Home Forums Sci Fi General Sci-Fi When Does SciFi Start ??

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    Avatar photokyoteblue

    So when do you think SciFi starts, 5 year. 10 years. 20 years. 50 years. 100 years???

    Avatar photoQuaker

    Any story involving technology that currently doesn’t exist (or didn’t exist during the period depicted).

    Avatar photokyoteblue

    What tech do you see changing in 5 years?

    Avatar photoMrHarold

    What if it’s aliens right now? Or in the past? But they have ray guns?

    I think it’s more about the tech than timeframe.



    That said I tend to push it out at least 30 years.

    ClearHorizon Miniatures - 15mm Sci-Fi

    Avatar photokyoteblue

    So again what tech will come out that is not Popular Mechanics flying cars but does change day to day life and warfare??

    Avatar photoEvyn MacDude

    You Mean we aren’t living the future?

    We got portable video phones, that double as computers. I can pick up mine and call someone in the middle of Africa or the ocean and reasonable expect them to pick up (when I was in the service you had to find a satellite station on a island to doe the ocean part, the africa part was a operator connected station to station call).

    So what does the Future mean to you?


    Avatar photoAngel Barracks

    Good question.

    Like most of the replies I think an actual date is irrelevant, in so much that sci-fi does not need to be set in the future.
    War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, 1984, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, etc all being sci-fi, and set in our past.

    For me sci-fi has to have some element of fiction.
    So anything set in the future has the potential to be sci-fi, as historical events in the future of course are not fact, just supposition.
    However that for me makes it just fiction.
    We need science.
    Now this could take on several forms.
    It could be as bold as aliens with spaceships and ray guns invading.
    Here we have fiction (the alien invasion) and science (ray guns and advanced tech).
    Or it could be as subtle as change of weather.

    However it does not of course have to be set in the future to be fiction.
    I like The Walking Dead.
    That is set now, but is still fiction.
    It also has the science element to validate zombies, it is a virus of some sort.

    Zombie films without a scientific rational I would argue could be science fantasy, like I would argue GW’s 40k is science fantasy.
    I also feel that Steampunk is science fantasy.
    Yes it is fiction and does have advanced tech, however much steampunk makes no effort to make its science plausible.

    In terms of stories/films I feel the best sci-fi can be split into a two camps:

    Action and Thinky

    Action sci-fi is mostly about conflict between 2 forces, most often humans vs. aliens.
    The appeal is in the action scenes, the slick portrayal of high tech stuff and the dialogue between the antagonists.

    Good Action sci-fi:

    Aliens – Excellent characters with personality that you either love or love to hate. Pulse rifles rock and acid for blood wins. Drop ships and power loaders and being mistaken for a man.
    Game over man game over.

    Predator – Arnie in his prime, explosions and at the time a very cool alien bad guy, the likes of which was unseen.
    If it bleeds we can kill it.

    Pitch Black – Vin Diesel being the quintessential anti-hero. Aliens, muscles, coolness in spades.
    Not great effects, not a great story, but an excellent character in Riddick.
    I said it looked clear.

    Resident Evil – Evil baddy corporation, secret experiments, guns, elite soldiers, mutants, AI’s that have lasers and Mila Jovovich.
    You’re all going to die down here

    Good Thinky sci-fi:

    Bladerunner – Timeless portrayal of how the more we can achieve through science the more messed up we become. Classic iconography, excellent score, story line that makes you think about the essence of the soul and humanity and what part can/does science play in this.
    Too bad she won’t live. But then again, who does?

    Starship Troopers – Whilst full of action and aliens, many people miss the political commentary this film makes.
    Being a good citizen, life controlled by the state, propaganda and the constant force feed of information.
    A dystopian society with the very best PR machine.
    Would you like to know more?

    District 9 – Good on so many levels. Nice that when the aliens come to earth they don’t choose the USA again.
    Clearly a comment on segregation and the ostracisation of people from society for beeing seen as a second class race.
    Wikus starts the films as a nasty xenophobic piece of poop, however after being forced to walk in the shoes of the ‘people’ he hates he learns a touch of humility and fights for those people he hated.
    It is nice to see a character you don’t much care for change over the course of the story into someone you respect and then have sympathy for.
    The total opposite of Tom Cruise in the remake of The War of the Worlds, who starts the film as piece of crud and does not change.
    We need your signature on this eviction notice.

    The Road – Post apocalyptic gloom. A very dark depressing film that focuses on the relationship between a father and his child. In a world without hope, destroyed by a nuclear holocaust, the desire to care for your child is never more powerfully shown. It is dark and pretty tragic, you invest very heavily in the main characters and I will admit I did cry when bad stuff happened.
    And we’re carrying the fire.

