Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Episode 6 - So Say We Four

We recorded this episode on April 4, 2008, the night of the launch of season 4 of Battlestar Galactica. So warning, there are a few spoilers here, as we recorded before, and then after the show. We also had two of our regular guests, Isabelle and Christine join us on the show. We celebrated by drinking Caprica 6 martinis which are an oz and a half of lemon vodka, an ounce of Triple Sec and an oz of blueberry-pomegranate juice.

The topic, the uses and misuses of science fiction. OK, so it is not a tech story, but too bad, it is a geek story, we are branching out. Basically Ken thought of this idea when comparing say BSG to more fantasy type stuff. In other words, explosions vs. story. Isabelle says the worst Science Fiction movie ever is Highlander 3 and she also hates Tron. This took Dave and Ken aback.

Starship Troopers is an example of a great sci fi book that turned into a bad sci fi movie. We wondered aloud if Gulliver's Travels is Sci Fi and came to a bit of a consensus that the genre was invented by Jules Verne.

We even delved a bit into comics and superheroes. It was a great time, thanks to Christine and Isabelle, oh and the black Shure SM 45.....

Enjoy episode 6.


Rachel said...

(If I had known I was going to be insulted, I wouldn't have added that comment on episode 5 earlier today, so there.)

The original Star Wars trilogy is an excellent roller coaster ride, and I think quite good fantasy (its story is a nifty patchwork of legend and myth). But I'm not sure if it's science fiction at all--if you define science fiction as fiction based on a science-based "what if". Battlestar Galactica's science-based "what if" is and oldie but goodie--what if we made robots and they became self-aware?

Of course, it occurs to me that by that standard, Starship Troopers (the book, too) isn't science fiction at all, although it is full of advance technology. Unless you classify political science (or any social science) as science.

Now, I'd say that good science fiction has to be both science fiction (has a science-based "what if") AND good fiction. So Independence Day is science fiction, but lousy fiction. Instead of dealing with human reaction to an alien invasion (a "what if" out of which much excellent science fiction has arisen, starting with Wells) it deals with shiny technology and explosions. No interesting ideas. No original insights. No showing the relevance of older stories. Nothin'.

(I think you'd have to classify the Bible as fantasy rather than science fiction, no?)

Are y'all familiar with the website named "Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics"? http://www.intuitor.com/moviephysics/

Dave Brodbeck said...

We would never insult you, just the rest of them..

But seriously, the point about BSG is good. When you think of Kurzwiel's idea about the coming singularity it gets kinda sorta really scary... That said, I welcome our robot overlords.

Excellent point about Starship Troopers. Though, I guess maybe speculative fiction is a better term than sci fi here. And yeah, I don't consider social science to be science really, but that is another matter...

The Bible is sort of fantasy in that respect yeah. Though, if we figure that there was no sci fi really before the 1800s we could say it is the closest thing they had back then (or any other myths, not just the bible).

Thanks as always for the comment Rachel. Really, we didn't mean you :-)

Rachel said...

Sure, yeah, you meant your numerous other commenters. ;-)

I reminded of the late, great Arthur C. Clarke's third law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Certainly any number of writer's used that one to change their genre from fantasy to science fiction. Not that that always worked--I don't care what she came up with in her prequels and later work, Anne McCaffrey's dragon stories are fantasy anyway.

Starship Troopers, in all fairness, FEELS like science fiction (in literary style--except when it's being a lecture), even though it's major premise has nothing to do with hard science. Heinlein was loopy nine ways from Tuesday, but boy, he could really write. (Although I can't reread anything he wrote after The Number of the Beast. I respect any writer that can create a believable world, and he could, but it didn't make him God. Really not.)

It may not be as good a premise for fiction as Battlestar Gallactica's answer, but I grew up on Asimov's take on self-aware robots (remember, Data has an Asimovian positronic brain!), and I like that answer better. (*knocks fake wood*)

Sisdor said...
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