What Is Futuristic Realism?

Definitive Explanations, Breakdowns, and Examples of Futuristic Realism, Sci-Fi Realism, Slice of Tomorrow, and Science Non-Fiction

I get asked a lot, “Yuli, what is futuristic realism?”

And that’s a bad thing. I’ve explained what futuristic realism is around five hundred times now, and the fact people still ask me what it means suggests that I, as usual, have failed to give the world a concise definition. That makes sense— I am a legendary rambler.

So I’m here to finally put to bed these questions.

Note: there will be a short version where I get right to the point, and afterwards, there’ll be a long version where I allow myself to ramble go in depth with what I mean.


Short Version

Sci-Fi Realism is a visual style that attempts to fool the viewer into thinking fantastic technologies are actually real and well-used, giving such tech a sort of photographic authenticity. 

Futuristic Realism is a subgenre of both science fiction and literary fiction that draws from science fiction and uses the structure of literary and realistic fiction in order to tell a story that feels familiar and contemporary.

Slice of Tomorrow is the fusion of science fiction and slice of life fiction.

Science Non-Fiction describes fantastic technologies, happenings, stories, and narratives that have already occurred and cause the person to say “I’m living in the future!”


Long Version

Let’s start with slice of tomorrow. Slice of tomorrow fiction is what you get when you take science fiction and mix it with slice of life. In order to understand what that means, you first need to know what “slice of life” is.

Slice of life is mundane realism depicting everyday experiences in art and entertainment.

There’s no grand plot.

There’s no quest, no corporate spooks, no governments overthrown, no countdown timer, no running from an explosion. The climax of the story is as soft as it gets. That’s not to say high-intensity events can’t happen— they just aren’t the focus of the story. Slice of life does not necessarily have to be “literary”— it doesn’t have to focus on incredibly deep themes of human relationships. It doesn’t necessarily have to be about anything at all, other than showing one’s daily life.

Slice of tomorrow is mundane realism depicting everyday experiences, with the twist being that the events take place in an otherwise “sci-fi” or “cyberpunk” environment. The intention is in the name of the genre— “slice of tomorrow.” Show the world how humanity would react to futuristic technologies, tomorrow’s social mores, and perhaps even different conditions and modes of existence. However, slice of tomorrow does not have to be relateable, nor does one have to intertwine a deeper narrative into one that identifies as “slice of tomorrow.”

 

Adding depth and length to mundanity brings you futuristic realism. Futuristic realism carries with it more of a ‘literary’ swagger. And in order to understand what that means, you must define literary and realistic fiction.

Literary fiction comprises fictional works that hold literary merit; that is, they involve social commentary, or political criticism, or focus on the human condition. Literary fiction is deliberately written in dialogue with existing works, created with the above aims in mind and is focused more on themes than on plot.


Realistic fiction is fiction that uses imagined characters in situations that either actually happened in real life or are very likely to happen. It further extends to characters reacting in realistic ways to real-life type situations. The definition is sometimes combined with contemporary realism, which shows realistic characters dealing with realistic social issues such as divorce, drug abuse, teenage pregnancy and more.

Literary fiction is a style of realism depicting real people in realistic situations, often as a means of exploring the human condition. Here, simply showing a different mode of existence isn’t enough— you have to thoroughly explore it. There is a humongous opportunity to be had in science fiction when it comes to exploring foreign and alien modes of existence, and many sci-fi authors have exploited that opportunity. One fine example of futuristic realism would have to be the Sprawl Trilogy, by William Gibson— in fact, the literary work that gave birth to cyberpunk.

Indeed, futuristic realism and cyberpunk’s origins overlap heavily, and there’s no better way to illustrate this than by telling you how cyberpunk began in the first place, as well as describing what it’s become.

