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Mundane Science Fiction is a Literary Movement Driven by Creating Plausible Extension of Existing Science and Technology

Science fiction deals with innovative and futuristic ideas such as advanced science and technology, space exploration, time travel, parallel universes, and extraterrestrial life. Did you know that a subgenre called mundane science fiction exists?

Mundane science fiction, is a sci-fi literary movement focused on making plausible extensions of existing science and technology, setting stories on Earth or within the Solar System, avoiding interstellar or intergalactic travel, and avoiding contact with aliens.

What is Mundane Science Fiction?

Mundane Science Fiction is a niche literary movement within science fiction that developed in the early 2000s, with principles codified by the Mundane Manifesto.

There is disagreement about MSF’s boundaries and which works are canonical. According to Rudy Rucker, MSF shares similarities with hard science fiction, and cyberpunk, according to Ritch Calvin. Some critics have pointed out science fiction films and television shows that embody the MSF ethos of near-future realism. 

The science fiction community has had a mixed reaction to MSF. While some science fiction authors have defended the proposed subgenre, others have argued that MSF is antithetical to science fiction’s longstanding imaginative tradition or questioned the need for a new subgenre. (Source: Word Disk )

MSF believes that much science fiction is too fantasy-driven to aid in the development of ideas and thoughts and that the field suffers when serious sociological topics are mixed in with stories about aliens, faster-than-light travel, and other recurring tropes. Orwell’s 1984 is an example of mundane science fiction, as it was a way for him to explore politics without the political ramifications that political commentary entails. Much of what passes for science fiction is a means of experimenting with systems and futures without actually creating them.

Geoff Ryman and others formed the Mundane SF manifesto during Clarion 2002. It is set in the near future and uses credible technology based on current science.(Source: Cyborg Anthropology)

What is the Mundane Manifesto?

The Mundane Manifesto was first published online. It contains nine statements that many of the familiar tropes, techniques, and technologies of science fiction are unrealistic, and thus should be avoided. The mundanes believe that faster-than-light travel, hospitable planets, intelligent aliens, interstellar trade, communication with alien species, and alternate universes are all too far-fetched, too unrealistic to be of interest.

Part 2 of the Mundane Science Fiction Manifesto includes a list of stupidities created due to the improbabilities committed in Part 1. The Stupidities include alien invasions, flying saucers, devices that can translate any language, and slipping into alternate realities that differ from our own by small degrees, and Part 3 acknowledges that the Stupidities have entertained and delighted many millions

They argue that the return to the present will compel writers and readers to reawaken to the Earth’s wonder and diversity and the dangers it currently faces. On the contrary, they argue that robotics, virtual realities, enhanced genomes, nanotechnology, and quantum mechanics are fertile grounds for mundane SF. 

Finally, in Part 4, the mundanes make a number of promises. In these promises, they promise to create a collection of mundane science fiction that does not commit the Stupidities of science fiction but also to have the freedom to write stupid science fiction if they so desire. (Source: Cyborg Anthropology)

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