Old school SF

Medgadget had a Sci Fi contest, and they’ve just posted the winning entries. The results are your usual mixed bag of amateur SF, but since it is a medical gadget site, one of the interesting outcomes is that all of them are focused on science and engineering and medicine, and not so much that other literary stuff. There’s a whiff of nostalgia there—they read like 1940s scientifiction, before that scary contentious New Wave stuff came along.

Anyway, it’s fun writing about science ideas—just don’t go in expecting much in the way of character development or mood.


  1. Martin Christensen says

    Is is really a general problem with science fiction that it focuses so much on shiny gadgets and stuff that it forgets about good storytelling in the process? I’m not the world’s most voracious reader, but most of what I read is sci-fi and fantasy, mostly the former, and generally I find that good character development, plot etc. are as alive and well in the sci-fi that I’ve read as in any other genre. Indeed, the tech stuff seems to mostly provide environment rather than it being the focal point itself.


  2. Caledonian says

    The Golden Age didn’t focus on technology, it focused on High Concepts. Traditionally, characters are just a means to that end, as are plot, mood, and setting.

    The recent forms that emphasize character, plot, mood, and setting are a degenerate form of science fiction closer to the more common literary forms. They’re good stuff, but in terms of clarity of concept, few of them hold up to the best of the Golden Age.

    When you have a writer who can integrate High Concept into traditional storytelling, you have something very precious indeed.

  3. Xanthir, FCD says

    There’s many types of scifi. The best integrates everything together into a coherent whole – the technology, the social commentary, and the human development. But a lot of lesser work focuses on only a handful of elements rather.

    It just so happens that technology is a big theme in scifi that is not commonly expressed in other genres, so that when an author focuses on it it seems a little excessive. Some people (like me) really enjoy their ‘hard’ scifi with the major story focus on the science and gadgets, though. Stephen Baxter is imo a very good author of this type of scifi.