>Science… Fiction?


Courtesy of xkcd.
It’s occurred to me only recently that there’s probably a reason why we haven’t seen the next big “Star Trek” or “Star Wars” in recent history – speculative fiction has officially reached a point where it’s significantly harder to imagine what the future might be like with any real chance of impressing the viewer. Or, for that matter, demonstrating advancement that makes a practical difference (“Is Better”) without being advanced for the sole sake of being advanced (What makes energy weapons better than traditional guns? Sci-fi writers have to think about these things).
Why? Well, frankly, because any number of the gadgets I carry with me to school every day is practically something out of Star Trek as it is. My jailbroken iPod already feels more advanced than the PADD (Personal Access Display Device, unless I’ve forgotten my Trek-isms) both in terms of interface and in terms of information retrieval. 50 years ago, it would have looked absolutely magical; even knowing that the underlying technology is already obsolete, it’s still pretty impressive.
(On the other hand, that paper-thin touch based computer display featured on Andromeda still looks awesome – but we’re probably only a year or two away from it now.)
I was out with a friend a month or two ago, and we were using the GPS on his Android phone to figure out where we needed to go for ice cream, and it was about then that this clicked for me. I turned to him and said, “When exactly did we go to bed and wake up in the future?”
Oddly enough, this realization hasn’t soured me on Sci-fi in the least – though it has heightened my appreciation of “plausible” sci-fi, like Stargate. The “world behind the curtain” approach to fantasy and science fiction works wonders with its feeling of, “this could be happening right now, and you wouldn’t know.” Harry Potter did the same thing, and it was (for lack of a better word) fantastic. Even Star Wars saves itself through clever use of, “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away….” but as I’ve said before, Star Wars isn’t actually science fiction – it’s a fantasy story set against a science fiction backdrop.
That said, there’s still a lot to love about Star Trek and its vision of a future where Earth has learned that we all should just get along, where we’ve overcome all our stereotypes about race, creed, or gender and crafted our own little utopia – freedom from disease, plenty of peace, prosperity, work for everyone and (thanks in part to holodecks, replicator technology, and abundant free power) a world where no one really wants for anything. . . except maybe adventure. Hence, Starfleet.
But then, I’m an idealist. It’s one of the reasons I like comic books.
I’m sorry for all the non-RPG content lately; I’ve been having so much of my attention pulled away by school and all the “real world” stuff that I can’t focus when I sit down for the fun stuff. I hope you won’t mind if I wax a little philosophical rather than skip out on writing altogether; I’ll be back to the game stuff again, soon.
Thanks for putting up with me.

6 responses to “>Science… Fiction?

  • Greg Christopher

    >Perhaps the speculative wing of science fiction is in the doldrums, but the disasterous consequences wing is still flying high. Just look at all the disaster movies lately.My RPG that is still in development called Cascade Failure is definitely science fiction in this vein. It is about dealing with the collapse of a Star Wars/Trek size intergalactic economy. Post-apocalypse, only in space instead of a dusty wasteland.Follow my google profile to find the blog where I am posting info about the game as it is being developed. If you want on the alpha review list, shoot me an e-mail.

  • Jonathan

    >Sounds interesting! I'll have to give the blog a run through – the setting definitely sounds cool. Thanks for sharing. And you're right, the disaster movie genre as a whole is still going strong. For that matter, it has been for quite awhile – isn't that basically what the Matrix is?And, of course, there's stuff like Fringe.

  • Greg Christopher

    >Well, I guess the Matrix could be viewed that way. I think of it more of an action movie though.

  • Jonathan

    >Okay, true, but it's an action movie set in a dystopian sci-fi future. I guess that's kind of like it's own category, though. I was just thinking of it in terms of the whole, humans created the AI, humans screwed up the sun, AI enslaved humanity… thing. The rest of the movie is pretty much generic (albeit genre defining) action movie stuff with a little eastern philosophy thrown in to convince you that it's "deep," and to make you forget that you came for the bullet-time. And I say this as someone who really liked The Matrix. 🙂

  • Tourq

    >I rebel against technology. I need my wondrous sci-fi fantasy world; not the real deal!

  • Jonathan

    >Heh, I would argue that both is good… I love my gadgets, but I want my teleporters and lightsabers and my very own copy of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy — complete with "Don't Panic" written in large, friendly letters on the cover.

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