Cyberpunk was born when Gibson felt dissatisfied with the increasingly stagnant Utopian sci-fi, such as Star Trek. Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek gave us a nearly-utopian world where advanced technology solved all of humanity’s problems and men lived in egalitarian harmony and prosperity; the only sources of conflict came from either other species or the occasional disagreement.
Gibson looked at the world around himself and concluded that, even if we had starships and communicators, there would still be drug dealers and prostitutes. If anything, the acceleration of technology would most likely only greatly benefit a rich few, leaving the rest to get by with whatever scraps are left over. This wasn’t a completely baseless extrapolation, precisely because that’s what had been occurring hitherto the present moment— the developed nations, and in particular the rich, were able to enjoy high-tech consumer goods such as cable television, personal computers, video games, and credit cards, while the poor in many parts of the planet lived in nations that may very well have never experienced the Industrial Revolution. And even in developed nations, the poor were getting shafted by the system at large, especially as corporations grew in power and influence and enacted their will upon the governments of the world. Thus, Neuromancer and subsequently cyberpunk and futuristic realismwas born.

Cyberpunk and futuristic realism quickly branched off into different paths, however, as cyberpunk began becoming “genre” fiction itself— nowadays, in an almost ironic fashion considering how it started, when one thinks of ‘cyberpunk’, they think of ‘aggressively cynical dystopian action science fiction’, with the actual ‘punk’ aspect added in as an afterthought.

 

nn7ltjx
Bringing in elves and orcs sextuples the action! Source: Shadowrun

 

To truly get a feel for futuristic realism, try to follow this one: it’s the genre Ernest Hemingway or Cormac McCarthy would write if they lived in the 2050s.

I have long said that the easiest way to achieve futuristic realism would be to take Sarah, Plain and Tall and add humanoid robots, drones, and smartglasses into the mix. And why? Because there is a very intense disconnect. I even said as much in a previous article:

That’s why I say it’s easiest to pull of futuristic realism with a rustic or suburban setting— it’s already much closer to individual people doing their own thing, without being able to fall back on the glittering neon cyberscapes of a city or cold interiors of a space station to show off how sci-fi/cyberpunk it is. It makes the writer have to actually work. Also, there’s a much larger clash. A glittering neon cyberscape of a megalopolis is already very sci-fi (and realistic); adding sexbot prostitutes and a cyber-augmented population fitted with smartglasses doesn’t really add to what already exists. Add sexbot prostitutes and cyber-augments with smartglasses to Smalltown, USA, however, and you have a jarring disconnect that needs to be rectified or at least expanded upon. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a futuristic realist story in a cyberpunk city, or in space, etc. It’s just much easier to tell one in Smalltown, USA because of the very nature of rural and suburban communities. They’re synonymous with tradition and conformity, with nostalgic older years and pleasantness, of a certain quietness you can’t find in a city.

Last but not least, there is sci-fi realism. This spawned futuristic realism and slice of tomorrow, and once upon a time, it was the catch-all term for the style. However, once I decoupled literary content from visual aesthetics, sci-fi realism became its own thing, and the best way to describe sci-fi realism would be to understand “visual photo-authenticity.”

This is my own term (because I just love making up jargon), and it refers to a visual style that attempts to recreate the feel of a photograph. This doesn’t just mean “ultra-realistic graphics”— it can be 8-bit as long as it looks like something you snapped with your smartphone camera. Of course, ultra-realism does greatly help.

Sci-fi realism is perhaps simultaneously the easiest and hardest to understand because of the nature of photography. After all, don’t many photographs attempt to capture as much artistic merit as paintings and renders? What qualifies as “photographic?”

And I won’t lie that it is, indeed, a subjective matter. However, there is one basic rule of thumb I’ll throw out there.

Sci-fi realism follows the rules of mundanity, even if it’s capturing something abnormal. There are few intentional poses and very little Romanticizing of subjects. It’s supposed to look as if you took a photograph in the future and brought it back to the past.

g8sizra
Source: Vitaly Bulgarov (and his dogs)

Most photographs are taken from ground or eye level, maybe even at bad angles and with poor lighting. Very few of them ever manage to capture wide-open scenes— it’s nearly impossible to get both a shady alleyway and towering skyscrapers in the background from a realistic perspective. There are very few vistas or wide-shots. 

