Here’s a disclaimer: It’s probably my bad for trying to put these under the science fiction umbrella. There are probably actual and better names for the genres I’ll be describing. But any field that is systematically studied is a science, right? As per Clarke’s third law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
I do not know a lot of people nearby who are into the same kind of ‘science fiction’ that I am into. That’s where the question originated from: Why? Maybe I’m the weird one. My recent preferences point towards computer science fiction, psychological sci-fi, linguistics, historical sci-fi. I’m sure you can already name the book that has all of these if you’re familiar with it but I’ll talk about that later. The common genres that I know most are into are hard science fiction: military, biological, medicinal, space.
It wasn’t until I thought about it recently that I arrived at a possible answer: The scientific bases for these subjects were taught to us in school every year. At an early age we are taught the general sciences like physics and biology. We are made to understand the basics of earth sciences, astronomy, chemistry. A cursory look at world history shows us that advances science are more often than not used in the military for war. It is easier to get into and imagine stories out of these ideas that we are all exposed to.
The book I mentioned before that really got me into the more cyberpunk side of science fiction was Snow Crash. If I remember correctly, I got it from a recommendation in a reddit comment on one of my paintings. They described it as ‘this is what I would imagine a fuzzy avatar might look like in the Snow Crash Metaverse’. It is considered one of the pillars that brought up ‘Matrix’ style world building. The concept that hooked me in, though, was the plausibility of the neurosicience behind Deep Structures and ancient linguistics. Snow Crash posits that there is a primitive language that can be understood by all; acting as a backdoor for mind control. The notion is extended into developing and training deep structures; a way the brain is wired through experiences to filter and receive forms of information systematically. And that system can be hacked.
The subjects of Computer Science and Psychology are very specialized. Thorough research into these fields are needed to have deep convincing stories around them. I think this is something the mainstream media has lacked. Most of the attempts to involve computers and neural science become hand-wavy deus ex machinas that would solve any problem in their stories. It becomes a bunch of misused jargons because of the lack of understanding. Hackers can solve everything, the brain has some secrets that are recently exploited, etc. In a way, these may have muddled the reputation of these genres to the general public. Without effort from the reader it becomes hard to distinguish the good from the bad. It’s all just a bunch of brain and computer magic anyway.