Over the years, that bit about methodology and rigor in science has spilled over into the value system for rating science fiction. For some reason, “hard SF” is still considered the ultimate in quality for science fiction, in spite of strong evidence that hard SF as a recognized subgenre has degenerated into obsolete scenarios of talking squid and robotic artillery.

Fans of hard or “traditional” SF scoff at soft SF that is message or symbol driven, based on social sciences or, at worst, only a science fictional setting for a sentimental, tear-jerker of a story about love, death and family life. According to TVTropes, “hard” and “soft” are often judgements on the quality of the story by those who have preferences. This is partially a matter of elitism, but there’s also a philosophical split involved that might be characterized as testosterone vs. estrogen, or conservative vs. progressive views.

Now we’re getting back into Sad/Rabid Puppies territory again, and the complaints that SJWs have hijacked “traditional science fiction” and turned it into a vehicle for progressive views on everything from race to gender politics. What constitutes ‘traditional SF” is still unclear, but seems to include mostly space opera and similar entertainment works that fall in the 2.0 – 3.0 region of the Mohs hardness scale proposed by TVTropes. It’s true that this kind of SF probably dominates the 1:3 market share reserved for SF. However, it’s not the kind of thing that will get awards. More on that tomorrow.