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Maddad
2005-Feb-11, 02:59 AM
Ok, we had a poll asking about science books. Do you read science fiction, and do you see any science value in them?

Maksutov
2005-Feb-11, 03:12 AM
I voted "Yes, and they are a valuable science resource." because the alternative was "Yes, but they have no science value to them." My actual answer is somewhere in between, i.e., that some of them have scientific value, others don't. Therefore there should have been a fifth category "Yes, some of them have scientific value."

Of course, if there's a picture of a dragon on the cover, it doesn't get considered, unless the illustration is by Escher and/or the author is Sagan.

Inferno
2005-Feb-11, 03:25 AM
I put "Yes, but they have no science value to them". I read science fiction for enjoyment, not because it has any educational value on science. They can however be good to explore issues relevant to science (eg cloning, are we alone in the universe).

Enzp
2005-Feb-11, 08:10 AM
I like scifi but don't read as much as I used to for two reasons. One is that I read mostly non fiction. I like things from the Skeptic bookshelf - Shermer, Randi, et al. Or Sagan. Or Phil's book. Books like Innumeracy appeal. Evolution, science, math. Plus all the time I spend reading informative magazines eats into my scifi time.

But another reason is the diminishing offering. I was a member of scifi book club for decades. But in recent years, more and more fantasy filled their catalog and fewer real scifi books. No dragons, no magic, no places where the laws of science don't work. Not for me.

I am also picky. I don't read books derived from movies, so I don't read Star Wars books or Star Trek books. After those filters, not all that much gets through. I let my membership in the club lapse due to too few purchases. I had my minimum covered thrity years ago, so I felt no guilt.

I think what I like is basically submarine stories set in outer space.

banquo's_bumble_puppy
2005-Feb-11, 11:40 AM
Philip K. Dick...not much science value...great philosophical value....

Disinfo Agent
2005-Feb-11, 12:24 PM
I think science fiction can contribute to scientific reasoning, in the sense that it can help to broaden one's horizons, to think outside the box. But I don't expect to learn science from a science fiction story.


But another reason is the diminishing offering. I was a member of scifi book club for decades. But in recent years, more and more fantasy filled their catalog and fewer real scifi books. No dragons, no magic, no places where the laws of science don't work. Not for me.
Have you tried older works? There's some great stuff to be rediscovered...

Swift
2005-Feb-11, 01:30 PM
I voted "Yes, and they are a valuable science resource." because the alternative was "Yes, but they have no science value to them." My actual answer is somewhere in between, i.e., that some of them have scientific value, others don't. Therefore there should have been a fifth category "Yes, some of them have scientific value."

Of course, if there's a picture of a dragon on the cover, it doesn't get considered, unless the illustration is by Escher and/or the author is Sagan.
My thoughts exactly.

Enzp
2005-Feb-12, 10:00 AM
Disinfo
There are indeed many great old books. I still have most of them. The books I might reread first would be Heinlein. They were the first scifi books I realy got into but it has been at least 45 years since I last saw the pages of one. It would be interesting to read them with an adult perspective. And of course the historical perspective has changed. German bad guys!

In recent books I did enjoy Harry Turtledove's Lizard series.

Padawan
2005-Feb-12, 12:56 PM
Unfortunately, I dont get time to read much anymore :(

Argos
2005-Feb-12, 01:03 PM
I used to read more, in the past. The real thing has become more interesting now. Furthermore, its getting hard to find writers like the old giants. New agers have contaminated this type of literature beyond my tolerance.

electromagneticpulse
2005-Feb-12, 03:09 PM
I voted "Yes, but they have no science value to them." because many of the new sci-fi stories ignore even the basics of physics, FTL just happens with no explanation and i've seen it done with fusion drives it sickens me.



I used to read more, in the past. The real thing has become more interesting now. Furthermore, its getting hard to find writers like the old giants. New agers have contaminated this type of literature beyond my tolerance.

I would have to completely agree with you on that. It is hard to stick with science when writing and Im writing this in between my breaks in writing so trust me. I've currently got 10 chapters but i haven't defied any laws of physics to the best of my knowledge and oh oh I have lasers that travel at the speed of light 8)

I'm somewhat sympathetic to the new age writers because sticking to science fact/possible is very hard to do, but Im 16 and I can manage it so most of those 30 year old writers should be doing a better job. FTL is hard to think of though, but again i managed it.


On a finishing note, anyone know a good sci-fi publisher? :P

Maddad
2005-Feb-12, 05:57 PM
I don't know about a publisher, but my favorite SF author is James P. Hogan. Good golly, but he can cram so much hard physics in his fiction it makes your head explode.

He did a Giants' Star trilogy that became several more books. It started out with a scientific mystery: set slightly in the future, a space-suited body was discovered in a cave on the Moon. When records were checked, nobody from the small scientific outpost had ever gone missing. The body turned out to be some 50,000 years old by radiocarbon dating, and absolutely perfectly modern human. The technology of the space-suit was also slightly ahead of current efforts. The difficulty was in figuring out where Charlie had come from. He couldn't have come from Earth because we would have seen traces of an advanced ancient technology. He couldn't have not come from Earth because that would require parallel evolution.

The book, Inherit the Stars, answers that question, partially, and answers it fully by the end of the third book. Gad, but it was impossible to put down.

Spacewriter
2005-Feb-12, 07:31 PM
How about just "yes'?

Fortis
2005-Feb-12, 07:38 PM
The books I might reread first would be Heinlein. They were the first scifi books I realy got into but it has been at least 45 years since I last saw the pages of one. It would be interesting to read them with an adult perspective.
First science fiction book that I ever read was Red Planet by Heinlein. (I vaguely remember something about Willis the Martian bouncer... ;) )

I think that sometimes there's the risk that the author strives for so much fun science that they forget about the plot. There's also the possibility that it will date the book somewhat, by incorporating a theory that's fashionable today but which fails to stand the test of time. A bit like the "futuristic" clothing (i.e. mini-skirts) in some 60's movies, and the roller disco scenes in the Buck Rodgers t.v. series. ;)

ToSeek
2005-Feb-12, 10:46 PM
This poll has two separate questions combined into one. Whether science fiction books have science value isn't necessarily related to whether I read them or not.