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SF General Info

See also: [SF List] (books) [SF Film] (films) [SF Alterity] [SF INDEX] [SF Mechanics] [SF Writing] [SF Effects] [SF Elements] -^_6 [LITERATURE INDEX] [Space/Time Conveyor] (please no double dipping!)

SF General Info

On this page: {References} {Stuff} (indexes to other papers of a general nature) {What is SF?} {Nature} {Time} {Geological Time, etc} {The Bourgeoise view of time} {Time in Philip K. Dick's "High Castle"} {Space} {Mind} {Alienation} {Aliens} {Super beings} {Super Powers} {Super Senses} {Evolution} {Huxley - Brave new world} {Smith - Instrumentality of Man} {Homo Superior} {Utopia/Dystopia} {Family and Friends} {The individual "i"] {Blurble}


3:07 PM 2005-09-06 "Brave New World - History, Science, Dystopia", byt Robert S. Baker, LCCN PR'6015'U9.B6725'1990, ISBN 0.0857.8121.8 (Twayne (McGill Univ), Boston, 1990).


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Terms, Dfns, etc

SF General Info NEXT: ??? {Back to the TOP of this page}

What is SF?

Being a brief but hopefully illuminating look at SF. [
Vivan Carol Sobchack...] A few views: [as quoted in ROSE, P.16] Heinlein: Realistic speculation about future events" Usula K. Le Guin: "All fiction is metaphor. Science fiction is metaphor. What sets it appart from older forms of fiction seems to be its use of new metaphors, drawn from certain great dominants of our contemporary life -- science, and technology, and the relativistic and historical outlook, among them. Space travel is one of these metaphors; so is an alternative society, an alternative biology; the future is another. The future, in fiction, is metaphor. (Into to "The Left Hand of Darkness") SEE ALSO: [SF as Genre] (lit notes, etc) ROSE [P.26&ff] refers to "estrangement" and "de-familiarisation". As well as the "transformation" concept: In one sense, the persons can be transformed (in the classic sense of the "Hero's Journey"), as well as the world itself being transformed. In the latter case, this transformation is essentially the same as when invaders come. Take the example of Columbus. As well as the concept of "distance markers"; ie, literary devices to clue us in to how distant the world or time is from our own. "Back in the 20th centry, they still believed...", or in the case of an alternate universe, "Roum is a city built on seven hills" (Silverberg's "Nightwings"). "[Hence,] distance markeers may thus be understood as moments in which the science-fiction story provides a textual representation of its own subject, the relationship between the ordinary and extra-ordinary worlds". [ROSE, Pp.28-29] ROSE also lists the following as "paradigms" of SF: Space Time Machine Monster And sees the conflicts as arising from Man vs Nature (at least in some cases) and notes that the there is no over-lap in some cases (the spirit of man vs the materialistic forces of nature). Renaissance -- man as the centre of the universe, Romantacism -- a dialog between man and nature. The "forces" opposed to science: Politics Business The academy the military and of course: religion [Pp.39-40] Next: Nature. {Back to the TOP of this page}


[Also this leads to: Nature as mystery Nature as thing to be subjugate/respected Nature as elemental force ] Next: Time. {
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And the concept of Time

See also: -[
sf time file]- In this section: {Geologic, etc} {The Bourgeoise view of time} {Time Dick's "High Castle"}