As aforementioned, hyper-realism comes in handy when dealing with sci-fi realism, and wide-shots can be done to be “realistic” from a sci-fi perspective.

34mmdav
Future Dubai, by Thomas Galad


And, also as aforementioned, it doesn’t necessarily have to be photorealistic as long as it carries a photographic quality.

by_burned_2560
“Burned” by Simon Stålenhag

It was watching movies like Real Steel, Chappie, District 9, and Star Wars: A New Hope that really got me interested in this “what if” style. Those movies possessed ‘visual authenticity.’ When I watched Real Steel, I was amazed by how seamlessly the CGI mixed with live action. Normally, the CGI is blatantly obvious; it feels obviously fake. It doesn’t look real. But Real Steel took a different route. It fused CGI with practical props, and it was amazing to see. For the first time, I felt like I was watching a movie sent back from the future rather than a science fiction film. Other films came close, but it was Real Steel that I first really noticed it.

 


The Bait And Switch

All of this refers to fiction. Slice of tomorrow is about slice of life science fiction. Futuristic realism is about literary science fiction. Sci-fi realism is about photographic science fiction.
However, with the obvious exception of slice of tomorrow, these can also fit non-fiction.

I mentioned quite a bit ago the concept of “science non-fiction.” This is a very new genre that has only become possible in the most recent years, and can best be described as “science fiction meets creative non-fiction.”

In recent years, many facets of science fiction have crossed over into reality. Things are changing faster than ever before, and what’s contemporary this decade would be considered science fiction last decade. As time goes on, this will only grow even more extreme, until each next year could be considered “sci-fi” compared to the previous one. At some point, people’s ability to take for granted this rapidly accelerating rate of technological advancement will wane, and there will be medically diagnosed cases of acute future shock. When we reach that point, even things that may have been on the market for years or decades will still be seen as “science fiction.”

We are already seeing a rudimentary form of this in the form of smartphones— smartphones have been a staple of mass consumer culture for well over a decade. Despite this, people still experience future shock when they take time to think about these immensely powerful gadgets. As smartphones grew more powerful and ubiquitous, the effect did not fade but in fact became more intense. This inability to accept the existence of a new technology is virtually unprecedented— we grew used to airplanes, atomic energy, space exploration, personal computers, and the internet faster than we have smartphones. Virtual reality is poised to push this future shock into an even more precarious level, as now we’re beginning to actually infringe upon concepts and technologies with which science fiction has been teasing us for nearly a century.

Space exploration had a bit of an Antiquity moment in the 1960s— we proved we could do it but found no practical way to expand on our accomplishments, much like the ancient Greeks working with analog computers and steam engines— and the actual space revolution remains beyond us, lying at an undetermined point in the future. To prove this point, we still see things like space stations and landing on other celestial bodies as being “science fiction.” This raises a conundrum— a story where a man lands on the moon qualifies as “science fiction”, but we already took that leap roughly 50 years ago. Does that mean Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin actually experienced science fiction? It can’t because of the very definition of the word ‘fiction.’

That’s where this new term— science non-fiction— comes in. When real life crosses over into territories usually only seen in science fiction, you get science non-fiction.

Science fiction has many tropes, and even as we invent and commercialize the technologies behind these tropes, they don’t leave science fiction. Space exploration, artificial intelligence, hyper-information technology, advanced robotics, genetic engineering, virtual and augmented reality, human enhancement, experimental material science, unorthodox transportation— these are staples of science fiction, and merely making them real doesn’t make them any less sci-fi. From a technical perspective, virtual reality and smartphones are no longer sci-fi. However, from a cultural perspective, they’ll never be able to escape the label.

