Not So Blue Monday

The Crotchety Old Fan sure was crotchety today,  cheering Avatar’s loss at the Oscars.

What especially intrigued me was his reminder that an sf movie has already won an Oscar for Best Picture.    

Back in 1956, Around The World In 80 Days took best picture. Does anyone need a reminder that the movie (with David Niven) was based on the novel by JULES VERNE?  and that the novel itself was just as much a speculative fiction of speculative technologies when written as 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was?       

Hey, that’s right! Now tell me, am I allowed to call something “steampunk” if it was written when steam power was the state-of-the-art technology?  

Crotchety adds that a mythopoeic fantasy film has already won Best Picture, too. It’ll come to you in a moment. Or if it doesn’t check his little list of genre nominees to jog your memory.

5 thoughts on “Not So Blue Monday

  1. I include Around the World for two reasons actually: 20,000 Leagues, Journey to the Center and Around the World were all made within three years of each other and all three shared the same basic SF – like premise: discovery of a new technology/new information about how the world ‘really’ is and adventures exploring the results.
    No one argues that 20k or Journey are (at the worst) proto-science fiction – scientific romances. Yet no one hardly ever includes 80 days – which is probably due to the fact that the ‘new fangled technologies’ (steam locomotives, steam ships) quickly became prosaic. Verne’s adventure took place in a time when completing an around the world trip using these technologies was not yet quite possible.
    If anyone needs any further convincing, I point you to Farmer’s The Other Log Of Phileas Fogg.

    BTW – I’m almost done the compilation of Acadamy Awards given to “genre” properties and will be posting it in a day or so.

    Thanks once again for the nod!

    Ooops – almost forgot – here’s another poo-poo on Avatar!

  2. Around the World in Eighty Days is emphatically not science fiction. The premise Verne had was that using the technology currently in place it would be possible to circle the world in 80 days.

  3. With all due respect Mr. Silver, I think the determination of whether it is a scientific romance or not has everything to do with one’s take on the definition of SF.

    There are plenty of tales that are considered to be and/or marketed as SF that use contemporary (or contemporary when written) science/technology and simply take it off in a new direction, examine it from a new perspective or explore enhanced aspects of it. (Killerbowl by Gary Wolf from 1975, which just recently rose to attention again doesn’t use any new science – other than a change in societal values as one readily at hand example.)

  4. @Steven and Steve: Steven Silver probably has a definition of science fiction in mind and can certainly analyze whether Around the World in 80 Days falls inside or outside its boundaries.

    My own comfort level with calling it sf is that Verne is telling a story with technology in a central place using the same problem-solving sense of adventure as he does the stories which we have no trouble classifying as sf.

    Steven — Would this story fit within the definition of alternate history?

  5. It is only alternate history insofar as any story set in the past when the author wrote it is alternate history. In this particular case (and it has been years since I’ve read the book), I don’t believe anything Fogg, Passepartout, or Fix do changes actual history, and writing AH was almost certainly not Verne’s intent. Secret history, perhaps, but again, secret history as just about any other novel not set in the author’s future is secret history.

    So, while I can agree with Steve that it is sf if you define sf as “how the use of [existing] technology changes life,” that doesn’t work for me. It would be like writing a novel or story today to show that a person can use a computer to bring everything they need to their house (food, clothes, etc.) without going outside (if I recall, someone did live like that for a year a couple of year’s back).

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