For Me, But Not For Thee – David Pascoe

For Me, But Not For Thee- David Pascoe

The teaser trailer for Episode Vee-Eye-Eye is out, and I imagine at least some of the Huns are excited, though I understand herself hold the franchise in some disdain. I, myself, am cautiously optimistic. Abrams has done – qualified – good things (and I’ll get to why I say that in a bit) with Star Trek, and I have hopes he’ll do something similar-but-better with the franchise nearest and dearest to my eight-year-old self’s heart.

/aside
I tried to hold out. I don’t need to see this, and besides, it’s probably crap. I mean, yeah, I was raised on Dad’s story of how he and Mom went to see Ep. 4 opening weekend in LA, and the line was three deep all the way around the block, and Mom held their spot while he went to the box office to find out the expected wait time, and the perky lass inside opened up the window and asked, “how many?” “For Star Wars?” *perky nod* “For the next showing?” *perky smile-and-nod* “Two, please,” and how he then went to find Mom and said, “Don’t say anything, just come with me.”

I watched the trilogy as often as I felt I could get away with it growing up (it hit all the right buttons in a very formative time, like happens) and listened to the Ep. 5 LP when I couldn’t do that. I was ecstatic when the Special (Snowflake) Editions were released in theaters, and went with a mess of friends (all two of ’em), and again when the prequels were released. Though I’d grown since childhood, even if George’s craft hadn’t. Consequently, I’m wary of this new thing. And then I watched it, and grinned. Well, fought a grin. Yes, I might get hurt, again, but … well: hope.
/end aside

And then a college buddy tossed me a <a href=”http://www.kxly.com/news/beale-how-star-wars-ruined-scifi/29980964″>link</a>, and my blood boiled. Not just for the unfair characterization of my generation by one (I’m presuming, which is better than assuming, which makes a posterior of you and Ming and leaves me out of it (and Ming is a jerk, as all know)) but for the sneering assumption that science fiction is some sort of closed club only open to those of correct opinion and award-winning status. The right awards, of course: those for literary quality, not the Franklin award for people-will-give-up-hard-earned-lucre for your work. What really sent the steam escaping from under my collar with a animalistic howl was the blatant superiority of the smug little op-ed cloaked in weary resignation (tying in well with Sarah’s post yesterday).

Elitism. We can’t ever seem to get rid of it. I’m talking specifically about scifi fandom, here, though it applies to humanity in general, since we’re tribal by nature. I blame that whole mess at Babel a while back. Really screwed things up for the rest of us, the jerks. Anyway, this smug superiority that separates

We see this all over the place, really. Check out the people at the top of the political pyramid, our self-proclaimed leaders. The top man claims it’s fine for him to violate law and tradition, and rule by executive <del>fiat</del>privilege, but not for the next person to occupy the office in which he squats. His subordinates, from his number two on down blatantly violate the laws by which the rest of us are expected to abide. And so they target law abiding citizens for a harassment only “legal” because it’s fine when they do it. By this example, they encourage others to participate in similarly thuggish acts, such as <a href=”http://townhall.com/tipsheet/katiepavlich/2012/05/29/the_lefts_dangerous_new_line_of_attack_swatting”>targeting</a> <a href=”http://www.forbes.com/sites/danielnyegriffiths/2014/11/07/bungie-executive-swatted-in-sammamish-wa-home/”>people</a> with whom they have some imagined beef. Or, y’know, just <a href=”http://monsterhunternation.com/2014/09/02/the-guardians-village-idiot-admits-to-libel/”>libel on an international forum</a> (sure, Al Grauniad’s pet attack-chihuahua isn’t an American citizen, but he <i>is</i> part of the elitist mob of SJWs. so there’s that).

An entire generation – it seems – is trying to get in good with the cool kids and their vitally important failed economic and pseudo-scientific religious dogma, and those of us who simply want to enjoy what we enjoy become the sacrificial scapegoats in their quest for politically correct enlightenment.

Anyway, as I said, it’s rearing its ugly head, <a href=”http://www.kxly.com/news/beale-how-star-wars-ruined-scifi/29980964″>again</a>. From the location, it could be somebody hoping to build cred in preparation for WorldCon next year. A cursory – and therefore possibly incorrect – exercise of google-fu suggests the writer of the op-ed may be a journalist and film critic. Pure speculation, but we’re mad here, and I like to stir the pot. Regardless of the origins, this particular bit of nonsense claims that Star Wars ruined science fiction FOREVAR because it’s not about ideas, but about action.

Never mind the concepts of authoritarianism versus popular government, or the good/evil struggle writ large and small. Let us not speak of love and friendship, of the tug of family ties to an orphan, or the impact of the destruction of a planet at the whim of a tyrannical aristocrat, the questions of free will and destiny that are worked out in the swing of lightsaber and the explosion of spaceships. No, those aren’t important ideas like slavery and sexual identity are important ideas.

I get it. Star Wars isn’t your deal, guy. That’s cool: I’m not an enormous Trek fan, and the recent Battlestar did nothing for me. Just don’t throw up your hands in disgust when people <i>do</i> love a thing you don’t. Don’t belittle them sidelong for enjoying the actions or scope of something limited by its medium, and then claim the Matrix is the most creative scifi film of the last two and a half decades.

Because it’s not about that. Really.

It’s about drawing in new fans. Attracting people (young and old) who would otherwise look upon us Odds with contempt or – at least – bewildered confusion. I loathe most of Episode 1, but darned if my buddy’s kid doesn’t love him some Jar Jar and pod racing, and will grow up a science fiction fan because of it.

But sure, react – or not – with your ennui at where the genre has gone. Be disgusted because the Forever War hasn’t been made into a film, and the attempts at Dune have been flawed. Pine for a never-made Neuromancer that couldn’t be made when cyberpunk was The Thing, and won’t be made now because it’s not. That’s cool that you want to keep scifi pure and about Big Ideas. SFWA agrees with you, at least. The Hugo voters are all about these big ideas that were new when Gilgamesh was written, and when Homer was telling a story about a dude who just wanted to get home after a war.

The more you tighten their grasp, the more fans will slip through your fingers.

And there we’ll be, shining a light of fun stories and big heroes.

UPDATE: Message from Sarah (like a message from Fred but weirder.)  Older son’s weirdest story yet, Candyworld,  should be free today, though possibly not that early morning.  Anyway, keep checking.

231 responses to “For Me, But Not For Thee – David Pascoe

  1. ‘Star Wars ruined sci fi’ (yet another 30 year old meme rolled out like its something new)

    I daresay sci fi would be basically DEAD without Star Wars. MILLIONS were turned on to sci fi by star wars. A lot of those people also migrated to Fantasy.

      • Professor Badness

        Agreed.
        Star Wars was the gateway drug for a great many of us.
        And what a delicious addiction it is.

        • CombatMissionary

          Didn’t you know? That’s why it got ruined! The quality of anything, in the eyes of the left, is exclusivity. Star Wars invited the masses in! The horror! The horror! Now authors have to rely on inaccessibility of their writing to keep out the hoi polloi.

        • I was already a fan of sci-fi. What Star Wars was the gateway drug to for me was symphonic music. I will always be grateful to it for that.

          • Ya know, someone should do a post on great sci-fi (and fantasy) soundtracks!

            Um, why is everyone looking at me?

            And grinning?

            • I blame John Williams.

              • If John Williams wrote it, it’s a block buster. *mounts hobby horse* I maintain that when the History of Music is taught in a hundred years, John Williams will be considered the great composer of our time, and the movie composers will be considered as the lineage of Western Music. Here, have Yo-yo Ma playing the Williams Cello Concerto.

                • I agree.

                  I argue that John Williams work has attracted more listeners to classical format music than anyone else in the 20th century. He’s the gateway drug to “real” classical music.

