Author Topic: So No Reason to Hold My Breath?  (Read 2427 times)

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Offline Vandermeer

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Re: So No Reason to Hold My Breath?
« Reply #15 on: May 25, 2016, 05:34:40 AM »
No aggression meant.  As I said, that was an attempt at humor.  I genuinely bear you no malice.
Well, ok then. But I must say, I have russian friends and also another one with which I write online, who often tend to get new people offended, because those don't get their direct humor so much. (especially americans who sometimes have so much padded on politeness that it borders constant softie-lying.)
However, I had no problem getting any of them, even on first contact, because I give everyone a dualistic second thought beyond the first impression where you then figure this out usually.(mostly because I myself had weird humor habits for years, and was often only understood by few of the listeners or readers) Despite that, I didn't get your humor at all though, so that might be a bad sign.

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Nobody has done a real, released newtonian space-combat simulator (there have been a couple attempts, at various levels, including my attempt to build one in Excel).  I guess that Aurora would come first among space combat sims, but it's first only because there's almost no competition.
Categorization doesn't always come from ideal definitions though, but also forms naturally as a way to describe our world how it actually is, because language is meant to be used practically as means of understanding. If you invent a category for which you rarely find any subjects, what good does that do? Instead, people have talked about hard and soft sci-fi for a time, and then there forms some natural consent about what should be more on the one or the other side, even though each rarely is taken to the extreme to fulfill a book-precision definition.

If you imagine a scale of soft to hard where you can mark points for every (board-/)game, movie, or novel, then most would probably land to the left, but enough more to right still. As soon as something goes over the middle, you would consider it "more hard", even though the dictionary might suggest they have to be at least 90% up there. (btw.: that dealing also leaves a definition gap of new unspoken of "mid-grade" sci-fi probably, unless you really want to throw Aurora or Star Trek together with Star Wars or Galactic Civilizations)
This is I guess the natural emergent soft/hard understanding that you see when people talk about it. It is like that because the phrase "hard sci-fi" wouldn't otherwise be used much, making the whole idea of discerning hard and soft superfluous for common communication.(..if the strict definition was ever there, this would be why it died out/changed to practical speech)

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Who gets a pass on that for a couple of reasons.  First, it doesn't take itself seriously.  If it tried to do that, I'd tear it to shreds in a heartbeat.  Second, it's enough fun that I usually don't care, and there's a vague veil of plausibility that I can sustain.
Well, maybe I also cannot digest that british humor. Making big eyed faces and pouty mouths is generally not funny to me. Well, actually it would, if there was other humor accompanying it, but all I see in Who is either on "haha" level or "he is weird, now laugh".

I actually liked the first season though, but the 2 doctors after, cringe. Some great ideas here and there definitely. The weeping angels are a cult for sure (christianity? ;)), and I enjoyed Dalek for the first few times, and some other singular episodes.(especially spooky ones) The urge to punch the doctor eventually won though.

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Someone who enjoys it and continues to think that he's a scientist is clearly just dumb.
That is not the core problem I meant by the way. The inverse is the problem, that people watch Star Trek, or semi-accurate movies, or even scientists talking, and then they also think it's all just gibberish, and "these people just be crazy". Yeah, screw that.

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I'm an aerospace engineer, specializing in orbits and propulsion.  I was trying to point out that there comes a time when you have to stop looking to reality to justify your setting, and either throw reality out the window or change your setting to match reality.
Yes, but I still stand to that little breaks, like sound in space, or somewhat longer ranged lasers are permissible if it serves the fun, if otherwise much real science, or/and some science-grade mechanical complexity has been woven into the medium as well.

Otherwise I prefer to leave the fiction to the points where we actually don't know, so if you project that dark matter might just be a calculation ghost like the epicycles of the greeks, I will be listening. If you say some type of matter can be bred to cross spacial dimensions and shorten travel, I can accept.
You say that you fly faster than light with ion thrusters, without any other explanation, I brand on you the "Softy, and earned it" stamp. Interstellar sends you through a wormhole, and love is the strongest force in the universe?: strike down as well, and don't care how accurate that black hole was modeled.

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Hogwash. By the same logic, the term "detective fiction" gives the author license to totally ignore standard procedures and techniques used by detectives, the term "military fiction" allows the author to totally ignore military tactics and strategy, and the term "historical fiction" allows the author to totally ignore the relevant history."
So it's permissible to apply fiction to the science, but it has to be done with the same care you'd apply it to a military or to history.
I am still not quite sure then as to where you would see the fiction permissible. Can you also take on fiction which is in the realms of things we have not figured out? (as long as they don't backtrackingly attack things we do know already that is)

Is it actually just "sound in space" and similar ones that you object with?

