Growing up you believe the world is meant to be the way it is. The older I get the more I realise that this is not the case. The world is full of injustices and atrocities that governments and the voice of faith expect us to accept, though with each passing year they grow fewer and fewer, at least one would hope. I have created this blog as a space for me to rant about all things science, politics, philosophy and religion, before it’s too late and the vessel of new atheism propelled by a growing surge in secularism solves all of the world’s problems for good.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Science fiction needs a facelift

I can't deal with it anymore... I love it, I hate it, I love it, I hate it! IT'S DRIVING ME CRAZY!

Movies and series alike; Star Trek, Star Wars, Stargate (SG1/Atlantis/Universe), Farscape (finally no 'star' in the title), the Alien movies, the Predator movies, Avatar, Battlefield Earth (an abortion of a film that on second thought shouldn't even be mentioned here), District 9, Cloverfield, Signs, etc. I love most of these films and series. However, I'm starting to get sick and tired of this genre as it seems to have gotten stagnant. Maybe it has been for a long time, in fact I'm sure that's the case.

I imagine you'll think I'm taking the whole genre too seriously and that it's Science Fiction not Science Non-Fiction. I know this, but for me the best Sci-Fi is that which is most plausible and incredibly hard to find holes in. What do I mean?

Alien double mouth
I'm sick of every fucking alien being bipedal for one. Wow, Alien had a mouth within a mouth and a few extra digits, same with Predator... Wow, every alien in Star Wars was humanoid but with different appendages on their head... This pattern is repeated again and again and again in every Sci-Fi movie and series that is released these days. Surely I can't be the only one noticing this?

Until recent years every bloody alien spoke English, often with no explanation as to how they acquired the ability to do so. Exhibit A, B and C. - Star Wars, Star Trek and Stargate. And every bloody planet has the same North American pine tree forests covering it... ah, but with a more intense green hue, or maybe purple for this world! Clever... Really though, what a monotonous universe we inhabit. Same languages, same humanoid alien forms, and same fucking animals!

Stargate forest on alien world
This is the thing that annoys me most, all the unimaginative life forms on so-called 'alien worlds'. Little to no thought or imagination is ever afforded alien life forms all across the Sci-Fi board. Most of the aforementioned as well as being guilty of portraying all sentient aliens as humanoid bipeds, all of their other life forms are always total rip-offs of our animals. Granted, where else are we going to draw inspiration from? Still, one could at least try to come up with something unique and really push the boundaries. Every beast always has two legs, two arms, a head with epic teeth and eyes. Might as well have put a dog on steroids and shaved the hair off it.

Avatar did a brilliant job of creating alien animals by cutting Earth animals in half and smooshing them together. A horse with the head of an anteater, ah, but with an extra pair of front legs and trachea that exit through the chest... wow nice. A pterosaur with a velociraptors head... clever. All of the life forms that lit up in the jungle being based upon jelly-fish, ascidians and other marine invertebrates... really nifty? NO... cheap... seriously, any future Sci-Fi writer or producer reading this, and I know there will be 100s of you doing so, please, please, PLEASE, take a subject in biology. Better yet, hire an evolutionary biologist for helping out with alien life form design. They will undoubtedly be able to come up with something more unique, intriguing and plausible than what has been previously, and still is currently, on offer.
Avatar anteater-horse
Don't get me wrong, a lot of imagination still goes into these projects. Stargate has always blown me away with how plausible the technology can appear at times, though most of the time you realise fairly quickly it's complete rubbish. The point is that at least for a moment you are tricked into thinking "WOW, is this possible? Could it be possible one day?!". To me that is the whole point of GOOD Sci-Fi, and we definitely require a lot more like it.

I want to be intellectually stimulated, tested, tricked, made to think outside the box and question what I believe to be possible or true. The predictable is good the first time, but becomes oh so boring the second, third... hundredth time. And the more I see the predictable in every film and show chucked together today, the more I feel I'm being ripped off. Like the experience has been cheapened and that only enough imagination has been pumped into each project to acquire sufficient profits.

As an evolutionary biologist myself maybe I expect too much. However, it does feel like we've given up and are doing only what's good enough as opposed to the doing our best. Time to think outside the box and give Sci-Fi a decent facelift. Really go all out Demi Moore face-lift on the bastard and give it a good look again.

I really hope someone comes along soon and we see a huge shift in the boundaries, like we saw in the mid-1900s once space travel became a possibility, challenging the imagination of everyone. We can do it. We can make Sci-Fi hot again!


  1. In the reading world it is starting to become that way, however with the late Michael Crichton's last book (he died well making it and it is going to be finished by Richard Preston, a Biothriller writer) coming out we should experience a little rejuvenation. If you haven't already check both of those people out. MC wrote Jurassic Park 1-3 and the recently made into a movie Andromeda Strain. And RP wrote Hot Zone and The Demon in the Freezer (non-fiction) as well as The Cobra event (fiction).

  2. Cheers William I'll have to suss them out :D

  3. I think another major part of the problem with the stagnation in televised and film Scifi is the content most of the science fiction being written in recent years. Most of the things I find to be popular and well thought out right now mostly deal with issues of posthumanism and that really is a subject the general populace is not ready to deal with. To be honest I think most people would not get it at all or be very bothered by it. The people that make up American audiences can't accept scientifically proven facts over the ravings of ancient nomadic goat herds, I really don't think there will be enough fans of posthuman scifi to warrant the cost of producing a show.