                  • …and I just read upthread where everyone else already invoked the gateway drug idea. Ah, well, I’m in excellent company, even if I’m just past fashionably late to the party…

                    • some time back, I walked into the B&N off Hulen, south of I20.
                      There were two charming young ladies (16 or so) from the FT Worth Youth Orchestra playing requests and random selections on Violin and Cello. The ones that roped most kids in were the Star Wars tunes, then they’d do a bit from something popular at the time and then slip in the Beethoven, Bach, Vivaldi, etc. Kill The Wabbit worked well too.

                • CombatMissionary

                  Either him or Randy Newman. 🙂
                  [RUNS FOR THE HILLS]

                • You notice that soundtracks are the only form of classical music that has to have mass appeal nowadays.

            • ‘Cause you’re our resident expert? I mean there are a couple around here that play instruments, but I think you are our only vocalist. The rest of us just know what we like when we hear it. 😉

              • Note that John Williams is sometimes not held in high esteem as a composer by symphonic musicians, somewhat due to the fact that he’s still alive thus not ‘classical’ enough, but also due to the constraints of the movie soundtrack format having to match onscreen action rather than develop themes driven by their internal flow.

                Well, that and Williams likes to write stuff where the strings spend a lot of time sawing away to create a musical landscape backdrop for the horns to stand out against. As there are far more string players in an orchestra than horn or wind players, that majority feels like he’s always sticking them with the background work, and so they gripe.

                • They should try Williams “Five Sacred Trees” a concerto for bassoon and orchestra. More strings, even with the bassoon getting the lead.

                  • CombatMissionary

                    Everyone is a bit of a snob about the things their geekdom makes them love. I like cars, and I’m a MOPAR guy. Not much different. 😀

                • I’m sorry, but as a symphonic musician, nothing beats good old Pacobel for boring. Admittedly Mozart did his darnedest at times, particularly in the string quartets, but he couldn’t get close. Glass can’t beat Pacobel, and Williams is no where near as repetitive as Glass, though just as pretty and a lot more approachable. (Yes, I play ‘cello, isn’t that obvious?) Oh, that silly thing of Cage’s is boring, too, but that’s more abstract performance art than music.
                  (I did say I was getting on my hobby horse, right?)
                  Everything of Williams I’ve played which was arranged by him, or written for orchestra in the first place, has played pass the melody quite well. I think it’s a snob thing. Symphonic musicians are frequently snobs, at least about music. I just try not to show it too often.

                  • I dunno — I am not a musician, symphonic or otherwise, and consider Bolero unbearable. But I acknowledge, based on appended testimony, that many cellists appear to share your opinion:
                    http://thepianoguys.com/portfolio/rockelbels-canon-pachelbels-canon-in-d/

                    I think I’d like to hear it in ska before rendering a final opinion.

                    • Bolero has tempo changes. RES, if you have three fingers on your left hand and a thumb and two on your right I could teach you to play the Canon in less than five minutes. D A B F# G D G A. Over and over, throughout, with no variation at all.

            • No article on movie music can be complete without a mention of Jaws. I don’t know that I would want to have the soundtrack in my CD player to listen to; but that is the absolute master of musical foreshadowing.

            • And now I have to go through my iTunes collection. Well… I guess that’s not a bad thing… and having done that, I realize… I don’t have as many film soundtracks as I used to. Huh.

              • Double-check that Itunes didn’t decide to delete or move them.

                • No, I used to have a bunch back in the day, but it was all on cassette, and I’m sure they’re in storage. I have TONS of soundtracks, but they’re mostly anime and game stuff now. (Of course, now that I went back to look, I’m listening to Wendy Carlos’ soundtrack to TRON.)

  2. “Me, I’m giving up on the whole thing.”

    Yes, he goes and rewatches a nicely made, thoughtful movie, very dependent on greenscreen and special effects.

    Because HE can’t stand another light saber battle.

    Sigh. I grew out of the ‘One TRUE Fandom’ idea in the ’80s. SF is a BIG tent, and anyone claiming that THEIR idea about what should be covered by it is the only CORRECT type of SF smacks of a massively unearned hubris. There’s room for everyone, and disdain for those who don’t believe as you do about ‘worthy’ SF doesn’t draw folks to your side…

  3. Hi Sarah,
    I also am waiting for the Episode VII. I remember Star Wars in the late 70’s, the way it exploded on the social scene. from merchandising, to music It totally remade SciFi. Yes i do like the “older Star Trek, the original Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers and of course Babylon5:) Star Wars to me showed the difference between totalitarianism and freedom, the peoples wish to be free. The though that you can’t kill the dream of freedom.

  4. I should preface this by mentioning that I had never seen the first three until I was nineteen, and they stuck me in the Electronics dept of the store I was working in, and it was me, and a tall geeky guy who sadly I have forgotten his name, but he was very nice to me in a way that might have been flirting but at that age you’d have had to hit me with a caveman club and drag me somewhere by my hair for me to get a hint (not that I recommend that). Anyway, the only perk of working in that forgotten corner was getting to pick the movies that played endlessly on the bank of televisions. I’d always wanted to see the Trilogy, and he didn’t mind seeing it for the millionth time, so… And then about a decade later, I introduced it to my children and they saw the new ones. I might not have liked them all that much (the angst, oh, the angst!) but my eldest daughter fell in love with the whole concept and couldn’t get enough of them, discovered tie-in novels, and… the rest is history. I haven’t yet watched the new trailer. I might not. I might not go see it. But the point you are making is that all the movies, like them or not, are a powerful influence on our genre, and especially on the younglings who are introduced to a genre they might never have known otherwise. I just bought balloons to add to my professional kit, printed with Yoda, stormtroopers, and Vader. I know once I start showing those at a little boy’s party, the ones where they all come up to about my waist (and I am not tall), I will have trouble keeping them in stock. It’s become a timeless franchise. Better to analyze why, and then we can recreate it in a small way.

    • I have *gasp* never seen any of the movies. I actually had a pair of light sabers as kid, that some relative had bought me; and they were great fun to fence with my friends. But my parents weren’t interested in SF and I believe they were old news anyways by the time they got a VCR. When I got older I just never found the interest to bother with.

      But anything that has been that much of a success did not “ruin” it’s genre.

      • Professor Badness

        You know, where I hear that another Odd has not seen a film that I consider to be iconic, (Star Wars, Willow, Legend, Labyrinth) my first impulse is to tell them “You must see this!”
        But, I realize that a lot of these movies are iconic too me because I saw them during my formative years, etching them into my psyche. And I also realize that they won’t have the same impact on others who are already adults.
        So now I just feel sad that someone has missed the opportunity to be impacted by these stories before they had grown into the jaded adults we are now.
        (Which is why I now force my own children to watch them. I gotta say, they loved the Dark Crystal, even if it did freak them out a little. With any luck, they’ll grow up as twisted as I am.)

        • Professor Badness

          “when I hear”

          • bearcat – I wouldn’t say you have to see the original Star Wars to be a geek, but it’s like being a film fan who has never seen Casablanca. Yeah, it’s overhyped, but most people who see it the first time suddenly understand the hype about both Star Wars and Casablanca. They both do the trick of being both great and iconic, and small and beloved.

            It’s the Great American SF Movie in almost the same way that Wizard of Oz is the great American fantasy movie – “farm kid goes out to the big world and makes good.” There are probably better sf and fantasy movies, but this is one of our basic American fairy tales, for good or ill.

            (Admittedly, original Star Wars loses a lot if you see the newer Lucas version, where Mos Eisley doesn’t look like the crappy buttend of nowhere.)

            Anyway, it’s a lot less time investment than the first season of original Star Trek or reading Moby Dick, so I encourage you to try it out.

            • Would it ruin your respect for me* if I admitted I had never seen Casablanca either; or that I have never watched the entirety of the Wizard of Oz, because I despise that movie?