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An FTL drive which logically allows anyone with a spaceship to destroy planets, but isn't ever used that way, is a major example of this.  Any plugs to prevent this need to be good, too.  Just saying 'it doesn't work that way' isn't good enough.
That I do see the same, even though it gives problems with warp drives (not star trek ones), which I like to invoke as example for good hard sci-fi usually. :P

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Unobtanium (things we theoretically are able to do, but can't do today for engineering reasons) is pretty much OK.  A fusion torch is a good example of this.
The problem with the yet unreached, but 'visible' tech is always that none of that is sufficient to make space fast lived enough to become interesting in most forms of any medium. The physical reality we understand so far makes the universe lonesome, and there are very good reasons to believe that this might never change.
Sci-fi that just deals with the inevitability and cruel reality of isolation in this universe is just melancholic and sad, and not much interesting. (well, of course you can have fancy civil war stories in Sol probably, but exiting about sci-fi is often the adventure spirit and mystery of other places, which you can't have without imagining new physics {whether by disregard of facts, or just made up at the border of what we know})

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You're drawing a dichotomy between story and science, which isn't necessary.  Any claims to the contrary were conclusively disproven by The Martian, which had very high levels of both.
Yes, that is one of those sci-fi movies that would be super-hard and still story, but also one of those that limits us to Sol because of it. Consequently, the story was kind of limited. Hard science does in fact work as a limiter on what you can do with the story. As soon as you drop a bit of hardness, you can go other solar system. Drop some more, and space battles look amazing.
You can have a good story with hardness too, yes, but the realm in which you can invent such has shrunk so much, that it cannot cater to the traditional interests of original sci-fi anymore: Fantasizing on the big things, and what could be, and adventure.
This relation makes it "worse" in some other meaning of the word.

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In Soft SF, the author simply shrugs and says 'too bad for science' (if they stopped to consider what science allows, as opposed to what they can use scientific terminology to justify).  In Hard SF, the author pays attention to science, thinks long and hard before deciding to ignore it, and takes steps to make sure that the damage they do to science is limited.  (This isn't a binary choice, nor is it entirely one-sided.  Usually, you go into building a setting knowing that you're going to have to make some compromises, and you carefully tailor them to the needs of your story beforehand, instead of making them up ad-hoc.)
I actually agree with that all, though only as "indicators", like voters for a certain site. Have too much of the first, its soft. Have more of the second, it is hard.
I must project again, but you might be feeling like one or two breaks of the first kind already plunge a medium into the abyss of softness. So our disagreement would then just be in severity, like with the soft-hard scale from above.

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By that metric, Aurora is very clearly Soft.  The names of the various technologies come from science, but that's about all.  This isn't bad in and of itself, and Steve did a really good job of building the framework he draped science on, but we should be clear as to what he did and didn't do.
Huh, I guess I give it extra points in the second category of indicators just because it attempts to come up with sane mechanics. Introducing math, even when made up, is also some indicator for hardness on me, which you might not agree with. "Soft" writers would never bother with this, and only fans of real science would care to give good system to their invented physics. It has to make sense too of course to feel valid.
I simply cannot see Aurora been thrown in together with the likes of recent Stellaris for this. It is clearly on another level in some way.
playing Aurora as swarm fleet: Zen Nomadic Hive Fantasy
 

Offline byron

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Re: So No Reason to Hold My Breath?
« Reply #16 on: May 25, 2016, 09:48:45 AM »
Categorization doesn't always come from ideal definitions though, but also forms naturally as a way to describe our world how it actually is, because language is meant to be used practically as means of understanding.
I agree.  But I'm trying to quantify my intuitions about this, and this attempt has gone better than most I've made.

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If you imagine a scale of soft to hard where you can mark points for every (board-/)game, movie, or novel, then most would probably land to the left, but enough more to right still. As soon as something goes over the middle, you would consider it "more hard", even though the dictionary might suggest they have to be at least 90% up there. (btw.: that dealing also leaves a definition gap of new unspoken of "mid-grade" sci-fi probably, unless you really want to throw Aurora or Star Trek together with Star Wars or Galactic Civilizations)
Well, that depends on where the 'middle' is.  Without a firm points scale, you can't simply say 'score of 50%'.  I'd agree that Star Trek and Star Wars don't really fit in the same category, but I'm not sure I'd call Star Wars 'softer'.  The difference is orthogonal to the hard-soft axis.
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This is I guess the natural emergent soft/hard understanding that you see when people talk about it. It is like that because the phrase "hard sci-fi" wouldn't otherwise be used much, making the whole idea of discerning hard and soft superfluous for common communication.(..if the strict definition was ever there, this would be why it died out/changed to practical speech)
Yes, but while it's not a meaningless term, we can and should try to ground it more firmly.
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The weeping angels are a cult for sure (christianity? ;))
???
I'd suggest that you may need to find out more about Christianity if you think that.  C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity would be my recommendation.

