Interstellar : Perceptions of time and the Human Condition

So last night I watched the movie, Interstellar, and all I have to say is wow. Christopher did a great job in my opinion of interpreting the practical use of time as an additional dimension that we can alter if only we can realise it. The movie comments on the steadfastness of the human race in the face of destruction, by of course, following the lives of several heroes. The first thing that came to mind as I watched was all the different conventions used as we learned in class. Time travel is, of course, particularly dominant in this exploration into space, but there are also conventions of alien contact (technically because they didn’t know at the time), post-apocalyptic earth (not quite dystopian I think but getting there), and most of all a story about human exploration into the unknown. This movie also does a great display of the black hole, and the theories of gravity surrounding it.

So what I’m wondering is what you guys think of the film, some of the ideas behind it and the intertextuality between it and other films. What are the differences between this movie and say, Back to the Future?  https://www.guthriegreen.com/event/639 Like what do the different films show about our knowledge as a society from 1985 and society now? Comment on other movies that can relate to this and how Nolan did things differently or what the films have to say about eachother.

 

Cloning: How far are we willing to go?

Ever since the topic of artificial intelligence came up it has really made me think about what it means to create artificial life forms. I believe in equal rights for everyone no matter what position in society that they may occupy so, of course, I believe that artificial life forms should be equal rights as well. The problem that I have though is in creating a life that is only going to be used for a specific purpose and is treated like an object in the process. This brings me to the heart of this blog: the process of cloning.

clones

Cloning is defined, in Wikipedia, as “…the process of producing similar populations of genetically identical individuals…” (“Cloning”). Cloning is an interesting concept and the genre of science fiction is the perfect place to represent it. I found a great movie that both explores and exposes cloning for what it really is. The Island, starring Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson, follows two individuals who escape from the secured location where they are being held, once they discover that they are clones being used for particular means.

Now my question becomes, at what point do we put an end to creating lives when we don’t really even give them a chance to live a normal life?

Science fiction, the point of view of a sociology student

So I was thinking about the sociological approach that would apply to science fiction if it was ever offered as such a course in the sociology department. First off i would like to say that i was never a science fiction enthusiast but i took this class out of curiosity and in all honesty it’s taught me a few interesting things so here it goes.Sociology is defined as a systematic study of society and social relationships , the common thing that Science fiction and sociology have is the precursor of a Utopian Philosophy. This is often used through literary forms such as voyage;which allows the construction of hypothetical societies, that can appear both as human and nonhuman and teach society new lessons. In our contemporary society displacement also works as a critique of the type of society the author lives in. However this is only a theory of mine seeing as we don’t really know if this was the main purpose of the authors however it is a significant result of the work. Anyway in my opinion studying science fiction through a sociological lense would be an interesting perspective seeing as it would bring the “fiction” aspect and the sociological analysis point through.

 

Science fiction shaping society?

In my opinion, society has absolutely since Star Trek began in 1966 and this started a revolution where society was becoming an advanced medium. The first man walked on the moon, clones where create and synthetic life was now being developed . Our technology is progressing so fast that it is now chanting our society and leading us to a debate over ethical issues and scientific challenges. From someone who had never looked into science fiction in depth i can honestly say that it is starting to scare me just a little. When we consider the effects of the developing technology ,science fiction has been addressing the long-term problems that our society sweeps under the rug. Science fiction movies, books, articles etc…that address creating a new specie, experimenting on animals, robots and such allows us humans to understand ( as well as we can ) what may be waiting for us along the line and shows us how dependent we really are on our technologies and illustrates the misguided concepts we may have .In addition I believe that science fiction was used to shape society, with the use of monsters and the use of aliens, it’s a play on the fear of the unknown which is scary (to me at least!) and that was always used to keep us in check.