              *The answer is probably no, because you would have to have some in order to lose it. 🙂

              • Goodness, no. I can see how Wizard of Oz wouldn’t be everybody’s cup of tea. (The books are better and weirder, even though I like the movie fine. But if I hadn’t been introduced to the movie first, I might not like it much. And on top of that, it’s a musical. And a kiddie musical at that.)

                I never wanted to see Casablanca, because of all the reverential romantic talk about it — until my university decided to show it on the semi-big projected screen. It was a buck (okay, it was 1990) and I was curious to see something black and white that way, so I went. Holy crud, nobody tells you that it’s fun and funny! But it is.

              • Goodness, no. I can see how Wizard of Oz wouldn’t be everybody’s cup of tea. (The books are better and weirder, even though I like the movie fine. But if I hadn’t been introduced to the movie first, I might not like it much. And on top of that, it’s a musical. And a kiddie musical at that.)

                I never wanted to see Casablanca, because of all the reverential romantic talk about it — until my university decided to show it on the semi-big projected screen. It was a buck (okay, it was 1990) and I was curious to see something black and white that way, so I went. Holy crud, nobody tells you that it’s fun and funny! But it is.

                Finally, anyone who loves Gamera like Gamera loves all little children (ie, me) has no right to criticize other people’s movie picks.

                • iirc, an ex-girlfriend of mine never saw Wiz of Oz until going to a “Darkside of the Rainbow” showing at the New Orleans Planetarium. Several of the girls in the home (ex was a ward of the state, the home got tickets donated to them for that and laser light shows held there) had also never before seen the movie so the lady running the place rented it so they could see the original.

        • To be fair, Dark Crystal is a bit freaky. Chamberlain pleading hysterically with Jen, Aughra and her eye, the Gharzim. Lots of pretty solidly creepy stuff, especially for the chillins. Of course, I think I saw it at a fairly young age, myself. Didn’t warp me appreciably. I think. Labyrinth was another good one for that.

          • Yeah. It is NOT a little kids puppet movie. It’s great, but, well, dark in spots.

            • The funny thing is we watched both of those really young – I think I was in the 7-9 years age, which meant my brothers were younger, because my mental ‘memory’ range for those peg them as us watching them in our Germany years. Also Krull, Willow, Lady Hawke…

              We also watched a whole looooot of movies that probably aren’t ‘suitable’ for kids. I don’t think that we really had a problem with violence or dark themes, but I think my parents tempered quite a bit of how much nudity or sex we were exposed to.

              One of my other memories was that we watched a lot of war movies. I also remember watching the TV series Tour of Duty. Gave me a healthy respect for the US military and what they’re called to do, but then growing up with that rather iiiiiiiiiiiiinteresting combo of ‘East Berlin, US base = place where we got books’ was probably helpful in shaping my basic opinions about Americans as a whole.

              • Lady Hawke is still one of my favorites. OK, the effects were, ahem, low tier, but (once you get past Phillipe the Mouse) the story! And Leo McKern 😀

            • You know the really odd thing? I watched Labyrinth in grade school, I have no idea why the teacher thought showing that was a good idea, but it didn’t warp me either. Of course at that time if a movie didn’t star John Wayne, I wasn’t real interested. So I think I spent the whole time reading a book by the light seeping under the window shades and don’t remember much about the movie.

        • The solution, of course, is to never grow up 😉 I loved all those movies, BTW. Haven’t seen Dark Crystal, though. Might have to give it a try.

        • Eh, maybe– or maybe they’re just enjoyable?

          I know that Princess Bride is really that awesome.

          • Princess Bride is awesome. However, there’s the little problem that there’s no objective standing point to judge.

            • *puts a sign on the movie* There, that’s our gold standard! *grin*

              • The problem being if Princess Bride is the gold standard; there are no other good fantasy movies. Which now that I think about it, is pretty much my opinion. Rabbit trail: is Godzilla considered SF or fantasy or ….?

        • One of my coworkers was a recent immigrant from Korea, and while he knew most recent films, there were a few big ones from the 80’s and 90’s that he hadn’t seen but knew enough about via references that he could fake having seen. Unfortunately, he left the company before I could sit down with him for a weekend movie fest.

          I admit, some of it is movies that I hold dear because they were big when I was growing up. But others are films that later movies have had to emulate or build off of because they set a new bar in genre storytelling or technique. Star Wars made Space Opera a serious genre, and most Space Opera films afterwards have to take the tropes it established into account, even if it’s just by consciously defying them. It’s not always theme, sometimes it’s cinematography elements like ‘bullet time’ from the Matrix or Andy Serkis’s motion capture (or Ray Harryhausen’s stop-motion).

          It’s one of the reasons efforts by SJWs to end the ‘dead old white male hegemony’ are both self-defeating and so damaging: that set of stories forms the foundations of the entire genre. Almost everything references back to it, either directly or indirectly. Butler’s works (referenced in the article) will not go on to have anywhere near the influence of Heinlein or Asimov or Star Wars or Star Trek on future creators.

          • Is that Octavia E. Butler that the writer is referencing? (I haven’t read the link).

            She graduated from my high school, so they invited her to talk to the student body while I was there (my English class also had to read one of her books – Adulthood Rites – though it was just prep for her visit as the book was never discussed in class, iirc; I thought it was a decent read, though I wasn’t interested enough in the basic premise to read the other two books in the trilogy). She mentioned why she was more or less forced to use a female protagonist in her story about a black person who gets sent back to the time of slavery. And I don’t think her rationale would go over very well with the PC crowd these days…

        • Ah Labyrinth.

          Particularly fun when you realize what she is coping with is an artistic problem: maintaining proper aesthetic distance.

          • Ah, above I just mentioned seeing that in school, and not knowing why we watched it. It was the art teacher who showed it to us, so possibly that is why? Now that I think about it, that is the only movie I ever recall watching in an art class.

            • CombatMissionary

              Wow. If art teachers were showing that film, then maybe in retrospect the guys at the Cracked website actually have a point about Labyrinth really being about a pubescent girl discovering her sexuality with the aid of David Bowie. Eww…
              Nothing like Liberal Arts majors telling you what the “secret” meaning of something actually is to make you never, ever want to watch an otherwise good film again. That’s what I get for going for the cheap laughs.

      • Two words. Machete Order.

        Seriously.

    • I first saw the second prequel movie with a date who was in her mid-20s. Afterwards, she revealed that she’d never seen any of the other Star Wars films.

      I was surprised, to say the least.

  5. Reblogged this on Cedar Writes and commented:
    I should preface this by mentioning that I had never seen the first three until I was nineteen, and they stuck me in the Electronics dept of the store I was working in, and it was me, and a tall geeky guy who sadly I have forgotten his name, but he was very nice to me in a way that might have been flirting but at that age you’d have had to hit me with a caveman club and drag me somewhere by my hair for me to get a hint (not that I recommend that). Anyway, the only perk of working in that forgotten corner was getting to pick the movies that played endlessly on the bank of televisions. I’d always wanted to see the Trilogy, and he didn’t mind seeing it for the millionth time, so… And then about a decade later, I introduced it to my children and they saw the new ones. I might not have liked them all that much (the angst, oh, the angst!) but my eldest daughter fell in love with the whole concept and couldn’t get enough of them, discovered tie-in novels, and… the rest is history. I haven’t yet watched the new trailer. I might not. I might not go see it. But the point you are making is that all the movies, like them or not, are a powerful influence on our genre, and especially on the younglings who are introduced to a genre they might never have known otherwise. I just bought balloons to add to my professional kit, printed with Yoda, stormtroopers, and Vader. I know once I start showing those at a little boy’s party, the ones where they all come up to about my waist (and I am not tall), I will have trouble keeping them in stock. It’s become a timeless franchise. Better to analyze why, and then we can recreate it in a small way.

