The Instigator
Hatstand
Con (against)
Winning
7 Points
The Contender
zebrafinchqueen
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points

Science Fiction Cannot Be Literature

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
Hatstand
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/21/2013 Category: Arts
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,154 times Debate No: 35832
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (9)
Votes (4)

 

Hatstand

Con

This is something I've seen flying around for a while: science fiction is given a bad name in literature. It's been carried to extremes, with some authors refusing to admit that their books are science fiction at all. I am not arguing that all science fiction is literature, any more than all realism is literature, but that the terms 'science fiction' and 'literature' aren't mutually exclusive.

Literature is defined as:

1. Writings in which expression and form, in connection with ideas of a permanent and universal interest, are characteristic or essential features, as poetry, romance, history, biography, essays, etc.; bellies letters

By the Macquarie Dictionary. I understand that "printed matter of any kind" is also a definition of literature, but the usage I've defined above is the one I'm interested in for the purposes of this debate

As it is traditional for the Pro to argue first, my opponent may argue their point in the first round, but I respectfully ask that their final round be left blank in order to allow for an equal number of arguments from each side.
zebrafinchqueen

Pro

Science fiction can be literature since people do read them and like them.
Debate Round No. 1
Hatstand

Con

I feel that there has been some sort of misunderstanding.

The topic of the debate is "Science Fiction Cannot Be Literature". As the Con, it is my job to disagree with this statement, arguing that science fiction CAN be literature. My opponent's job, as Pro, is to AGREE with that stamens, and argue that science fiction CANNOT be literature.

The second misunderstanding that I feel has arisen in the definition of literature. What my opponent has done is literally to argue, quite succinctly, that science fiction can come in book form. I will not argue with that. I have read enough science fiction novels to know that it is very possible to write down a science fiction story, tie all the pages together, and give it to someone to read. What we are here to debate is the literary value of science fiction as a genre. Literary value, as I have stated when I explained the topic, relates to the text's ability to explore ideas of widespread and lasting importance through textual structure and the themes. As anyone who has ever completed a high school level English course should know, the literary value and the enjoyment of the readers are not necessarily proportional.

Science fiction is often given a bad name when compared to realism. The logic goes that as realism is meant to be an accurate reflection of the world, it will clearly have important things to say about the world. Realism provides a direct window into another part of life, and offers a understanding of something you don't have the chance to experience yourself. Sure, science fiction gives you an understanding of something you don't have a chance to live for yourself, but in what way can spaceships explore ideas of importance?

I think at this point it is important to draw a few sub-genres in science fiction. The two I will be referring to here are what I call "Deeper Science Fiction" and "Cowboys and Indians in Space". Please understand that these are both generalised terms used to represent a wide range of texts in less than ten lines. Deeper Science Fiction, sometimes called "speculative fiction" by those who don't want to associate anything thought-provoking with the infamous "science fiction" label, refers to books (or other texts) which use a hypothetical world built within the realms of scientific possibly to either create a 'what if' scenario, or as analogy for an already present issue. "Cowboys and Indians in Space" does basically what it says on the tin. Possibly the most famous example of this genre is "Star Wars", which, despite all it's flashing lights, was really just a lot of good fun. A fine movie, certainly, but not literature. As such, I shall leave "Cowboys and Indians in Space" here.

Deeper Science Fiction that uses its often futuristic setting as an analogy for another issue is an open and shut case. Analogy is widely accepted as a literary technique (I don't know what else you could call it) that means using one thing to express another. Such a text could, as such, discuss any issue that could be discussed in a realism text; in fact, science fiction can go further - using hyperbole to draw the reader's (or viewer's) attention to the more important details and to show relationships in a more clear fashion.

This moves me on to the 'what if' style of Deeper Science Fiction. These books do not represent the world we know through tinted glass, but actually provide a new one. This creates a totally new world, and, usually, places humanity slap bang in the middle of it. By exploring human reactions in situations that we have never experienced before, we are ultimately exploring human nature itself. Human nature is arguably the most literary theme of all: we praise Shakespeare for exploring human nature through fantasy, why should it be different for science fiction?

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I thank the Pro for accepting this debate, and hope that I have cleared up any uncertainty around what it is we are debating.
zebrafinchqueen

Pro

I am sorry about my mistake. Then now I will post my argument.
Science Fiction cannot be literature because:

Literature is something classic, with value. But scicene fiction is a make up story. It is not real. That is why it is only a story. Literature for example written by Shakespear, is classic, and it has a literature value, although it is a story, it shows human nature, love and hatred, and etc.
Debate Round No. 2
Hatstand

Con

I would like to begin by thanking my opponent for continuing this debate, despite the prior misunderstanding of who was arguing what. The fact that she has continues arguing a point she had not initially thought she would have to argue shows great character.

