Sunday, October 12, 2008

E=MC^2 and why sci-fi is so enjoyable

By the title you can probably tell which story I found the most enjoyable to read. Yes 7C rocked my literary world, or so to speak. Aside from the Poe award I would seriously have considered this story for Phillip K. Dick award as well. Yes, I have always been a fan of sci-fi. So its not like 7C was a shining light on my previously dark awareness of science fiction. However, it did remind me of why I like sci-fi so much and why I enjoy reading it.
The best science fiction stories generally transport you to world were a fictional non-existent science becomes possible by virtue of the fact that it is based on either a logical expansion of existing technology and science, or it is discussed in such details that the fictional science becomes utterly believable. This is, and you’ve probably wondered this, why Star-Trek is so damn popular that nerds learn to speak Klingon. 7C is a masterful piece of science fiction because it extends one’s common scientific knowledge to, what seems, logical considerations and creates a fantastic event that blows your mind away.
E=MC^2 right. Everyone knows the magic little formula that propelled Einstein to iconic status. Interestingly enough this is not what won him a noble price, but that is beside the point. Everyone know that through relativity Einstein postulated that time was variable, in fact it stopped when one was traveling at the speed of light. The intricacies of why, or how this happens or is theorized are not popularly known. Once one takes this as a certain truth it is not hard for Roberts to expand this notion into the realm of fantasy and make time go backwards. The fact that this is not possible eludes us, after all we do not know why it slows down at amazing speeds and it is popularly known that it does. We then swallow the premise that it is possible, knowing that is it not probable, an enjoy how this alternate reality affects the development of what is bound to be an interesting story because after all it is sci-fi.


Patrick said...

Post by Patrick Murphy

Wait just cracks me up. It's international explosive diahrrea. I love this story simply for the fact that it is an author's unrestrained imagination, flowing in a nearly nonsensical train of thought. I love it' the ridiculous and absurd should be in a genre unto itself. My favorite movie frowing up was Bedknobs and Broomsticks, an imaginative narration of an orphan English family that travels worlds (shades of an Alice in Wonderland style) via a four poster bed, and this story reminded me of waht is was like to let my creative imagination run wild and enjoy the ride. Wait is a shout out to the days of pure exstacy when tapping into what truly makes you smile.
Through our talk in class on metaphor, we discussed the numerous possibilities created by such a branching tale. Utilizing the depths of one's imagination only leads to success, which is how this story should resonate, especially to young writer's everywhere. Just because their style is new and upstart to the norm or they think they need to mold themselves after a famous author shouldn't be a reason to limit or regulate their imagination. It is our most perfect characteristic, separating us from animals (and sometimes adults). Imagination is the key, and we should never forget that.

Patrick McAlister said...

I absolutely agree with your thoughts about good science fiction. That is the exact reason why Battlestar Galactica (BSG) is such a well respected, hyperpopular show. It is the logical extension of an earth-like society forced to the brink of destruction attempting to hold onto their society and culture. Real world questions are explored in this universe.

One that is very true in many developing democracies around the world is the military trump card. In the show, Fleet Admiral Adama is seen as being able to trump the civilian led government - much like many South American countries in the latter half of the 20th century. How do you build (or in the case of BSG, re-build) civic society when the military could step in at any minute?

Another question explored is the role of religion in political thought. The most reprehensible individual in the fleet has become devoutly religious (without knowing it,Christian) and leads an ostensible cult. He also is, ironically, an incredibly intelligent scientist. What role do the religious zealots have in the fleet's civic society? How do religion and scientific awareness function side by side?

Those that dismiss sci-fi as something simply for nerds are poorly mistaken. As with any genre, science fiction has it's impersonators, but true gems like Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, and the Stargate series allow individuals to explore possibilities where other genres are limited.