Science (fiction) doesn’t have to be believable?

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sci fi movie postersI recently encountered a Facebook post by an author of a science fiction novel based around the idea of global cooling.  He had discovered a website of climate theorists, the Space and Science Research Center, whose opinions roughly matched those of his book, and was proud to point out the connection.

Unfortunately, the SSRC is an avowed anti-warming group, whose theories are not backed by actual scientific data:

“The Space and Science Research Center (SSRC) is (apparently) a for-profit company located in Orlando, FL. They appear to have an anti-global warming agenda, though their arguments have yet to be examined in detail. They present an appearance of scientific grounding, but they do not seem to have any peer-reviewed papers on their theories.” (From Issuepedia)

I politely pointed this out, and added that “although it’s nice to take your SF from the headlines, one should caution whose headlines are being read…”

However, my point was essentially ignored by other posters, including the author, all of whom expressed little or no concern about whether the science in the story was actually correct.  One such poster lauded the author, and added:

“I suspect your book will be much better fiction than anything peddled by the SSRC. Science does not have to be believable, as long as your characters are.”

When I read that, a small part of me died inside. Continue reading

The ulterior motive

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buy_my_booksI enjoy writing about and discussing existing and potential science and technology, and the amazing possibilities for our future.  It’s fun discussing science fiction movies and TV shows, and debating what we’d like to see in SF entertainment.

But I must confess that I do have an ulterior motive for discussing these things on my blog, posting links to it on Facebook and Twitter and mentioning it on sites like Tor and IO9: It’s because I want people who believe I know something about science, futurism and science fiction to come here and discover that I’ve written my own science fiction and futurist novels.  And I want those people, having discovered my books, to buy them. Continue reading

Entertainment over issues

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Roger Rabbit I hate the newsLooking over the stats on this site, it has become abundantly clear that posts related to entertainment—a review of a movie, or discussion about a TV show or trope—do significantly better than posts about science, technology or social issues.  Like Roger Rabbit, my readers do not want to read about real world issues; they want to be entertained.

Good to know.  I can use that info to make some changes around here, away from news items and science and technology commentary, and toward comments and discussions about shows, movies, etc.

Maybe.

Or I can keep talking about the things I happen to think are significant, from a futurist’s point of view.

Hmm.  Tough choice.

Desperately seeking futurist SF writers

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Steven Lyle JordanBeing an independent self-published author, I’ve always sought to find other independent authors to enjoy… supporting the fraternity, as it were.  But from the very beginning, I’ve had a problem: I can’t find indie authors, like myself, writing the kind of SF novels that I write and enjoy.  There must be some; I can’t be the only futurist SF writer, or the last futurist writer who’s still independent or self-published.  Where are all my futurist SF writing homeys? Continue reading

The man behind Man Plus. RIP Frederik Pohl.

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Man Plus coverFrederik Pohl, the acclaimed science fiction author behind one of my favorite novels, Man Plus, passed away today.

The list of novels he’s written, or edited, or presented in his magazine Galaxy, that I have not read, is too long to enumerate here.  Pohl was the very definition of prolific in his writing and editing.  Most importantly to me, his style and sensibilities helped to inspire me in many of my own writings.

Man Plus is a perfect example of this.  In Man Plus, scientists planning the first manned mission to Mars decide that a human needs to be “augmented” to properly survive on the Martian surface, and thereby to ensure the success of the mission.  Continue reading

Do movies get a logic pass… because they’re movies?

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Elysium

Elysium, courtesy Tri-Star Pictures.

I recently managed to get out to see Elysium in the theater.  This much-hyped movie garnered high expectations, especially as images from the movie were released and it became clear how much beautiful work had gone into its production.  However, once the movie premiered it became clear that the story itself hadn’t gotten as thorough a treatment as the sets and effects, creating a movie with innumerable logic inconsistencies and downright dumb plot points, clearly designed to get the hero from Predetermined Action Point A to Predetermined Action Point B, no matter how contrived that journey might be.

