Quiz: Mulder and Scully vs. Lois and Clark in an easter egg hunt in Mordor. Who finds the most?



Hi all,

"Alfonso" here. Just wanted to get something off my chest--figured you all would probably understand the best.

You may have read recently about the Spiderman fiasco. And no, I'm not talking about the third movie, which was really a piece of shit. No, I'm talking about the director and lead actor deciding not to make the fourth film. And then the Sony studio is talking about rebooting the series in time to compete with the new Trek film?

I can't count the ways this is dumb. And I don't presume to know much about sci-fi. In fact, I don't give a spider's left testicle whether they make the stupid movie or not. But Sony: c'mon. Rebooting the franchise? Isn't it a bit soon? Obama gets the Peace Prize before he accomplishes anything and now Spiderman's getting rebooted? Is the whole world in some sort of mythic pre-ejaculatory state? We just can't wait so we're getting our jollies too early?

WTF, world? WTF?


InBox Mondays: Favorite Sci-Fi Series

On Mondays, I've decided, I will choose an email that seems particularly useful for the class and answer it on the website so you can all bask in the glory of learning. Today's email comes from Shantanu in Chicago, IL.

Dear Prof. Sci-Fi,

What is your favorite Sci-Fi series? 

Chicago, IL

That's an easy one, Shantanu. The finest piece of science fiction I've come across is Deep Space Nine, which is the third series by the Star Trek franchise. They say the third time's the charm, and this one certainly was something for the franchise to be proud of. There are several reasons why DS9 is hands down my favorite sci-fi series:

1. It carried the premise of Star Trek to it's next logical step. You can only explore the potential for humanity's future in a positive light for so long. Eventually, things are going to get complicated. TNG's 4th season started to develop the Trek universe along these lines with Worf/Klingon storylines. But there were hints to the moral ambiguity of Trek's evolved humans even in the old movies with Kirk and Spock. It was time for a series to specifically explore the darker sides of the Trek universe--which is what happened in DS9. The show focused on war, political oppression, greed, and racial conflict. Yet despite these being its major themes, the vast majority of the DS9 senior staff worked together just like the Enterprise did. Most of the conflict came from non-Starfleet characters. In this since, Gene's vision was upheld and yet carried to the next step.

2. The writing focused on character more than plot. This was a critical shift in the Trek style of telling stories. And it worked--once the show started to become more serialized. I began to care about the characters once I could follow how their lives were developing from episode to episode. I can identify with some of their issues. What saved the show from becoming a mere soap opera was the setting. The characters took on a larger-than-life status, becoming symbols that carried over into the real world. This is especially true with the Bajoran/Cardassian storyline. So added onto the fact that the characters were worth getting to know was this almost mythic aspect surrounding the characters. These characters stood for something. This is when the show became more than entertainment: it became art.

3. The baseball metaphor. The whole series, like TNG's Q frame, can be seen in terms of the baseball metaphor Sisko explains to the Prophets in the pilot "Emissary." But that will be a topic for another post.

I hope that answered your question. I highly recommend the series, and despite its serial nature, you can figure out the relationships of the characters fairly well wherever you jump in. My first experience was the 5th season, and I caught on pretty well. Or you could always head over to Wikipedia and get your basic primer here: Deep Space Nine.


Uses for Kryptonite #7


Homework #6: Live

If you could live anywhere and anytime in any part of any Sci-Fi universe, where would you live? Why?




The correct answer is Saruman. Why? Well, it is a well known fact that Yoda is a vegetarian, so the third answer is null and void. Between Janeway and Saruman, the white wizard has the upper hand for two reasons: magic and science. Meaning that Saruman could use a spell and make it considerably easier for him to conjure frogs and bring them to him than Janeway's tricorder ever could just by scanning. Furthermore, Janeway, as a scientist, would most likely be so enthralled by studying the planet that she would like be distracted, thus giving Saruman the clear win.

Ultimately, though (as with all my polls) Al Gore remains the true winner.

Fear and Love Part II

Sometimes we make decisions because we are afraid to lose what we have. I learned that from Star Wars.

Anakin Skywalker, a Jedi Knight, was in love with Padme. She was everything to him. When he was younger, she had reached out to him. Later, when he had grown, their relationship developed into a romance. Padme continued to reach out, and Anakin struggled.

He had lost his mother to a murderous group of aliens on his home planet. There were warnings, though--nightmares and visions--that he had received through the Force. But he had not been quick or strong enough to act on those warnings and save his mother. At least, that's how he felt.

Now he was having the nightmares again, but this time they were about Padme. He was afraid that she was going to die, that he was going to lose her. And this time, he promised himself and Padme he would do everything in his power as a Jedi to keep her from dying.

Ultimately, the only way he thought he could save her was by betraying his Jedi oath, turning to the Dark Side of the Force and using its power. What motivated him to turn on his principles and do something he knew Padme would not want him to do? Was it love? Was it fear? Is there a difference?

Anakin's decision was more made out of fear than love. He did not turn to the Dark Side in order to save Padme--he turned to the Dark Side in order to keep himself from losing her.

"Just help me save Padme. I can't live without her," he tells Darth Sidious. This sounds strikingly like a man who loves a woman deeply. How can this decision be made out of fear? It's clear from one clue: he made it alone. Love is collaborative. Fear is solitary.

When we make decisions in order not to lose something or someone, we are not acting out of love. At least, it is not purely a loving action. Fear is part of it. Fear is most of it. And if Anakin is any example, it usually ends up in disaster.

Unless you want to have asthma and sound like James Earl Jones. Then it might be cool.


Uses for Kryptonite #22