Pioneering Through Space

America has long been obsessed with the idea of the Wild Wild West. In the TV show Firefly, firefly-1-10-shiny-things-that-you-probably-didn-t-know-about-firefly   the genres of western and science fiction are blended together. For those who are unfamiliar with the story line, here is a quote from the opening of the show (I could not attached the clip):

“Here’s how it is, Earth got used up so we terraformed a whole new galaxy of Earths. Some rich and flush with the new technologies. Some not so much. Central planets they must form the Alliance, which swore to bring everyone under their rule. A few idiots tried to fight it, among them myself. I’m Malcolm Reynolds, captain of Serenity. I’ve got a good crew…You got a job, we can do it. Don’t much care what it is,”

The Ballad of Serenity This show incorporates the common theme present in science fiction of have to leave Earth and rebuilding civilization elsewhere, due to Earth’s unideal conditions. In Firefly, they take off into space and rebuild on numerous planets. As the opening sequence suggests,  Malcolm Reynolds, is a sort of an outlaw, who runs a ship to smuggle and commit illegal activities in order to make his money. I think the concept of the show is very interesting, especially when related to the initial idea of genre we discussed in class. It takes one of the more classic genres, western and turns changes it into a science fiction based TV show. The show contains features of both genre as it is set in outer space, with the idea of new technology, however it still contains the core ideas of a western. Ideas such as the outlaw and exploring the new world. It is not the first show to blend the two genres, over the years there have been many space cowboy movies. One of the more well known ones being Space Cowboys, as well as the more recent Cowboys and Aliens. MV5BMTk4NzAwOTkwMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwMDM3MTM3-1._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_AL_ MV5BMTM1MzkyNzQ3OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDk1NTg2NQ@@._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_AL_ Overall, there have been many movies exploring the blending of these two genres, after all who doesn’t like cowboys and space? I just really enjoy this clip… This Land…

Science Fiction from a newcomer’s view

I am not very familiar with the genre of science fiction but, of course, I know that it is one of the very popular genres out there right now. I have heard about the Star Wars and Star Trek series which are obviously very popular but, I have not seen either one of them. My understanding of science fiction, previous to taking this course, is simply a novel or film about an imaginary world sometime in the future. Of course I imagined odd creatures, such as aliens, being the main elements of the stories but I am now aware of the fact that the science fiction world is one that is somewhat relate-able to the world we are currently living in but with a fantasy element included. Due to the fact that I am not very familiar with the genre of science fiction, I have essentially steered away from reading science fiction novels and watching science fiction films and television shows. As a result of this course, I have gained a clearer understanding about the meaning behind producing science fiction works and why people enjoy it so much. The fantasy element takes readers or viewers out of their current reality and to a place where things can be somewhat threatening and unusual but, at the same time, exciting and liberating. I am certainly going to start immersing myself more into this genre because it is completely different from what I am used to reading and watching, and I am sure that it is going to open up my world to some pretty unique experiences!

Star Wars: Science Fiction or Fantasy?

Yes, I realize that it is silly and somewhat trivial to debate over science fiction and fantasy, seeing as how they are quite similar. I suppose mostly what I’m wondering is, “what is the first thing that comes to your mind, genre-wise, when it comes to Star Wars?” I should note that this post pertains only to the original trilogy of films and not the prequels or any of the expanded universe literature.

Personally, I believe Star Wars to be strictly fantasy. I see it as a re-skinning of a classic fantasy tale with the only science fiction elements being the space setting. One reason for this is that there isn’t ever — to my knowledge — the faintest attempt to rationalize any of the spectacular things in Star Wars from a science perspective. I’m not looking for textbook style explanations here, any attempt at all would do. But no, everything just works magically. The force is magic. Ships fly around shooting lasers at each other in outer space and somehow explode when hit (as far as I know things can’t explode in space due to lack of oxygen but I could be wrong, please correct me). Obi-Wan can disable the tractor beam for a massive all-powerful space station by simply turning some weird handle things. Basically, I believe that Star Wars makes the decision to fall on the fantasy side by using mysterious magical forces rather than science to explain it’s unrealistic elements.

Obi-Wan Kenobi moonights as an engineer.

Also, the characters in the films fall more into fantasy archetypes than science fiction ones. Mainly with the Jedi basically being wizards and Princess Leia being, well, a princess.

I’m not bashing Star Wars, I love those movies, and I don’t think that they are inferior to other films simply because they favour fantasy elements over science fiction. I think that the movies are exactly what they want to be and succeed as what they are. These are just things that I can’t help but think of when I hear the original Star Wars trilogy referred to as science fiction movies. What’s your take on them? Are they science fiction? Fantasy? Can they be both, or does it not even matter?