Geologic, etc

"No semblance of a beginning, No prospect of an end". -- James Hutton. "Time yields no shape" -- Kant "Time is the illusion caused by thought" -- Dimirii Petrovian. Again with Newton (and Descartes as ROSE (P.97) points out) were used to *absolute* time, "[were] markedly static and a-temporal, witht he emphasis on the fixed and eternal laws, which the study of both man and nature revealed." [As quoted in ROSE, P.99] "As Frank Kermode [see REF below] says, we create fictions of endings to give meaning to time, to transform chronos (the mere passing of time) into kairos (time invested with the maning derived from its goal. Time without beginning or end, un-differentiated, boundless time without meaning, is utterly in-human time. And in-so-far-as science fiction is committed to the humanisation of time, it tends toward fictions of apocalpse. ... Time in this fictions [Journey to the Centre of the Earth & War of the Worlds], is projected spatially either as a tangible series of strata [Journey] of as a measurable distance between planets. This transformation is possible because we normally conceive time as a medium *analagous* [emph. mine] to space, freely substituting the one for the other, as when we say we have not seen someone in a "long time" or when we speak of one place being "10 minutes away" from another. Our metaphors for time are spatial, our metaphors for space are temporal. Time and space are complementary hemisphers in a single, closed conceptial system. Thus, time can be freely substituted for space in the production of science-fiction storeies, becoming the medium either for a journey to alien "worlds", or the medium through which "aliens", in the form of time travelers, impinge upon our world. Indeed, nearly all SF narratives that are concerned directly with time depend in some way upon the spatialisation of time. REF of the ORIG QUOTE: "The Sense of an Ending", by Frank Kermode, Oxford University Press, ISBN ???.???.????.??? (New York, 1967). EXCELLENT: "At one level the Eloi-Morlock section is Swiftian satire on the perversity of class distinctions. Readinf the novel from this point of view we might wish to discuss the irony implicict in the way that the traveler completely identifies with the Eloi, remaining blind to the bonds -- meat eating, love of machinery -- that tie him also the Morlocks." -- [ROSE, P.103]

Bourgeoise view of Time

Again in [ROSE, Pp.62-63] the "bourgeoise view of time" "Near the end of the novel, [Verne's; Journey to the Centre of the Earth] however, Axel (Lindenbrook's nephew) undergoes a conversion [from a Romantic to a Materialist]. Confronted with what appears to be an insurmmountable obstacle to further descent -- a hugh boulder has sealed the gallery through which they must pass -- the youth is suddenly seized by his uncle's daemon of heroic conquest. Now it is Axel who is impatient with delay and who insists that they must immediately blow up the rock with explosive gun-cotton. 'The professor's soul had passed straight through into me, and tghe spirit of discov ery inspired me. I forgot the past and scorned the future' (p.266). "Nothing matters for him now except the imperative penetration to the center. Daemonically possessed, Axel has become, like his uncle, a "hero". His journey has become an initiation into the bourgeois-heroic attitude toward nature, a "going in" in a social as well as a physical sense, and the story ultimately ratifies his new status as an adult male by granting him the hand of the professor's beautiful god-daughter, Gräuben. Never-the-less, as the comic ironies persistently directed against Professor Lindenbrock's limited vision sugges, in the youth's passage something has been lost as well as gained. Caring neither for past nor future, imprisoned in the narrow cage of his own will to dominate, Axel can no longer confront nature except as an antagonist, somthing utterly apart from himself." Parallel this to Sartre. (!)

Time in Dick's "High Castle"

