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February 22 2008

The greatest works of science fiction poll. The rationale behind this is to save the world. Buffy and Firefly are amongst the choices and you can write in other shows (helloooo Angel). More on this Visions For Tomorrow bobbins can be found here.

It's sad to see Twilight Zone (I'm assuming they mean the original, hosted by Rod Serling) with so few votes. Far as I'm concerned, it's still the best science fiction series ever made.

I would have voted for Buffy, if it were science fiction.
Strictly, the poll is about science-fiction that can show us how to live for a better tomorrow (or avoid a worse one). Great as it was (it's still the foundation for most TV sci-fi IMO) 'The Twilight Zone' was all about cracking stories with a twist, not futurism (in fact, quite a large proportion of the episodes weren't even set in the future and a fair few - certainly the ones everyone knows like 'Nightmare at 20,000 Feet' - were no more science fiction than Buffy is).

That said, most people are probably voting purely by preference rather than the criteria of

1. Adrenaline (the title's power to enthrall and excite)
2. Vision (how well it presents a scenario for the future)
3. Precision (whether the science behind the fiction holds up)

so it's still a shame to see it so low (and for that reason I left out 'Farscape' and put TTZ in its stead).
Buffy the Vampire slayer gets points for Title Adrenaline but falls down badly on #2 & 3 if we are looking at it through a SF lense. On the other hand, neither Angel nor Firely enthrall and entice as titles unless you already love the shows or the creator of them. That is, I find Dollhouse enthralling only because I know that Joss is creating it.
I'm drawing a blank on the science fiction classic that is an old silent film. About robots in a factory?
About to utter heresy...

Could it be that Firefly was not really science fiction?
or that it was not perceived by the usual Sci-Fi crowd as science fiction?

I mean....
The technology, while advanced, was recognizeable and never played a central role in defining plots or characters.

No aliens.

I mean.... not everything that is set in the future is really Science fiction.

Wikipedia: Science fiction is largely based on writing entertainingly and rationally about alternate possibilities in settings that are contrary to known reality.

hmm... Actually Firefly pretty much seemed like an inflated version of history and the present...

Yeah.. that's my standard line now.. Firefly was not science fiction...

It was Whedon-fiction.
What a BS list. How is friggin "Dark Angel" there and "Angel," one of the most quality things Joss has ever put out, isn't?
I think it's a decent list. To bad Futurama isn't on it, though.
About robots in a factory?

Do you mean 'Metropolis' Lioness ? It has workers in a factory but they're people not robots (though they're incited to riot by a robot woman).

How is friggin "Dark Angel" there and "Angel," one of the most quality things Joss has ever put out, isn't?

Because 'Dark Angel' was actually science-fiction and 'Angel' wasn't ? Personally I think it's more of a mistake to have Buffy on the list than 'Angel' off it.

You could make a case hbojo that 'Firefly' was "just" an action-drama that happened to be set 500 years in the future. It's sometimes a fine line between the "what if ?" that all fiction has to have and the extra "if-iness" that science fiction has. 'Serenity', with its futuristic setting and big questions about freedom and authoritarianism, is definitely sci-fi though (IMO).
This list does not include Star Wars (1977) among the film choices, therefore it is a sham.
Did anyone else notice that Rachel Carson's NONfiction book Silent Spring is listed among the great science fiction books?
Subliminal environmental propaganda ! Boycott this list, think free !

;-)
I cannot accept Buffy as a specimen of sci-fi at all. And many of the books--1984, the Vonnegut novels--are highly questionable as well. What definition of sci-fi is in operation here? It seems as long as a work includes some element of fantasy -- technology, life forms, magic -- it's considered sci-fi. That simply can't be right. Way too broad.
Magic no, technology, aliens and a large "what if ?" yes (but not exclusively). So Buffy no, '1984' questionable but since it was set in the future and had a huge "what if ?" as well as being clearly intended as contemporary commentary i'd let it in. It's definitely "speculative fiction" even though i'm not a fan of that label since it's so broad.

'Slaughterhouse 5' had aliens and (sort of) time-travel but both were heavily metaphorical elements (more in the Buffy style) so i'd put that as questionable (especially given that it's actually about a historical event, namely the firebombing of Dresden). That said, 'The Forever War' (which should've been on there IMO) was also clearly a cathartic allegory (for Vietnam this time) but is no less sci-fi for it.

And, since 'Slaughterhouse 5' is one of my favourite books, i'm gonna claim it as sci-fi. So there ;).
This poll is so very weird.

