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Light Sci-Fi

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I've seen the term "light sci-fi" used frequently on agent blogs or submission guidelines.

I think I know what qualifies, based on my own reading habits, but I'm curious if anyone knows of some examples of current YA or adult novels that have been identified with this description?
#1 - April 20, 2012, 01:17 PM
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Hi -- I think it's more ACROSS THE UNIVERSE and A LONG, LONG SLEEP rather than 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY or DUNE.

Sci-fi that affects the WORLD but less the CHARACTERS perhaps?

Other thoughts?
#2 - April 20, 2012, 02:22 PM
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Yes, I think of stuff that's not so heavy on the specifics of the technology - less jargon...
#3 - April 20, 2012, 02:27 PM
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That's what I thought. I just finished Across the Universe and loved it. I've also read Scott Westerfield's Uglies/Pretties series, although that might be a little bit more than "light" depending on who you talk to about it. I forget the title of another book I read a year or so ago, but it had a girl who lived in a futuristic world, although the science was less important than the plot. I was thinking, however, that was probably the point of "light" sci-fi ... that it would be less about all the technology and more about the characters inhabiting the futuristic society.

I'm having a hard time thinking of other examples, though.
#4 - April 20, 2012, 03:16 PM
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Dark Life, maybe? It's futuristic with lots of underwater tech. I mean, it's also a western. And underwater.
#5 - April 20, 2012, 03:21 PM
Robin

I can't think of an example off hand but in definition I think it may be like the difference between fantasy and high fantasy. Less world building and more real-world feel to the storyline. I hope light sci fi is on it's way in because I have one completed book and a WIP that I would classify as light sci fi.
#6 - April 20, 2012, 03:39 PM

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I think THE TRUE MEANING OF SMEKDAY and THE DOOM MACHINE could both be identified as light sci-fi.
#7 - April 20, 2012, 04:04 PM

Here is a similar thread.

http://www.verlakay.com/boards/index.php?topic=61164.0 

I am not sure I'm linking correctly. From one of the suggestions in that thread,  I read Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix. It was light sci f and I believe much of her work is in that vein.

On the YA side, I think Feed might qualify.


#8 - April 20, 2012, 04:52 PM

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I can't think of an example off hand but in definition I think it may be like the difference between fantasy and high fantasy. Less world building and more real-world feel to the storyline. I hope light sci fi is on it's way in because I have one completed book and a WIP that I would classify as light sci fi.
I know what you mean. I've been ruminating on several stories that could fit this genre. I'm not really worried about "writing to the trend" since that's not recommended, but I am curious how to classify my ideas and light sci-fi seemed to fit. My main WIP is in the outlining/character-building phase for me and I'm really excited about that project.

(That being said, my WIP has a bit more worldbuilding, so who knows. I'll just keep being excited and keep on writing, regardless.  :typing)
#9 - April 20, 2012, 05:03 PM
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My crankypants definition would be, "a book that pretends to be sci-fi so that it can use that as a marketing angle and sound fresh when it is really only a romance or maybe a coming-of-age story with the thinnest veneer of something that would qualify it as real sci-fi by the definitions that have previously served well enough for about 40 years."

But I'm guessing that's not what you're looking for. :P
#10 - April 20, 2012, 11:56 PM
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I've also heard the term "sociological" sci-fi versus "technological" sci-fi. The first deals more with relationships and world rules of inhabitants than the latter. To me that seems like what is called light sci-fi.
#11 - April 21, 2012, 03:18 AM
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@ Joni--your crankypants definition is why I think of mine as a fantasy where scientific technology replaces magical elements. But when non-science loving people read--they want to call it "light sci-fi" because as light as the science is (some real and some not-yet-real), the science is a factor in defining the story. But then the hi-fantasy folks won't like that definition either.  :)
#12 - April 21, 2012, 08:57 AM

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For me, this is an interesting question because I've never really heard the term 'light sci-fi', although maybe I've seen it and it never really registered? In the sci-fi genre I always think of the split as between hard sci-fi, I think it's called, as in science driven, and speculative fiction--which I think of as sci-fi without necessarily science in it, but more surrealism and a lot of sci-fi that takes place in contemporary times with strange events happening. .

