We're all travelers on Spaceship Earth

  • Dec. 12th, 2006 at 7:07 AM
my_daroga: (star trek)
I have exactly one quarrel with the new Battlestar Galactica. And it's not even the poor thing's fault. But everywhere that people are selling this show to others, I see something like this: "Oh, it's not science fiction! I mean, it's scifi but with real characters!"

If you don't see something wrong with this sentiment, you are among the people who think science fiction is something completely different from what I think it is. And that strikes me as strange. To me, a show without proper characterization or plot is a bad show, regardless of genre. So this "scifi for not-scifi-people" thing that BSG has going for it is an affront to every good scifi lovin' geek out there. It's an implication that, to the popular consciousness, scifi=lasers in space. This is due, I think, to the weakness of the visual medium when dealing with genre, in that a few coded items (jumpsuits, computers, spaceships) can mean science fiction regardless of what else is going on. I'm not going to come out as a hard sf advocate, but I *do* think that the essential components of science fiction are these: a strong "what if" scenario and internal consistency.

For me, Battlestar Galactica, with its complex relationships and through lines and attention to detail, is a good show. It also happens to be science fiction. The fact that people feel the need to do the "scifi, but..." bit in its defense means that people don't have a good idea about what science fiction should be doing all the time: creating worlds and situations that reflect upon our own. I read and watch science fiction because it is able to explore complex and important social, political, and scientific issues outside the constraints of our own culture. BSG, in other words, should be the standard, not the exception.

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