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Good and Bad


Tim Goyette

 There is a story out there titled “If all stories were written like science fiction stories” A copy of it can be found here:


It actually has the wrong title. It should be named “If all stories were written like BAD science fiction stories.” We've probably all read a number of these. Some of us have read too many.

One of the issues that leads to this is padding. For a while publishers required a minimum length of 80,000 words per book, so they'd take up the right amount of shelf space at book stores. If a story only had enough of a plot to produce 55,000 there needed to be 25,000 words of filler.

Filler is usually not good. Take for example “Rendezvous with Rama.” It was a truly wonderful book. The follow up had way too much filler. I gave up in the early chapters when they spent paragraph after paragraph on the phone system of the future, which had nothing to do with the story, except that one of the characters used a phone.

The other issue is when an author is so in love with a piece of technology, science, society or other item of their work that they go on and on about it in boring detail.

Filler can also come from a popular short story turned into a novel. “Ender's game” is an example of doing it right. You'll note, however, it isn't an exceptionally long book.

That isn't to say that some explanation of new technology isn't necessary. Authors in Science Fiction need to give the reader a basic understanding of the heretofore unknown stuff. That is necessary.

These negative connotations outside of the fan base have led to general disdain for the genre, where people believe that science fiction is as described in the story referenced at the top. This, in turn, has led to the desire by some in the fan base to want to change the name of the genre to SF for Speculative Fiction. In general it's more accurate, the literature speculates about the future.

I personally prefer Sci fi because that's what I grew up with and don't see the need to sway closed minds. Let's face it, there are those with closed minds who won't change for anything. I've met a number of people who feel that Science Fiction is escapist rubbish suited only for those who lack the intelligence to appreciate good literature. Which just isn't true. I mean, we're not talking Romance. Which, as we all know, is only suited for those who lack the imagination to appreciate good Science fiction.

Those without closed minds will not be swayed by the title: SF or Science Fiction, but by a good read.

The next time one of your friends or associates complains about all the techno-babble in Sci Fi, suggest they try reading some good works. And just to help us out, I'd like to invite our readers to add suggestions of good books to offer to the uninitiated. Please use the comment form below for this purpose.

2009-10-29 10:34:22
DUNE,Herbert; THE TIME MACHINE [which is short], H.G. Wells; THE GIRL WITH GREEN HAIR, I don't remember the author's name; THE STAR BEAST, Robert A. Heinlein S4

2009-10-18 11:36:19
I agree, to a point, although I think Ender's Game was a much better short story than it was a novel.

2009-10-04 20:40:46
Tim you are so right in this, I unfortunately have been reading only Fantasy lately. Time to find a good SCIence FIction story

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