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I think I'm done with science fiction

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Lemuel
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I just don't understand why you complain about these kinds of things. I just enjoy the shows. It's not reality! It's art so I don't expect it to be an exact copy of how reality works.

As for the Bynars, you have no idea what kind of production decisions went behind the creation of their race and behind the decision not to have them appear again. For all you know there never was a decision to cut them out of the Star Trek universe. (Actually, they were mentioned in Enterprise). There are so many production decisions that go on behind a show to which the viewer is not privy, and for which you MUST account when watching any show.

For instance, it was originally thought that the Borg would be a kind of insectoid race that takes over the body of a person from the inside with larvae and forces them to do their bidding. One of the episodes in Season 2 of TNG centered around a Starfleet conspiracy with just such a species, and they implied at the end that an invasion was imminent, but nothing ever happened because they dropped the idea in favor of the Borg Collective, which they thought was far more frightening. That's just one instance of production decisions changing the course of an entire show.

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So you spent nearly 20 points attacking a new movie, District 9, with fairly original construction because of small discrepancies most of which were addressed, you just missed them. but on the other hand your shows which you like Don't have to be reality! Also you make all these exceptions because its a show with production decisions, like this is the only show with production decisions and it deserves more consideration because of your like of it.

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I just don't understand why you complain about these kinds of things.

Because it's so damned annoying. Trek comes up with all sorts of great new ideas and dumps most of them after one use. Remember the ep where Data builds a daughter? It was great, and I can even accept he didn't know enough and she died as a result. It ties well with "Measure of a Man," where Data undergoes a trial to determine whether or not he's volitional (one of a few eps where Enterprise officers are in conflict without benefit of an alien or alien device taking them over or influencing them, BTW).

Then neither Data nor anyone else ever again speaks of the dead daughter, nor does Data ever again try to construct more offspring. What a waste!

As for the Bynars, you have no idea what kind of production decisions went behind the creation of their race and behind the decision not to have them appear again. For all you know there never was a decision to cut them out of the Star Trek universe. (Actually, they were mentioned in Enterprise).

Having a mention in a terrible episode (the ep that killed off the Borg as a serious threat drama-wise) as part of a background dialogue scene over a decade after they were introduced, that qualifies as being cut out of the Trek universe.

For instance, it was originally thought that the Borg would be a kind of insectoid race that takes over the body of a person from the inside with larvae and forces them to do their bidding.

I remember that and the ep you mention. It was good, but not that good. After all, being taken over by aliens is as common in Trek as having the Enterprise in danger, or having a misunderstanding in Three's Company. Being made a component of a sinister, semi-organic machine is terrifying (until that infamous Enterprise ep). One of the best moments ever in Trek is when Worf's team find Picard as altered by the Borg. That was a great idea.

Now imagine if after "The Best of Both Worlds" the Borg never again showed up.

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Babylon 5 was unique. No other SF series, nor any other series I'm aware of, has ever undertaken an arc story five sesons long. It was like a novel for TV. There was a show called Earth 2 that was supposed to be doing a really long arc, too, but it was cancelled after 13 eps.

Still, other series, while not doing long arcs, do advance an overall story. For instance Stargate SG-1 is about a long, low intensity war between the US Air Force and the Goauld (I forget where the apostrophe goes). For some time it seemed stuck in a Trek-like timelessnes, taking on Apophis each time, even killing him on occasion, only to ahve him return over and over again. But even then things changed. There was the subplot concernign the senator and the covert paramilitary agency, Stargate Command (SGC) made new alliances, explored the galaxy and acquired alien technologies.

And eventually they broke the Apophis cycle and kept on fighting the Goauld, plus the Replicators, to the end, finally achieving a victory. Then the Ori showed up and we were involved in another war (one that was too hasty).

This is so even for series like Friends, where the characters change careers, get married, divorced, pregnant, etc etc and things do change, albeit slowly and minutely.

Trek is more like The Simpsons. Things stay as they are. Always. There is no direction, no objective, no overarching goal to reach. It plods along, sometimes having really good episodes, sometimes merely good eps and sometimes terrible episodes the fans are only too glad to forget. The characters change only as a result of off-stage developments (actors quit or come back, get pregnant and have to be hidden, etc). Often the secondary characters have more interesting lives (O'Brien in TNG, Rom in DS9, Seska in Voayger)

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I feel like I've stumbled into some sort of twisted Worldcon blood feud... :lol:

I don't get angry over SF anymore. I just pity the poor saps who don't get it and move on ;)

Of course there are those who think fantasy is the same thing as SF, and that liking one implies liking the other. If I had a tenth of a penny for every ignoramus who assumed I'd read all of "The Lord of The Rings" and Harry Potter books, I'd probably be able to afford a first-class trip aroud the world (ok, I exaggerate, but it did feel that way).