Did anyone else notice that Rachel Carson's NONfiction book Silent Spring is listed among the great science fiction books?

Yeah, that's a problem that goes far beyond whether or not scifi has to have aliens, accurate science, or be set in the future (my opinion is no on all counts). She wrote about real problems in her present time. A lot of people wish it was scifi.

"By exploring the genre's greatest works of film, television and literature, SCI FI intends to issue a call to action for us all to embrace science-fiction as a catalyst for change."

Left Hand of Darkness definitely belongs on the list, so that was good. But why isn't The Dispossessed on there too? The place where scifi and catalyst for change meet is pretty much where Ursula Le Guin's Hainish cycle lives.

Many of the items on the list ignore the stated criteria. They specify "Vision (how well it presents a scenario for the future)" yet Sliders is set in the present, as is Buffy, the X-Files, Jurassic Park, and others. Star Wars is technically set in the past, but I can't think of anything more scifi than light sabers, battle droids, and a villain who's traded his humanity for mechanical parts. But it isn't on the list.

I don't watch Lost. Is it scifi?
I get an error when I try to submit this.
I got one too at first Sunfire because i'd accidentally picked more than 5 for the TV category (the poll had to tear 'Farscape' from my cold, dead subconscious "fingers" ;).

As to 'Lost', as of the start of season 2 (the last time I watched it) it's a bit like BSG in that it really depends how it's resolved. If the religious undertones in BSG are actually shown to have religious causes (i.e. Gods etc.) then it's obviously fantasy. Right now, it could go either way.
I believe the internet has decided this poll is garbage, because whenever I try to submit my options an error occurs. Either that, or a sci-fi site has learned to identify when it's getting Whedonesqued, and has thrown up defenses.
Neither Buffy nor Angel had anything to do with Science Fiction, so shouldn't be anywhere near this list.

While Firefly didn't deal with aliens, it did deal with planets that were terraformed and made to have a standard gravity in order to be capable of supporting human life. To date this would be considered SciFi seeing as the changing of the gravity of a planet would also mean changing the mass of that planet. 70 Earths spinning, I think it was.

In the episode "Trash" There are flying estates, to date this is also SciFi.

I'm sure there are other instances of Science Fiction and Science Fact, but Firefly was most certainly a work of Science Fiction and deserves to be on this list.
It's an Anti-Whedon Conspiracy;
I keep getting the "Error" notice too, and I know how to count to five...
I cannot accept Buffy as a specimen of sci-fi at all.


I can. Buffy featured many elements that could have come straight from a scifi series or book: Alternate realities, strange creatures coming from space, robots, mind control, abuses of technologies alien to mankind.

Though the greatest scifi episode of any Joss show for me is Time Bomb. Gotta love time travel.
Neither Buffy nor Angel had anything to do with Science Fiction, so shouldn't be anywhere near this list.


Well, there were robots on Buffy, so that's not entirely true.

I couldn't vote (it kept saying that an error has occurred and that I should try again), so maybe I'll try again later. For the TV category, I would've chose Buffy (yeah, it's not really SF, but it is an important genre work), Doctor Who, and Firefly, and wrote in Futurama (for the satire) and Torchwood (for the sexual politics).
Anyone getting an error: if you do a write-in choice, you still have to pick five from their list. I did a write-in on two categories and got the error, but when I went back and added a fifth selection on each one, it went through.
I keep getting the "Error" notice too, and I know how to count to five...

Hey ! I'm sitting right here TDBrown ;-).

Well, there were robots on Buffy, so that's not entirely true.

Robots don't make something sci-fi. Flying houses don't make something sci-fi. Lasers, spaceships and terraforming don't make something sci-fi. These are symptoms of sci-fi, not the meat of it IMO. The meat of it is the scientific world view, the notion that the universe is "solvable" and operates along rational, internally consistent principles combined with something intrinsic to the story that doesn't currently exist (either for technological or sociological reasons) but plausibly could.

Buffy, for all Willow's flannel about magic being physics, just didn't have a scientific world-view, it had a magical one. 'Star Wars' for all its sci-fi trappings has one huge trapping of fantasy - it has magic in the form of The Force.

My point about 'Firefly' was, there's nothing about the story that needs it to be set in the future. Mal could just as easily be a 19th century privateer after the American civil war butting heads with some organisation like the East India Company (though not specifically the EIC cos of the chronology). The future setting let Joss build a beautifully realised world (and made it more interesting to me personally) but all he really needed was a frontier, a "raggedy edge" for a man like Mal to live on.
I won't comment on the sci-fi aspects of Buffy and Angel (I still firmly believe Firefly was sci-fi). But if the main purpose of this poll is what to watch/read/ do to save the world, then all three fit pretty damn well.