I will keep this brief as I know my opponent has to depart shortly.

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A few definitions I think we are missing here.

First: classic

Classical (literature): a body of literature regarded as great or lasting, esp that of ancient Greece or Rome (1)

This is just a quick definition from an online dictionary, but I think that it sufficiently serves our purposes here.

The 'classics' that we are familiar with are all from before our time (or before mine, anyway), but it seems a but of a stretch to say that nothing written today will ever be considered a classic. As a text is defined as classic when it has proven to withstand the sands of time, it is hard to determine at the time of writing what is and isn't classic.

"Science fiction is a make up story. It is not real". Is any fiction truly real? By definition, no. All fictive works, whether they are set in a modern, historical, or futuristic setting, are essentially made up. However, I will grant that there is more creativity required to write science fiction that realism.

"Literature for example written by Shakespear, is classic, and has literature value". I would like to take a moment to note that I discussed Shakespeare in my previous argument, but as my opponent seems determined that it is the perfect example of what literature should be, I shall explore it further here. "although it is a story, it shows human nature, love and hatred, etc." Precisely. Shakespeare's plays are considered literature not beause he told 'true stories', but because the stories that he wrote offered insight into humanity's very core (2). Take, for example, Shakespeare's last play: The Tempest. The Tempest featured a wizard, a witch, a tree spirit, and a demon, and yet managed to explore significant themes, including colonialism, religion, and the nature of theatre (3)(4). While this is not a direct argument for science fiction, as the Tempest is most certainly not science fiction the way we would use the term today, it does prove that something does not have to be 'realistic' on order to be literary or a classic. As such, there is no reason to rule our science fiction using this excuse.

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(1) http://www.thefreedictionary.com...
(2) http://www.shakespeare-online.com...
(3) http://www.penguinclassics.co.uk...
(4) http://www.studymode.com...
zebrafinchqueen

Pro

zebrafinchqueen forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
Hatstand

Con

Thank you for trying, despite the misunderstanding. If you want to leave it there, we can call it a draw. (Or a no win). Either way, this round is... Nothing.
zebrafinchqueen

Pro

zebrafinchqueen forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by Hatstand 3 years ago
Hatstand
While I can't say I'm happy about that, I do understand completely. I shall post my next argument in the hope that you will receive it before you leave, but I will understand if you don't. Thank you for continuing with this debate despite the miscalculation in arguments, and I would be more than happy to resurrect this debate at a later date should you feel so inclined.
Posted by zebrafinchqueen 3 years ago
zebrafinchqueen
Also I am sorry since I have to go on vacation tomorrow, so I'm not sure if I can finish this debate.
Posted by zebrafinchqueen 3 years ago
zebrafinchqueen
It's so hard to think of anything yet
Posted by Ragnar 3 years ago
Ragnar
You may wish to add a neutral dictionary definition.
Posted by Hatstand 3 years ago
Hatstand
Found it.
Posted by Hatstand 3 years ago
Hatstand
I am yet to find a way of altering the original text without reposting the whole thing. I hope anyone who doesn't understand which definition of "literature" I was referring to would look here, and as such it wouldn't come to that.
Posted by mrsatan 3 years ago
mrsatan
No problem, just a friendly observation, as it seemed an unintentional oversight to me. Not that I want the debate myself, as I agree with you, and find it difficult to debate against my own beliefs.

But, as the debate will be revolving around a specific definition, I would recommend stating it beforehand, so that the definition itself cannot be refuted.
Posted by Hatstand 3 years ago
Hatstand
I suppose the definition of literature is debatable. In fact, I'm sure it would be one of the things that would have to be debated in a topic such as this. The dictionary I have lists two definitions: the one you have stated and "works that are of quality and which will last"... Or words to that effect. The second is the definition around which I plan to build my argument.

Thank you for your comment. It's good to know I needed to clarify that. I never intended this topic to be biased towards my own side.
Posted by mrsatan 3 years ago
mrsatan
You should probably change the topic to reputable literature, rather than just literature. Any book, science fiction or otherwise, written on a particular topic, is literature, period. There is no debating against it, as that is the very definition of literature.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by gordonjames 3 years ago
gordonjames
HatstandzebrafinchqueenTied
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Total points awarded:10 
Reasons for voting decision: FF
Vote Placed by Ragnar 3 years ago
Ragnar
HatstandzebrafinchqueenTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Com, I really suggest restarting this one to find another opponent. Anyway as pro dropped out, conduct to con. Arguments tied since they never got started.
Vote Placed by calculatedr1sk 3 years ago
calculatedr1sk
HatstandzebrafinchqueenTied
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Reasons for voting decision: ff
Vote Placed by Ameliamk1 3 years ago
Ameliamk1
HatstandzebrafinchqueenTied
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Another ruined debate...god job anyway, Con.