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Intro: The Hard SF Site

There is a variety of SF websites around. Those in the Links section are only a select few of what is out there. There are a couple of other sites focused on hard SF, but none playing quite the same role as this one. Hopefully, some of you will find this is just what you were looking for. No doubt, it won’t be that for everyone.

The purpose of this site is not to promote the idea that other genres are inferior, or that readers and authors should never stray from the straight and narrow of hard SF. I confess that I enjoyed the first 2 Star Wars movies and liked reading The Lord Of the Rings. These are not the styles I would choose to focus on given the opportunity to have good hard SF. Sometimes a light space shoot-’em-up might be what I’m in the mood for. Hard SF is a genre that deserves to have more attention, more authors, and more readers. And it could use a forum for issues relevant to the genre.

It seems unavoidable that what draws some people to SF will also make science important to their lives. For them, the marriage of SF and science is a case of true love. We do not see “science fiction” as meaning fictionally inaccurate technology. Rather we would like to think of it as truly having science although the characters and setting are fictional. Something like a fictionalized biography – the important facts should be real.

I hope those of us who have a preference for hard SF can share info and encourage as much hard SF as possible.

Many books and movies are lumped together as “science fiction” or are placed in book sections called “science fiction and fantasy”. In these vague groupings you can find space opera, alternative histories, dystopias, historical novels disguised as time travel, hard science fiction, horror, fantasy, stories based around psychic powers, etc. It’s not so rare to have an author write a number of books, with some books in one genre and some in other genres. Sometimes one book will mix two or more genres.

For those of us who would like to see more hard SF, it would probably be to our advantage if there was a clearer distinction between science fiction and fantasy, and between futuristic fiction with little understanding of science and hard SF.

Part of the vagueness of the categories is a matter of marketing by people who don’t know that much about the literature. Part of it is commercialization of books, music and other forms puts pressure towards “putting something for everybody” in a work. Part of it may be that the factors that shape an individual into a fiction writer could make them more attracted to themes and icons in the vein of childhood make-believe, and disinclined to be told what they can and can’t have in their stories by some inconvenient law of nature. And perhaps other factors.

Writers will either write what their inner muse tells them, or what pays the bills. To some degree fan adoration may also be a factor, but only so much unless what the fans want either is the same as the muse or pays the bills. So I’d suggest the main way we can influence writers to produce more hard SF is to see that writers with hard SF muses can pay their bills while following their muse.

We can try building hard SF readership with publications such as this site. Beyond that, one avenue is to encourage less lumping together of genres. If people think more of science fiction and fantasy as two genres, writers may be more inclined to write one science fiction book and one fantasy book, rather than writing two books with science fiction and fantasy scrambled together. Perhaps we would have the magazines more oriented to either science fiction or fantasy, rather than the same magazine including both. That would have a dynamic to it.

For the reasons I gave above, genre distinctions may not get that much clearer. But it might be worth trying. It might even help if a magazine that carried various kinds of stories would say “here is this issue’s hard SF story”, “here is this issue’s swords and sorcery story”, “here is this issue’s psychic powers story”. There may be a dynamic in something as simple as that.


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January 8, 2015 0