  6. Heh. I had an issue with that crap myself. Took to my blog and took issue with it, including his comments about The Matrix.

    http://tlknighton.com/?p=6856

    • Yeah, I didn’t dive into the retreading of sophomoric philosophy (with GUNS!) that was the YMMV-awesomeness of the Matrix. For the record, I enjoyed the heck out of it, and still do on occasion. And again, it drew in a snot-load of fans who otherwise wouldn’t give scifi the time of day. See also: “I know wire-fu,” and Carrie-Anne Moss in black vinyl. And let us not speak of the Things That Came After. Please.

      • Yeah, I kind of point out how The Matrix isn’t as original as he thought.

        As for the Things That Came After, I assume you’re referring to the two poorly made fan films put out by the original filmmakers?

        • “Poorly made,” is so hard to quantify, though. I mean, production values were really pretty decent. Lots of high-grade special effects, decent acting (what there was of it) and some fun fight scenes. As well as a couple of really lame ones, to be fair. I’m pretty sure you’re right though, as the writing and worldbuilding seems to have been farmed out to a group of college sophomores with twelve-year-old maturity. “Everything you thought you knew is wrong!” “Really? Didn’t we do this last time?” “Kinda, but this is DIFFERENT and BETTER!” “And when it happens again?” “Oh, it won’t. Trust us.” “Really? Trust you? How recursive are we going to get with this, anyway?”

          • Oh, they’re big budget fan films, but I refuse to accept them as actual parts of the franchise. My mind can’t deal with things like that.

            At all.

            • I think this outlines the difference between fans and hipster-type-“fans.”

              I’m totally down with arguing for hours about the One True Batman. I’m not so willing to try to define various versions out of existence, even if they do suck.

              Sure, that new movie series that’s out and is loosely based on Star Trek is annoying and obviously not so much as a boil on it– but my more objective husband assures me that they’re really good fluff-scifi-movies, far better than Dances-With-Smurfs-In-Space.

              ************

              I guess the short way is to say “that sucks” or “that’s not in keeping with the spirit of that story” is fine, but “I excommunicate that from the entire genera because I don’t like it!” isn’t.

              • Wow. Really?

                “[H]ipster-type-‘fan'”?

                Here’s where you’re completely off base. You see, I say my take on it, because I have a God given right to despise those movies. I have found that phrasing it that way conveys my opinion far better than saying “that sucks” or “that’s not in keeping with the spirit of the story”, because those phrases are far too insufficient for my purposes.

                What I don’t do is tell anyone with any degree of seriousness that they can’t accept those movies, which is what “I excommunicate that from the entire genera because I don’t like it!” actually is. I don’t give a damn whether you like them or not. I don’t lose sleep either way. I don’t, and you telling me I’m wrong in how I express it isn’t fine either.

                • *laughs*

                  You’re not one of the hipsters, you actually LIKE the stuff!

                  I was pointing to how you go “I reject this!” vs the top guy’s rant about how “this isn’t scifi at all, it’s poison!”

                • Other way of putting it: we’re having fun; they’re conveying a status thingie.

                • but my more objective husband assures me that they’re really good fluff-scifi-movies, far better than Dances-With-Smurfs-In-Space.

                  Yeah, I actually enjoyed the reboots quite a bit. Avatar? Not so much.

                  • The Other Sean

                    Avatar was visually stunning, and one of the best uses of 3D I’ve personally seen. And since I was that if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all, I shall not discuss the plot, or the themes of the story, or anything else about it.

                    • In addition to all of that–I kind of liked the Colonel! I mean, the guy has a consistent mission across the entire movie he pursues, is a total bad-ass pursuing it, seems to be one of the very few folk who take seriously the fact that The Whole World is Trying to Kill you… and, um, that we’re kinda here for a reason.

                      I don’t know why we followed that one wishy-washy guy around the whole movie. The Colonel was obviously the main character.

                    • *laughs* The only reason why I went to see it was for the graphics and SFX. As you and I seem to have the same opinion about the story themes and plot, we shall have to agree to agree ^.~

                    • Agreed. PRETTY AS ALL GET OUT, but we’ve seen that story before, and better done. And better acted.

                    • The only bad thing about Avatar – okay, there were plenty of bad things – but the worst were the fans. The ones who hated their own humanity, and painted themselves ghastly blue and wished they were Na’vi, at one with nature (while they sat in front of their computers doing selfies with the webcam). They had gray goo for brains.

                    • I got into a tiff not to long ago over making this statement, “Morality is subjective.”

                      Two movies have come up in conversation, Avatar and Super 8.

                      I find it interesting how our morality changes based on if things are done to us or by us.

                      Take Avatar flip the story around where the Aliens are coming here and you get V, and we become the noble freedom fighters defending what is ours.

                      As to Super 8, name one reason why that “Alien” shouldn’t treat us as a food source. It was only showing us the same consideration that we had shown it.

                      If the rolls where reversed, would you eat an Alien or starve (general question meant for everyone)? We have no idea what the aliens motivations were for eating the people. Was it done out of malice, or desperation, or maybe it doesn’t see us as being on the same level as “him.”

                      We wonder into a Cape Buffalo a lot of us wouldn’t even hesitate to defend ourselves and turn the carcass into steaks.

                      Morality; we often have a hard time applying our morality consistently among our own groups let a lone to outside groups of others. Does an alien that has the ability to reason logically deserve the same considerations as us?

                      Whether or not the Na’vi (sp) are noble savages and one with nature is immaterial to whether or not we would or should, be able to, violate their property rights. I would side with Blue People on this one, but not for the reasons the people of grey goo expect.

                      😉

                    • My problem with Super 8 was not the alien eating people, but the whole scene just before he took off, where suddenly we’re trying to do the sentimental wonderment of E.T. getting picked up. And the kid somehow symbolically letting go of his attachment to his dead mother just because the “ship” magnetically sucks up his non-ferrous locket.

        • The Matrix is a special case in that regard, as the second and third films are not what the filmmakers intended, they are largely what the studio told them to make. Even the game The Path of Neo was only somewhat closer.

      • Eh, I liked the Matrix very much for one thing that wasn’t directly in the movie; it was such a success that it made it wearing a black trench coat safe and socially acceptable again, for the first time since Columbine.

        Which was a great relief to many, many American goths, geeks, and other Odds.

    • The Matrix? I have no love left for that apologia pro vita terrorist….

  7. Flat State U has a remarkable collection of sci-fi and horror in the Special Collections Library, large and important enough that people go there specifically to read those books and the letters, drafts, and other stuff with them. There’s a stipend available, and in exchange for the $$, the guest scholar has to give a public talk. So a Canadian sci-fi *ahem* speculative fiction writer gave a talk about the state of sci-fi and basically said that Michael Crichton and George Lucas had destroyed science fiction forever, that it was all special effects and anti-technology (Crichton), and no one wrote ideas fiction. What caught me by surprise was his notion that 1) Star Wars promoted slavery (because the robots were slaves), and that 2) test audiences had assumed that whites had taken over Earth and then the universe, which was why Lucas added the opening text crawl and the character of Lando Calrissian.* Oh and military sci fi was garbage written for dummies. The literature students soaked it up and I had to leave early for the biology class from h-ll, so I didn’t get to ask him any questions.

    *I have never heard, seen, or read this anywhere else. And this talk was in fall 2007.

    • I am *mildly* irked that the new Jurassic World trailer seems to be another “man playing God and everything gets eaten,” tale. (Un)fortunately, those are easy ones to write and grasp, and easy ones to turn into films. That may be my curmudgeonly side breaking the surface like some ravenous monstrosity 150 million years out of its time, though. Hard to say.