[ROSE, P.126] "Looking into the void (which after all is treuly a void but a universe replete with other-ness) can we ever really see anything but our own faces? Similarly, in Man in the High Castle transforms problems in eschatology (or purpose in history) into problems in epistimology. Can we really regard time as something outside ourselves, an alien antagonist to be conquered ro a dominon to be appropriated and ruled? Looking into the dark abysm of time, which is not after all really an abysm or any other kind of spatial realm, do we not also discover a face that is our own?" This brings us back to the fact that we see the world in terms of who we are (our experiences, knowledge, feelings, etc) -- can really never do otherwise. And yet, by reading, watching plays, exploring art, history, and philosophy we extend how much (how alien) we *can* view and understand. Next: Space. {
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Next: Mind. {
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Hmmmm. I disagree with ROSE [P.92] in that I think that Lem is trying to show us how *broad* the concept of what is human can be. ROSE sez: "Snow, the cool [1] cynic, is an un-sympathetic figure compared to Kelvin, the romantic lover. Yet we should realize that Lem has employed the unsentimental codes of the literary love story and thus encourages us to sympathize with Kelvin's passion only to lead us into a trap that illustrates how difficult it is to avoid in-appropriate pattens of thought.[2] Snow is correct. In embarcing Rheya as completely human, Kelvin has adopted a positon no more, adequate than that of Sartorius, who merely wishes to obliterate the visitors. I would say that Lem is trying to show us (at least in this point of the story -- which at *this* point of time, i have *not* read), that the question of what IS human is nebulous, etc. This of course goes back to the two views by Philip K. Dick of androids: The "Lincoln" in We can build you, and Luba in Do Androids, as well as the *version* of ??name?? in Blade Runner (not Daryl Hanna, the "other one"). I would go further (in the manner of "The Ethical Equations") and say that if a creature shows us and sez it *is* human, then we should think long and hard to *not* dis-miss it. (This again goes back to the two views in Dick: The short story where the crew returns and thinks that they *are* the crew, and they are destroyed and then another crew shows up as well as the "Imposter" where clearly the simacrulum ??sp?? is bent on destroying the earth. (We can *not* -- i would maintain -- dismiss the creature which thinks itself to be who it thinks itself to be. (and of course, this completely ignores the question "Is Commander Data a person or a toaster?". -- this goes back to one of the opening stories in Douglas Hofstadler ??sp?? "The Mind's I" about the teleporter. [3] And of course, this is assered *clearly* by "Dr. Chandra" in Odyssey 2010: The Year We Make Contact "Whether we are based on carbon or on silicon..." NOTES (this section only) [1] ROSE continues to point out the use of temperature as a special "code" for SF. Thus, i'm not sure if his use here is un-intentionally ironic (laconic? ;) [2] This goes back to a constant theme in ROSE's first two chapters: That we can't really imagine something that is *treuly* alien. He sez that we have to use analogies and such. (the old prob that if you *can* imagine it, then it can't really be *that* alien. (I was trying to imagine a red-green that was an *abstract* color, and not a mixture or such. (Also refer to the idea of the word ORANGE written in BLUE (or some other non-orange color), thus invoking both the self-referential/self-denial paradox as well as just the run-of-the-mill "tongue-in-cheek" thingie as well. In the same sense, we can't really conceive of anything as abstract if it can be given physical (material) form. Thus, we *can* have abstract mathematics, and for the most part we *can* describe things using words. Yes, i realise that by using WORDS (which are in a sense material things -- we can hear, speak, read (and tactile-ly "feel" them if we are adept at brail) them, so they "sort of" have a "material" weight. And I'm not going to go into the implications of storage systems; eg, human brains, dolphins, apes, computers, and of course books themselves. [3] I dislike *intensely* Hofstadler's ??sp?? use of "mind" tricks in that story, but we do know that the "one left behind" on Mars (a duplicate is teleported to earth to be saved), does in fact *have* feelings, and does in fact suffer. Again, the assertion of TORTURE is that the *only* justice is that it eventually *does* end. Even if that end is death. (As Twain pointed out, that until the bible came along, the worst off slave could always hope for a release in death, but even *that* escape is deny-ed him by the threat of death and *then* hell (not an exact quote). Next: Alienation. {
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See also: [
General term in FILM] Alienation in SF (no pun intended) is where the familiar becomes strange, as [[SOBCHACK 1980]], P.112-113, puts it: "As opposed to those other imaginary worlds [ie, not ON the Earth] created on a studio set or those real urban worlds so filled with the out-cropping of our achievements that they appear anthro-po-morphic, the desert and beach exist as the receptive breeding ground of hide-ing place for those things which threaten to destroy us and thus become hostile areas of a formerly nurturing and antropomorphic Earth. [Note 17] Working inversely from those movies which optimisitcally reduce the infinitudes and uncertainties of space to a view seen from an [P.112/113] inter-galactic automobile, the films which show us the "other-ness" [Note 18] of the world in which we actually live expand the finite and certain limits of a car on a highway winding through the desert or along a lonely stretch of sea-coast road [or thru fog!], into a journey through the infinite and hostile void. When the land which has nurtured us threatens us, we are treuly lost in space. What such films as: It Came from Outer Space Them! Creature from the Black Lagoon Tarantula Beast with a Million Eyes Invasion of the Body Snatchers The Monolith Monsters The Space Children Most Dangerous Man Alive tell us that the Earth is not a part of us, it does not even recognise us. THese films -- in whole or in part -- take us away from our larger structures, our cities and skyscrapers which normally break up the disturbing blankness of the horizon. Our civilisation and its technological apparatus is at best a samll town set on the edge of an abyss. Watching these films with their abundance of long shots in which human figures move alike insects, their insistence on a fathomless landscape, we are forced to a pessimestic view of the worth of technologoical progress and of man's ability to control his destiny. [P. 114] We are shown human beings set un-comfortably against the vastness and age-less-ness of the desert and sea, [Note 18] and are reminded by the contrast that land and water were here long before us and our cities and towns and will be here long after we and our artifacts are gone. We see ourselves -- normal, human, incredibly mortal -- against an un-blinking and bare landscape that refuses any anthro-po-morphic sweetness with which we strive to endow it.", Op.Cit., P112-114. See also: [Sobchack (SF)] Next: Aliens. NOTES (this section only) [17] Indeed, I would go further to say, that in the same sense of "The Time Machine" scene in the "modern" era, when "and the earth ripped apart, responded with volcanoes as well" (not an exact phrase). That is, the violence that we might do *TO* the Earth would alienate her (it?) from us, and she might turn against us. That is, outside of the context of the destruction of ozone layer, deforestation, the green house effect etc, that the earth (as a "thing" or possibly even as a conscious entity) might turn actively against us. (The same way that we might try to get rid of lice, using all manner of pesticides on ourselves. (this suggests a story obviously; share and enjoy :) Or as i often put it, "Old Mother Earth; she never realized how cussed her children would turn out to be, eh?" -- [stories/plants for mars] {Back to the TEXT} [18] See for example the work of Henry Kutner and "Mrs. K." (C.L. Moore); eg, "Return to Otherness", etc. {Back to the TEXT} [19] Another way to look at the metaphorical and symbolic role of the desert/sea is of course from the Odyssey. Where-upon the mysterious ways of the Gods of Olympus have been replaced by equally mysterious (if not more so; they are after all ALIEN ;) ways of the aliens or "thing". This goes back to the very heart of *alienation* that we are normally blythely going about our daily rut, un-aware of most of life's alternatives. To return (yes, i know, Oh, no not AGAIN???!!!) to Sartre's "mountain climber" paradigm. The idea is that we are walking along our usual path (as did once Bilbo), then events transpire to transport us to a place *connected* to the everyday and mondane. Alex Rogan's video game world become manifest, and the "trailer park" from which (like Didi & Gogo) they are condemned to never leave, is suddenly transformed into an international space port, complete with assasins, opportunists, and natch the *one* that steps through the looking glass: The Dreamer. Contrast this with the "disaster" movie, the events of the extra-ordinary impinge on what should be the totally un-eventful. Again, from the H2G2, Arthur is simply having to deal with a hang-over and totally lousing up the possible relationship with a woman "mad as a hat-er" -- just thing to shake up his mundane life. Again, in classic style Arthur curses the landslide blicking the mountain path. And then, once his "eyes are lifted" to the higher horizon (by Ford, and of course the destruction of earth), he *finally* becomes Sisyphus, realising that he must rescue Trillian. But, the transformation of the hero is *never* clear cut, he again can't simply "merely" change. When confronted with the dimensional-gateway and what appears to be *certain* (and definitely un-pleasant death of being hacked into a million shards), he can't bring himself to do it. And in that one moment: Marvin: I told you it would all end in teers. Arthur: Did you? Did you? (thru grated teeth, and those woundrous fist movements) He faces that despite all that he has been thru, he is still the same, weak and in-decisive person. Not until, he realises his "higher destiny" (and still not quite able to come to grips with it) as part of THE ultimate question and nearly having his brain ripped out. Only, then does he *transform*, "Follow me". For the first time he IS the hero. For Alex Rogan, it when Grig ??sp?? tells of the death of the various worlds; it is when Cochran realises that his "mere" financial adventure will lead to man to meet the Vulcans, and that when he says, "Why not?". It is THAT un-certainty that James Joyce gives us, that coming to grips with the road not taken, the actual death of silence and indecision, that is the gift that Joyce give us, that Homer's version of Ulysses never could. That is what SF (as with all good literature) give us, Be it the man with no name, or... Xena can not be corrupted. Nor Athena, Nor Senior Quixote, Nor even Sancho, Nor Dent. Arthur Dent. {Back to the TEXT} Next: Aliens {Back to the TOP of this page}