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What you say about the Star Trek and Babylon 5 is correct, but that's exactly what I was saying. I understand perfectly well the format B5 used, but I just couldn't get involved in the story because I thought it was artistically inferior to Star Trek in many respects. Stargate is way below both in my opinion. The particular format used for a show doesn't bother me so long as it is well executed, and I thought B5 did the story arc very well and that Star Trek did the stand-alone episode very well, but you can't just exchange the formats and still expect the shows to work.

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Having only ever watched Stargate SG-1, I thought was superior to Star trek in every way: production, acting, writing, and even the very premise and concept of the show. No Prime Directive! There were even aliens who pissed off the humans by pulling the lame Prime Directive excuse on them, turning the tables and showing how stupid it was.

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What you say about the Star Trek and Babylon 5 is correct, but that's exactly what I was saying. I understand perfectly well the format B5 used, but I just couldn't get involved in the story because I thought it was artistically inferior to Star Trek in many respects.

Hold on a second while I get my brain to stop trying to spin..... There!

What? As drama B5 has Trek beat hollow. Visually not so much, I agree. B5 went for a gritty "realistic" look (at that ship's movements on B5 were more realistic than Trek's), while Trek has a noble tradition of a clean, form-follows-function esthetic. But B5 did much more int he way of spectacular effects (eye candy, yes, but that's what appeals to us SF fans when watching SF).

Stargate is way below both in my opinion.

Your opinion needs to be revised :lol:

The particular format used for a show doesn't bother me so long as it is well executed, and I thought B5 did the story arc very well and that Star Trek did the stand-alone episode very well, but you can't just exchange the formats and still expect the shows to work.

Trek did some mini-arcs and did them fairly well. One season of DS9 began on a three-part ep, which was the height of the Trek mini-arc (I forget the names, but it was when they had to wrestle control of DS9 from elements int he Bajoran government, Frank Langella guest-starred). While Voyager weakened the impact of the Borg through overuse and over-survival, the best eps were those that followed Seven's personal history before and during her time as a Borg. SO you can change the format, within reason, and expect them to work.

B5 had some eps that were mroe or less stand-alone as their impact ont he overall arc was little or none. Offhand I can't think of any but "By Any Means Necessary," but I'm sure there were others.

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Having only ever watched Stargate SG-1, I thought was superior to Star trek in every way: production, acting, writing, and even the very premise and concept of the show.

I agree, although SG-1 lacked in the high concept moral dilemma kind fo show, which Trek did much more often. Sometimes Daniel ahd doubts of what they were doing, but he was either ignroed or overruled. The best in this category is the one involving Sam Carter and Fifth.

What SG-1 does better than anyone is character chemistry. All the characters fit incredibly well together and really reflect their kind of relationship realistically. Even the secondary characters are quite good (Dr. Lee, the obnoxious Senator/VP, the President when one finally shows up, Walter and Siller).

No Prime Directive! There were even aliens who pissed off the humans by pulling the lame Prime Directive excuse on them, turning the tables and showing how stupid it was.

I think the Prime Directive was Trek's fatal flaw. A general non-interference kind of rule is ok, as they had in SG-1 (see their dealings with the planet where Jonas Quinn came from), but the Prime Directive is ridiculous.

Still, to show exactly how stupid it is you have to go to the source. There's a TNG ep where Picard, with the reluctant agreement of the crew, decides he has to let a species die because "interfering with their development" could be worse. That's even below the notion of having to destroy the village in order to save it. Fortunately Worf's step brother has more sense than that and saves the people he's been studying.

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  • 2 months later...

I didn't care for the way Battlestar Galactica ended, implying that progress and technology was bad. There were episodes that annoyed me because of the obvious anti-capitalist undertones, but in general I loved the series. The first season in particular was amazing. They definitely should have replaced Adam with Admiral Cain, though.

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  • 1 month later...

It's been a few months since I started this topic, and to address some of the responses ...

- Yes, I've read Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, and other Grand Masters. Obviously Heinlein speaks more to me than the others do. In fact, I just re-read Time Enough for Love, and realized that it could make for a great television serial, that would appeal to not only audiences, but satisfy the values of network programmers (modest budget, semi-arc based stories, etc.).

- I'm still a fan of Joss Whedon's work, the Firefly saga being the obvious stand-out. I've enjoyed Dollhouse, too, and the density of metaphysical and epistemological ideas it explores (particularly these last several episodes) will keep me thinking about it for a while longer.

- I've been praising the virtues of an independent sci-fi film, The Man From Earth, for many moons now. If you like speculation, history, conversational movies, and Big Idea stuff, you'll like this movie. Do not look up spoilers for the movie - just watch it. (It's available in a streaming format on Netflix.)