Science non-fiction is extremely subjective precisely because it’s based on the cultural definition of sci-fi. Some people may think smartphones, smartwatches, and VR are sci-fi, but others might have already grown too used to them to see them as anything other than more tech gadgets. Even when we have people and synths on Mars, there will be those who say that missions to Mars no longer qualify as science fiction.

And it’s this disconnect that helps make science non-fiction work.

There’s that word again— disconnect.

Reading about events in real life that seem ripped from sci-fi is one thing. Actually seeing them is another altogether.

bqzoezm
Photograph of Pepper, 2016

We’re back to sci-fi realism. I am reusing the term “science non-fiction”, but this is discussing its visual form. I admit, sometimes I call it ‘sci-fi realism’, but I’ve begun moving away from that (to the detriment of the Sci-Fi Realism subreddit and to the benefit of the Futuristic Realism subreddit). As mentioned, this is what science non-fiction looks likepictures, gifs, videos, and movies of real events that happen to have science non-fiction technologies.

Science non-fiction is not necessarily slice of life or mundane, though it can be (and often is, due to the nature of everyday life). In this case, science non-fiction can actually be everything slice of tomorrow and futuristic realism isn’t— including things we’d consider like cyberpunk, military sci-fi, and space operas. The only prerequisite is that the events have to be real.

For example: glittery cyberpunk-esque cityscapes already exist. There aren’t even a shortage of them— off the top of my head, there’s Dubai, Moscow, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Tokyo, Singapore, Seoul, and Bangkok. Posting pictures of them can net you thousands of upvotes on /r/Cyberpunk. The vistas may lack flying cars, but who knows how much longer that’ll be the case?

ec8wm
That moment when Dubai starts looking like Coruscant

If I bought a Pepper and brought it into my home, that would also qualify as science non-fiction. Domestic artificially intelligent utility robots are a major staple of science fiction, and them simply existing doesn’t change the fact sci-fi literature, films, and video games will continue utilizing them.

dwf7imt
This is an actual Japanese showroom in 2016

Likewise, if I donned a TALOS exosuit fitted with a BCI-powered augmented reality visor, and picked up a 25 KW pulse-laser Gauss rifle, and then got flown into Syria where I could also pilot semi-autonomous drones and command killer Atlas robots, that too would be science non-fiction.

osaxxkd
The TALOS suit, one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen

Funny thing is, both these examples are already possible. Not fully— ASIMO as yet to see a commercial release, Atlas is not finished its construction into a Terminator, and no one has yet constructed a handheld laser gun stronger than 500 watts. But none of it is beyond us.

And that’s the gist behind all of this. Science non-fiction is based on what we have done.

“So why did you create all this uber-pretentious sci-fi tripe?”

1- Because I wanted to.

2- Because I noticed a delightful trend occurring over and over again online. Even outside of sci-fi forums, I was repeatedly reading stories and anecdotes of people being amazed at how technologically advanced our present society really is— but they then lamented that they didn’t “feel” like they were really living in a sci-fi story.

I am a fantastic example of that myself. I live out in the sticks— I even counted the seconds: if you drive at sixty miles per hour for one minute and twenty-eight seconds, you will come across literally bucolic farmland straight out of a Hallmark Channel movie. The tallest building in my town (and for many miles around it) is the local theatre, which comes in at seven stories. It’s the kind of town where, if you drive down any particular road too late at night, you’ll get abducted by aliens and/or the CIA. I live behind some trees on the very outskirts of this town. And despite that, I still own a drone, several smartphones, a VR headset, and a dead Roomba. If I saved up, I could even potentially buy an artificially intelligent social droid— Aldebaran’s Pepper. It feels so mundane, but my life truly is science non-fiction. A while ago, I lamented that I wasn’t living in one of the aforementioned proto-cyberpunk cities precisely because I thought I had too much technology to be living in the country.