See also: [
Gordon R. Dickson] [Niven & Pournell] As i see it, *the* major problem for SF is to create *really* alien aliens. Other than (as far as my limited Knowledge is) only Dickson & Niven/Pournell have succeeded in creating a completely alien alien. The alien that Gordon R. Dickson created in "The Alien Way") is *so* alien, that is actually almost impossible for us to understand it. And of course he does this (so i read it), by a very subtle trick (as a writer). He has a (i'm guessing -- on majician to the next) that has a "portfolio" of the alien, it's view of the world/life/universe/ducks, how it reacts in various situations, etc. And all of this is carefully worked out, and then notations are made as to what he will or will not reveal to the reader. Then he has to go back thru and read it (and (again guessing) have someone else read it as well). All of this to see if the alien-ness is at *just* that right level of Beauty, Beauty-Squared that we all are striving for (well most of us). That is, to not reveal too much, or better yet, we have to re-read the book to "get it", and then (even better, if we re-read the book a third or even a fourth, or n-th time), we get more and more. That's what the *good* writing is trying to do. Oddly enough, the movie "Momento" gives us that experience, in the course of just one viewing. And even more oddly enough, I've seen the movie countless times to experience the perfection of that style. Note (as i discuss briefly in super beings), an argument can be made that the monolith in 2001 is an alien. (Not just a tool of some super-beings). But, in keeping with Kubrick's & Clarke's intent of producing a purposefully un-clear story, i only conclude: The Monlisth is Mystery made manifest. Even on the Moon, the crew encounters it as a "mystery to be solved" (in the small sense of mystery). That is a "mere" artifact. Only Dave Bowman comes completely face-to-face with Monolith as MYSTERY; and consequently is "destroyed" (evolved, re-made, etc). Next: Super Beings. {Back to the TOP of this page} NOTES (this section only) Next: Super Beings. {Back to the TOP of this page}

