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Ahh, ScienceFictionStarTrek and BattlestarGalactica, BabylonFive and DoctorWho.  Plus several sub- or related genres. Anyone care to attempt a definition here?

A theory.

The reason sci-fi is so rubbish is that it's too easy. It requires less imagination to come up with a sci-fi book, so less talented people can do it. Many are those who want to write and are incapable of writing a good book, but can still write a sci-fi one. So they do, and the result is... as you can see.
BenBova? on science fiction: "Hard sci fi?  Try goddamn exhausting.
Writing good science fiction is very difficult - it requires you to be good at writing, current with science, and able to make educated guesses about societal trends.  I've tried and failed to make worthy science fiction.  That being said, writing a rubbish adventure story InSpace is easy.  But that's not really sci-fi. --ElliottBelser

Pallando would disagree with this theory.  I have a feeling that some science fiction readers are less critical of lack of tightness of plot and characterisation because they are getting something additional out of the book - the ideas behind the science fiction aspects.  The amount of imagination by the author needed is the same, just distributed in a different manner.  To come up with a sf fiction book of high literary quality may well require more imagination that an equivalent non-sf fiction book.  Perhaps your theory would work better if you substituted "technical writing skill" for "imagination".

Cambridge's society is the CUSFS.

SteamPunk is usually a mixture of SciFi and Fantasy. CyberPunk is almost always pure SciFi, except in the case of WizBiz.

Is there anywhere to recommend books? Well, here will do. There is a Voyager scifi range out at the moment, including classics from Arthur C Clarke, Huxley and all that kind of people. And anyway, I've just read 'That Hideous Strength' for the second time, and it's awesome. (Read 'Out of the Silent Planet' and 'Pelelandra' first). You can probably even borrow it from me. - Anna
Mmm.  Can't say I enjoyed the Cosmic Trilogy.  It is dated, uses hackneyed Christian allegory in a not-too imaginative way, and appears to have not a lot of purpose beyond proselytizing.  Nothing wrong with Christian allegory, look at Narnia, but Narnia is a rollicking fantasy adventure story.  Whereas The Cosmic Trilogy is just a bit dull.  I'm being a bit unfair though because I didn't read 'That Hideous Strength' since I only barely finished Pelelandra.  I'd be interested to hear why you like it--Mjb67
Interesting.  For a third opinion, I loved Perelandra and Out of the Silent Planet, but wasn't that keen on That Hideous Strength (set on Earth).  I loved the different fantastical world he depicts in each of Silent Planet and Perelandra - yes, there's a Christian metaphor in each case not too thinly veiled, but the worlds are great.  I thought the theology of Perelandra was rather wonderful too, particularly the speculation and "description" of what comes after "the end".  --AC

"Are you DaveGorman?" is also a brilliant read, in a very different way. But it's not sci-fi.

Ilium by Dan Simmons. ISBN 0575075600 . I mentioned this book to AC the other day.  By Dan Simmons, who wrote the Hyperion books, it's a science fiction novel that combines distopia, hard sci fi and Greek myth.  Top notch.  I think it's a much tighter and more enjoyable read than the Hyperion series (refuse to call them the 'Hyperion Cantos').  --Mjb67

Free ScienceFiction: [Baen CD] [Baen free library] [Cory Doctrow]

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