I’ve since decided to bring science fiction to me, and that requires quite a few changes. I’m no revolutionary street urchin. I have no coding skills whatsoever. I can count on a broken hand how many times in my life I’ve held a gun. There’s nothing thrilling about me, my past, or my future. And yet I still feel like I live in a world that’s fast becoming sci-fi. So I needed to find a way to express that. A way to tell a story I— in my unfit, very much kung-fu-challenged world— could relate with. I’m no hero, nor am I an anti-hero, nor am I a villain. I’m basically an NPC, a background character. Yet I still feel I have stories to tell.


Futuristic Realism and Transrealism

So what about transrealism? Isn’t it futuristic realism? In fact, it is. However, it’s a situation where “X is Y, but Y isn’t always X.” Transrealism is futuristic realism, but not all futuristic realism is transrealism. And the best way to understand this is by looking at the definition of transrealism.

Transrealism is a literary mode that mixes the techniques of incorporating fantastic elements used in science fiction with the techniques of describing immediate perceptions from naturalistic realism. While combining the strengths of the two approaches, it is largely a reaction to their perceived weaknesses. Transrealism addresses the escapism and disconnect with reality of science fiction by providing for superior characterization through autobiographical features and simulation of the author’s acquaintances. It addresses the tiredness and boundaries of realism by using fantastic elements to create new metaphors for psychological change and to incorporate the author’s perception of a higher reality in which life is embedded. One possible source for this higher reality is the increasingly strange models of the universe put forward in theoretical astrophysics.


Some final words on the subject, starting with Kovacs from the Cyberpunk forums:

Well… the only real way that sci-fi realism works – for me – is if the science fiction is invisible and ubiquitous.
Today, I could write a fully non-fiction or ‘legit literature’ fiction (e.g. non-genre) story using tech that, a decade or two ago, would have been cyberpunk. For example: 20 years ago if you wrote a murder mystery about a detective that could track a victim’s every thought and action the day they were murdered, all withing 5 minutes or so, that would be sci-fi or even ‘magic’. Today, you just access to the victim’s phone and scroll though their various social media profiles. Same with having a non-static-y video conference with someone halfway around the world; it use to be Star Trek, now it’s Skype. So how would this prog rock of sci-fi work? I suppose you tell a tale where the tech… doesn’t matter. It’s all about human relationships.
Ooooh I bet you think that’s boring, don’t you? Well, maybe. But we can cheat by playing with the definition of ‘human’.

I’m thinking about the movie Her. Artificial intelligence is available and there’s no paradigm shift. A romantic relationship with an AI is seen as odd… but not unimaginable, or perverse. There’s no quest, no corporate spooks, no governments overthrown, no countdown timer, no running from an explosion. The climax of the story is as soft as it gets [OP: do these sentences look familiar?]Robot and Frank is another good example; it’s a story where the robot isn’t exactly needed, but it makes the story make more sense that if it was say a collage student Scent of a Woman style.
(hun… Scent of a Robot anyone? Al Pachino piloting Asimo?)
So I guess what I’m leading to is take the action-adventure component out of sci-fi. Take the dystopia out of cyberpunk. Take out the power fantasy elements. Take out the body horror. What are you left with? Something a little less juvenile? In order to develop this you’d have to have a really good dramatic story as a basis and sneak in the sci-fi elements. You can’t by, definition, rest on them.
Which is tough for me to approach, because I really like my space katanas.

Finally, what is futuristic realism not?: “X can be Y, but Y isn’t X.” Futuristic realism can use these things, but these things aren’t futuristic realism by themselves.

