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Date: Tue, 22 Apr 2003 18:44:49 -0500
From: James Jordan 
Subject: Re: (urth) Generic Considerations

Cool, blattid.
         My working definition has been: Science fiction is fantasy 
literature that uses the beliefs of then-present establishment science and 
technology to accomplish its fantasy elements.
         Explication: It's fantasy literature because it is not OUR world, 
whether in the future or in a parallel world or an alternate history. It 
uses the (changeable and changing) beliefs/models/paradigms of current 
establishment science, such as "you can't go faster than the speed of 
light." (Of course, there are exceptions; one might right a story in a 
non-Einsteinian universe building on alternate non-establishment science, 
or in a creationist universe; and there was that excellent novel a few 
years back, *Celestial Matters* by Richard Garfinkle -- a Lupine treat -- 
that was set in a Ptolemaic/Platonic universe.) In traditional fantasy, the 
other-worldly aspects are justified in terms of some kind of magic -- 
though in SF magical elements are sometimes introduced in terms of 
"psionic" powers, an aspect of SF devoid of establishment-science hypotheses.
         From there I think your other points follow. Traditional "magical" 
fantasy will tend to generate a certain kind of writing, and so does SF.
         The more interesting question, in some ways, is why writers like 
Michael Crichton, and some of Walker Percy's novels, are considered 
mainstream and not SF. I think it has to do mainly with who publishes them 
and how they are marketed.
         FWIW. But how does this strike you?



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