How Many Science Fiction Ideas Can Be Found in a Science Fiction Story? #SciFiSunday

There’s a moment in the movie (and play) (and also real history) Amadeus, when the Emperor Joseph II, upon hearing Mozart’s recent composition, tells the composer that his new piece has “Too many notes.” He goes on to say, “My dear fellow, there are in fact only so many notes the ear can hear in the course of an evening.” We know that Mozart will later be considered one of the greatest composers of all time, so to us, the Emperor sounds silly. But don’t we sometimes have similar complaints? How often have we said or thought or heard a critique of a movie or book: “It’s about too many things” or “It’s overstuffed.”

As a genre of ideas, science fiction in particular can be on the receiving end of these critiques. Just how many ideas can a successful science fiction story hold? Over on Classics of Science Fiction, James Wallace Harris has turned to “Appearance of Life,” a short story by legendary science fiction writer Brian Aldiss. Wallace has excavated the story in an attempt to discover just how many ideas it holds. Here’s more from Classics of Science Ficiton:

For this reading I wanted to observe as many science-fictional concepts Aldiss was presenting in the story as I could spot. I’m doing this for several reasons. First, I want to show how science fiction builds on past science fiction. Second, I want to show how a reader’s previous reading experience can add to the current reading experience. Third, I want to show just how many new situations a science fiction writer must imagine building a new story. Fourth, I want to see if there are things I missed from earlier readings.

See more!


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