Buffy deals constantly with what people give up to make a better world. The characters sacrifice any chance at a normal life they might have so that others can have one in turn. Sacrifice kind of has to be a big part of world-saving, because remaining complacent will get you nowhere.

The reason Angel deserves to be on the list can be summed up in one quote. "If nothing we do matters, then all that matters is what we do." It's the idea of knowing that even though what you do might not change anything, it's still worth doing.

Firefly's mission statement has a lot to do with individualism. A person, a small group all stand on their own, even if that means going against the party line. No healthy society could survive without that concept.

Maybe these shows aren't exactly sci-fi, but the messages they entail are good tools for a better world, if you ask me.

[ edited by deepgirl187 on 2008-02-22 18:07 ]

[ edited by deepgirl187 on 2008-02-22 18:08 ]
"But if the main purpose of this poll is what to watch/read/ do to save the world, then all three fit pretty damn well."

Except that then they did not have that as part of the criteria for judging...which I thought was weird.
My scifi laden bookshelves screamed at me in horror when I read that book list. Where was John Brunner? Orson Scott Card? Ben Bova? Greg Bear? William Gibson? Iain M Banks? Alfred Bester?

Jesus Christ on a bicycle!!
See, that's science fiction cos bicycles weren't invented until hundreds of years after he died. Or were they *Twilight Zone music* ?

Yeah, the books list was very patchy. The Culture for instance is one of the more completely and better realised "visions of the future" (even though some of the books are set in our past). I don't think Banks has much penetration in the US though, so he never shows up in these sorts of things. And no Gibson, Sterling, Brunner etc. all of whom gave us visions of the near future, elements of which have already come to pass (were in fact, inspired by those guys).
Buffy has scifi elements. I don't think of it as scifi myself because it's driven by the human drama and combines elements from many genres to get the drama where it needs to go. It has some great scifi moments and episodes, but the series isn't really scifi to me because there isn't a scifi theme or question that's also central to the story. The central idea of female empowerment doesn't characterize any single genre, although the main themes used to address it (fighting monsters, saving the world, characterizing good and evil) fit pretty well within horror. It anything, it's drama first and horror second. Scifi just served those themes when needed. And gave us scenes like Buffy fighting the nerds while everyone's invisible, which was hilarious.

Firefly on the other hand is drama first and scifi and western second and third. Or both second. Whatever. Technology and how humans use it, how we may one day colonize other planets and change them to meet our needs, the contrast between living in a world and off-world (which many of us do more of now in a way), are just as important as Mal's morality or River's complexity. Not so with Buffy. Robots and jetpacks are fun, they serve a purpose, but they come and go. The demons, the apocalypses, the struggle to save the world and not lose yourself and your friends in the process, that's what's real there. And that's horror more than anything else.

I don't know about Angel. It sounds like it maybe had more scifi in it.

I tried both 4 choices plus writein and 5 choices plus writein before I posted earlier. I suspect they're just getting a lot of traffic right now. And I expect lots of people are writing things in. ;) I'm not sure it's worth me voting anyway. I had curlymynci's reaction to the booklist.
Buffy featured many elements that could have come straight from a scifi series or book

It's difficult to pin a single genre on Buffy, given that Joss deliberately mixed in elements from many different genres and sometimes set an entire episode in a "guest genre" -- OMWF being the outstanding example in that category. But just because elements from different genres made their way into various episodes does not mean the entire series can be classified by them. Sci-fi elements do appear in Buffy, yes, but their function seems relegated to the minor role of plot advancement -- just so much phlebotinum. If I had to identify Buffy's defining genre, it would be the narrative universe of the comic-book superhero.
Bah, forgot to write in Ender's Game. I was happy that I was able to vote for Childhood's End over 2001, which I've always seen as a far more compelling version of essentially the same story.

I also voted for Colossus: The Forbin Project for some reason, even though I don't particularly remember liking it. And once again, no Dark City. Alas.


Closing tags are nice things, aren't they?

[ edited by Lady Brick on 2008-02-22 18:56 ]
If I were to vote I would need to see the C S Lewis sci-fi trilogy in the book selection and 'The Invaders' in the TV selection. My favourite sci-fi film is 'It Came From Outer Space', so that would be my third vote - again not including in the available choices.

