As I grew up, I do have to say I spent much time reading science fiction. At first, it was the lure of the rocket ships and alluring prospect that lifted my head up to the stars. Then, I did like the subjects in science which perked up my curiosity and wonder. The sub-genre then did provide a wild set of imagination giving me an escape from reality. But, science fiction is intellectual and stimulates thinking. Now, I ask myself about what has happened to this type of writing. It seems the originality that comes form the thought experiments told in an exiting way has left us. Now, in its place we have fantasy and occult and just sheer entertainment.
Starting with film, there are stories that cannot be filmed. The reason is because the stories, the same stories from my youth, are not cool enough. Okay. I understand that a film must bring in an audience. But, it just breaks my heart that many just seem to give science fiction no respect. Even on the SyFy channel, the films shown are ridiculous and border on the level of down right intellectually insulting. An example of this was film Sharknado and now some movie Rocknado. I mean, really? Yes, that channel has some good ones like the Battlestar Galactica series remake. But, still the sub-genre on TV gets no respect. For example, why cut a show after just one year. This example is the show with a ship called Serenity. Okay, I do support ABC in its decision to cut a show called Defying Gravity. That show started with promise but then had humongous writing errors as the writers seemed to not agree. I do remember a show called Babylon 5 that was at first hard to swallow; but, it did develop some legs and played out successful. But, it did have a limit. The network stuck with the show even though it looked like it was at or below the line many times. Perhaps, that is the answer. Yes, there was Fringe and now Falling Skies plus a new show on FOX called Almost Human. Science fiction just does not have a good pull to warrant any effort by networks. To me, that is sad.
Now to the silver screen. Wow, look at what the next five years will deliver. My inner kid is jumping up and down. Almost all the the comics that I read are being put in movies. Can you say awesome? But, that is it. This year I liked the movie Ender's Game and was skeptical about how it would follow the book. I did not forget Gravity, Star Trek 2, and a couple more like the lame one called World War Z. Still, one would see the political issues played out in it are germane to what is going on today. Anything that deals with the occult, creatures and/or gods plus witches just are not science fiction and exist solely in the fantasy sub-genre. And one can count on the comic movies as fantasy too. Can we count, using the definition of science fiction movies that are fantasy? What other science fiction films are there? And keep in mind, movies dealing with Riddick, the Hunger Games. Look at these movies reported to be in pre-production. Also, do not forget the movie Prometheous 2 has a sequel coming too.
So, to make a science fiction movie. And, it is a challenge. One has to include five things. And these five things I have taken from Isaac Asimov, Arthur Clarke, and even a guy named Poul Anderson. First, there is a thought experiment that must abide by experimental thought-- especially the scientific method. Second, as literature, science fiction has to deal with a plot that engages the principle characters. Third, science fiction must incorporate present day issues giving one an ability to look back and learn about issues that faced society at the time of writing. Science fiction should be a kind of capsule in time. Fourth, science fiction has to look at ideas different from mainstream thinking. And fifth, science fiction does have to work by capturing imagination and seeding the story much like we do a seed on NV. There are plenty of people to contribute this-- especially during the golden age of science where wonder was stimulated. It does look like creativity is scarce and I do understand that a series and epic involving more than one film is not only profitable but entertaining.
There is one underlining item in the science fiction universe that is real. Steve Jobs called it the cool factor. And one thing that seems to be timeless is the quest of trying to determine what defines cool. This is especially true with movies. I is so true I wonder if it is hurting the genre. If one person writes something that becomes popular then others will reciprocate. How many writers of science fiction changed and started writing about vampires and now zombies. Who ever thought a video game called Resident Evil will make it big in a show called The Walking Dead? Like the sub-genre, the world is a finicky place.