You kind of have to feel sorry for anyone working over at Io9 and desperately trying to generate stories that will drive traffic and get them paid and non-fired, but aside from digging up porny bits of B Movies, and promoting William Gibson’s latest pointless essay, and of course reporting the movie and TV news that got reported a day ago, there’s not much there. So they have to make stuff up.
Case in point.
2008: The Year Science Fiction Became Science Culture
Ah 2008, that was the year.
This year, the top twenty movies in the US grossed 3.7 billion dollars. Science fiction movies accounted for 2.5 billion of that. In 2008, scifi rocketed out of the basement to become scicult.
I don’t have the numbers off the top of my head, but Science Fiction movies have been blockbusters for a long time. 2008 doesn’t break the mold or change anything.
Movies are really just a small piece of the pop culture pie currently being wolfed down by science fiction. You’ve got space opera and apocalypse in video games like Mass Effect, Fallout 3, and Spore, which are just a few of the scifi titles that obsessed audiences this year.
Yeah, an even bigger chunk of video games have always been Science Fiction. SF is about the most common type of video game there is. It’s either that or fantasy. So again, nothing new here.
comic book readers went nuts over alien invaders called Skrulls in last summer’s giant crossover extravaganza Secret Invasion.
Because DC and Marvel comic books have never been Science Fiction before. That’s just something that happened now. In 2008!
When science fiction has become so much a part of our everyday pop culture, does it make sense to call it scifi anymore?
Yes, because it’s still Science Fiction. It’s fiction about science. That’s the definition.
Certainly that seems to be the underlying message of some of 2008’s most popular new TV shows, such as The Mentalist and Fringe – as well as old favorites like House, Bones and CSI. All of these are fiction shows about science.
This is stupid even for Io9. And an old argument. Science Fiction is speculative, shows that deal with present day science, even a dumbed down version, are not Science Fiction.
What’s going on here? Acclaimed scifi author William Gibson has already explained it in interviews about his latest novels, all of which read like literary science fiction but take place in the present day. He believes that the present has become so saturated by high tech and advanced science that we are effectively living in a science fictional era.
Yes and to anyone from the 19th century, so were people in the 1950’s. This is a matter of perception and perspective. To someone from the 22nd century, we’d be technological barbarians.
Gibson is asserting that what once seemed futuristic is now part of the present.
That’s the definition of technological progress. It’s not an assertion, it’s how things work. We actually did go to the moon decades ago. We were futuristic then too. More so because we can’t go to the moon today, but we can blog a whole lot about how the future is now.
But it would be more accurate to say that we now accept scientific speculation as part of everyday life. We haven’t lost the idea of a future that’s way freakier than today. It’s just that now everybody thinks about the freaky future, not just scifi fans.
Has anyone at Io9 even heard of the world’s fair? Speculating about the future has been mainstream throughout the 20th century. Reading fictional books set in fictional universes, somewhat less so.
The phenomenal success of a show like House is testimony to this cultural shift. Every episode focuses on a medical mystery which House and his team can only solve using speculative thinking. Nobody would call House scifi, and yet it offers audiences the same pleasures as Star Trek: A chance to imagine how science might solve human problems, and where those solutions will take us.
Yes but it isn’t Science Fiction. It’s a medical drama dealing with present day medical science. House is just a detective show set in the world of medicine. There’s the annoying detective, and a cast of supporting characters and weekly mysteries to solve. Just because something involves science, doesn’t mean it is Science Fiction.
Scifi could become more like realism, where we explore the problems of ordinary people like House’s patients. Perhaps there will be no room for romantic monsters and heroic mutant outcasts in science culture, just as there is little room for those kinds of creatures in your typical episode of CSI.
What was that? Oh nothing, I was banging my head against the wall. House and CSI are not Science Fiction. They are fictional TV shows. They do involve Science. But they are not speculative projections of significant Scientific advances. They are mystery shows with a science backdrop.
If Science Fiction turns into that, it will be a dead genre.
Indeed, this draining away of experimental thought in scifi might explain the rise in fantasy stories right now.
This drain doesn’t actually exist. Io9, like a lot of elitist media commentary, just prefers what they consider realism, over good Science Fiction.