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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2015 8:39 pm 
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Lán de Grás
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A few days ago, I watched "Daleks - Invasion Earth 2150" with Peter Cushing as The Doctor. I totally lost it when he cracked open a radio, looked at the wires and gizmos inside that were obviously from the 1960's, and said in all sincerity: "Hmm... very advanced."

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 17, 2015 12:30 am 
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Living in hope
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The pop culture version of "future" technology from late in the last century was really best summed up by William Shatner's insane rant in Airplane 2:

http://youtu.be/5GyBfZ1xLhM

(Only a little later in the film than the 3:32 clip that is, for me, the apex of his career: http://youtu.be/kG-0V-85H_0.)

Passdagas the Brown wrote:
But most of the time, these are representations of computers IN THE FUTURE, when they (and their operators) seem to be simultaneously far more powerful, and far more stupid. Whatever characteristic suits the particular plot point in question!

"Future" technology is used in exactly the same way as magic in that kind of script. In other words, whenever you want something done that you can't figure out a way for your characters to accomplish by understandable means, you push the impossible power off onto something else and hope the audience will buy it.

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― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 17, 2015 6:23 pm 
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Yup. R2D2 was an early mainstream movie version of that plot device. So perhaps we have Lucas to blame for its overuse in modern cinema (and genre fiction).


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 17, 2015 8:29 pm 
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Living in hope
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Interesting that when I read the board on my iPod, the videos above are embedded. I didn't try to do that here because I'm only beginning to figure out how that works.

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“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 17, 2015 11:15 pm 
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On the topic of being picky about science fiction, I enjoy many novels by Jack McDevitt, including a series of futuristic mysteries. They're thrilling and comfortable; I've thought "I could recommend these to my mother," who reads a lot but not science fiction. However, on Reddit recently I saw a scathing critique of McDevitt's works: the user pointed out that the author takes present-day white middle-class suburban American culture and applies it universally, to all the various planets and systems through out the ?galaxy?. Apparently thousands of years in the future, planets many light-years apart from each other (and all areas on those planets), with different sects of humanity, still retain that one culture. I hadn't really picked up on that; no wonder I thought I could recommend it to a non-SF reader! Though the technology is more advanced, the culture is uniformly the same as where I'm living at the moment. :scratch: It's embarrassing to admit I didn't really pick up on that and think about it too extensively; as the reddit user pointed out, that's not realistic at all, and breaks immersion. I think I'll still enjoy McDevitt, but now I'll be reading his books with a more critical eye. :oops:


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 18, 2015 12:29 am 
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Living in hope
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Everyone's got cultural blinders to some degree. It's good to be alerted to them; you won't miss that point again. OTOH, my experience with the process is that the blind spots can shrink, but they never go away entirely. I used to think of myself as fairly sensitive in that way, but I've still blundered dreadfully on numerous occasions and (I'm sure) have made many more missteps that I'm not even aware of. :oops:

You should be much less embarrassed to have missed this as a reader than the writer, who obviously had to put a great deal of thought into the story and setting, ought to be.

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“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 18, 2015 12:48 am 
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I know that we have had this discussion before, but science fiction writers can often fail to pick up huge changes in society even when the over-estimate just how far technology will advance. I recall Asimov, for example, writing in the 1940s describing a 21st-century man sitting in his New York home on a Sunday in a three-piece suit discussing with his wife what is to be done with their daughter’s robot. He assumed that, in eighty years’ time, people would have managed to develop workable AI but not change how they dressed. You see similar things where writers in the Golden Age of Science Fiction describe corps of space explorers are composed entirely of men with Anglo-Saxon names, a world in the late 21st or 22nd century where North America and Europe remain as dominant as they were at the end of the Second World War, or where hyper-advanced space exploration is driven by 1992-style computer technology.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 18, 2015 1:03 am 
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Living in hope
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Maybe it's the science/engineering background so many of them had back in those days. You're taught to change only one variable per experiment. :P

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“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 18, 2015 1:12 am 
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Meanwhile...
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But you need to account for the cascading changes in the results.

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“It may help to understand human affairs to be clear that most of the great triumphs and tragedies of history are caused, not by people being fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, but by people being fundamentally people.”

- Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman, Good Omens


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