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Ben Babcock

I read, write, code, and knit.

6 Articles Tagged with “science fiction”

  1. Trends I'm sensitive to in current science fiction

    This post began as part of my review of The Man Who Sold the Moon. I began contrasting Heinlein’s subject matter with what’s hot in SF these days. Gradually I realized I was eliding too much in my attempts to be as succinct as possible, so I was faced with the choice of expanding an already long review … or excising most of the discussion. Fortunately, I have a soapbox all my own where I can put this kind of stuff.

    First, a disclaimer: science fiction is a diverse field. Nor do I claim to have a comprehensive knowledge of recent SF works. I’ve been pretty good about reading some of the most notable releases each year, mostly thanks to my Worldcon membership for Hugo voting. Nevertheless, this is not intended to be a survey of the current state of the field. Instead, I’m looking at some of the current obsessions within SF based on my own particular lens.

    It’s a truism to claim that science fiction becomes hung up on the future of the technology fetishes of the present. Heinlein, of course, talked a lot about atomic power, the bogeyman of his day. Probably the most memorable recent

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  2. You should watch Haphead

    Recently one of the vloggers I follow, Nicole Coenen, tweeted about a video series she’s in. It’s called Haphead, and it’s an 8-part miniseries set in 2025 about young people, video games, and the pace of change.

    I’m a science fiction fan (big surprise, that), so I was immediately intrigued. I started watching the first episode … and I was hooked. As in, it has been a while since a TV show has so effortlessly drawn me into its world and made me want to watch more. I watched the next two episodes immediately afterwards, and I would have watched the remaining four (there are six released as of this post), except I had to go to work. From the opening shot of Maxine, her father, and the security guard standing on the train platform, to the music and the dialogue, Haphead is a really nicely put-together series.

    It’s filmed in Ontario! And it’s set in Ontario, with lots of neat little references throughout.

    The trailer above gives you a taste of what the series is about. Maxine and her friends get a below-minimum-wage job helping to produce haptic feedback cables, which let people interface with video games…

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  3. On the demise of Stargate Universe, or: What the hell, Syfy?

    So last week, we witnessed the passing of yet another science-fiction franchise from television. Syfy broadcast the series finale of Stargate Universe on Monday, and I call it the demise of the franchise because the show's cancellation has been a death blow to the promised SG-1 and Atlantis movies as well. Though it's possible that MGM will bring the franchise back through comics, novels—or yes, even another movie or spin-off—for now there will be no more Stargate on television. That, to me, is far more tragic than the cancellation of a single series. Still, I'm going to take a look now at Stargate Universe and its impact on my opinion of the franchise as a whole.

    In the beginning, I remember a strong backlash to the show's "darker tones" and charges that it Syfy wanted a "darker sci-fi" show to replace Battlestar Galactica. Apparently "light sci-fi" just doesn't pay the bills, although the continual renewal of Eureka seems like it would belie this idea. Anyway, there was the usual clamour from the die-hard reactionaries that Stargate Universe wasn't "the same" as the good-old days, and for that reason they were going to boycott the show.

    Well that turned out…

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  4. My father was a nondeterministic polynomial-time algorithm

    xkcd 329: Turing Test Extra Credit

    For perhaps the first and last time ever, "Oxford English Dictionary" was trending on Twitter last Friday. Why? Well, aside from an overdue recognition of this authority's awesomeness, the OED was trending because its latest update adds entries for online initialisms such as OMG, LOL, and FYI. As if that were not enough to send language purists into apoplexy, but the OED now recognizes "heart" as a verb meaning "to love; to be fond of," in the sense of "I heart pyjamas." That's right: Internet diction has taken over our most beloved of English language institutions. We must draw the line in the sand and say, "Enough! This far and no farther!"

    Or not. Rather than looking at this as a compromise of the OED's purity, we could take it as evidence of how our usage of the Internet has shaped language. I admit to uttering "OMG" aloud, telling people I "heart" things, and while I tend not to say "LOL," because I'm not sure how to pronounce it in a way that doesn't sound stupid, I do love me some "for the win" (FTW, for those of you playing initialism bingo at home).

    As the school year draws to…

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  5. Back off! Get your own franchise!

    I've given it a great deal of thought, for it's a complicated subject. However, I now believe that rebooting Star Trek is not a good idea.

    The new Star Trek film, premiering this Friday, is a "prequel" in the sense that it takes place prior to the original series, but not a prequel in the sense that it actually results in an alternate timeline.((Yes, time travel--prepare for headaches.)) This allows J.J. Abrams to effectively shed the burden of forty-three years of Star Trek continuity and boldly go where Star Trek has never, never gone before.((Namely, Spock and Uhura. Yeah, that's right.)) Well, for the record, I think J.J. Abrams is wrong.

    Yes, yes, I'm well aware that for many people, J.J. Abrams is God, and oh-em-gee-how-could-you-say-such-a-thing?!

    I'm not against rebooting Star Trek's continuity per se. After all, Ronald D. Moore reimagined Battlestar Galactica, and that turned out rather well. Star Trek arguably has a more developed universe than Battlestar Galactica, however, which requires far more careful handling than simply overwriting the timeline. In that respect, Star Trek is more similar to Dune.((Seriously, who are you trying to fool, Brian Herbert?)) It's not the reboot that worries…

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  6. Goodbye, Battlestar Galactica

    Well here we are, the end of an era. Battlestar Galactica is over, which has made a lot of people very angry for various reasons.

    Spoilers ahead.

    I'm too young to have seen the original Battlestar Galactica when it was on television, and I never watched the reruns. I'm not into it. The "reimagined" series ignited my interest, however, and I've watched the show since its miniseries became the backdoor pilot for a new television series.

    To this day, my favourite episode remains "Kobol's Last Gleaming", the first season finale. It represents the best aspects of Battlestar Galactica's storytelling techniques: the high stakes conflict, the spiritual and ethical themes interwoven into the story, and of course, the effortless use of the episode's score to enhance the most emotional moments of the episode. Tonight's finale was cast in a very similar vein to the first season finale, which is probably why I enjoyed it so much.

    The show has received massive amounts of criticism in the last half of this season. To be fair, the Writer's Strike caused the last season to be split in half, placing much more tension on the mid-season premiere than the writers had originally intended.…

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