I'm in the camp of not considering 'Buffy' to be sci-fi per-se, although I don't have any strong issues with it being in this list. However, when will we have the 'Greatest TV Shows Beginning with B' poll?
Don't know what the deal is with that site. Couldn't submit my own choice on something. That book list is pretty good, but I am partial to Footfall by Niven and Pournelle. Nothing like trying to defeat conquering aliens who look like elephants. I'm also a fan of The Mote in God's Eye. Haven't read The Gripping Hand yet.
Jesus Christ on a bicycle!!
curlymynci | February 22, 18:18 CET

See, that's science fiction cos bicycles weren't invented until hundreds of years after he died.
Saje | February 22, 18:25 CET

Except, Jesus, a religious figure. So by your own reckoning it's actually fantasy and doesn't belong in the poll. (But I'd vote for it anyway just on the good title aspect).

[ edited by barboo on 2008-02-22 21:19 ]
Wow, Tonya J, I read The Mote in God's Eye over 30 years ago...a terrific book.

But, any list of the greatest science fiction books that has nothing by Philip K. Dick is wrong, just wrong.

If you're only allowed one per author (but I see Wells got two), I guess I'd have to go with The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. Or Ubik. Wait, maybe The Man in the High Castle. And what about Martian Time-Slip? Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said? Dr. Bloodmoney? Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? The VALIS trilogy?

Okay, I'll stop.
::Adds to growing SF list:: Thanks, Chris!
I didn't vote;I don't think there are 5 things in each category I can recommend.

Seriously, I'll probably go back over it when I ahev time to pick that many. because I ahve to vote for Gordon Dickson's Childe Cycle. Maybe it can help coax his estate imnto releasing Childe, the final volume showing where we humans are heading if we don't choose self-extinction instead.
Prepare the pitchforks, unhitch your rotten fruit, light your torches but Philip K Dick never really did it for me in long form, I almost always finish his novels feeling slightly let down. His short stories on the other hand are just phenomenal.

Re: Bester BTW, I just came back from watching 'Jumper' (bit crap IMO) and is it just me or is "jumping" just "jaunting" from "The Stars My Destination" (another glaring omission, especially given that it's all about "evolving" beyond the need for vengeance - if that isn't better tomorrow material I don't know what is) by a different name ? There really is nothing new under the sun, even the sci-fi sun.

So by your own reckoning it's actually fantasy and doesn't belong in the poll.

Nah, in the fantasy version He doesn't die at all ;-).
However, when will we have the 'Greatest TV Shows Beginning with B' poll?


alien lanes, when asked what my favorite shows are, I have been known to respond with "Shows that start with B."

Then I realized that I had to add F, too, because of Farscape, Family Guy, and that other show Joss did.
I'm not sure that the "Is it sf?" discussion is ever profitable. It's sf if I say it is. (That way we can rope in whatever we want. "Six Feet Under"! It's magical realism, or, I dunno, predicting strange psychological anomalies that will characterize our lives in a few years! It could happen!

Picking greatests always makes my brain hurt. "The Book of the New Sun" by Gene Wolfe, something by M. John Harrison, something Harlan Ellison (tho' he might well kill me for implying he's sf...) and maybe a Swanwick story or two. Delany! "Babel-17," definitely; ditto "Einstein Intersection." "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" is very very good, political weirdness aside. Despite what Wikipedia says, "Naked Lunch" is sf and I'd include it. But I'm looking back over my already-overlong list and realizing I've forgotten people, books, thingummies.... Zelazny! Varley! Gibson! Gentle!

So, if I like it, it's science fiction. "Don Quixote": if the science involved is psychology, sure. "Lord of the Rings": postulates a universe where physics and morality is radically different. (Sf need not be predictive, it only need be speculative.)

Gripe over. Good to see "Childhood's End" mentioned. Favorite of mine.
Yeah, the sf argument is generally a waste of time (especially since it then splinters off into, "But is it hard sf or soft sf?" To which I usually respond -- um, actually, you don't want to know what I usually respond, this being a family-friendly board. But I digress...)

Anyway, on a list of my favorites, I'd have to add one by Roger Zelazny, certainly a sf author. Except that the book I'd pick is A Night In The Lonesome October, which stretches the definitions of sf by, I would suspect, pretty much everybody's standards.
Buffy may not be strictly SF, but it gets my vote anyway.
Except that the book I'd pick is A Night In The Lonesome October, which stretches the definitions of sf by, I would suspect, pretty much everybody's standards.


