minnow at belfry.org.uk
minnow at belfry.org.uk
Thu Jul 17 11:28:03 EDT 2003
>On Wed, Jul 16, 2003 at 10:19:05PM +0100, minnow at belfry.org.uk wrote:
[that it had been suggested that perhaps]
>>Literary Fiction is "What?" fiction: "what is the question [x]?". Genre
>>Fiction is "What If?" fiction, in the main: "what if [x] is the question?".
>>Really fine-quality fiction (as being more than either of these) might be
>>called "What Then?" fiction: "Given the question [x] and a solution [y],
>>what then follows from that, where do things go thereafter?"
>As far as I'm concerned, speculative fiction (as a superclass of science
>fiction) is all about consequences: say we have body-swapping, or
>bionics, or a faster-than-light drive, or first contact with aliens:
>what happens next? I certainly see more of this sort of thing in SF than
>I do in other genres. Is your statement intended to be applied less
>literally than I am doing?
"the following was propounded in my presence" doesn't make it "my
statement", it makes it something put forward for consideration whilst I
was there -- play fair...
I *think* that "What If? and "speculative" may be much the same thing (at
least within the genre called "SF" or "Science Fiction" or (mostly by the
meedja) "SciFi". So *any* "genre fiction" might be "speculative", insofar
as it poses the "What If?" question. The reasons for calling what was
being talked about "What If" are  that the people discussing the ideas
knew full well that "SF=Speculative Fiction" is a known category, and it
didn't necessarily fit with what they wanted to say, because it limited the
thing to that genre, and  "What?", "What If?" and "What Then?" make a
pleasing sequence. ("So What?" fiction was my addition, and I thought of
it as fitting in only whilst posting.)
It is possible that SF as a genre (whatever one takes the initials to stand
for) may have more examples of "What Then?" fiction than some other genres
do. I wouldn't know, not having read all books. But merely "what happens
as a result of having FTL travel/bionics/alien contact?" doesn't move the
thing beyond "What If?" to "What Then?", by the tentative definition being
suggested. The "question" is "What about travel/bionics/alien contact?",
if you like, and the matter contained within the book is "then this is a
possible way of dealing with ('the/an answer to') that question." Or so I
In any case, would it be fair to suggest that the *better* SF might move
from "What If?" to "What Then?", without muddying the waters by starting a
hare about "speculative" as defined in, or defining, or defined by, that
one particular genre?
(I will mix my metaphors if I want to, and hares can too muddy waters. I
have never seen one try to do it, but I am going to assume it as a tenet of
faith. Cattle can and do, after all, so why not hares?)
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