  • Hyper-realistic science fiction. As I said, visual authenticity started futuristic realism, but that’s not what it is anymore. Nowadays, that’s just straight ‘sci-fi realism.’
  • Hard science fiction. Futuristic realism can be hard or soft or anything in between; it’s the story that matters. Hell, you can write fantastic realism if you want to.
  • Military science fiction. Some people kept thinking sci-fi realism meant ‘hard military sci-fi’, which is why I rebranded the style ‘futuristic realism’. Military sci-fi can be futuristic realism, but a story simply being military sci-fi isn’t enough.
  • Rustic science fiction. After the whole spiel on /r/SciFiRealism when a whole bunch of people were angry that I kept posting images of robots in homes and hover cars instead of really gritty battle scenes and dystopian fiction, the pendulum swung way too far in the other direction. I have said that ‘the best way to write futuristic realism is to take Sarah, Plain and Tall and add robots’, but I didn’t say ‘the only way to write futuristic realism is… yadayada.’
  • Dark ‘n gritty science fiction. As aforementioned, some thought ‘sci-fi realism’ meant ‘dark and gritty science fiction’. And I won’t lie, it is easy for a realistic story to be dark and even gritty and edgy. But see above, I had to hit the reset button. 
  • Actionless science fiction. You’d think that, after all this bureaucratic bullshit, I’m trying to force people to write happy science fiction about neighborhood kids with robots. Not at all. In fact, you can have a hyper-realistic, dark and gritty hard military science fiction story that’s pure, raw futuristic realism. It depends on what the story’s about. A story about a space marine genociding Covenant scum, fighting to destroy an ancient superweapon, can indeed be futuristic realism. It just depends on what part of the story you focus on and how you portray it. Novelizing Halo isn’t how you do it. In fact, there’s a futuristic realist story I desperately want to read— a space age War and Peace. Something of that caliber. If you want to attempt that, then I think the first thing you’d have to do before writing is whether you can pull it off without turning it into a space opera. Take myself for example: fuck that noise. I’m not even going to try it. I know it would fast become an emo Gears of War if I tried to write it. It’s not supposed to be Call of Duty in Space, it’s a space-age War and Peace. There are twenty trillion ways you can fuck that up.

Try to think back to the last major sci-fi film, video game, book, or short that didn’t have one of the following—

  • Someone brandishing a weapon
  • A chase sequence
  • Fight sequence
  • Military tech wank
  • Paramilitary tech wank
  • Wide shots over either a city, alien planet, or space vehicle
  • Over-exposed mechanics or cybernetics
  • Romance between lead character and designated lover, usually as a result of the two working together to overcome the Big Bad and realizing they have feelings for each other
  • High-octane stakes, where the life of the protagonist or someone the protagonist cares about is at risk
  • Death of the antagonist, someone close to the protagonist, or the protagonist him/herself
  • Actions causing death in the first place
  • Bands of mooks for someone to mow down
  • Stakes where one side (e.g. space navy; evil megacorporation, warlord, etc.) has to suffer a total, epic defeat in order for the plot to be resolved, usually in the form of a climatic and tense battle

 

I’m not trying to be a creativity fascist; I’m merely attempting to define what futuristic realism and slice of tomorrow fiction aren’t. Hell, I’ve even said that you can have a whole bunch of these things and still come off as futuristic realism. It’s all about execution and perspective.

I suppose, what I’m trying to get at is that if you want to write futuristic realism and slice of tomorrow fiction, you have to ask yourself a very basic question: “Can the central plot be resolved with a gun battle without any major consequences?” Replace ‘gun’ with any weapon of your choice— space katana, quark bomb, logic bomb, giant mecha— the point remains the same. If the answer is no, you may have futuristic realism.

 

You can resolve just about any plot with a good shot from a Lawgiver; the key phrase is “without any major consequences”. Filling a flatmate’s skull with a magnetically-pressurized ionic plasma bolt because he’s not happy over how many sloppy sounds you make with your “sexbot sexpot” is going to have worlds’ different consequences as gunning down Locust filth in an interstellar war— unless, of course, you go deep into the psychological profile of someone who’s spent their lives killing aliens and has never before contemplated why he’s doing this and suddenly gains a keen interest in understanding the other side, particularly those not directly participating in the war.

 

It’s easy to say your story’s about the human condition more than it is about the science and technology, and I suppose that would make it more highbrow than a lot of other sci-fi. But futuristic realism/slice of tomorrow doesn’t have to be highbrow either. 

 

 

So let me use a story instead of just similes, analogies, and overbloated rules of thumb.