      As far as Star Wars being racist because no black people, let us first look into the state of Hollywood in the late seventies. I have no, and might have to. Strikes me as interesting to know how hard – and how much push there might actually have been – to cast a “diverse” crew. Human cast, I should say, as a goodly number of the people onscreen were ostensibly alien. Which I’d think would count toward the diversity quotient, what with the likelihood of multiple sexes and radically different skin tones, but probably doesn’t because racism and I’m white, n’stuff.

      • It isn’t that the story doesn’t need to be told. But why is the assumption that it’s going to be a Corporation that screws up. Seems to me that the likliest scenario would be that some Government consulted it’s Top Men,and then opened the park because of the moneynto be raked in.

        After action investigation would show that among the Top Men the political appointees quickly sensed the way the wind was blowing and geeked, while a couple of real scientists warned that open the park was a good way to get a lot of people eaten, and had their carreers rulined for their presumption.

      • My impression after seeing the trailer was “Oh. Westworld with Dinosaurs.”

      • I hate to point this out, but George Lucas was probably not cool enough to have any blaxploitation directors or actors as friends. I mean, he would have wanted to be friends with them, and obviously he got Billy Dee Williams as Lando as soon as he could manage it (ie, Movie Numero Two-o). I’m sure he watched said movies all through the Seventies, along with most of the Hong Kong martial arts movies and weird Japanese flicks that came to California. And obviously there’s the Voice of Vader.

        But Movie Numero Uno was pretty much American Graffiti in Space, so you could argue that it’s part of the genre of SmalltownSploitation that was so big in the Seventies, with all those filmmakers from Texas setting their movies in Texas small towns, the ones from California in California, etc. So if their mental small town or urban neighborhood had all black people, you hardly see white people. If it’s Italian, it’s all Italians. If it’s Jewish, everybody’s Jewish. If it’s Jim Henson, there are Muppets. Like that.

    • Re: allegations of racism — Movie Numero Uno was pretty much American Graffiti in Space, so you could argue that it’s part of the genre of SmalltownSploitation that was so big in the Seventies, with all those filmmakers from Texas setting their movies in Texas small towns, the ones from California in California, etc. So if their mental small town or urban neighborhood had all black people, you hardly see white people. If it’s Italian, it’s all Italians. If it’s Jewish, everybody’s Jewish. If it’s a big melting pot, there’s a melting pot. If it’s Jim Henson, there are Muppets. Like that.

      But obviously Lucas watched blaxploitation movies all through the Seventies, just like he watched most of the Hong Kong martial arts movies and weird Japanese flicks that came to California. So it’s not surprising that the Voice of Vader is played by a black man, or that he cast Billy Dee Williams as Lando as soon as he could manage it (ie, Movie Numero Two-o).

      • You mean the second movie in the Holy Trilogy. 😉 (As my buddies started calling the original films after Lucas 1 came out.)

        • Those held sacred by the Devout, as opposed to the heterodox trilogy professed by the Schismatics, raising their young on the heretical Kar-Tu’un of the Clone Wars, and such. It’s a vicious holy war, and I’m concerned there may be no genuine victors, but only a wasteland of the slain.

    • Okay, time out.
      Crichton was anti-technology? More like “Hey, don’t assume you know everything before you monkey around with life.”
      And military sci-fi as garbage written for dummies–someone never read him Pournelle or Piper.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        The book was definitely an example of “cautionary SF” as it also contains other examples of goof-ups of genetic engineering. IMO not anti-science but “let’s be careful here with this new science”.

        • More anti-scientists than anti-science. Beware of geeks playing with toys, they never consider what could go wrong.

        • CombatMissionary

          Does that mean the episode of South Park where the mad scientist creates a turtle with five butts counts as cautionary sci-fi as well? Ha ha ha… 😉

  8. C4C

  9. They didn’t make Neuromancer, but they made Johnny Memnonic which was kind of a Gibson kluge. Lucas should get a lot of credit for the film technology, if not story. Also , Trumbull’s Silent Running was a great film most people have never seen or forget about.

    • William O. B'Livion

      They made a movie *called* Johnny Mnemonic, but without the killing floor in the rafters of the dome, the yakuza with the trick thumb and the dog toothed boys, it’s like starship troopers. “A movie based on the drug addled memory of the blurb on the back cover of the book”.

      • I said it was a kluge – it did have the yakuza with the monomolecular garrote and the sentient dolphin. Gibson’s stuff is a bit too deep for hollywood, but Schmidt’s Witches of Karres or Demon Breed could be winners. Worm World and a Sheem Spider? Totally cool!

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          Let’s see Demon Breed.

          Tough beautiful female lead. Yes

          The Bad Guys were nasty Aliens. No

          The Humans didn’t do anything (besides winning the last war) to deserve the Aliens attacking. No.

          The Human Heroes were not “ashamed” about being Human. No

          Three No’s to One Yes means Hollywood won’t do that movie. [Sad Smile]

          Of course, when we realize that the “Demon Breed” can refer to Humans with the context of Aliens better not wake the Human Demons, that’s another No as far as Hollywood is concerned.

      • uhm they had the Yakuza with the trick thumb…

    • Always loved Silent Running as a kid. Silent Running was beautiful effects (for the period) and some great characterization. Coaxing character out of speechless robots kind of presages R2-D2 (and perhaps Wall-e). But sadly the plot/story is an example of early ’70s Eco-Freak out. All the Non-Human life forms sent away until the earth could have it back and the corporations saying “Nah we don’t need that”.

      My understanding is Silent Running is set around Saturn because originally 2001 was supposed to be set there but the powers that be canceled for fear the special effects (done by Mr Trumbull) would not be possible. It’s Trumbull’s way of saying “See I could have done it on budget you cowards”.

  10. First, could you check the links, they didn’t work for me.

    Second – I saw the first movie when I was 17, and it hit all the right buttons. It was fun, it looked gorgeous, especially compared to some of the cheaply made stuff I had been seeing, and let’s say it again, it was fun. I had grown up with the old westerns and Erroll Flynn adventure movies and old Tarzan movies and so on, because during the 60’s and 70’s they were still shown in movie theaters as the cheaper fare between the new releases, and they were also what you most often could see in television, the new stuff had a much, much longer life in the theaters than it does now – well, that held true into the 80’s, I think at least here it took about 8 years before the first Star Wars movie was shown in our television (I couldn’t watch because it was summer and I was working in Lapland, with no access to TV, but we did have a VHS tape player by then and my mother taped it for me, she even took out the commercials 🙂 ).

    And I had grown to love those old movies way better than the new stuff I sometimes went to see in theaters. The new often looked better, at least the expensively made ones, but they were, most times, rather depressing. There may have been redeeming qualities too, but on the whole, to me it seemed that the whole spirit of the era was more or less nihilistic, even the good characters had way too many flaws, they often failed, at least to some extent, for a while it seemed that real victories had been made illegal. When the good guys were more or less good, almost everybody else, including bystanders and background characters often seemed to be bad, maybe not downright evil but at least selfish, grabbing assholes who would not help and often would actively hinder what the good guys were trying to do. Everything tended towards dark, dismal and depressing.

    And then we got Star Wars. It can perhaps be hard to get how truly different it was for a movie of that time unless you were an adult or older teen when it came out. Good good guys, bad guys who were not misunderstood sad sacks but actually evil, and the good guys won, a clear and triumphant win.

    I am one of the minority who is not overly fond of the second movie, just because it started to mix a bit of complications in the story (besides all the foreshadowing in the first movie seemed to point towards a Luke and Leia romance, and I felt a bit cheated with that too 🙂 ), and the third one was even less satisfying with the Ewoks and all, but in general, those movies are great just for bringing back the fun adventure stories. And while I was very disappointed with the prequels (Lucas tried for the complicated and darker approach, and, well, okay, those are fine enough when done well but he just didn’t have the chops to do it well – and some of the stories online seem to hint that he wouldn’t necessarily have had the chops to do the original trilogy adventure stories all that well either all by himself, but he had a good team he still listened to back then), I guess I’ll go and see this new one too, just in hopes the original spirit has maybe been recaptured with new people in the helm.