- I like Star Trek on a surface level, but among all its (many) flaws the one that annoys me (beyond the fantasy physics) is that it promotes collectivism in its subtext. It's not particularly vicious, but it's like ugly wallpaper -- not the focus of attention, but always present, distracting, and everything in the room has to match it.

- Back to Netflix, I finally watched what I had originally missed: Farscape. I had asked where Buck Rogers went, and I found him in the character of John Chrichton. While I didn't enjoy them going back to the "digging around John's mind" well so often, I was pleasantly surprised at the essential story ... an adventurous pilot and scientist gets thrown into an alien-saturated part of the galaxy, adapts to it, acts bravely in the face of surreal creatures and situations, fights the tyranny of an interplanetary fascist government, all while pursuing his own goal of returning home to Earth.

- - -

I realize that science fiction isn't to blame as a genre for being infused with so much junk -- all genres are. I know that, being an Objectivist, the best I can expect from all entertainment is an accidental validation of my ethics.

Sometimes I'm pleasantly surprised, but mostly I'm disappointed and disgusted in the 'fetish-izing' of collectivist and nihilist tropes. If I didn't know that book publishers, film studios, and TV networks remain hostile to values that are implicitly Objectivist (and I didn't already have a greater passion to pursue), I'd start writing ... :P

Edited by Lemuel
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Babylon 5 was unique. No other SF series, nor any other series I'm aware of, has ever undertaken an arc story five sesons long. It was like a novel for TV. There was a show called Earth 2 that was supposed to be doing a really long arc, too, but it was cancelled after 13 eps.

involved in another war (one that was too hasty).

Battlestar Galactica (the newer version) came close. It was grimmer and darker than Babylon 5 which had a more or less happy ending.

Bob Kolker

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On the topic of sci-fi.

I just read a really good sci-fi novel that I think most Objectivists would like theme-wise.

It's called 'Emphyrio' by Jack Vance. Written in 1969.

It's about a planet called Halma, that is completely controlled by welfare agents, where every citizen works as some form of artisan, the welfare agents take their work, sell it, and distribute the money throughout society. The society are also controlled by lords who take a portion of the citizens wealth as well (much like taxation). It follows the story of a young man who wants to be financially independent (meaning earning enough wealth to not be dependent on welfare anymore, a near impossible task on Halma without leaving the planet). The novel is quite individualistic, pro-freedom, anti-welfare. And it's only short (about 208) pages. Highly recommended.

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Babylon 5 was unique. No other SF series, nor any other series I'm aware of, has ever undertaken an arc story five sesons long. It was like a novel for TV.

X-Files and Lost both have long-running stories. Lost, being one long story, and X-Files bringing in "The Mythology" every 3 episodes or so.

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X-Files and Lost both have long-running stories. Lost, being one long story, and X-Files bringing in "The Mythology" every 3 episodes or so.

I never saw either one.

Anyway, this seems as good a place as any to talk about Stargate Universe.

Let's see, the setup is by far the most contrived I've ever come accross. At that, I'd be a little less harsh if we knew who was attacking the base with the magical stargate and why. The past SG series were about exploration and war. This one is about getting home and high- conflict drama. Getting home shows are plagued with so many problems, I fail to see why anyone still makes them.

The high-conflict drama is shaping up well. Of course everyone hates Dr. Rush, as well they should. Yes, he had a once in several lifetimes chance of dialing the "mysterious ninth chevron," but he really shoulnd't have. Especially not when he knew whatever lay on the other side he couldn't possibly prepare any sort of even half-baked expedition in the seconds he had left.

So a bunch of very disatissfied people is stuck gazillions of light years from home, and they depend a lot on the person they hate most in the entire universe. Not bad. and of course Rush is an ass in more ways than one. His claim that O'Neil (hadn't he retired, BTW?) put him in charge should have been met by a kick in the teeth, but it just as well it wasn't.

On the other hand you ahve the former commander of the base trying to wrestle control over the unplanned expedition all the way from Earth. He and Rush must have the same sign, or were born in the year of the jackass ;)

We'll see. It is too early to tell (I've only watched the first three eps). They should find something or someone interesting out there, else the whole thing will be a bottle show.

One last thing: I don't care ho far advanced the Ancients were, there's no way they or anyone else could possibly build anything that would operate for millions of years. The good ship Destiny shouldn't be barely functional, it should be dust. UNless she acarries within her a horde of repair and resupply machinery. But in that case it should be operating at near-peak efficiency.

As I said, the setup is highly contrived.

For the sake of Stargate, which is a decent enough franchise with lots of possibilities left to explore, I hope it turns out well. For my sake, too, since it's the only SF I can get on TV (unless you count the CSIs as SF, which I hear some real forensics scientists do).

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