Monday, March 3, 2008

Sci-Fi: Part 1

I happened to watch Serenity again the other day. I really enjoy the film, even though Wash and Book both bite it (which, perversely, I really like, as I tire of movies where the heroes never take a hit).

Anyhow, whilst watching Mal and the crew run around, I wondered: what kind of escapist entertainment do these people have? Fantasy, is well, fantasy. It hasn’t really changed much since Tolkien defined it in the sixties (though I do love it so).

Sci-fi, however, is seemingly forever.

There was a book I read in college during my Popular Fiction course whose name I can’t remember. One aspect was that everyone ran around talking on little fold-up phones. This was in the early ‘90s, when mobile phones were large and bulky and looked like they belonged in a WWII movie. This was one of the ‘cool’ parts of the book and seemed very futuristic. Now, of course, everyone has cell phones and as they have become commonplace, science-fiction has moved on.

Even cavemen probably had some sort of science-fiction, even though cooked food was probably just catching on.

“And they have spear. But not like our spears.”

“How not like our spears?”

“They wood, but hard. Like stone.”


“Yes! And if you threw it very hard, it go through TWO mammoths.”


“Oh, and they not smell like dung.”


Later: Part II – Beyond Lasers!


The Colonel said...

If I recall correctly, 'caveman sci-fi' was where most of our primal mythopiea came from - fireside tales of great heros stealing some secret from the gods or defeating something that wanted to swallow up the earth/sun/moon/mammoths.

From what I recall of Firefly the colonists are still curious about the rest of space - which is apparently inacessible to them, about Earth-that-was and, of course, aliens, which as far as we know haven't yet been encountered.

Jason Janicki said...

Yeah, as I wrote that I realized that cavemen wouldn't really have 'science-fiction' as theirs was most likely a world of magic. Still, as Asimov once said (I think it was Asimov) "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

So, that magic staff that shoots lighting could also be a ray gun :)

Yes, you're right that in Firefly, the galaxy was still largely unexplored and technology, for the most part, wasn't too much more advanced that what we have. The guns still fired bullets (though they had lasers, they were just hideously expensive), they seemed to travel at sub-light speeds, etc.

So obviously, there's room for them to have sci-fi much in the same vein as we have.

Thanks for your comments, they're much appreciated :)

Alan said...

This is actually very similar to a fun mental exercise I pull on people from time to time. It's fun to watch people boggle a bit, trying to imagine what science fiction will be three hundred years into the future.

Jason Janicki said...

Yay, I'm not the only person who thinks about stuff like that :)

What would, say, Q from Star Trek, basically a omnipotent being, view as sci-fi? That's trick one :)