Super Beings

NOTE: Genetic manipulation (eg, Brave New World) is dealt with under {
Evolution} "The problem is, that now [Trek: ST-TNG], they've made the enterprise so powerful, that they have to make the enemies even more powerful. This means that the plots aren't going to be as good [as classic Trek]". (not an exact quote) -- Lynn Winters. When we examine the "Q" character (portrayed by John DeLancie), we see the evolution of the character to become more human. [Note 27] This is probably due to the writing of the various plots, in the end, though, much of his original "super being" nature has been lost. Now let us step outside to super-beings as such. This is touched on in Classic Trek [Battle with the Gorn creature] ??title?? And of course, David Bowen becomes the Star Child, a tool by which the Monolith (the and its makers -- the true super-beings) accomplishes its task which remains a mystery. Note in 2010, I think that the re-interpretation of what the role of Bowman and the Monolith are "all about" is a reflection of Clarke's own "continued thinking" about the problem. In the case of 2001, the Monolith (esp in light of the "voices" that continually surround it when ever it (or one of its manifestations) is on screen) has this totally mysterious nature. We (from the movie) do not know if it IS the alien or what. In one story (i forget if it's Dick or Smith), a "star being" rescues a space man and plucks him back on earth. This *vast golden giant* moves thru space, as easily as we move in a park. The analogy is made to a child. An adult wouldn't even notice the "small insect". But, a child (in their infinite curiosity and innocence) notices the hapless space fairer. Again this goes back to the ALIEN-NESS of the super-being. In the place where (hopefully) i used to live, there finally grew some "red algae" (rhodophyta) in the shower stall. Being (as i was then) a vast student of mertz (see: [Schwitters]), and in keeping with one of the cartoons in "9/11: Comic relief" where the writer sees a little mushroom growing out from the cracks in the tile and decides to let it live, i let the algae live. It surrounded the main part of the shower stall (which was rectangular) not coming too close to the center. Eventually, the almost rust-red colony of cells formed a U shape (see picture, below)
S: Shower Head
As i would bathe, being very much aware of the genus and the species (or there-abouts) [[28]). He examines "Nelson" and the robots, the monolog goes something like this (not an exact quote): Ah, here is an obviously inferior creature, I can see that it is barely aware of its on existence. What a primitive and piteous creature. As an act of kindness, I should kill it and end its miserable existence. But, that is not my task. I merely observe. And here a primitive robot. So poorly constructed that its creators clearly had no aesthetic sense what-so-ever. This pathetic attempt to create a robot is clearly the work or deranged minds. (it is at this point that the robots "space" Observer. This goes back to the idea that would aliens feel a superority to us. See {Outer Limits (EVOL)}

Super Powers

Note: I distinguish: Super Strength (this section) = AMPLIFIED abilities; eg, strength, vision, intellegence, etc. Super Senses {
Next section}; eg, mind reading, tele-kinesis, etc.