Future Reading

I was thinking (and avoiding doing other work) that it would be interesting, is nothing else, to get a thread going on SF books that people enjoyed and would like to recommend, or, books you hated and think others should avoid. Novels, novellas, short stories, comics, interesting and futuristic looking lines on a page, whatever, anything at all. I suppose I’ll start off with some good one’s I’ve read:

Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin. I picked it up when I thought I’d try to be clever and guess what might be required reading for this class before I got a hold of the actual reading list. It’s mostly a social commentary on a hypothetical society with one shifting and fluid sex, from the perspective of a mostly human, male, protagonist. Discussions of politics, religion, mental health. It’s hard to even explain the plot without recanting the entire story, but the world Le Guin builds is so concise and detailed, it’s easy to get lost in, much like a glacial, snowy wasteland.

Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clark. It may as well be the dictionary definition of Hard SF. No real focus on characters, just a utilization of them as a vehicle in which to explore and attempt to understand a massive space craft that comes hurtling into our solar system. I recently found out that it’s actually the first book in a series, so the ending is just a little less frusterating.

The Avery Cates Series by Jeff Somers. I read all of these in a span of under two, very lazy weeks. It reads as close to an action movie as anything I’ve ever read before. The anti-hero lead is a basically a gun slinging thug that gets luckier than he should, and then incredibly unlucky, constantly. It’s mainly an action focused, argueably cyberpunk narrative, though focused more on the grit and grime than the technology. Guns blazing and questionable decisions, cults, crime, apocalypse, it’s got a touch of everything, yet never comes across as forced.

What else out there is worth reading? The one’s I’ve posted for the most part are pretty well known. Anyone find a gem at a thrift store or your uncle’s garage that was totally awesome? Here an interesting story about republican reptile aliens on the bus? Throw ’em out there.

Inception

“Issue of the Totem”

‘Inception’ is a revolutionary science fiction adaptation. It takes viewers into the depths of our subconscious thought, in dreams, and dreams within dreams.  In this universe one can tap into the mind of another and plant thoughts that grow into realities. With this new technology comes risk though, the risk of being stuck in ‘limbo’. A very interesting concept to grasp that while in the mind of another, in the dream state, or as seen in the film a dream within several other dreams, the possibility of being stuck in the bottommost dream or otherwise known as the ‘limbo’ state.  In the movie, 5 minutes in the real world works out to 1 hour in the dream world, therefore by entering several dreams within other dreams the time grows exponentially and eventually leading to ‘limbo’. Things can get confusing when always entering and exiting the dream state this is where ‘totems’ come in.

“A totem is an object used to test if one is in one’s own reality (dream or non-dream) and not in another person’s dream.”(Retrieved from: http://inception.wikia.com/wiki/Totem) In other words, a totem is a significant part of the collection of anyone performing inception. However there is one flaw with the totem, if one enters the dream of another, everything must be physically changed to order perform inception successfully. Why must one carry a totem and subconsciously recreate the totem when entering a dream instead of just not having the totem in the dream in the first place. If you don’t have the totem when entering a dream then you will always know you’re in dream if you don’t have the totem.

 

Works cited

http://inception.wikia.com/wiki/Totem

http://www.lucidipedia.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/lucid-dreaming-inception-totem.png

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Movies and TV shows on ‘Zombies’

Movies and TV shows. Which is the better choice for portraying a zombie apocalypse? When picturing what one would think of on the subject of zombie apocalypse, many images come to mind. For popular Hollywood movies in this day and age, ‘zombies’ are always changing and adapting to survive such as zombies portrayed in ‘Resident Evil’ or the ones in World War Z. Fast moving creatures with signs of intelligence. Where in TV shows such as ‘The Walking Dead’ zombies are at their most basic stage of development showing zero signs of intelligence and only having one ultimate goal.

I believe the way movies have portrayed zombies and continue to do so will destroy the image of zombies. I refuse to believe that Hollywood will just slap a new name on what are clearly a portrayal of ‘zombies’ and just call it something else mocking the audience. The movies leave nothing untouched which makes room for so many adaptations of what ‘zombies’ are, eventually the thought of zombies is going to get carried so far from what it was once originally and potentially ruin the category if it hasn’t already.

Works cited andFurther reading:

http://zombie.wikia.com/wiki/Types_of_Zombies

http://img1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20111112063629/walkingdead/images/9/99/Walking_dead_bicycle.jpeg

http://cdn.filmschoolrejects.com/images/World-War-Z.jpg

Please let me know you’re thoughts on the matter.