Would you be referring to the book by Richard Laymon? I don't remember it having many sci-fi themes, but then it's been years since I read it.

And certainly do agree about the sci-fi stuff. Pigeonholing stories of any kind distracts from the enjoyment of them (not to mention any message they might contain).

[ edited by deepgirl187 on 2008-02-23 00:33 ]
No, it's by Roger Zelazny deepgilr187 and I haven't read it but it has something to do with Jack the Ripper.

How does pigeon-holing stories (or identifying which genre they belong to) detract/distract from their enjoyment or any message they might contain ? Not convinced of that at all. I still love Buffy "despite" it not being sci-fi, what difference does it make ? 'House' isn't sci-fi either, it's kind of a character driven medical mystery show, how does knowing that reduce the show at all ?

Like a lot of stuff Rowan Hawthorn, it's only a waste of time if it's not fun for you to partake. If 'SF' (or sci-fi or science-fiction or whatever - definitely not getting into that one ;) means anything at all though then it must mean something i.e. it's emphatically NOT just what we individually decide is SF. That way madness lies. If everything's sci-fi then nothing is, simple as that.

Next maybe we'll just make up what gravity means and float away ;-).
Saje, that's kind of my point: for me, the argument as to what is or isn't sf isn't fun. Because there's so much overlap and so many people have different ideas as to where the boundaries are (or aren't,) it's an endless argument that never seems to get anywhere - and doesn't matter to me, anyway. For myself, whether it's nuts-and-bolts sf or pure fantasy, there are those books (and/or authors) I like and those I don't. I could say, "I don't like (fitb)," but just as soon as I said it, I'd find something in that genre that would make my "favorites" list.
Yeah, fair point, each to their own ;). Personally, I like categories and finding the edges of them cos to me, if you don't know where genre boundaries are, you can't appreciate it when they're being crossed. To say Joss is "genre bending" for instance is only meaningful if genres themselves are. It's like saying "Joss subverted horror clichés with Buffy" - true (IMO) but only worthy if we know what horror and its clichés even are.

(totally agree though that it's crazy to say "I don't like fantasy" for instance and in doing so close yourself off from potentially great works in that genre - ultimately, good/bad are the only "genres" that matter. Which, thinking about it, may be what deepgirl187 meant)
deepgirl187, "A Night In The Lonesome October," by Roger Zelazny. It's a sort of tongue-in-cheek melding of a dozen different fictional (and one or two non-fictional) characters, with a touch of Lovecraft. It gets pulled out each October for a fun re-read. And I just got a copy of the audiobook version, read by Zelazny.
If the poll had been about SF, I could have included Buffy. But it specifically said science fiction, and that I don't think it is.

I had to vote for The Martian Chronicles. It was my favourite when I was twelve, and it's my favourite now.
"A Night In The Lonesome October," by Roger Zelazny. It's a sort of tongue-in-cheek melding of a dozen different fictional (and one or two non-fictional) characters, with a touch of Lovecraft.
Rowan Hawthorn


Thanks for the mention of this. Never heard of it before, but I used to love everything Zelazny did, until everything turned into Amber. Favorites would be Isle of the Dead and Lord of Light. I'd say he's one who blends the sci fi and fantasy genres. Stories about gods, but maybe gods as just another kind of being.
Next maybe we'll just make up what gravity means and float away ;-).
Saje


I vote for making up what "work" means and floating away from it!
'Course then I'll have to make up what "paycheck" means, and "mortgage" and "groceries."
Yep, the meaning of "imprisoned for non-payment of debts" remains pretty fixed. There ain't no justice ;).

Zelazny's a great example of an author that leaps over genre boundaries like some sort of leapy, writery sort of thing. Like a Gazelle that can write for instance. 'Lord of Light' is fairly straightforward sci-fi BUT it has a lot of fantasy (and religious) trappings. It's kind of the book-length elaboration of Clarke's maxim "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic".

And I also might look out that 'October' one, wikipedia (and Rowan Hawthorn) make it sound interesting (got an omnibus edition of the 'Chronicles of Amber' to read first though).
Maybe we could have a soc-sci-fi. Social science fiction being to hard science fiction what psychology is to physics. Then we could have a nice genre for all those hard to classify types like 1984, Brave New World, and potentially even things like Dune, Brin's Uplift series etc. Anything that involves dragons, wizards or traveling jugglers can remain firmly in the fantasy camp.

This leaves Buffy and Angel in fantasy, while Firefly is clearly soc-sci-fi.

