The very experienced SF reader, at the fifth level, can see entire worlds in a grain of jargon. When he sees "groundcar" he associates to not only technical questions about flyer propulsion but socio-symbolic ones but about why the culture still uses groundcars at all (and he has a reportoire of possible answers ready to check against the author's reporting). He is automatically aware of a huge range of consequences in areas as apparently far afield as (to name two at random) the architectural style of private buildings, and the ecological consequences of accelerated exploitation of wilderness areas not readily accessible by ground transport.
The better an SF writer is, the more subtly and effectively he will play off against the experienced reader's analytical skills. At the highest levels, SFnal exposition takes on the nature of a delicate, powerful intellectual dance or game between writer and reader, requiring much from both and rewarding both very richly.
Indeed, to true aficionados of the genre this game is the whole point of SF, the unique quality which elevates it above other fictional forms. This attitude explains much about the genre that outsiders find obscure and annoying—the intimacy between fans and writers; the indifference or outright hostility to conventional "literary values"; the pervasive SF-fan complaint that outsiders "just don't get it" and (when they deign to approve of SF at all) like all the wrong books for all the wrong reasons.
Q: Does Serenity go faster than light?
Joss: I don't think so.
Q: Are the planets really close together?
Joss: They’re really close together. You’ve never seen a planet cluster like this one. It’s a little planet village. If you start asking my [sic] science questions I’m going to cry.
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