Super senses

Traditionally (Superman, et al), "super heroes" have enhanced version of our own, norrmal senses. A happy exception to this is the *very* imaginative work in Mystery Men ??author??. See the treatment of Super Powers (amplified normal powers); eg, strength, vision, intellegence, etc. {
Above} In terms of classical super senses (in SF literature), very few of these have made it into the main-stream film or vid culture. A review is in order. Mind reading. Of course the master here is again Philip K. Dick, esp in "Solar Lottery" where he successfully integrates the role of telepaths into society. Stryzinski's view is that the telepaths see themselves as superior, and \hence become a more *evolved* version of humans -- again, this takes them (technically nit-picking here) out of the category of "super being" and places them into the category of {Homo Superior}; ie, evolved humans. In Dick's universe people with superior powers *use* them in society. In Solar Lottery, the government is supported and indeed protected by the Telepaths. All telepaths are part of the *system* and indeed seen as the guardians of society. In the case of "Our Friends from Frolix IX" ??title?? the two forms of Homo Superior (the New-Men (evolved), and the Specials (super powers), have split the territory of the world between them - and the normals are just so much nuisance and chattle. (This goes back to Huxley's divison of society into Alpha's, Beta's, etc). See: {Huxley}, below. Telekinesis. The ability to move or alter thngs with the mind. One of the best examples of this is ???title??? in Stryzinksi's Babylon-Five. The ability of ??char?? goes beyond just moving larger and larger things to the other end of the scale. To being able to manipulate smaller and samller things. Eventually, he literally evolves into a star-child-like creature and leaves our reality entirely. Next: {Evolution} {Back to the TOP of this page} NOTES (this section only) [27] Rather than to just "tossing it off to bad writing", we might argue that "Q" is evolving after his contact with humans. Let's look at the various interactions with "Q" and how badly written they are. The first encounter, promises all of the makings of a true super being (Encounter at Far Point). The second encounter is basically the whole GOD/ADAM bit, with Q giving his powers to Riker -- who promptly makes a mess of things; eg, aging Wesley, giving Jordy his sight, I'm suprised he didn't offer to make Picard's hair grow out (I can just see Patrick Stewart again in that horrid wig he wore in "I, Claudius"). Regardless, then in "Q-pid" we again see Q as match maker; again with the Yenta's, oi! How much of this mishigas can a poi'sohn stand, I'm asking you? Having dealt with the clearly BAD writing for Q, we come to the better subsequent (from "Encounter at Far Point"), writing. When "Q" throws the Enterprise into the midsts of the Borg, he is back to being an arrogant super being (that was first given as the character in the first episode). And then, again at the very last (circular naturep; absurdity of life) when he provides the "clues" by which Picard can "solve" the mystery of the space-time rip. This is again Q as super being, and very nicely caps the series with the two scenes: "Don't you get it, the trial never ended" (not an exact quote), and when he is about to whisper in Picards ear the "something", and then doesn't. But to return to the possible evolution of Q after contact (and hence contamination by) the Humans. It is arguable that Q (having been briefly human), has been tainted and thus for that reason is tossed out from the continuum. (Nicely, the exact nature of the Continuum is kept mysterious; one of the best portrayals was in the case of the Q who wanted to commit suicide and the surrealist "view" of the Q continuum in ST-Voyager. (??ep??). Thus, in many cases Q is made to be a super being, but is still not as "alien" as he might be. (I think that this is again a *major* problem to be addressed by SF writers -- only Gordon R. Dickson ("The Alien Way") creates an alien *so* alien, that is actually almost impossible for us to understand it. Unfortunately, the Q's motivations are pretty much "out of the hat" in the first ep. Regardless, Q succeeds only because of DeLancie's carrying a rather thinly written character/episode. This is *not* what the good writing is about. You will recall that the director and Sagan argued for hours (as i recall the story) in "Contact", about whether or not Reverend Palmer should use the *exact* same phrase as her father ("otherwise, it's a pretty bad waste of space" - not an exact quote). Any good story turns on such seemingly minor points. Next, of course is the argument that the humans *are* having an effect on Q. And that this contamination might be why Q is expelled from the continuum. And of course this raises the level of the humans by the fact that indeed the Q should not only be carefull of the humans (not just dispising their corruption/infantile behaviour/etc). That is, that the human has this *potential* to be more than it is. (This also goes back to the pronouncements by the Travelor, as well as ??name?? in Insurrection, when she says, "See, and you thought it would take years to learn [the way to step outside of time]".) Part of this (esp in ST-TNG) was part of Roddenberry's own personal view of human evolution - going back again to "Where no man has been before". See also {Evolution} {Back to the TEXT} [28] The "idea" of MST-3K is have Nelson and the robots watch B movies and make comments about them. This superb non-sense went on for some years. As part of the wrap-around the Evil Dr. Forster (our dear, dear friend Mary Jo Pehl) "tortures" Mike, Crow "T" Robot, and Tom Servo by showing them movies, to break up the show, "breaks" are taken where more stuff is written and performed by the cast/writers. Pehl, Nelson, ???? complete cast -- HTTP LINKE!!! anyway, it's all totally hoopy and thoroughly fab fun. {Back to the TEXT}


