Time-Period Punk Genres

The inspiration for them was cyberpunk, a genre about people who live on the borderline of reputable society but who use that society’s advanced technology: “High tech. Low life. ” What is Cyberpunk? | Neon Dystopia defines it:

Cyberpunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that features advanced science and technology in an urban, dystopian future.  On one side you have powerful mega-corporations and private security forces, and on the other you have the dark and gritty underworld of illegal trade, gangs, drugs, and vice.  In between all of this is politics, corruption, and social upheaval.

Cyberpunk – Wikipedia quotes Lawrence Person’s definition:

Classic cyberpunk characters were marginalized, alienated loners who lived on the edge of society in generally dystopic futures where daily life was impacted by rapid technological change, an ubiquitous datasphere of computerized information, and invasive modification of the human body.

It inspired steampunk, and that in turn inspired lots of other timepunks or periodpunks. These may be viewed as high-tech mundane fiction or hard science fiction set in the appropriate periods.

Continue reading

Science Fiction: Hard to Soft

First. what is science fiction? This has been a contentious issue for nearly a century. Definitions of science fiction – Wikipedia lists numerous proposed definitions. science fiction – Wiktionary has a very simple one: “Fiction in which advanced technology or science is a key element.” In What Science-Fiction Magazines Look For | NexusZine I mentioned Analog magazine’s preferences: stories where future science and/or technology is an essential part. If it was absent, there would be no story. Nevertheless, science fiction is not just about technology. It’s also about what people do with it: Isaac Asimov on Science Fiction: the Reaction, not the Action | NexusZine. Like if self-driving cars became practical, what happens to manual driving? Isaac Asimov once wrote a story, “Sally”, in which it was outlawed as needlessly dangerous, a move that caused a lot of controversy.

Within science fiction itself, there are two axes that have been called hard to soft:

  1. Nuts-and-bolts to sociological
  2. Present-day technology to plausible future technology to implausible future technology to fantasy

Continue reading

Go back to where you came from?

Some years ago, someone posted a video in YouTube showing a woman in a tram in Britain yelling at some immigrants to go back to where they came from. (Tram = light-rail vehicle) That video is now gone, but it gave me some ideas. Based on it, I have come up with a summary of the history of Great Britain:

  • 1066 CE: Those Normans should go back to where they came from!
  • 800 CE: Those Danes should go back to where they came from!
  • 450 CE: Those Angles and Saxons and Jutes should go back to where they came from!
  • 43 CE: Those Romans should go back to where they came from!
  • 500 BCE: Those Celts should go back to where they came from!
  • 2700 BCE: Those Beaker people should go back to where they came from!
  • 4000 BCE: Those farmers should go back to where they came from!


Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics

In his youth, Isaac Asimov became annoyed by stories of robots that destroy their creators, with the implication that construction of such machines is something that we were not meant to do. So when he started writing stories about robots, he decided that they would need safety mechanisms that keep such things from happening. He eventually stated them as his Three Laws of Robotics:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

“Robot” here can be generalized to be any artificially-intelligent system: replace “robot” with “AI system”. In their explicit form, one will likely need strong AI to implement them, and present-day robots are far too dumb for that. They are mostly industrial mechanical arms and the like. There are also lots of ambiguities and loopholes in these laws, and IA himself had gotten lots of stories out of problems in applying them.

Continue reading

What Science-Fiction Magazines Look For

What science fiction is, is a subject of much controversy. So let us see what editors of self-described science-fiction magazines want. I looked in Top 10 Science Fiction Magazines – Every Writer to find the biggest names, and I selected three dead-tree ones with a long history by Internet standards. Analog Science Fiction (founded 1930 as Astounding Stories of Super-Science), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine (founded 1977), and Fantasy and Science Fiction (founded 1949). Some previous ones were Galaxy Science Fiction (1950 – 1980), If (1952 – 1974, merged into Galaxy), Amazing Stories (1926 – 2005, revived online 2012), and others.

Continue reading