So is there a new term then? Or is this word being used in place of speculative fiction?

Update: Well, also there are space operas and space westerns as other sci-fi categories.
#13 - April 21, 2012, 10:25 AM
« Last Edit: April 21, 2012, 10:42 AM by KeithM »
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In my unpublished case, the books are humorous and not as intense as I think speculative fiction is.  Can anyone think of examples of speculative fiction in the YA or MG category? In my mind, The Twilight Zone would be a TV example, but I could be way off base.  Maybe Margaret Peterson Haddix is more speculative fiction than science fiction. The categories can be more confusing and challenging than writing the book!
#14 - April 21, 2012, 11:23 AM

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My crankypants definition would be, "a book that pretends to be sci-fi so that it can use that as a marketing angle and sound fresh when it is really only a romance or maybe a coming-of-age story with the thinnest veneer of something that would qualify it as real sci-fi by the definitions that have previously served well enough for about 40 years."

Gosh, Joni--THANK YOU for saying (yet again!!) what I'm thinking so that I don't have to! :werd

Although I was feeling a little less cranky, and my thoughts were more on this:

Quote
I've also heard the term "sociological" sci-fi versus "technological" sci-fi. The first deals more with relationships and world rules of inhabitants than the latter. To me that seems like what is called light sci-fi.

And per those definitions that have been serving us perfectly well for the last century, this would be "soft science fiction." (Because it deals with the ramifications of the so-called "soft sciences," like sociology, anthropology, psychology etc, as opposed to the "hard sciences" of physics, chemistry, etc. A classic example of utterly brilliant soft science fiction is Connie Willis's BELLWETHER, about a group of sociologists who study trends.)

I realize that "soft science fiction" sounds a bit insulting and wishy-washy, but, well, I'm not sure "light" does us any favors, either.

I honestly don't have a problem with science fiction where the SF elements do only represent a thin veneer; to me, SF is often more about setting or theme than about plot--although I *do* think that it does the genre (not to mention the readers) a disservice to discard all reflections about the interaction between science and society.  A book like our own Deva Fagan's (who is a scientist IRL) CIRCUS GALACTICUS is a classic coming-of-age adventure that *just happens* to take place in an intergalactic circus, and the science fiction elements definitely take a back seat to the MC's emotional journey.
#15 - April 21, 2012, 05:59 PM

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to me, SF is often more about setting or theme than about plot--although I *do* think that it does the genre (not to mention the readers) a disservice to discard all reflections about the interaction between science and society.

And I guess maybe I should clarify my crankypants-ness... what I LOVE about some sci-fi, and actually a lot of good fantasy, is that, in the words of better folk than me, it is "the literature of ideas" -- and I therefore want it to be ABOUT or exploring an idea, at least on some thematic or intellectual level (sociological works too, not just technological -- The Left Hand of Darkness is a good example of that)... but a "sci-fi setting" or technology-based events isn't enough for me.

(This mood complicated by several "dystopias" I've read lately that do little to nothing to explore how society could have gotten to that state, why, what the ramifications would be/have been, etc. But I realize that plenty of people wouldn't necessarily agree.) :)
#16 - April 21, 2012, 10:03 PM
« Last Edit: April 21, 2012, 10:06 PM by Joni »
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ecb, BELLWETHER is one of my five favorite books of all time.  :cheerleader

I've always hear the term used less to define what kind of science is used, and more whether the science is emphasized. Any kind of scifi will need good worldbuilding, because bad worldbuilding makes for a bad book. But where light scifi tends to take the world for granted -- it's just where the characters live -- as opposed to hard scifi, which emphasizes the world, and especially gets into the nitty gritty details of how things work.

... I, personally, actually prefer stuff that's on the lighter side. I'd rather read the action of an exciting space battle than an explanation of the the astrophysics that let you battle in space. But everyone's milage varies, and of course, great authors can balance both the hard and soft elements expertly.  ;)
#17 - April 24, 2012, 07:41 PM
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I'm wondering if Life As We Knew It by Beth Pfeffer would fit this description?  There is a a science fiction element, however the focus in mainly on the characters and has a contemporary feel...which makes it all the more chilling and intriguing to read.
#18 - April 25, 2012, 08:18 AM

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