As pointed out previouse (super-man) part of the idea that humans had the potential to be more was (at least in ST-TNG) part of Roddenberry's own personal view of human evolution - going back again to the first episode, "Where no man has been before". Again, part of the problem is that by perfecting humans (the humans on Star Trek *do* represent humanity at its best), it makes the plots boring and un-realistic. This may explain my own preference for Deep Space Nine and Voyager. Regardless, if humans are not fall into the trap (eg, "Q") of becoming super-human, then where should/could/might we see evolution taking us?

Huxley - Brave New World

Huxley was among the first to meld the concept of scientific invention and human genetic potential. The concept of people who are engineered to *want* to be in their social class. Esp in the case of the ***Caste***? also, [142] Adams' "dish of the day".

Cordwainer Smith: Instrumentality of Man

Cordwainer Smith has pointed out, once we start manipulating genetics we may modify ourselves to the point where we are not recognisably human. At the most common level, the paradigm of creating the "under people" (eg, humans cross-bred with oxen, cats, etc.) is essentially the same as creating a race of slaves (see {Huxley}, above.

Homo Superior

To a certain extent the *evolution* of David Bowmn into the Star Child (evolved by the Monolith) can be seen as him becoming "homo superior" -- indeed in terms of 2001's beginning with the proto-human apes this is almost a given. However, this section is addressed to the process of evolution (or de-evolution; see the superb example: [
Cryptozoic by Brian Aldriss. In one episode of The Outer Limits, ??title??? David McCallum plays a scientist that invents an evolution machine. He climbs inside and is evolved (large head, and the additional 6th finger on his hand). It is clear that this not a good move; he resents and dislikes the primitive humans. This takes us back to how we must have "seen" our less evolved cousins in our pre-history. Obviously, this *scenario* of super being can be taken parallel to the encounter of modern man with less developed cultures. This is again the *assumed* superiority of the *modern* over the *primitive*. From an SF point of view, even the most virullent war of primitive peoples has never threatened to obliterate the entire planet (atom bomb, genetic mutation gone wild, environmental degredation). Indeed to the "primitive" human, this is un-thinkable. An excellent example is the "Adventures of Young Indiana Jones", in which Lucas has Indy meet Albert Schwiter. While the "Great War" is killing millions, the primitive chieftains can not conceive of a war that would litterally wipe out ALL of their rivals. The more distant from *human-ness* that the super being is, the less likely that there can be *any* dialog at all. This is the idea behind the "blob" in my film-novel "Hard Fall". It is so completely different that the best that can happen is that we each recognise the "beauty" of music -- and almost certainly do not even perceive the same music in anything even resembling the same way -- possibly even with the same *senses*. See: {Super Senses} Next: Utopia/Dystopia. {Back to the TOP of this page} NOTES (this section only) [142] In the H2G2 (actually in "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe), Adams proposes an end of the problem of eating meat. A creature is created that actually wants to be eaten. Arthur Dent replies that its disgusting that he should offer to be eaten. The dish of the day replies "well, sir, I can hardly offer someone else to be eaten" -- not an exact quote. But, again this simply begs the question (as Huxley does not), that since we (someone) has engineered the creature to want to be eaten, that it devolves to the creation of the "lessor" castes (Betas, etc). On the other hand, from an Existentialist POV, if the person is altruistic, they might offer themselves up to be eaten. Reminding us of course of the terrible plight in [Gericault's] painting "Raft of the Medusa", where the men were reduced to eating on of the victims until they were finally rescued. Thus, (again, as Sartre reminds us), everything is about the personal choices that we make. Indeed, in the case of *ritual* canibalism, one can make a case for the eloquence of offering oneself up to be eaten. Also, in the case of the Masai, the sacred cow is given a special place of honor: "The cow is almost the center of life for us," said Mr. Naiyomah. "It's sacred. It's more than property. You give it a name. You talk to it. You perform rituals with it. I don't know if you have any sacred food in America, something that has a supernatural feel as you eat it. That's the cow for us." -- New York Times, 2002.06.03 This is not "mere" eating, it is societal integration of the eater (the tribe) and the eaten (a cow) -- which through her long life gives milk for food, the urine (which is sterile, and due to its inorganic-salt content, used as disinfectant and to extend the water supply), dung which is used for fuel, and finally in the end her own very flesh as food. As the artist John Hitchcock put it, "To the native american the buffalo was a walking grocery story" (art talk, Brookhaven College, 2005). {Back to the TEXT} Next: Utopia/Dystopia. {Back to the TOP of this page}