To be sure, Elysium is not the only movie guilty of these transgressions; they are quite common in action-adventure movies of every type.  It’s as if a “logic pass” is being bestowed, an unofficial declaration that these momentary lapses in logic and sense are “unimportant” as long as they further the basic narrative (“basic” being defined here as hero fights and wins).   But why are movies getting this “logic pass”? Continue reading

Video review: Star Tr… uh… Steamboy!

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Steamboy

Steamboy, Sony Pictures.

Yes, due to the innumerable requests I’ve had to weigh in on the latest Star Trek movie, I’ve decided to… review Steamboy!   (Because I’d much rather avoid the trainwreck of the latest JJ Abrams Trek movies and enjoy a great steampunk animated feature instead.)

Steamboy: Creation of Katsuhiro Otomo, the incredible artist who brought us AkiraSteamboy, the animated feature-length film that took ten years for The Steamboy Committee (a conglomeration of production houses that cooperated on the film, much like the production arrangement for Akira) to produce.

Alas, Sony Pictures did not expect much of a reception by American audiences (must have been all those British accents… Americans apparently hate accents that aren’t attached to supermodels), and gave this a limited release… so don’t be surprised if you find yourself saying, “Steam-wha?”  But having adored Akira, and being that I am currently exploring the realms of Steampunk fiction, I’m glad I finally had a chance to see this film. Continue reading

Commitment

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John Adams (from 1776)Though a DVD malfunction made my annual tradition a day late, I watched the movie 1776 on the day after the July 4th holiday, as my yearly reminder of the drama and against-all-odds brinkmanship involved in getting a group of headstrong pioneers to band together, against all expected chance of victory, to put aside their formidable differences and agree to stand up to one of the mightiest empires of the world, in the name of Freedom.  Our nation today is a direct result of the miracle they pulled off back then, starting with their mutual commitment to the task at hand.

“Commitment” is the theme of the movie; and John Adams, the central figure of this drama, is Commitment’s strongest representative—dogged, resolute, unyielding, defiant, willing to risk his standing, his fortune, his popularity and, ultimately, his very life in the cause of fighting for Freedom.  He is a real-life tragic hero, for, as many of us know, once the Declaration was signed and full-on war was declared against Britain, Adams and the rest of the Continental Congress were in most cases hunted like dogs, their homes destroyed, their families captured or killed, their fortunes lost, their health lost as they crawled under cover and darkness through damp marshes and brutal winters.  Adams, who eventually became President himself, was one of the luckiest ones; many of those brave men didn’t live to see an independent United States of America, the cause that defined them and was demanded of them by posterity.

Watching 1776 brought a tear to my eye, more than once.  Not just because of the drama of the moment; but because thinking about their trials and efforts just makes my own personal issues and efforts seem so pathetic in comparison. Continue reading

The movie blockbuster bubble

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marqueeAt the opening of a new building at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts in Los Angeles, Steven Spielberg was quoted as saying that the era of the movie blockbuster may soon be over:

“There’s eventually going to be an implosion, or a big meltdown… where three or four or maybe even a half-dozen mega-budget movies are going to go crashing into the ground, and that’s going to change the paradigm.”

George Lucas—between he and Spielberg, producers of most of the biggest movie blockbusters in American history—agreed that the movie industry was due for a reversal of fortune, where the huge movies of the past will no longer carry the mega audiences they once did, and studios will be stricken by the sudden unprofitability of big movies.  Both of them also lamented about the “lesser” movies they made, which almost weren’t accepted by the studios for theatre releases because of their non-blockbuster status.  That’s right: Spielberg and Lucas both had trouble getting their movies into the theatres.

And what they are suggesting is that, at present, lesser movies are hard to produce for movies… but that in the near future, big blockbusters won’t get the automatic greenlight either.  Does this mean Hollywood will have to turn back to the lesser movies, and a different profit expectation?  If so, what should we expect? Continue reading

Pleasuring myself

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Steven Lyle JordanOver the years, I’ve been concentrating so much on entertaining others that I’ve slipped in my efforts to entertain myself; and right now, I have a yen to improve my life by re-immersing myself in the many forms of entertainment media I’ve collected over the years.  But because of their formatting and my need to upgrade my collection, that will require digitization.  (Don’t ask.  It’s all my stuff, reformatted for me alone.  No copyright infringement here.  Move along.)

Continue reading