I’d be pilloried by some people for suggesting such novels are speculation when Revelations obviously says with such precision and straightforwardness the exact way things are going to happen.

Anyway, all that to say I don’t know how broad we want to cast our nets over this definition. Is there a difference between techno-thrillers and science-fiction? I think we mostly came up with the name “techno-thriller” to get away from the bad PR science-fiction may have accumulated as a genre. In the end, it’s probably saying the same thing, though.