One-Minute Book Reviews

August 8, 2008

A New Definition of Science Fiction (Quote of the Day / Bookseller Stephen E. Andrews)

Filed under: Fantasy,Quotes of the Day,Science Fiction — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 12:32 am
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Few questions will start an argument among science-fiction fans faster than, “What is the definition of science fiction?” More than 30 years ago, Michael Crichton wrote in The Critic As Artist (Liveright, 1972): “As a category, the borders of science fiction have always been poorly defined, and they are getting worse. The old distinction between science fiction and fantasy – that science fiction went from the known to the probable, and fantasy dealt with the impossible – is now wholly ignored.”

But if the old distinction doesn’t work, what does? Here’s a proposed new definition of science fiction from Stephen E. Andrews, a bookseller and co-editor of 100 Must-Read Science Fiction Novels: Bloomsbury Good Reading Guides Series (A&C Black, 2007) www.acblack.com:

“SF is the literature that suggests the significant, scientifically explicable changes that may potentially occur in the sphere of human knowledge and experience, exploring how they might affect our minds, bodies and culture.”

For more on this topic see “What Is The Difference Between Science Fiction and Fantasy?” www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/09/12.

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
www.janiceharayda.com and www.twitter.com/janiceharayda

September 12, 2007

What’s the Difference Between Science Fiction and Fantasy? Quote of the Day (Michael Crichton)

Filed under: Fantasy,Quotes of the Day,Science Fiction — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 9:10 pm
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One of the major literary changes of recent decades has been the shifting of boundaries between genres, such as the novel and memoirs. Some of the borders have all but disappeared. More than three decades ago, Michael Crichton www.michaelcrichton.com made this comment in a review of Slaughterhouse Five:

“As a category, the borders of science fiction have always been poorly defined, and they are getting worse. The old distinction between science fiction and fantasy – that science fiction went from the known to the probable, and fantasy dealt with the impossible – is now wholly ignored. The new writing is heavily and unabashedly fantastical.

“The breakdown is also seen in the authors themselves, who now cross the border, back and forth, with impunity. At one time this was dangerous and heretical; the only person who could consistently get away with it was Ray Bradbury. Science fiction addicts politely looked the other way when he did books such as Dandelion Wine and the screenplay for John Huston’s Moby Dick. It was assumed he needed the money.”

Michael Crichton in “Slaughterhouse Five” in The Critic As Artist: Essays on Books 1920–1970 With Some Preliminary Ruminations by H.L. Mencken (Liveright, 1972), edited by Gilbert A. Harrison.

Comment by Janice Harayda:

The trend Crichton describes has become stronger since made his comment. What do you think of the change? Have science fiction and fantasy benefited from it? What about the opening up of the borders between the novel and memoirs or other genres?

Other links: Ray Bradbury www.raybradbury.com, Slaughterhouse Five www.vonnegut.com and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America www.sfwa.org. For information on John Huston’s Moby Dick, search the Internet Movie Database www.imdb.com for “Moby Dick (1956).” You can also search IMDb for the names of Michael Crichton, Ray Brabury and Kurt Vonnegut to learn about the films of their books.

© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

www.janiceharayda.com

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