What makes something alien? And how can we create something wholly alien when we create from such terrestrial experiences? It is absolutely true to say that we write what we know, and no fantasy or sci-fi can create something utterly beyond our knowledge and comprehension because… well how would we write it? Can the viewer or reader invest emotionally in an alien that conforms to nothing terrestrial? To say nothing on the subject of makeup and special effects budgets.
Babylon 5 does it’s very best to give us something that did not and could not evolve on Earth, with signifying factors that make them something strange and different, but we are left with characters that we can love as someone with whom we share common ground, or loathe for showing us our worst facets. Here are some of the biggest players that make up the cast: (more…)
It’s one of those little facts that’s easily forgotten about Star Wars that in early edits before cinematic release that old dogfight footage was used in place of the actual space battles until decent special effects could be put into place. This translated to the X-Wings and Tie Fighters taking great swooping loops and arcs to follow one another, and the same can be said of the Enterprise vessels in Star Trek, along with the many others who mimic the same style.
Simply put, they use aeroplane battles and set them in space. We seem to snap to a 2-dimensional plane, having a clear definition of up and down, ships meet facing the right direction, no one is ever sideways or upside down, and while they may sit above or below one another they generally face some universally accepted axis system, even amongst species we’ve never met. (more…)
The gates of Babylon 5 opening places humanity firmly in the middle of the space-faring races. No longer completely green around the gills, they’ve helped topple one mad genocidal force, narrowly avoided genocide in mysterious circumstances, and are now seeking to help forge peace among the disparate races and factions of the galaxy.
Naturally as creators, we create based on what we know, so aliens in B5 are broadly based on human cultures or some animal traits given sapience – more on them next week – but there are particular features of humanity that distinguish them from any other species, often commented on by main alien characters in awe, deference, disbelief, or disgust. Today I’ll be looking at what makes humans so special. (more…)
Why do people always ask “Star Trek or Star Wars”? That’s a question that overlooks some real tyrants of the sci-fi scene and there are more than enough of us who can rattle off a few dozen series, films, perhaps books, and even computer games (why not, it’s a valid art form) that equal or exceed them both for quality.
Over the next few weeks I want to take this stage to showcase one of the titans of science fiction and a personal favourite, J. Michael Straczynski’s Babylon 5, addressing its depth, its cultural impact, its influence on sci-fi that followed, and beginning today with a quick primer on exactly what it is we’re discussing. (more…)
Have you ever uttered the words: “It was better back then” or “They don’t do [X] like that any more”? Well it wasn’t, and that’s just a fact. Things have always been awful, but the good things last forever. A few things slip through the cracks, like disco or Pauly Shore, but for the most part we remember each period for it’s successes because we’d rather remember the good things.
Why bring it up? And what does this have to do with nerd culture?