As a new year approaches, I find myself in a familiar position: Reflecting on the past year, I have to ask myself, “Am I gonna continue this insanity for another year? Or am I gonna find some new insanity to commit myself to?”
I 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.
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.
I just want to go on record as loving this Observation Deck article about Six Ways Franchises Go Terminal. My favorite reason is #2, not only for itself but for the franchise they chose to illustrate the point:
2. The Creators Have No Frickin’ Clue What The Franchise Is About
And the example they chose: None other than Star Trek, and the J.J. Abrams-inspired clusterf**k of movies that totally manage to miss the point of the franchise and Gene Roddenberry’s vision (because all Abrams really wanted to do was make a Star Wars movie). I have especially warm feelings for this bit, about Star Trek Into Darkness‘ use of the character Khan:
The story makes no sense, and serves no purpose other than to reboot Khan and make him into a Dark Knight Joker-style übervillain, which he never was on the original series or in Wrath of Khan. (The thing about Montalban’s Khan is that despite his supposed genetic superiority he’s actually kind of a histrionic, swaggering dumbass, and not a cool Hannibal Lecter type.)
Nail head, meet hammer. Much more goodness in the article… go and see.
In the article The Dangers of Franchise Longevity, IO9 contributor lightninglouie examines the trend for popular series, for example the Simpsons and the X-Men, to eventually lose the unique quality that made them special and popular and end up as stereotypical as the rest of the media morass in their genre.
“There is a big danger associated with longevity, and it’s not what you’d think. Often you hear about creators losing sight of what the franchise was supposed to be about and going off on a bunch of pointless tangents. But I don’t think that’s the real risk at all. The big concern is that the people who are in charge of the thing will turn it into what they thought it was supposed to be all along.”
LL singles out other series falling into this, but I suppose the one that stings the most, to me, is Star Trek, going from its origins as a pseudo-intelligent study of the human condition and optimism for the future, into a senseless space combat franchise full of 50-year-old sci-fi gag tropes. Read the article.
Lists. We love ’em, we make ’em, we argue over ’em, we share ’em. And every now and then, we see a list that just demands that we respond with: “That’s a nice list; but here’s what it should have had…”
A recent list (on The Observation Deck) of the greatest science fiction moments that made you “weep for joy” made me think of SF’s greatest visual moments from my memory, and I realized that my list couldn’t include just F@&# YEAH! moments, but heartbreaking moments as well. After all, SF’s greatest trait is its ability to make you rethink your world, and that doesn’t just come from cool explosions.
So, without further ado, and in no particular order, is my list of the greatest SF (visual) moments of TV and cinema, and how they impacted me.
What… me? Perish the thought. No, I’m trying to make my books sound more exciting. I’ve recently edited the blurbs for two of my novels, Sarcology and My Life, After Berserker, to see if a more exciting description will help sales.
This notion came to me after a Facebook discussion with author James Moclair, who met with two prospective customers for his new book… but apparently, the customers were deterred from buying by the fact that he, in his mid-sixties, seemed to them to be “too old to be a science fiction writer.”
I’m guessing this is test footage from the SFX teams that will be working on the new Star Wars movies (or perhaps hope to be). Either way, pretty cool footage.
On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, It’s natural to reflect on how his message has affected relations in the U.S., and not just racial; King believed in trust and brotherhood among all groups and nationalities, and saw that only that total trust and brotherhood would allow us to grow and prosper. We’ve made a lot of strides since then, though we clearly have a long way to go in others.
However, I find myself looking even further afield than that, and reflecting on how King’s message had impacted science fiction over the years. I have to say that, with some notable exceptions, I don’t think King’s message is reaching to the stars in our science fiction (or fantasy).
As I write this, The Avengers is well on its way to becoming another record-breaking movie. As well, we have seen three Twilight movies, four Pirates of the Carribean movies, six Star Wars movies, umpteen Harry Potter movies, sequels to The Hunger Games and Iron Man are in the works… you know what? I could blow three or four paragraphs on all the sequels and series of movies out there.
Suffice to say, continuations are popular in movies. And why not? A movie can only pack in so much information… a typical 2-hour movie is perhaps the equivalent of a 100-page book, and these days, books pack in 3-400 pages. Multiple movies are a great way to get in all of the book’s content (well, more of it, anyway) and provide more well-rounded entertainment to the moviegoer.