3 of 3
3
Poll
Do you believe the United State's Public School systems are good for the future of America?
Yes 3
Maybe 2
No 7
Not Sure 0
Total Votes: 12
You must be a logged-in member to vote
Our Schools
Posted: 01 September 2007 02:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  195
Joined  2007-07-24

So they get back to Earth and get really aggravated by all of the stupid people they have to deal with so they return to the moon.  The point being dumb people were not useful on the moon.  Too much stupidity could get a lot of people killed.  I think thi is a large part of why I enjoyed college at the engineering school I attended.

That’s exactly what I’m talking about. The engineers and scientists of the 1950s weren’t the only elites who thought everyone else was dumb. Every aristocracy thinks that it’s really powerful due to merit and that the commoners are there to be told what to do: 19th century Eton alumni, the old French nobility, the medieval Church, the robber barons, Southern slaveowners, high-caste Hindus, Chinese mandarins… some of those groups were hereditary, but not all. The Chinese mandarin class was based on imperial exams testing the candidate’s knowledge of the classics; the Hindu caste system originally was very much like Plato’s ideal state; some robber barons, most notably Carnegie, grew up poor.

You can have characters that think everyone else is dumb, but you need to show depth. I mean, read Crime and Punishment. Raskolnikov, too, thinks that he’s a great hero surrounded by brutes, and intends to prove it by killing someone he views as bad… and then gets stricken with guilt, because he’s not. Or The Tin Drum. There Oskar really does know better than everyone else, but the whole idea of the novel is that he refuses to grow up, so that he provides an eternal child’s perspective on the events of the 1930s and 40s. After I read those, there was no way I could return to genre SF, with its unreconstructed mandarinism and its lack of plot depth.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 01 September 2007 07:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2423
Joined  2007-07-05

After I read those, there was no way I could return to genre SF, with its unreconstructed mandarinism and its lack of plot depth.

Math, physics and hard sciences don’t care about elitism or mandarinism.  An individual can either deal with it or he can’t.  The problem is social barriers can be created in various ways.  If a child doesn’t have the proper environment or stimulation during the grammar school years then s/he won’t get high enough scores on the SAT at age 17.  The social control system starts early, but I see SF as a way to fight the social control system not a part of it.

The nuns at my grammar school never taught science and couldn’t teach math worth a damn.  The SF books pointed me at what to research on my own.  I find your calling Asimov a “shitty writer” hilarious.  It says far more about you than him.

Lack of plot depth!!!

ROFL

Any SF story that lacks plot depth is the fault of the storyteller not the genre.  SF provides more possibilities than any other genre.  There is no plot that can be done in any genre that could not be done in SF and plenty of things possible in SF that can’t be done anywhere else.  How many things can be done in a murder mystery today that would have been regarded as science fiction in the 1960’s?  LOL  This entire 9/11 business is beyond absurd.  The tech isn’t going to stop getting more complicated but what are we going to do with it?  And how do we teach the children to deal with it?

psik

 Signature 

Fiziks is Fundamental

Profile
 
 
Posted: 01 September 2007 08:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  195
Joined  2007-07-24

Math, physics and hard sciences don’t care about elitism or mandarinism.

Yes, they do. The scientists and mathematicians I’ve heard talk about education have among the most authoritarian approaches in existence. On some issues, like teaching traditional math and doing away with discovery learning, they’re right. Elsewhere, they’re wrong. You won’t believe the degree to which bloggers like PZ Myers, who’s at the forefront of popularizing science and positivism, sneer at critical thinking (and, incidentally, they also tend to be SF fans…). It’s 1955 all over again: the technocrats are always right, the dominant social order is good, technology must always be used, and ethics are for weak people.

And yes, you can keep regarding Asimov as a good writer. It’s a free country. And I can keep saying that to bring him up when I talk about Dostoevsky and Grass is like bringing Behe up in a discussion about Williams, Mayr, and Lewontin.

Any SF story that lacks plot depth is the fault of the storyteller not the genre.