 

 

You have three characters: Phil, Daria, and Edward. Phil and Daria live in New York City in 2189. A war for independence has just broken out between Earth forces and Martian colonists. A Martian separatist has masterminded a terrorist attack in New York (what else is new?). What neither Daria or Phil know is their Martian penpal, Edward, is also the terrorist who masterminded the attack. This sounds like a traditional sci-fi plotline in the making. How do you make it into a traditional military sci-fi story? Simple— Phil and Daria sign up for military service, get their own mech suits, and start rolling across Cydonia where they fight communist Martian droids at the now terraformed, statue-like Face on Mars. The climax involves them facing down Edward and realizing their friendship has been put to the ultimate test as a result of a war. That’s a story that’s definitely character driven and engaging— but it’s not necessarily “slice of tomorrow” fiction. How do you turn it into a slice of tomorrow story? You don’t have to change a damn thing, except focus on where the story’s set. For example, Phil and Daria, in the short period of time after the attack and before they join the military, may be utterly shellshocked by the terrorist attack. They’ve seen dead and injured people, and a major landmark has been destroyed. They just want a moment to be thankful for the fact they’re alive. They may want to contact Edward to get his opinion on events considering he’s a Martian and Martians are implicated in the attack. They’re just keeping up with the news to find out more about what just happened, and they grow ever more angry as time goes on. The climax could be them actually joining the military, or maybe something else entirely. Something not involved in the military. The terrorist attack was just a background event to their daily lives— a pretty big and impactful event, but a background event nonetheless. The real drama lies elsewhere. It’s drama you can’t just shoot at to make it go away, either. Thus, the story’s ultimately resolved well before the first mech suit ever gets to fire a shot at separatists.

 

Even writing that mini-blurb proved my point, because I was going to write something after “the real drama lies elsewhere”. Something more specific than “it’s a drama you can’t just shoot at to make it go away, either.” But as I typed it out, I could actually hear the groans of boredom in my head— “if this were an actual sci-fi story,” I thought, “having that plotline would just evoke nothing but frustration.” And what was that plotline?

Phil or Daria calling their parents. That’s it! The actual conversation would follow recent events, yes, but that’s the climax. When I wrote that out, I thought “That’s the dumbest/gayest thing I’ve ever heard” because it sounded a bit like a waste. I have this nice, big universe filled with juicy potential sci-fi action— I even have a fantastic trigger that present-day readers can relate to in the form of a traumatic terrorist attack— and I spent it by having one of the lead characters calling Mommy to wish her a tearful Merry Christmas?

That doesn’t sound sci-fi at all.

 

And that’s the point! Because even though it doesn’t sound like sci-fi, it still is sci-fi.


 

TL;DR:
Sci-Fi Realism: Candid, prosaic, and/or photographic sci-fi
Futuristic Realism: Science fiction as told by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Slice of Tomorrow: Science fiction as told by the Hallmark Channel.
Science Non-Fiction: Neil Armstrong’s autobiography

Author: Yuli Ban

I'm an aspiring novelist with a terminal lack of a life.

2 thoughts on “What Is Futuristic Realism?”

  1. Highya!^ ^ Sarah here. I guess I kind of do a cross-breed of Surrealism, Transrealism, and Slice Of Tomorrow/Yesterday.

    Slice Of Yesterday, because often my fiction starts with a previous remote viewing experience from the previous night. But the story is a largely a Realistic (as in Balzac and Hardy) fiction. Often time’s I might get rejected from an LGBT Science Fiction reading list on Wattpad, because my work seems to much like “Magic Realism.” I know what it is. And I see what they mean.

    But my work isn’t Magic Realism. It’s the Scifi equivalent.

    What I’m interested in is that disconnect between what we perceive, and what we sense beneath our eyes in the world of dreams, and how dreams and artificial projects can collide with each other in seemingly supernatural ways that are based purely on technology on fringe science.

    It blends with elements of my own autobiography as well.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s