    But yes, the original trilogy didn’t destroy science fiction. It really did bring it back – movies first but the effect undoubtedly did also force the publishers to allow more fun stories to be printed, they do have to pay some attention to the market forces after all – from the brink it had slid to when it started to lose its fun and optimistic qualities with a preference for nihilism. Before that, well, I did watch stuff like ‘Silent Running’ just because it was science fiction, but when more than half of the movies in offering made one leave the theater in search of a liter of ice cream or some other comfort food just to be able to sleep well after it… not good for the prognosis of the expected lifespan of the genre. Most normal people can get the hint that good does not always win and life can be most unfair just from experience and observing what happens around us, we don’t need to be spoon fed that, and with entertainment it’s more important to be encouraged to go back out with the energy to keep on fighting, not with the wish to curl into a ball and hide.

    Although, on second thought, maybe some people do kind of need that now. If somebody has been overly sheltered as a kid, and been taught to expect smooth sailing after that too as long as they just do what they are supposed to do I suppose that realizing that life can be bad, even very, very bad can seem like a big revelation… of course for many of them truly bad things are also something that can only happen to other people. Being a nihilist is probably most fun when one still feels, deep down, certain that he is personally safe, and will always be.

    I guess I tend to see these ‘I’m so sophisticated because I’m a nihilist who can see life as it is’ people mostly as those over sheltered kids who now are working under the mistaken assumption that because they now do see the ‘life isn’t fair’ part they are finally all grown up. When in fact they have mostly just gotten to the teen stage. Truly grown ups are a different thing altogether.

    Sorry, this got a bit long, but several buttons for me here.

    • His HTML is showing. If you delete the last little bit of each link, they should work. (You should be able to tell how much by looking at them.)

      And that’s the way I understood the movies (I was just a little kid, so this isn’t direct memory). They had all gone down the path of grey goo, and people were griping about the age of the cinema being over, when this movie came out, and proved that the audience was still there, it was the medium that had left them. (Not that Hollywood learned the right lesson, of course.)

      • Yeah, I’mma pass the buck on the ol’ html thing, and since herself is flying to NYC today, well, *shrug*

      • 2001 or Star Wars. Which film would you use to introduce a non sciffy person to the genre? Yeah. 🙂

        Now for books, it might be different (2001 or _On Basalisk Station_ or the _Cordelia’s Honor_ set perhaps, for an action-book fan. _The Gods Themselves_ by Azimov for someone who thinks “transgressive” sexes is brand new?)

        • I think 2001 is a fine introduction to sf, but only if it comes with a cartoon and a (fake skiffy) newsreel. Metropolis is worth seeing, but it’s better late at night. Die Frau im Mond (sp?) is actually pretty good, and you gotta love those rocket special fx.

        • I think 2001 is an okay introduction to sf, but it hops subgenres like no tomorrow. Metropolis is worth seeing, but it’s better late at night and you have to be a fan already. Die Frau im Mond (sp?) is actually pretty good for people who like retro, and you gotta love those rocket special fx and the magic name of Willy Ley.

        • If they’re under 30 I’d say use Star Wars (even though to my taste it’s heroic fantasy in a sci-fi setting, Thank you so much Mr. Campbell FEH!).
          Why? Having shown 2001 to both my daughters (18 AND 21) their response was roughly WTF? This is mostly because 2001 develops at a snails pace compared to a modern film (using film advisedly). 2001’s story line is amazingly hard to find let alone follow. Star Wars at least has a clear plot and moves towards a resolution. 2001 is really darned hard to understand even if you’ve read Mr. Clarke’s novelization.

        • False choice. For movies, I think I drag them out to see Interstellar.

          But between those two? Star Wars. MUCH more accessible. No crazy acid trip ending. Recognizable themes and tropes.

          For books? That’s always been Ender’s Game for me.

    • And that’s really the thing about it for me. Even *if* – and I’m not convinced by a loooooooong shot – that the world is an empty place, devoid of meaning and reason, I still choose Kierkegaard’s path of leaping toward that which lends it. And so I choose stories that give me heroes to appreciate, rather than simply one more mad dog in a mad dog world. (Mostly. I do rather enjoy some Mad Max, once in a while.) Nihilism isn’t a philosophy at all, let alone a tenable one. You can’t be anti-everything, and long survive, or stay at all sane. Every day a nihilist wakes up is a day they’ve failed in their pursuit.

      • Every day a nihilist wakes up is a day they’ve failed in their pursuit.

        That’s my problem with nihilists, in a nutshell. The world is devoid of meaning and purpose? Then drop dead.

        The lack of commitment to the “philosophy” expresses oceans.

  11. I’d been reading SF for over a decade before the original Star Wars looted Doc Smith’s books (Death Star? I spit on your puny Deathsteroid and shall decide later whether to rush it between two planets, feed it to one of my smaller negaspheres or just wipe it from existance with an instant of my Sunbeam.)

    Star Wars did not do nearly half so much harm to SF as the last few decades of grey goo.

    What killed (is killing) SF is pretentious snobs declaring themselves Arbiter Supreme of what killed SF. To initiate a diatribe with such a premise is the death of ideas and fun.

  12. Oh, and BTW: SF is not movies, movies are not SF, never have been, I expect it never will be. So Star Wars could not possibly have “killed” SF.

    Besides, Buster Crabbe killed SF back in the Thirties.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      /I/ killed Science Fiction.

      Its bodily fluids are weighing down my PPE.

      I am dismembering to chunks that will fit my incinerato-Squelch!

    • Noooooo! Ming the Merciless was the archetype badass villain! The victorian rockets literally dripping flame were mind boggling to a kid in a saturday matinee.

    • That’s weird; I thought Verne killed it. Any number of times, really. And danced on the corpse. I mean, that’s the impression I’m given by the SFWAites and their SJW spokesophonts. And what about Shelley and her monster? Or does she get a pass because of oppressed femininitude?

      • She gets a pass because of two X chromosomes and science+man=bad things. (Since most of the SJWs have never read the original.)

      • Besides, Herbert George Whassname revived it as an outlet for his liberally fascist beliefs. Or is that for his fascistic liberal creed?

        Heck, he even managed to establish the Gaia hypothesis in one of his Professor Challenger stories.

        • Well, we should know. I mean, we’re all named Bruce, I mean, we’re all fascist around here, aren’t we?

          So, if all these dead, white males killed scifi over the years, who’s saving it?

          • It is because scifi is … (ominous music) The Genre That Will Not Stay Dead! (cymbals clash)

            There. SciFi all fixed now.

            • BobtheRegisterredFool

              It’s one of those hive organisms. You’ve got to get all the bodies in all the minds, or it can grow back, and get you while you’re up to your shoulders in gore, hacksawing away.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          Professor Challenger intended (and succeeded) to hurt Gaia. [Very Big Evil Grin]

        • Isn’t that George Herbert …?

        • I think Professor Challenger is one of Arthur Conan Doyle’s characters, actually.

          Your point about H.G.Wells’ . . . odd ideas about the future of humanity stands, though.

          • Oops. Quite right, I recalled the wrong old chap. Bit of embarrassing, wot? I should have recognized that Wells could have never produced a character so vividly interesting as Challenger.

  13. Perhaps the whole thing collapses into the question “just what is science fiction?”

    Who was it that said (paraphrased) the “science fiction is what I’m pointing at when I say science fiction.'”

    For the record, I rather liked the first three “Star Wars” films. Haven’t seen any of the successor ones, not because of innate distaste, but I simply don’t go into movie theaters any more.

