Science Fiction: October 2005 Archives

Roundup

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Christian Carnival XCIII is up at White Ribbon Warriors.

GetReligion explains why Catholics proposing withholding communion from politicians who allow abortion and euthanasia need not say the same about Catholics who support the death penalty or war.

Bush hates rich people too!

He's gay, Jim!
From what I've heard about Rick Berman's attitudes toward homosexuality, this might ruin the chances of a Sulu series or even a Sulu appearance in any further stories. [Evidence: See this from 2000, which interestingly points out that one TOS actor and one or two TNG actors are gay. There's a lot more here, but much of that goes way beyond evidence presented. See the Wikipedia entry on this subject for more. Ron Moore confirms that someone in charge explicitly didn't want gay characters, and Kate Mulgrew says it was Berman.]

Tim Challies gives an excellent argument for Christians' participation in Halloween. I think he concedes way too much to those who think the current practice of Halloween has anything to do with paganism in the religious sense, but that's what makes his argument so strong. Even if you concede that, he thinks Christians shouldn't just see it as ok to participate. He thinks it's more like a moral obligation.

Jonathan Ichikawa thinks a proposed amendment to the Texas constitution intended to ban gay marriage is going to invalidate marriage of any kind. He first pointed this out five months ago and raised the issue again recently. His latest volley sort of responds to people taking alternative views, including my comments on both those posts (to the effect that an originalist won't take the conclusion he thinks follows) and the discussion at Orin Kerr's Volokh Conspiracy post. He thinks everyone questioning his view is underestimating how serious this is. I'm not sure he's really dealt with my argument, though. Either way, it's a really funny issue, because if he's right then those opposing gay marriage on the grounds that it will harm marriage as an institution will be fully destroying marriage as a legal institution while getting rid of the possibility of gay marriage.

Serenity

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Well, Serenity has been out for a week, and we still haven't seen it. All reports say it's excellent. We need to find a babysitter during a time we can see it. Many a movie has gone by without our seeing it for lack of someone to watch the kids, but this is one we really don't want to miss. For those unfamiliar with the Firefly show, this is a sequel to the sci-fi space western TV show that the studios inexplicably canceled just as it was proving how interesting it would be. It's the brainchild of Joss Whedon, best known for Buffy: the Vampire Slayer and Angel, but he was also behind Titan A.E., Toy Story, and Alien Resurrection, and he got his start with a short stint as a writer on Roseanne fairly early in the show. He's also working on a Wonder Woman movie for 2007.

I can't pretend to like everything he's done. I never could get into Buffy beyond the first season, for instance, and I don't think I would have liked the spinoff at all. I do think Firefly is the best thing from him that I've ever seen, and I'm sure it would have turned into one of my favorite shows if it had really gotten into the main storyline that the movie ends up developing. We watched most of the show in a couple days once we got ahold of the DVDs from a friend. It's only 15 episodes, 3 of which never aired in the syndication run and are only now beginning to show in the SciFi Channel's complete run of the show in the proper order on Friday nights. In the original run, they wouldn't even show the pilot until the series had fully aired (what they were going to air of it, anyway). Whedon really got stiffed on this one, and now he's got his chance to win over the larger audience with the big screen. It seems to be working, since it was the #2 movie of its opening weekend, though it wasn't as much as the studio had been hoping for.

You can watch the first nine minutes of the film here, and that provides the background to the show for new viewers, and you can read reviews by a professional movie critic and scifi author Orson Scott Card for a sense of what's so good about this project, but I suggest just seeing the thing. I'm really looking forward to it, and I hope it does well this second weekend out, which is what it really needs to get the go-ahead for a sequel. It's a great combination of smart writing, both in terms of plot and dialogue, deliberately unusual directing, great action deliberately in the mold of Westerns, and a plausible account of what things might be like 500 years in the future. Earth has been left behind, and a new solar system has been terraformed, with a core of civilized and wealthy planets and a frontier of Wild West style worlds on the outskirts. Remnants of various earth cultures are scattered throughout, including Chinese outbursts now and then by average Joe sorts of characters, and the real story that's only somewhat developed in the short is a conspiracy theme with the Alliance government that seems to come full head in the movie. The show is funny and serious in a way that's very hard to pull off, and the comedy, action, and grand themes disguised by very human relationships will almost certainly all remain a focus on the big screen, but now we get more expensive special effects and what looks like a really cool development in one of the main characters that has been heavily anticipated in the show.

Hah!

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Ron Moore, who runs the redux of Battlestar Galactica that appears on the SciFi Channel, has a blog that he doesn't often update. His latest post was over two months ago, and I've been wanting to comment on it since then but haven't had the chance to put my thoughts together. (I'm glad I waited, because the mid-season finale just over a week ago gave me a couple more elements to talk about.) He often responds to viewer comments in his blog entries, and one comment he answers struck me in how it exemplifies our evaluation of people's characters. I don't think the fact that this is fiction makes a difference. We do this sort of thing in real life too. I think Moore's response is interesting, because he seems to be insisting on a view about moral evaluation that no one really holds. I hope that will be clear once I get the dialectic going. Here is the comment he's responding to:

I'm curious as to what characters we are supposed to like at this point in the second season. Adama, Roslin, the XO, and Apollo have all been disappointments. Adama has been a non-factor due to his injury but is at the root of the martial law problem along with Roslin since they begin working at cross purposes. Roslin has turned into this Jim Jones/David Koresh type figure and added a drug addiction to it which I find off putting. The XO can't make a good decision (other than to go back to Kobol) and has turned into more of an alcoholic than ever. He's let his wife manipulate him for worse as well. Apollo seems like an ingrateful whelp with a chip on his shoulder, going against both the military and his father. Starbuck hasn't been much better, going against Adama and then tooling around Caprica reliving her old life and playing ball games. Which character has shown any redeeming values this season?

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