Roll Over, Plato
I found myself in one of the worse types of debates this evening: an argument over semantics. To be more specific, the definition of the term sci-fi was called into question. In retrospect, the whole thing was really quite pointless, because when one side quotes Gene Rodenberry and Isaac Asimov as definitive sources, and the other points to how Blockbuster and Borders' marketing departments choose to place their product, it becomes painfully obvious that there is no common ground whatsoever on which to construct a meaningful discussion. Therefore, I offer this, a link to a list of quotes by people I mostly have no clue about, as a source for interested parties to dive into, which, by the way, offers roughly equal amounts of ammunition for both elitist and populist. Shields up! Fire torpedoes!
"Modern science fiction is the only form of literature that consistently considers the nature of the changes that face us, the possible consequences, and the possible solutions." Isaac Asimov
"A work belongs in the genre of science fiction if its narrative world is at least somewhat different from our own, and if that difference is apparent against the background of an organized body of knowledge." Eric S. Rabkin
"Science fiction is really sociological studies of the future, things that the writer believes are going to happen by putting two and two together." Ray Bradbury
"Science fiction is that branch of fantasy, which, while not true to present-day knowledge, is rendered plausible by the reader's recognition of the scientific possibilities of it being possible at some future date or at some uncertain point in the past." Donald A. Wolleheim
"The future depicted in a good SF story ought to be in fact possible, or at least plausable. That means that the writer should be able to convince the reader (and himself) that the wonders he is describing really can come true...and that gets tricky when you take a good, hard look at the world around you." Frederik Pohl
"At its best, science fiction has no peer in creating another universe of experience, in showing us what we look like in the mirrorof technological society or throught the eyes of a non-human." Dick Riley
"By challenging anthropocentricism and temporal provincialism, science fiction throws open the whole of civilization and its premises to constructive criticism." Alvin Toffler
"...[Science Fiction] means what we point to when we say it." Damon Knight
My personal thoughts on the subject:
Talk to the hand, because the face ain't listening.