Posts concerning genre

Considerations for a Space Opera Setting: Neuroscience

21:07 26 Feb 2012. Updated: 23:47 02 Mar 2012

A clear implication of my having settled on some kind of “bioAI” in my examination of AI in the setting is that neuroscience must be quite advanced indeed, given that a strong understanding of brains and how they work would be necessary to bio-engineer them. In the gap between bio-engineering and “pure” manufacture there are clearly many mysteries, but even so, the setting’s neuroscientific understanding must be formidable.

Permalink     Comment     [, , , ]    

Considerations for a Space Opera Setting: Artificial Intelligence

23:48 16 Oct 2011

The effect of AI on a setting is similar to the effect of sentient alien beings, in that it helps to define the limits of “humanity”. By AI here I mean strong AI, the ability to create sentient machines, and particularly sentient machines of vastly greater intelligence than humans.

While it’s certainly possible to include AI created by non-human civilizations, that’s really the realm of “sentient aliens” rather than what I have in mind here, which is strong AI created by the human race. The interplay/tension between those two groups is critical a lot of space opera, e.g. Iain M. Banks’ Culture series and Dan Simmons’ Hyperion Cantos—not to mention Battlestar Galactica and critical aspects of the background of the Dune setting.

Permalink     Comment     [, , , , , , ]    

Considerations for a Space Opera Setting: Energy

19:02 25 Sep 2011

Given that I’ve chosen FTL travel and FTL communication as well as a scale that involves a fair amount of space, energy production and consumption are going to be important in the setting. The availability and cost of energy help to define many of the parameters of the milieu, including its economy.

Permalink     Comment     [, , , , ]    

Considerations for a Space Opera Setting: Aliens

15:14 07 Aug 2011. Updated: 18:19 17 Sep 2011

FTL travel, and the “big universe” aspect of space opera, mean that if a setting includes alien life, humans are likely to encounter it. Its presence or absence does a great deal to shape the setting, both in terms of power dynamics and politics and in terms of how it feels.

Note that I’m not considering the question of whether or not it’s more “realistic” for a setting to contain aliens or not, as the question of our being alone in the universe is both too large for this post and not one I want to try to answer satisfactorily before starting to write this particular space opera piece.

Permalink     1 Comment     [, , , ]    

Considerations for a Space Opera Setting: Scale

19:36 22 May 2011

By “scale” here I mean: how far does space that humans have explored extend? How far is it feasible for humans to travel within the civilization? How many systems make up that civilization?

“Space opera” implies a large setting, but in real terms “large” is fairly meaningless, and allows for rather a lot of variance.

Permalink     2 Comments     [, , , ]    

Considerations for a Space Opera Setting: FTL Communication

22:55 05 Apr 2011

I’m still thinking about my large-scale science-fiction/space opera project, and the next major consideration after FTL travel is faster-than-light communication.

Permalink     Comment     [, , , ]    

Considerations for a Space Opera Setting: FTL Travel

23:37 04 Oct 2010. Updated: 00:47 05 Oct 2010

I recently had a chunk of inspiration hit me, and am considering a fairly large-scale science fiction project. It’s in a far-future, large-scale, “big SF” vein, also known as “space opera” (although that genre is rather loosely defined). I don’t think it’s in the same universe as my science fiction novel, although I might change my mind on that. In any case, I do want to go over the major factors that I think define a setting of that kind. The first one of these is the presence/absence/nature of faster-than-light travel.

Permalink     Comment     [, , , ]    

The Unfeasibly Tall GBBMCSMB

11:50 15 Feb 2010

I’ve always had a soft spot for good genre parody, regardless of genre, and The Unfeasibly Tall Greek Billionaire’s Blackmailed Martyr-Complex Secretary Mistress Bride is pretty damn hilarious. You can read the first chapter in HTML, or the whole thing at Scribd.

Permalink     Comment     [, , , , ]    

Alternate History Versus Science Fiction

06:36 30 May 2008

I finished Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union today. I liked it, although I think it overdid it perhaps a little with its sheer Jewishness—it takes place in an entirely Jewish state, one whose inhabitants are all highly aware of their Jewishness in ways I’ve never encountered in real life. It’s not quite caricature, and it’s definitely a loving portrait in many ways, but it felt like Chabon figured out how to convey “a Jewish atmosphere”, and conveys it, and then hires a trucking company to keep on conveying it from his mind to yours, while you’re trying to follow the plot. I suddenly wonder if At Swim-Two-Birds strikes the non-Irish in a similar way, given that it’s steeped (very steeped) in Irishness. In any case, Chabon’s novel is a good one, and a good read, but my question is: is it science fiction?

Permalink     4 Comments     [, , , , ]    

Genre definitions?

11:33 26 Jun 2006. Updated: 18:51 10 Aug 2006

Some time ago I came across an essay online that contained a number of pithy definitions of fiction genres, addressing each in terms of what overriding question it was trying to answer. I liked the definitions, but now cannot remember any of them except the science-fiction one, which is sad because it’s the common one of “what does it mean to be human?”. I really want to find this again to see what the others were (detective fiction might have been “what does it mean to be just?”), and I can only remember that I liked the others and that I felt they were insightful and useful. If by bizarre chance anyone reading this knows that page or those definitions, please leave that information in a comment! Other comments on genre definitions are also welcome.

Permalink     1 Comment     [, , ]