    In the Thinky films we see the effect that technology has on the human condition.
    How we are changed by the technology and exploration of what it is to be humane or indeed humane.

    In the Action films we see more direct conflict with clearly defined good and bad.
    Less highbrow but no less engaging for it.

    So sci-fi for me can take many shapes and many forms.
    It can be making a comment on society and the human condition, as much of the very best sci-fi is. Or it can be a kick ass adrenaline ride that just screams cool at you.

    Like I always say, Size Matters!

    Oh wait hang on…

    In terms of wargames it is how we play them.

    It is not the rules or the mechanics as such, it is how we as gamers game.
    Let us consider the normal wargame.
    We look down at the table and see everything, troops not yet put on the table, troops behind hills, troops inside buildings, etc.

    This kind of godlike insight may well work for moderns and sci-fi, as we have drones sending back information, satellite imaging, sensors and all sorts of communication that could give us this view of the battlefield.

    So for sci-fi games this method of playing should be fine, why then does it seem lacking?
    Because we have the same view of the battlefield in sci-fi games as we do in ancients games.

    A 4th century BC general would not have real time updates on the battlefield.
    A 14th century general would not have real time updates on the battlefield.

    Yet this is how we often play them, which in turn means that if this is how ancients games are played then how do we represent future and modern technology which would actually allow this.

    So, in summary I think sci-fi games don’t feel sci-fi enough as they use the same way of playing as games with technology that has yet to invent wi-fi!

    So for me the problem is with historical games.
    How to solve this?

    A quick fix would be to play ‘old’ games as we do now, but when a unit is encountered or in some way interacted with, roll a d6.

    1 = it is actually 5” further away.
    2-3 = it is where it is.
    4-5 = it is 5” closer.
    6 = it is not even a unit, just rumours.

    Something like that anyway.
    That would mean the fog of war as so common in olden days would be represented, and sci-fi games with all their super technology would allow real time positioning of troops.

    A sci-fi game feels sci-fi if we are aware of everything that is going on at once, technology would allow this level of information.
    A hover tank is a weapon, much like a dragoon is a weapon.
    It is how we play them not what we play them with.

    My thoughts on it anyway.

    Avatar photoExtraCrispy

    If it has lasers it’s SciFi, if it has magic it’s fantasy (not mutually exclusive I know). Date doesn’t matter, as noted above. All our games are a form of story telling and contain fiction. Just a question of how much.

    Avatar photoExtraCrispy

    One aspect to gaming I think about is this: if you replaced all the names in a set of rules with generic terms, could you tell what period it was for? For example, this soldier has a ranged weapon that reaches out to 24″ and hits on a 4+ This is a transport that carries up to 12 figures and moves 12″ per turn, 18″ on the road. Could be medieval (longbow and wagon) or Old West (Spencer and Stagecoach), WW2 (bolt action and truck), SciFi (Blaster and hover-jeep).

    There are a few things that set limits (aircraft, unit formations) but it’s actually relatively hard to find a SciFi rule set that won’t work for Vietnam, or a WW2 set that won’t work for SciFi. Because gaming imposes very tight boundaries: weapon ranges relative to table size for example. The need to have a “turn sequence” of some sort. The converting of the fluid in to the discrete.

    Bolt Action, for example, you can use it, as is, for anything from 1700 onward (only because it focuses on ranged weapons not melee). My small unit rules work for anything from fantasy to Vietnam to SciFi.

    Avatar photowillz

    One of the best scifi / fantasy books I read and would make a good scifi war-game and come into this genre was called Space crusade (I think) or star crusade.

    Basic plot line Alien space ship crash lands in England 1340ish and local lord captures it and proceeds to kick butt across the galaxy.  There was a reasonable film made of it also.

    It has it all knights, MAA, bowmen, peasants, space ships and Aliens.

    Must game it some day.






    Avatar photoIvan Sorensen

    This is a really good question actually.

    I’ve started to view it more as “imaginary” gaming. We’ve begun playing some “20 years from now” scenarios. They’re essentially present-day games in technology but with made-up conflicts and in some cases near-future miniatures.

    Someone suggested that it’s whenever you add a “space” element. Aliens invade in 1950? It’s a scifi game. Maybe we should go back to the old literary term of speculative fiction?

    I think some of the problem with the term is that as gamers we’re concerned with the gadgetry and aliens, while “science fiction” at least nominally revolves around changing some aspect of reality and then examining the world that it creates.

    Avatar photoTony

    When does SciFi Start?

    It starts when you say, “What if?”

    Avatar photovenusboys3

    When does SciFi Start? It starts when you say, “What if?”