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That is not the core problem I meant by the way. The inverse is the problem, that people watch Star Trek, or semi-accurate movies, or even scientists talking, and then they also think it's all just gibberish, and "these people just be crazy". Yeah, screw that.
Those people are also dumb.  My objection is more from the other side, where people equate real science and Star Trek, giving Trek realism and ignoring how hard real science is.
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Yes, but I still stand to that little breaks, like sound in space, or somewhat longer ranged lasers are permissible if it serves the fun, if otherwise much real science, or/and some science-grade mechanical complexity has been woven into the medium as well.
I find 'sound in space' annoying from an aesthetic point of view.  Longer laser range isn't really a problem.  It's relatively easy to justify light-second ranges from a very hard standpoint, and beyond that, dodging is too easy.

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I am still not quite sure then as to where you would see the fiction permissible. Can you also take on fiction which is in the realms of things we have not figured out? (as long as they don't backtrackingly attack things we do know already that is)
Let me see if I can generate another analogy.  Let's take Hunt for Red October.  The tunnel drive/MHD is pure fiction, but it's necessary for the plot, and the rest of the bits work realistically.  Unlike, say, Transformers, where nuclear attack submarines appear to spend most of their time on the surface.

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Is it actually just "sound in space" and similar ones that you object with?
Not really.  I don't like people not treating science with respect in their SF.  Apply the same standards as you would to military or historical fiction.  It doesn't have to be perfect, but you should at least be aware of where you're ignoring reality.
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That I do see the same, even though it gives problems with warp drives (not star trek ones), which I like to invoke as example for good hard sci-fi usually. :P
Fixed wormhole networks are closer to reality, actually.
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The problem with the yet unreached, but 'visible' tech is always that none of that is sufficient to make space fast lived enough to become interesting in most forms of any medium. The physical reality we understand so far makes the universe lonesome, and there are very good reasons to believe that this might never change.
That's why FTL is usually given a pass in hard sci-fi, provided it's done well.  It's possible to tell great stories without it, but there are also stories which demand it, and I don't begrudge them it.

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I actually agree with that all, though only as "indicators", like voters for a certain site. Have too much of the first, its soft. Have more of the second, it is hard.
I must project again, but you might be feeling like one or two breaks of the first kind already plunge a medium into the abyss of softness. So our disagreement would then just be in severity, like with the soft-hard scale from above.
Note that my definition of hard SF doesn't even remotely prevent someone from sacrificing science for story.  It just requires that they be conscious of what they're doing, and the tradeoffs they're making.  I seriously doubt that the writers of Star Trek ever dropped an idea because it wasn't scientifically accurate.  Someone from a hard SF would be expected to make at least some changes because of science, even if it's only to fluff.

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Huh, I guess I give it extra points in the second category of indicators just because it attempts to come up with sane mechanics. Introducing math, even when made up, is also some indicator for hardness on me, which you might not agree with.
Thinking it over, I have a double standard here.  Math would get a writer a lot of points.  (The first example that comes to mind here is the Honorverse novels.  Lots of math, mostly only loosely related to real physics.)  For a game developer doing a space combat game, not so much.  It's impossible to make one of those run on pure narrative, so math will have to get involved. 

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I simply cannot see Aurora been thrown in together with the likes of recent Stellaris for this. It is clearly on another level in some way.
I haven't played Stellaris, so I can't comment directly.  I will agree that the math we have is internally consistent and creates a believable world.  On the other hand, that's an artifact of creating a playable game in Aurora's niche.  If the math didn't line up well, the game wouldn't work.  But this is true of all games, be it Stellaris, Civilization, or World of Warcraft.  What makes Aurora different is that none of the math is hidden, and it still works.  A counterexample would be games with specialized fighter weapons which are significantly more powerful than normal weapons and appear to exist for the purpose of making fighters make sense in the visible math.  If fighters were forced to use the same weapons rules as normal ships, they wouldn't be viable.  Steve has generally avoided that, for which I do salute him.
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