  14. The opening scene in Star Wars encapsulated everything that ever hooked me into SF to begin with. Lucas did his best to beat that to death with a stick in pretty much everything after Empire Strikes back…

  15. Hey! I liked Buster and the way that smoke came out the back of his spaceship. I was only about thirteen or so and even then knew that was wrong; but, man, he was a star fighter. About the same time I discovered RAH. They put the dream in me.
    When I saw the first Star Wars, I nutted out. Sure, like Buster’s spaceship there were flaws. Maybe someone in Hell cares, but, I didn’t then nor now. The dream awakened can not be extinguished. No matter how badly Lucas screws up.
    The Matrix was ok for me but, I’ve never watched it again. Stupid premise I think. Never bothered to watch it again or its clones. And that is the same opinion the public appears to see. Back to the Ben Franklin Award- the average citizen wants Star Wars and the elites can have their ‘message’ served cold.
    For those that want to see the new movie’s trailer. I believe that Vxx Day (troll avoidance) has the trailer up on his site. About three days old, I think.

    • The thing is, if you look at actual rocket tech from that era, Buster’s rockets were pretty state of the art. Uneven fuel burn was the flaw in rocketry and had been for centuries.

      I could claim the fatal flaw in buster’s serials was the acting, except that could only be termed “acting” by an exertion of extreme charitableness.

      • I know I’m knee-deep in cheese here, but does anyone else remember Buster’s guest spot on Buck Rodgers in the 25th Century?

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          About the only thing I remember about “that series” but I enjoyed Crap’s conversation with Buck. [Smile]

          Oh, his character was named Gordon. [Very Big Grin]

          • Yeah, but if you remember that the fifty’s were not noted for ‘stars.’ But, there was action aplenty. And, what 13 year old cares about ‘quality over excitement.’ I’ll bet there were many kids turned on to SF and heroes because of the vast wasteland and the kids hour between 4 and 6 PM.

            • CombatMissionary

              Speaking of The Classics, I’ve just gotten my kids hooked on the old Disney Zorro series. Oh, and they’re now extremely addicted to The Hobbit. They yell every time it’s bedtime. “Nooooooooo!”

          • So, you’re saying you don’t remember Buck borrowing the “electric salad bowl” from the museum?

        • Didn’t he tell Gil Gerard’s Buck that he’d “been doing this since before you were born”? 🙂

  16. Linky no work – BTW I was in line for Episode three. I was with a bunch of geeks and we had fun for the few hours as we waited for the movie.

    • If you drag the link into [searchengine], then chop off the tails (with a carving knife, did you ever see such. . . Oh sorry) up to the string of numbers (for the main link), and the on the others, they start to work. WP HTML conversion strikes again.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      I went off Star Wars after buying and reading the novel for III before the movie came out.

      I’m a bit interested in VII, if for nothing other than fanfic, and the possibility that the property will be included in Kingdom Hearts.

      • Lightsaber Keyblades… and my daughter was hoping for Princess Thor

        • Well, the first Thor movie already did for his visit to Jotunheim, but perhaps when Disney gets around to doing the Thor/Frozen crossover she will get her wish.

  17. I was 26 in 1977 when the first Star Wars movie premiered. Had to drive 40 miles to the closest major city where it was being shown. Wasn’t expected to make it to our small town for weeks if not months.
    Got into the movie half way through. There were no seats so I stood against the back wall and watched through to the end. Then I sat down and watched the entire thing again.
    Growing up on a diet of masterful written SF yet being fed the cheesy low budget B movies Hollywood cranked out, Star Wars with its huge budget and special effects never before seen was mind blowing.
    Looking back, especially after seeing the other five so far, I can recognize that we really just upgraded to a fancier brand of cheese, but still and all I remember that experience as a sea change as far as visual SF was concerned.

  18. Much like the concept that the best gun is “the one that works best for you” shouldn’t the best SciFi be the one that you enjoy the most? And taste is an individual thing so why do people insist on something being the End All Be All For Everyone?

    • Social status, of course. Same reason why I know which fork is for fish and which for ice cream. Mass production made it so anyone could afford the items that previously signified social status (all those forks!), so what’s left is for the elite and the wannabes to proclaim their fondness for the opposite of what the masses like, and it’s always the wannabes who are noisiest about it. They don’t actually want you to like what they claim to like, since your not liking it proves to them that they are superior. They just want you to admit that they are superior. I think they are in either the wrong country or the wrong era.

      • It is a common theme, possibly a myth, of a certain period of story-telling: the European lords and ladies taking to those Americans who were least self-consciously genuine, and vice-versa. It frequently turned up in movies made when the general interaction of Americans and Europeans was both novel and recent enough to be memorable.

        It is on display in The Unsinkable Mollie Brown — a film more notable for its enthusiasm than its quality — and countless Thirties movies; it is even a subtext in much of the post-war noir, although to different effect.

        Of course, that was when America had sufficient self-confidence (the opposite side of the self-consciousness coin) to step forward in the world in spite of the sneers of the sophisticates who had made such an Eden of Europe.

        • I ought have noted that it has generally been the poseurs, climbers and wannabes that are most self-conscious and insecure of their status and who most avidly support the “Rules” they have so scrupulously memorized.

      • Eh, who the heck uses a fork to eat ice cream?

  19. Actually, I rather like the European remake of the Dune stories.
    http://www.amazon.com/Dune-Special-Directors-William-Hurt/dp/B0000639EV/

  20. I read the linked article and it’s the usual stupid elitist crap. The guy is clearly “academically oriented” and is all about being approved by the “cool kids”.

    It’s the standard refusal of the left-leaners to accept human nature as it is. Instead they demand that people be something else, something that they consider “higher”, something that *they* define.

    I’ve come to believe that utopianism of culture and human nature is evil.

    • My theory is that it with many of them it’s mostly one sort of immaturity, which does make them easy to lure with nice words and pretty promises. The whole leftist approach to life does seem kind of teen-ish: they want to have the freedom to do fun things, but still want somebody else to have the responsibility for the important stuff, they preen over being sophisticated because they have discovered that life is unfair and lots of people are assholes, there are no guaranteed happy endings, and anyway we all, including the heroes, will one day get old and toothless and probably senile and then die, they like the idea of being the good guys and then get stuck trying to create utopias without bothering to find out how well those ideas might work in real life – the image matters more than whether something actually works – and when you scratch the surface a bit there often is a rather simplistic black and white worldview hiding behind that all that ‘sophisticated’ inclusiveness.

  21. CombatMissionary

    Liberals usually complain about the authors out there producing, but don’t produce anything better or don’t suggest someone who is better. On the occasion that they do, when no Franklins come rolling in to reward their “life is darkness; humanity is a plague; people are evil; we’re all doomed, doomed, DOOMED!” books, they curse the fandom for lack of intellect.

    Why is it that the fans are fleeing the genre again? 😀

  22. Pingback: For Me, But Not For Thee | D.E. Pascoe

  23. Oy.

    I’m perfectly willing to argue on the “Star Wars is actually a great fantasy story that happens to be set in space” one, but… ruining scifi?

    Bah. Dummy trying for attention.

    • Planetary romance is a perfectly valid subgenre of sf, and Edgar Rice Burroughs has a lot more seniority than some punk journalist.

    • Planetary romance is a perfectly valid subgenre of sf, and Edgar Rice Burroughs (and the bucks he made, and the writers and fans he made) has a lot more seniority in defining the genre than some punk journalist. (Or myself.)

      If you’re not going to admit planetary romance to sf, you’re like a mystery fan who says Sherlock Holmes doesn’t count as mystery. (Which you could argue, because Doyle didn’t follow the Fair Play rules like later writers. But why would you argue that?)

      • Usually the argument weighs more on Luke being a lost prince who learns from a wizard, uses swords and rides a dragon with his Magical Pet boop-boop-beeping along.

        But why would you argue that?)

        Because it’s FUN! *big huge grin*

        • No, he flies in a starship. We can tell because it has rivets.

          Stuff with rivets is SF.