Right, I'm off to change my shelves from alphabetical order to a phased genre continuum.
I always preferred the term sf because the boundaries were wider. Speculative Fiction? Science fantasy? etc.
McCaffrey's Dragon series were firmly fantasy until a later book revealed that the planet had been settled from spaceships and the dragons genetically engineered. So then where do they fit?
Lioness; I'm surprsied; I thought it was always supposed to be plainly obvious (even if nto stated) that the Pern colony was a furutistic one settled by space-faring Terrans.

I went back and tried to vote again and was going thru the list of books when I realized that I've read almost none of them(Ringworld and the all but the first quarter of the Stand being the exceptions) nor do I care to. Even if I write in _the Childe Cycle_ that still leaves 4 to choose, and I don't think the two I've read make the cut.
Funny, Saje, I'm 180 degrees from you regarding PKD...I *like* his short stories, but I LOVE his novels, well, at least a dozen of the 30 or so I've read.

I remember reading, ages ago, Harlan Ellison ranting about how he hates the term "science fiction", preferring "speculative fiction".
I can't believe how some people are uncertain whether Firefly is scifi. Get a grip dudes, scifi has always been about storytelling first, and the science / future / whatnot is (usually) just the setting. Some stories focus on the world, some on the people and some (gasp) on the science, but all are about the story first. Or, at least the good ones.

I mean, Star Wars was a story about a guy strugging to get in grip with the oppressing world and his screwed up family history, that just happened to be placed in space... Or is that not scifi either?

Anyway, I did like that list. Sure, it has lots of missing stuff, but scifi is such a broad fiction that there are tons and tons of books/movies/etc. It's easy to forget some when coming up with a list, I for one wouldn't really want to even try, at least without some brainstorming.
... scifi has always been about storytelling first, and the science / future / whatnot is (usually) just the setting

Nope, fundamentally disagree Eerikki ;). Some sci-fi is like that but the best of it (IMO) normally features something intrinsic to the story that's a result of a technological (or sociological) change/advance.

If you set 'House' in a hundred years time it'd still be a kind of character based medical mystery, not sci-fi (even though 'House' features - and adheres to - the scientific world-view more than just about any sci-fi show i've seen). On the other hand, leave it set in contemporary Princeton but have even one story that depends on a diagnosis of e.g. "He's a clone" and *shazam* it immediately becomes sci-fi.

And as I say, because it has magic, you can easily consider 'Star Wars' to be fantasy (and some do). Holding it up as some paragon of science fiction is begging the question.

I remember reading, ages ago, Harlan Ellison ranting about how he hates the term "science fiction", preferring "speculative fiction".

Yeah CiV, Ellison was one of the people that first pushed "speculative fiction" I think partly because at that time the whole SF/sci-fi/skiffy thing was kicking off and he found it pretty annoying (and was maybe slightly snobby about "lasers and spaceships" and didn't want his stuff to be thrown in with that). To me "speculative fiction" is just too broad to be meaningful though - all fiction is speculative, right ?

(though it does fit e.g. '1984' much better than sci-fi as labels go)
WTF?? Silent Spring on a SciFi list? This is the weirdest collection of choices I've yet to see on one of these polls. But I can never resist them, anyhow.

Yes to all the authors everyone else has mentioned. It was a tough decision (may the spirit of my beloved Roger Zelazny forgive me) but I added Dan Simmons and Hyperion.
Also .... someone help me out here, who wrote the "Gateway" trilogy, I'm drawing a total blank?

I added Torchwood to the TV shows ;)
Sci-fi isn't about time or setting. Science fiction contains fictional science.

The demonology in Btvs is fictional science.

It would be one thing if Buffy just fought whatever demon came along. But the scoobies apply demonology, a science, to fighting demons. The demons aren't just magical monsters, they have an anatomy and a species classification. The majority of episodes have fight scenes AND research scenes. If you took out all the demonology and research then it would just be fantasy.

Firefly and Star Wars contain fictional technology.
The demons aren't just magical monsters ...

True, they're not just magical monsters but nevertheless they are magical monsters and no universe with magic in it is compatible with science. To me, a universe where science actually works is a prerequisite for science fiction.

It's all lines and continua though, as usual. You might allow a certain number of "gimmes" for instance and allow some contraventions of physics for the story (the Heisenberg Compensators are my favourite example of this - without them the whole 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' universe falls apart, with them you can argue that Trek is fantasy and not sci-fi). Just comes down to how many and how big for each individual (the magic in 'Star Wars' and arguably 'Firefly' may be small enough for some folk).

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