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MolotovCocktail

Silly Science in Entertainment

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You know, it seems to me that many modern sci-fi books, and sci-fi TV shows and movies and videogames, feature a lot of silly science. Most of what I read in the books are either very inaccurate or not possible scientifically.

 

Other times, I find that some books, especially in the Dune series, find some excuse to put some sort of medieval hocus-pocus magic crap in it.

 

Another thing that really bothers me, especially in modern science fiction, is that they tend to use a lot of big words to explain how their stuff works, without actually explaining it in a way that makes any sense. (e.g. reversing the polarity).

 

Also, I tend to see a lot of societies ruled by kings and emperors, with people who could be granted titles of nobility, or in that the economic system represents that of mercantilism or early capitalism, even though there is no way that such a society could possibly form in the future. I know that the possibility of a dictatorship of some sort will always be around, but it won't be anything like kings and emperors ruling over it.

 

Also, any warfare that is described in the science fiction books resembles that of the way wars were fought in both WWI and WWII, with the weapon systems working more or less the same way they did back then (i.e. excessive collateral damage, no guidence systems, no information or electronic warfare, obsolete battleship technology, weapons systems that operate only in the visible light spectrum, etc.) Yes, the weapons involved have vastly more power, but in terms of the way they are used.... come on!

 

And then of course, there are various nuiances such as laser weapons and railguns that have recoil, hearing sound in outer space, aliens that don't have any unique language system or a unique way of communicating, anti-matter shields that don't annihilate with the regular matter particles, robots as strong as superman, etc.

 

Mind you, I do know that there is a lot of technology, inventions, natural phenomena or physical laws that haven't been discovered or thought of yet. And there are some good science fiction books that I have read that are very good and have a lot of scientifically or sociologically feasible things in it (e.g. books by Jules Verne and some modern ones like Philip K Dick and the Martian Chronicles by Kim Stanley). But sometimes I find that the majority of the science fiction out there are either unimaginative or don't seem to follow along with any of the known laws of physics, or just otherwise have some abysmally boneheaded or stupid thing in it.

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Well, it's science fiction. There are possibly going to be some aspects that aren't within established science. It depends on the story.

 

And then of course, there are various nuiances such as laser weapons and railguns that have recoil

 

Surely you meant "don't have recoil," since you seem to be listing things that violate the laws of physics.

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I'm fairly sure that "Reversing the polarity" was originally over-used by Jon Pertwee, the third Doctor, who was rather fed up with all the pseudo technical language his script writers were given him except for "reverse the polarity" which he liked the sound of for some reason, so he started using it, a lot.

 

Anyway, my literature teacher and many other people would be tempted to smack you for implying that SciFi was ever meant to be about an accurate portrayal of science. Essentially the only reoccurring theme in SciFi is hyperbole and archetypes used to highlight the flaws in existing or emerging aspects of society and politics by taking them out of context an removing the veil of familiarity, much like the reasoning behind absurdism and melodrama. In short, unless you want to employ some post-modernist paranoia about arts majors wanting to dip their feet in unfamiliar waters or something, the science just isn't the point.

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Well, it's science fiction. There are possibly going to be some aspects that aren't within established science. It depends on the story.

 

 

 

Surely you meant "don't have recoil," since you seem to be listing things that violate the laws of physics.

 

That was my point, it does violate the laws of physics. I was listing down stuff that I see that did violate such laws. And I know that there are aspects that aren't in establish science, but it seems to me that these aspects allow you to break the laws that are established.

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That was my point, it does violate the laws of physics. I was listing down stuff that I see that did violate such laws. And I know that there are aspects that aren't in establish science, but it seems to me that these aspects allow you to break the laws that are established.

 

Photons have recoil, though. Not having recoil would violate the laws of physics.

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Well, what did you expect? They only have a metal ship and a shield, some fazers (sp? phasers?) and a hand scanner. You can only get out of THAT MANY jams before you have to reverse tractor beams again.

 

Loads of things make little sense, like, if you could revert a tractor beam to push things away at great velocity, why is it not a weapon? Can't you push away photon torpedoes? If shield frequency can be rotated to make the enemy not pass through, why isn't it rotating randomly at high speed all the time? Why the hell stop and allow people in?

 

Problem is, if you go wild and invent all kinds of tricks it's finally impossible to trap a spaceship into a jam. I mean, if they can beam out of anything and through anything, how do they get into trouble? Just beam photon torpedoes away, into their ship, close to their ship, hell, beam them into a sun nearby. Doesn't even have to be a cool, neat beamout. Just beam them into themselves. Or something. On the other side, weird aliens with ... a spot on their forehead (?) have the technology to pass through shields. Isn't that, like, the end of the series?

 

It's becoming repetitive. All missions to the surface occur in heavy ion storms so teleportation is shot. Makes you wonder, it always works like a charm when needed be (being the one and only transportation in the 24th century) yet it busts when the suspense music plays.

 

Oh and another thing, ever noticed they are always evenly matched? After so many years on independent galaxies, same shield, same laser, different color. What? No Gatling? Boo. I always wondered what a high velocity depleted Uranium slug would do to a shield.

 

From that point of view, Stargate is somewhat closer in the sense that they still shoot weapons and they have decent explanations for most things. Decent, that is, for a SF. Though 4000 years advance in technology and the experience you get from immortality should sorta win. If I would be the immortal gold-plated dude and got my behind wooped 200 times in a row, I'd switch to P90 too.

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What always bothered me was the way Sci-fi treats biology and especially evolution.

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Did you guys ever read the West of Eden series by Harry Harrison?

I enjoyed it a lot, and it has lots of great biology, sociology and linguistics in it. It's not hardcore science fiction, but I guess that's the way I like it. *smiles*

 

Airmid.

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