Maybe, but evidently the writer who’s considered the best in the genre lacks depth, too. There are deep SF books, but neither the mainstream nor genre fans consider them SF: 1984, Brave New World, We, Fahrenheit 451, A Clockwork Orange. All of them you can bring up in a discussion about serious literature without getting laughed at; the Foundation series you can’t.

There is no plot that can be done in any genre that could not be done in SF

I challenge you to find a way to do The Mill on the Floss in SF in a convincing way. And this is a relatively easy book to SFify; The Handmaid’s Tale has some of the same themes. The Tin Drum, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Song of Solomon, and The Name of the Rose are a lot harder.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 01 September 2007 09:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2423
Joined  2007-07-05

Yes, they do. The scientists and mathematicians I’ve heard talk about education have among the most authoritarian approaches in existence.

Mathematics and physics are not the same as mathematicians and physicists.

If literary snobs want to look down their noses at sci-fi because they can’t handle the sciences I have no problem with that.  I just think it is funny.  But there can be nothing about the genre that prevents a good enough storyteller and writer that actually knows something about science from putting any qualities into an SF story. 

But my whole point about sci-fi is using it for educational purposes.  So having stories that are interesting to kids that help them wrap their minds around science and technology is the point not trying to impress the literary snobs, I mean elites.

That is really what mandarinism is about.  Elites with power that just claim to be elites, not elites that can come up with an objective backing.

http://www.depauw.edu/sfs/backissues/6/russ6art.htm

psik

 Signature 

Fiziks is Fundamental

Profile
 
 
Posted: 01 September 2007 11:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  195
Joined  2007-07-24

Have you read Aldous Huxley?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 01 September 2007 11:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2423
Joined  2007-07-05

I read Brave New World in high school.  I know it is literature that the literary types approve of.  I thought it was merely OK in the 60’s.  It was probably more science fictiony at the time it was written.

The only other SF they had us read was Rescue Mission.  I had already run across it in one of my anthologies.  I think it is by Clarke.  The Sun is about to go nova and some aliens discover this just after they pick up the first radio transmissions from Earth.  The send one of their FTL ships to try to rescue some inhabitants but find the Earth abandoned.

psik

 Signature 

Fiziks is Fundamental

Profile
 
 
Posted: 02 September 2007 12:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  195
Joined  2007-07-24

Brave New World’s good, but Eyeless in Gaza and Point-Counterpoint are even better. My point is, he actually did know science. So do the people who’re writing lab lit; I don’t know that any existing lab lit will win its author a Nobel in literature, but from what I’ve read, they tend to have pretty good plots that portray science at its most human (e.g. they talk about things like researchers who falsify results under pressure to publish).

And anyway, if authors don’t know science, so what? SF authors more often than not don’t know science outside their respective fields, either - for example, their treatment of biology tends to be cringe-worthy - to say nothing of social science. If you want to learn science, read non-fiction. Fiction is rarely about learning that kind of knowledge; it’s about human relations. I’d take an author who knows character psychology but not physics over one who’s the opposite any day.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 02 September 2007 10:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2423
Joined  2007-07-05

If you want to learn science, read non-fiction.

I already said I used the science fiction to point me at what non-fiction to read when I was in grammar school.

This is a waste of time.  You read what you want and I’ll ignore what I want.

I don’t hear scientists talking about the planned obsolescence of automobiles and the possibility of the pollution from that contributing to effects on climate.  No, they want to argue about the God they say ain’t there.  Just because I think more of scientists that write literature than I do of literary people that think they can write science fiction doesn’t mean I worship scientists.

psik

 Signature 

Fiziks is Fundamental

Profile
 
 
Posted: 02 September 2007 10:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  15395
Joined  2006-02-14

Probably best to have the chat about SF on a separate thread ... although arguments about aesthetic preferences tend to be some of the least productive.

 Signature 

Doug

-:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:-

El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

Profile
 
 
   
3 of 3
3