[BAKER, P.66] "Russell's depiction of a scientific world State introductes thelast and perhaps the most revealing feature of the early 20th century dystopia, a characteristic present in Wells's utopias but not deeply probed unti the appearance of novels like "We", "Brave New World", and "1984". The discussion in chapter 4 ([Baker, Pp.21-35]), stressed the various oppositions, such as reason and feeling, that inform the Wellsian utopian novel and its later variants. Russel's [Scientific Outlook], howerver, focusse on a final but all-important aspect of the modern dytopia, the rise of the modern bureaucratic state (esp the Soviet Union) with its immense party apparatus). Wells touched on this problem in his dystopias such as When the Sleeper Awakes but only briefly. He simply *assumed* [emph, mine] that a scientific cluture of experts would act in harmony without the need of governmental organisations. As the Utopians of Men Like Gods ---???? ref-------------- naively proclaimed: "Our educatio is our government". Russell, Zamiatin, and Huxley were not so convinced of the political innocence of scientists or their neutral role in the use of the state's technology. It is this fear of benign, bureaucratcitc co-ercion that makes BNW a political novel as well as a dark fantasy of the future". [ROBERT S. BAKR, 66] Indeed, as BAKER pointed out earlier: "Russell believed that most scientists were 'citizens first and servants of truth only in the second place'. This ... is a farily accurate description of Mustapha Mond. ..." [Op.Cit, P.65] Indeed this *falacy* goes back to romantic portrait of the scientist as being above the fray; eg, Pp.8&ff, "Telling the Truth about Histoyr", by Joyce Appleby, Lynn Hunt, & Margaret Jacob. Ostensibly, scientists are *all too humna*. For example, we have Shockley (co-inventor of the transistor) who wante to pay black and other "inferiors" not to reproduce. And the curious mirror selves of Leo Silizard and Edward Teller; the first the ultimate pacifist, and the second a commie-phobe to the extent that probably he did believe "better dead than red", but no while he could achieve a hundred-fold greater mortality rate with the hydrogen bomb. Thus the *myth* that the scientist is a saint -- despite the over-whelming evidence of Einstein, Schwitzer, and even Fuchs (who *was* worried about the nuclear imbalance -- not trusting the Americans, he made sure that the balance of knowledge by giving the Soviets key bits of information about the bomb). See also: [Huxley (BNW)] (SF general page) Next: Family and Friends. NOTES (this section only) [66] Baker, Chapter 4 summary {Back to the TEXT} [67] Russell summary {Back to the TEXT} Next: Family and Friends. {Back to the TOP of this page}

Family and Friends

The Individual "i". {Back to the TOP of this page} NOTES (this section only) Next: The Individual "i". {Back to the TOP of this page}

The Individual "i"

Blurble. {Back to the TOP of this page} NOTES (this section only) Next: Blurble. {Back to the TOP of this page}


First off, I *always* distinguish between horror and sf as such. Although to be fair the boundary is definitely fuzzy (or at least covered in feathers and dust). For example, the original Alien movie (and i am a *big* fan of the entire series of films!) is NOT sf, it is pure horror. The film "Alien Ressurection" is at first sf, but then turns to horror. Actually, the ending of the film is so entirely grotesque that the author has to give us this sappy happy ending to "balance" the rubbish of that creature being pulled thru the crack in the ship. Anyway, if a story has a robot in it, it isn't necessarily sf. NEXT: eof! {
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