    I like that take on it. It better quantifies what I expect out of science fiction… vs. space opera and such… which are usually more concerned with telling a ripping yarn than exploring a particular concept. Fantasy seldom seems concerned with ‘what if’ type questions. Generally I find science fiction weaker on characters and plot… but strong on the presentation of ideas.

    Avatar photoMike

    Generally I find science fiction weaker on characters and plot… but strong on the presentation of ideas.

    I find bad sci-fi to be like that, just as I find bad films in general to be like that.
    But there are some truly excellent films out there in terms of characters that you care about and also the story they are part fo.
    There are some god awful ones too, but as noted there are some god awful non-sci-fi films.

    Notable good ones for me, in terms of fleshed out characters that seem real and stories that hold you:

    The Road
    District 9
    I am Legend
    The Divide
    The Truman Show

    I would put them up in some of the best films I have seen, regardless of them being sci-fi or not.
    Interestingly, none of them especially happy films…

    Avatar photoExtraCrispy

    I would add Dark City, Gattaca and Until the End of the World to that list.

    Avatar photoAnonymous

    When the setting, characters, or play process suddenly doesn’t seem like “Today.” Yes that can describe Fantasy too but I see things divided into Historical and not-Historical then not-Historical into Science Fiction, Fantasy, or VSF. There are subsets of each of those but that would be digressing into something other than the OP asked.

    Avatar photovenusboys3

    <div class=”d4p-bbt-quote-title”>venusboys3 wrote:</div>
    Generally I find science fiction weaker on characters and plot… but strong on the presentation of ideas.

    I find bad sci-fi to be like that, just as I find bad films in general to be like that. But there are some truly excellent films out there in terms of characters that you care about and also the story they are part fo.

    I guess I was thinking more along the lines of classic scifi books… like Foundation and Ringworld… which seem to primarily be big ideas on display with protagonists who are there mostly as eyes to see through. Most of what is entertaining about Bladerunner has little to do with the specifics of the Replicants… they could be spies or escaped convicts or slaves and have pretty much the same storyline and impact. But everyone remembers the visuals, the flying cars and such… but those are mostly set dressing and don’t impact the story either.  2001: A Space Oddyssey, on the other hand… that’s all about the concept… and the human characters seem pretty interchangeable.

    Her was probably the best new scifi movie I’ve seen in years… being BOTH about big ideas AND having some interesting humans as well.

    Dark City seems like pure Fantasy to me… despite the final shot revealing that they’re ‘in spaaaaaaace’.

    Not that I’m really all that invested in the taxonomy of such things. Sometimes I want a story about ideas, sometimes I want a story about people… sometimes I want action, sometimes I want smart people having an interesting discussion about interesting stuff.

    Avatar photoMike

    I am bumping this as I would like to know more.



    Avatar photoPatrice

    So again what tech will come out

    Any technology that we can’t imagine now. Because we can’t imagine it now. That’s the point.

    When I was a kid we were dreaming about flying cars and flying motorbikes but we could not imagine that one day we would have cellphones to call our friends from any street corner (although walkie-talkies had been invented long ago but not for everyday life). And nobody imagined internet.

    I don’t remember the name but someone in the 18th century wrote a novel where young people were saying that everything had already be invented and nothing more could be done. The author was sure it was wrong (but he said he didn’t know more).

    IMHO that’s what sci-fi is about, that’s the more difficult: imagine things that cannot yet be imagined. 


    Avatar photokyoteblue

    Thanks Patrice !

    Avatar photoIanKH

    Does/is science fiction always need to be set in the future?

    War of the Worlds is set in the past and it’s one of the defining sci-fi stories. As is Frankenstein. I know it’s considered horror nowadays thanks to the film industry but it is arguably the first real science fiction tale, telling the story of a scientist who, though his scientific experimentation, creates a horror.

    As for living in “the future.” – I’m still waiting for my mauve, velour, jumpsuit as well as my personal bi-plane and sky scraper landing pad!!!

    By the way… This is my first ever post. on TWW. I registered on the forum long ago and was reminded by a bad TMP posting.

    Avatar photokyoteblue

    Welcome and you are right.

    Avatar photoNorm S

    Welcome Ian.

    The aliens that built the pyramids (no laser guns specifically!) would be Sci-Fi.

    Warlord Games have recently released Konflict ’47, which is a continuation of WWII in a parallel universe, they have human and tech resembling us, but the twist is zombie types  in the ranks, the T-34 is weaponised with lasers and they have a walker with a cannon in it’s chest etc.

    This universe, near future, I see tech moving towards methods of being able to fight remotely i.e. using machines instead of people, I suppose we are seeing the start with drones, but if in civy street we are not far away from driverless cars, it can be assume that military vehicles are working towards a similar goal.