          • Are you sure? Because I thought magic beats rivets if it’s historical or contemporary and makes the work fantasy but rivets make magic become psy powers and thus science fiction if it’s set in the future.

            Since Star Wars is set a long time ago in a galaxy far away . . .

            • You notice that the magic is explicitly contrasted with the technology, which means it has to be SF technology.

              Besides, the only magic that trumps starships is the Holy Grail.

              • CombatMissionary

                What about the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch?

                • Only if you hit the drive tube.

                  • CombatMissionary

                    Friar: …And Saint Attila raised the hand grenade up on high, saying, “O LORD, bless this Thy hand grenade that with it Thou mayest blow Thine enemies to tiny bits, in Thy mercy.” And the LORD did grin and the people did feast upon the lambs and sloths and carp and anchovies and orangutans and breakfast cereals, and fruit bats and large chu…

                    Brother Maynard: Skip a bit, brother.

                    Friar: …And the LORD spake, saying, “First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin, then shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it.”

                    • So you’re saying the Holy Hand Grenade ™ has sufficient megatonnage that a precise hit would be unnecessary?

                    • CombatMissionary

                      Verily, they shall snuff it. 😀 The LORD didn’t say that close DOESN’T count, right?

                      Anybody know a dealer for these things?

                    • Combat, I’d ask a Jesuit. They’re supposed to know everything they’re not supposed to know, and then some.

          • I hate to say this but in some (cheaper) forms of chain mail each link is individually riveted (with a TINY rivet). Does that make all Swords& Sorcery Fantasy a subset of Sci-Fi by definition :-)?

    • That’s why Lucas decided to make the force into a variant of e. Coli instead of magic, so he could claim a spot at the adult table as SF.

  24. So what the esteemed Mr. Beale is really saying is “pulp Sci Fi movies are too popular!” He notes in passing that Star Wars was explicitly assembled to recreate Flash Gordon, and Lucas pretty much tore entire pages from John Carter when he was writing his original draft scripts for what became Star Wars, but Mr. Beale doesn’t connect those dots.

    There’s a valid argument that first Jaws and then Star Wars saved at least two studios from vanishing altogether, repopularized moviegoing for a generation that had been staying away in droves, and by re-emphasizing entertaining entertainment, realigned a new generation of moviemakers.

    Studios only make movies that are actually visual stories. If all Mr. Beale is seeing are “…CGI to the max, plenty of explosions and little thought of any kind,” instead of blaming a 1977 blockbuster, perhaps he should look into the funding structure and economics of the production studio system. Plus he should get out more – try “Super-8” for a nice little film with only a few effects and ‘splosions, or for a movie that’s chock full of effects and ‘splodey goodness but also interesting characters and ideas, try the Tom Cruise flick I mentioned a few days ago, the horribly titled but well done “Edge of Tomorrow”.

    As to Mr. Beale’s list of internalized navel-gazing towards-grey-goo Novels Which Are Not Movies, generally, novels are tough to cut back to fit into the movie length unless they are made by Peter Jackson, being simply too complicated for a 120min-or-so visual medium (which is one reason why Jackson cheats and makes his longer). Strong short stories are easier to shoehorn into the movie format – see that little movie based on “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” for an example.

    As for Star Wars ep VII – I will be there. JJ Abrams style is actually a better fit for Star Wars than it was for Star Trek (Red Matter and pretend physics? Star Fleet dress uniforms using soviet-looking hats? all would fit great in the Star Wars universe), and the people working on the film appear to be taking the effort seriously. And I liked the first trailer, even with the lens flare.

    • ” Star Fleet dress uniforms using soviet-looking hats? ”

      Given the nature of the “Federation”… yeah.

    • I had real trouble with Super 8. We’re supposed to care about this bastard Child of E.T and the Aliens Xenomorph after he eats half the town? The sentimentality at the end totally didn’t belong.

  25. My youngest son was 4 when her saw the first Star Wars Movie. Since he usually got restless at movies at that age I was hoping I wouldn’t regret taking him. The theatre was not filled so he decided to take a row all by himself in front of us. He was transfixed. He did not move an inch. Now whenever he and daughter come to visit guess what they put into the DVD player and make themselves comfortable in the family room.

    • Reminds me of the episode in “The Seventies Show” that opens with the male teenage lead watching Star Wars in the theater. He just stares at the screen completely transfixed, and then tries to explain it to his parents (who think he’s nuts) when he gets home.

      😛

      Didn’t watch any of the episode after that (it wasn’t a show that I watched, and I just happened to be flipping channels when it popped up), but that episode start amused the heck out of me.

    • Star Wars, The Black Hole, and ET were my first big-screen sci-fi movies. The Disney 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was my first small-screen sci-fi, IIRC, along with the original Wild, Wild West (OK, so more steampunk than hard sci-fi, but hey.)

  26. I have to admit I’m glad “Forever War” hasn’t been made into a movie. Still waiting for a Starship Troopers movie, though.

    • Agreed, it would make a horrible film. I think that a Moon is a Harsh Mistress film would be a better Heinlein vehicle myself.

    • CombatMissionary

      I heard a vicious rumor once that somebody made Starship Troopers into a movie, but it turned out to be exactly like the Dukes of Hazzard movie. The producers used the names (and in DoH, the car), and then made a movie completely unrelated to (and insulting to) the source material.

  27. Or “Tunnel In The Sky”

  28. I had been a sci-fi fan from jr high. Star Trek TOS when it first ran in ’66 plus reading everything I could get my hands on.

    I was 23 when Star Wars was released it and it so struck me that I saw it 14 times that summer.

    I’m tentatively hopeful about the trailer.

    • Does knocking a hole in the gas tank on my LTD flying it over the railroad tracks to get home from school for Star Trek TOS reruns get me credit?

  29. The thing that made Star Wars work for me was that it took the advanced technology for granted. Yes, the Millennium Falcon is a spaceship, but it’s a dingy beat up space ship that does not look antiseptic and pristine and out of reach – it looks like it’s been a hard working ship for years.

    Other movie SF routinely stopped the story and spent forever going “ooh” and “ah” at the pretty hardware (I’m looking at you, Robert Wise, for the interminable ST:TMP spacedock sequence); Lucas in Star Wars realized that as much as an owner might love their ship or blaster or robot or whatever, spending precious screen time going deep into loving minute detail will only bore everyone else to tears.

    As any tech geek or gear head has had to learn, what impresses tech geeks or gear heads causes many others’ eyes to glaze over. One thing that 1970s George Lucas got right (my guess is it was really Marcia Lucas who got this right, as once she was absent, George lost this skill) was that this technical backdrop was really an opportunity to apply one of the basic rules of storytelling: When in doubt, emulate Brother Maynard, skip ahead a bit, and get on with the story.

    • CombatMissionary

      Prime example: Star Trek The Motion Picture.
      Seriously, I watched it with my wife, and it has no less than 45 minutes of shots of the newly redesigned Enterprise as well as shots of the Enterprise flying into V’Ger. Even I thought it a bit much. My wife was alternately climbing the walls and trying not to claw her own eyes out.

      • Note that Roddenberry basically took a 1 hr TV script for the Star Trek II revival series and added about 20 min of extra content, then Robert Wise had to build a 2 hour movie with only that 80 min of script. Then they redesigned props (notably the EVA suits) after they had shots in the can, which they could not afford to reshoot. The result was that Trumbull’s effects shop (plus shots of Shatner staring openmouthed at the bridge screen in the v’Ger approach sequence: “Spock! Aren’t! Those! Clouds…Amazing Looking!”) bore far too much of the burden of filling the empty time.

        • CombatMissionary

          Amen. A motion picture concept deserved so much better. Such as it was, with the tools they had, it’s OK. Just WAY too much filler.

  30. Can’t wait to see what happens with Dave Weber’s Harrington’s movie myself.