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The Science in Sci Fi

Isaac Asimov - FountationToday’s topic comes form QSFer Angel Martinez: “The need for science in SF.”

I know what she means. I see a lot of “sci fi”, especially in the cross-over romance category, that uses sci fi as purely a backdrop – throw the two protagonists on a space ship and you’ve got a sci fi story.

In sci fi, the science should be more than just a back-drop – it’s almost another character. Sure, you can write a compelling romance that is set in a future world. But if that future world itself is not compelling and built on a solid foundation, it’s not sci fi.

Look at some of the classics, like Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series, built on the premise that a large enough sampling of the population can be used to predict history. Or Clarke’s Rama series, which started with the premise of an alien spaceship coming through the solar system that was utterly oblivious to our presence.

So my questions today: can sci fi exist without a solid scientific background? If no, why not? And if yes, give us some examples.

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