Gravity is not science fiction
Make no mistake about it: as a geek, I’m happy to see the success of Gravity, both in terms of box office and reception.
However, I’m not as pleased to see it being labeled as science fiction (or using Forry Ackerman’s shorthand, sci-fi).
It’s pointedly not.
Even reviews that laud the attempt to get the science right have used that label.
I mean, for those who haven’t noticed, space travel is reality now. Perhaps some folks aren’t aware that the International Space Station actually exists…that there are astronauts right now over somebody’s head. In the right circumstances, you can actually look up and see it.
Just being set in space doesn’t make something science fiction…not any more.
Sure, that used to be true, before 1961 and the first human spaceflight.
Now, setting a movie in space is no more a guarantee that it is science fiction than setting a movie on a train. Oh, it could be, certainly, and so far, the vast majority of space movies have been.
Not this one, though.
It is absolutely presented as something that could be happening now, within consensus reality.
Yes, it’s fiction…we aren’t flying shuttle missions like that now, but it isn’t science fiction.
Maybe it’s all the special effects that confuse some writers? Well, if it’s the number of FX shots that make a movie science fiction, Backdraft would quality.
If Gravity gets Oscar love, science geeks can claim it as one of theirs. Science fiction fans? Not so much.
Note: science fiction has clearly inspired some of the advances in science over the decades. Arguably, the space program wouldn’t have been the same if its shapers hadn’t been exposed H.G. Wells and Captain Video. However, both of those (and many others) looked beyond the reality horizon: Gravity makes every effort not to do that
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.