Specialness

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losing humanIt’s hard to give up the notion that you’re not special.  Emma Roberts, in her Metaverse post Are We Losing Our Ability to Be Human? believes our “specialness” is the thing that makes us human; that we have souls and spirituality, that we have consciousness and are aware of our place in the universe.  And she is concerned that, as machines and artificial intelligence take over more and more of our world and our lives, we will begin to lose touch with what makes us human… and special.

“…I think that without the feeling of spirituality or individualism or ‘self’ we are just another biological being and that’s pretty damn soul destroying.”

I don’t think Emma should be overly concerned, and here’s why. Continue reading

Science is the bad guy now?

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Frankenstein's creationIt’s been suggested in a Tor.com article that moviemakers only see science and technology as the bad guy, and won’t greenlight a movie that presents science and technology in a positive light.  And if you think about the sci-fi movies of recent years, it’s pretty damned hard to think of any where the science or tech didn’t create or exacerbate a problem.

Same thing for television: How long has it been since we’ve had a new TV show about someone using technology to help people?  You could mention Person of Interest; but even that show, wherein a genius siphons the identifying numbers of people who need help from an all-seeing Machine, has become thoroughly overshadowed by the discovery of another Machine that apparently wants to help a secret organization to (ahem) Take Over The World, and an imminent Machine-on-Machine war.  Extant was about taking advantage of humans alone on a space station to expose them to aliens.  Ascension was about fooling a bunch of “colonists” into thinking they’re on a space ship to another star.

I often find myself outright gobsmacked by the idea that people would consider science and technology as the bad guy in any form, considering all we have to thank science and technology for.  I mean, if we didn’t have agriculture… animal husbandry… medicine… metallurgy… standardized weights, measures and time… engineering… electronics… communications… all of which are branches of science… we’d still be living like nomads on the plains, throwing rocks at rabbits and trying to guess which leaves were safe to eat.  Or we wouldn’t exist at all, finally wiped out by the apex predators on every continent.

So, if science and technology have made our very lives and societies possible today… how are they the bad guy now? Continue reading

Michael Crichton: More than Jurassic Park

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Michael CrichtonMichael Crichton (1942-2008) was a prolific author, screenwriter and director for TV and movies, but it sometimes surprises me that he has become remembered almost entirely for a very short list of accomplishments… specifically, Jurassic Park, Westworld, The Andromeda Strain, and sometimes ER (of which he was creator, writer and executive producer).

But this rare creator not only penned many incredible novels besides the few most people think of, but he was the writer/director of some low-budget movies that so beautifully define him to me, including The Terminal Man, Runaway, and Looker.   His bigger-budget movies, such as Sphere, Rising Sun and Disclosure (also based on books), are also high on my list of movies to watch… when you can catch them. Continue reading

Definitions of science fiction

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I’m just going to leave these here.

Isaac Asimov. 1975: “Science fiction can be defined as that branch of literature which deals with the reaction of human beings to changes in science and technology.”

John W. Campbell, Jr. 1947: “To be science fiction, not fantasy, an honest effort at prophetic extrapolation from the known must be made.”

Steven Lyle Jordan

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Bernal SphereAuthor of multiple award-winning science fiction novels, featuring realistic science, mature themes and incredible adventure!

Available in ebook formats at Amazon and at Barnes & Noble.

On Facebook: stevenlylejordan

On Twitter: @Steven_L_Jordan (#BringTheFuture)

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

Space Opera: It’s the (stupid) science

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space opera

The trappings of space opera are beautifully illustrated here.

The recent arguments over the merits of Interstellar (is it good SF, is it crappy, is it too serious, is the science BS, etc, etc) has been ringing in my ears this week.  One poster even tried to label Interstellar as space opera.  Which reminded me of a post in IO9 a few months back about space opera and its merits.  Part of the discussion revolved around what, exactly, is considered space opera. Continue reading