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Sciction, Science Fiction and Faction

Literary genre of sciction

Sciction is a new literary genre I developed in 1999. It was a borne from necessity and first used in my book, Cry the Beloved Mind: A Voyage of Hope, and subsequently in my plays, Tomorrow the Earthquake and its modification, Quakes. I originally defined sciction as "science through fiction" and later modified it to "science through literature" so that book-stores could more easily classify it under the broader genre of non-fiction. One kind of sciction is medical sciction involving composite patients and students, interacting with a medical professional, at times, in dialogic style allowing for education through fascination. The idea of sciction has, no doubt, been used before, but the genre was never before defined. Within it, I introduced a new kind of sub-paragraphing, the "conversagraph", which allows for maintained communication on a specific theme but with enough difference to require at least a separation such as a new line, yet not a new paragraph.


Pamela Boal, Philosopher of the International Society for Philosophical Enquiry:

You are eminently readable, simple and direct without being over simplified. Unfamiliar words are clear in context or explained in a manner that does not interrupt the flow. You constantly give a message of hope and above all make it clear that neuropsychiatric conditions are medical problems just as much as bronchitis or measles. Whatever format you use these are important factors if you wish to reach the interested lay person such as myself.

I have just one concern with your composite patient, could the lay reader not think 'that can't be our Mary's problem she didn't have that symptom' or do you make it clear that not all patients with the same basic cause for their illness present with the entire range of symptoms? That's probably a silly question but then the obvious is not always obvious.

There have been a few British TV presentations dealing with real climatic events, our heat wave and our great storm, which have a similar format to Sciction, which I had labelled faction. I think they worked well on all the levels you are aiming for. Yes I think Sciction as a way of presenting scientific subjects to a wider audience has great potential.

Faction (V Neppe)
There is a significant difference between "sciction" and "faction".
The genre of faction generally refers to fiction text based on real historical figures and actual events, woven together with fictitious components. This means that one cannot easily differentiate real historical data from fiction: Fact becomes intertwined with fiction making the education element limited and even may distort knowledge for those seeking "fact".

The genre of faction supposedly derives from Geoffrey of Monmouth in the 12th century, and in fact, the later historian, Holinshed mistakenly treated Geoffrey of Monmouth's writings as historical truth.

The modern use of faction may have begun with Frederick Forsyth in his 1971 best-seller "The Day Of The Jackal".

I don't like the word faction anyway because of the many other meanings such as "a party or group (as within a government) that is often contentious or self-seeking" and "party spirit especially when marked by dissension" but that is another issue.

So essentially faction muddies truth and fiction and is used particularly in a historical context. Sciction functions as a literary educational tool, and is based particularly in the sciences, is non-fiction in the context of scientific information. but the composite realities that illustrate the theme so that it may live, are based on literature, and therefore reflects mainly fiction in that names and faces and conversations are not exact. But you can rely on the information as educational science.

Science Fiction
Sciction is very different from science fiction where the education is not about current scientific facts but about futuristic notions of what science could be. Science fiction is a broad subgroup of the genre of fiction involving speculative science translated into fiction. It usually is creative and imaginative reflecting elements not found in contemporary reality and may include other genres like fantasy and horror.


As for conversagraph: It's a literary technique I use frequently and I believe valuably in many different contexts. I may be discussing several themes which I separate by paragraphs. However, there are sub-themes that require links within that paragraph-effectively sub-paragraphs. The examples given may have appeared leaden, because I wanted them to be clear, but I can assure you that I find the concept exciting, and useful as a dialogic technique, as you will find when reading both Cry The Beloved Mind or Quakes (both also available on in electronic format).

Pamela Boal
I apologize for a misunderstanding here due entirely to my inappropriate labeling of the programs I was refering to. There were no fictitious components. With the heatwave programme, the problem was that our media simply had not cottoned on to the medical implications of the unpresidented heat wave, nor realised the number of fatalities or near fatalities it caused in this country, though there had been some coverage of the problems in France which were even worse. There was only footage of people enjoying the weather. They used the real events. The actual people involved were used where ever possible and re-created scenes. For some events it was not possible to get the original partisipants and actors were used to recreate the scenes which were clearly marked as re-creations with actors. The doctors and hospitals featured were ones that had actually been involved. They explained how even people who were acting sensibly in the weather conditions could become so ill. The only departure from reportage of actual events were interviews with medical and paramedical staff explaining how the system would have broken down had the heatwave continued and how near they came to that break down. This I think is akin to your stories, true events with explanations as to how the illness is caused and how treated.

Vernon M Neppe Reply

Classifying such portrayals, they are not futuristic, nor imaginary or speculative, hence they are not science fiction.
They are not fiction, with characters and events based in fact, but the tale being fiction, hence they are not faction.
Superficially such portrayals fit the description of sciction in that they are non-fiction, based on fact, with characters renamed. But this is necessary but not sufficient.

However, to classify these descriptions as sciction would require additional criteria. If this kind of description sounds like "only names and faces have been changed to protect innocent people", that would not involve the composite tales that reflect the hallmark of sciction. This genre is directed towards educating in scientific information and principles, by using not only disguised individuals but composite case histories or portrayals: each portion happened but not necessarily together on the same person or patient or event. The person, patient or event is irrelevant to the education. They are just the literary vehicles. This is why sciction has a literary component and this is where the component of fiction comes in-sciction deals with portrayals directed towards education through fascination by using a literary technique.

Incidentally, the paragraph beginning "Classifying" involves a series of subparagraphs, allowing easier reading, yet maintaining the theme. If a subparagraph involves dialogue, it becomes a conversagraph.

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