    I imagine that near future we are still with kinetic weapons and explosive power, though anti-computer technology may increasingly sit along side that.

    One of the problems that modern armies face is that kit is expensive and there is a big lead in time to production, so in a time of war side can quickly lose it’s carrriers, aircraft and MBT’s, but replacement may not be possible on the time-scales needed in a modern conventional war – so one’s mind must turn to what kind of ‘quick-stop’ technology would be turned to in that event.

    Avatar photoMaff Sparkes

    I think that sci fi probably starts “yesterday” but we just don’t know it yet. Look at the change in kit for the British army since 1982 – from the DPM and SLR with the LMG (Bren) still in service to the ultra mod look of today. The 82 kit had clear WW2 DNA but today’s kit is much more Traveller style imho.

    As to what gets used when capital items get destroyed – judging by my experience in wargaming, whatever is available even if it’s not designed for the job…..

    Avatar photoIvan Sorensen

    Shouldn’t it by definition be starting “tomorrow” though? 🙂

    Avatar photokyoteblue

    That too, Ivan !!!

    Avatar photoEtranger

    This timeline? Tomorrow.

    Elsewhere in the multiverse…

    Avatar photoMaff Sparkes

    <p style=”text-align: left;”>I used yesterday because things happen and we don’t notice or pay it attention</p>

    Avatar photoGrimheart

    kyoteblue wrote: So again what tech will come out

    Although Patrice has a point that scifi is “any tech we can’t imagine” I feel that is far too narrow a definition.

    A lot of tech was imagined way before science and industry got around to actually being able to build it.

    Just look at HG Wells stories, Leonardo de Vinci’s gadgets……..all “scifi tech” at the time.

    On a more modern note we had the Star Trek hand communicators – now we smart phones connecting us to nearly every thing.

    The exciting thing is trying to guess what current scifi ideas will actually become reality.

    VR rooms like the tv “holodecks”?

    Genetic manipulation so we can adapt to different looks and environs?

    Self healing nanobot blood?

    Self aware AI?  – that is a scary thought!

    There are a lot of possibilities.

    Science has advanced incredibly in the last 100 years and the pace keeps accelerating.

    Interest include 6mm WW2, 6mm SciFi, 30mm Old West, DropFleet, Warlords Exterminate and others!

    Avatar photoVictoria Dickson

    A long time ago in a galaxy far far away. 🙂

    Avatar photoPatrice

    I can also accept that adding modern or futurist settings to an historical context can qualify as Sci-Fi.

    VSF, and Steampunk (perhaps), and 1950s-60s Sci-Fi cannot be our own (nowadays) future any more, but they are still Sci-Fi aren’t they? And Star Wars first episodes now seem quite outdated but can still qualify as Sci-Fi…

    It’s a different question than: “So what tech will come out?” 


    Avatar photoRod Robertson

    Sci-Fi starts when speculative science, technology or knowledge, which can be described and at least partially understood by today’s standards, drives a fictional story forward. Science Fantasy is similar but the science, technology or knowledge is beyond our present ability to comprehend and thus appears more like magic or miracle. Pure fantasy suspends or replaces the basic laws of our universe and thus leaves science moot, replacing it with a new arcane lore.

    Sci-Fi, while forward looking, need not be set in the future. It can be set in the past or the present too. What Sci-Fi does is to let us break the shackles of our own modern world and tell stories which inform our present human condition in new and liberating ways. This liberation allows entertainment, speculation, moral and ethical critique, and religious or secular revelation with respect to our real/mundane present and future. It gives us a mechanism to examine new possibilities, both hopeful and dire. It allows authors and screen play writers to tackle social and personal issues which may be difficult, unpopular, taboo or even outright illegal to otherwise discuss publicly. It frees us from our own conventions and allows us to dream, to design and eventually to realise – to hack our collective gestalten. It is the secular equivalent to the religious hope of salvation and the fear of damnation.

    So when does Sci-Fi start? It starts whenever we can imagine it starting, be it before the cosmos formed, during the last big-bang, before the Eath formed, before life here developed, before humanity, in our distant past, our present or at any time in our future. With the idea of the multiverse the possibilities even make time moot as new coincidental possibilities become describable. When does a games become Sci-Fi? The moment we play it that way.

    Cheers and good gaming.

    Rod Robertson.

    Avatar photokyoteblue

    Thanks for all the reply’s !!


    For me, Sci-Fi simply starts when the alients\spaceships do.

    For instance two years ago we played a Napoleonic game of French versus bugs. This was a simple test of some sci fi rules that accounted for industrial age technology.

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