Science Addiction

A dormant blog by Devanshu Mehta

Tag: Science Fiction

Nature Beats SciFi

That’s a real undersea volcano near Tonga, halfway between Australia and Tahiti, aka the Pacific “ring of fire”.

undersea-volcano.jpg

The “ring of fire” is an arc of earthquake and volcanic zones stretching from Chile in South America through Alaska and down through Vanuatu to Tonga. That is quite an arc.

Portrait of a Creator as a Sims Freak

Fantastic profile of Dr. Bostrom, the director of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford, in <a href=”http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/14/science/14tier.html?ei=5124&en=22efff4469281187&ex=1344744000&adxnnl=1&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink&adxnnlx=1187101355-5HWiLxChv9ReqvISlLpTnQ”>the New York Times</a>. <blockquote>In fact, if you accept a pretty reasonable assumption of Dr. Bostrom’s, it is almost a mathematical certainty that we are living in someone else’s computer simulation. [..] Dr. Bostrom assumes that technological advances could produce a computer with more processing power than all the brains in the world, and that advanced humans, or “posthumans,” could run “ancestor simulations” of their evolutionary history by creating virtual worlds inhabited by virtual people with fully developed virtual nervous systems.</blockquote>

I’ve had a similar theory for a while now, which I’ve tried to spin in to a fantasy novel (someday…) about a creator as a high-on-sugar kid with a LEGO set, albeit a LEGO set that builds intricate worlds. I’m paraphrasing, of course.

In any case, none of these ideas are ‘Matrix’-like pluggable-hybrid humans; they’re actually completely simulate that live in the circuits. The tubes, as they say in Alaska. I’d buy this theory, except there’s no way of knowing if it’s true. This isn’t the Truman Show, where you can walk out the end of the world or where everyone else is in on the joke. So, ultimately, it’s a cool hypothesis but I’m already set against unprovable creators.

Unfree Culture and The Science Fiction Wars of 1978

In 1978, 20th Century Fox studio sued Universal for “stealing 34 distinct ideas” from the then recently, immensely successful film “Star Wars”:http://www.galaxyfaraway.com to create “Battlestar Galactica”. This was one year after the release of _Star Wars_ and an old, hackneyed genre had just been revived. At the time, Universal said that _this is like the first Western movie ever suing the second one_.

George Lucas visited the production of BSG and decided not to link his name with the law suit. 20th Century Fox, however, pressed on. Universal countersued with a claim that _Star Wars_ (particularly R2D2) was lifted from Universal’s own film _Silent Running_. Maybe it’s time for some descendant of the Brothers Grimm (the great-grandchildren Grimm?) to come knocking on Disney’s front doors with legal papers- suing them for every cent they’ve made since _Snow White_.

A few major _Star Wars_ co-conspirators were major players on the original BSG production as well- John Dykstra, Dennis Muren- which also played a major part in the common “feel” to them both.

There is a “fantastic article from 1978”:http://www.battlestargalactica.com/outside_docs/bg_outdoc0049.htm called *ABC’s Multi-Million Dollar SF Gamble: Battlestar Galactica* which closes with these two interesting paragraphs which hint at more issues than just copyright and derivative works:

Once all the charges of copyright infringement and the other legal elbowing have subsided, and once other modern space fantasies like Buck Rogers, Star Trek — The Motion Picture, Starcrash, and Flash Gordon have come out to keep Galactica company, it will be more evident that Galactica was innovative in many ways all its own — not the least of which is its courageous, almost carefree use of funds in the hope of bringing to the public a TV fantasy of unparalleled quality. And some of the daring can be seen in things that neither zoom, blast, flash, or explode.

When, since the days of the Untouchables, have we seen such exciting wholesale slaughter on our livingroom screens? And it happened during the very season when the networks have been bragging that at last they have censored physical conflict from the screen. The full extent of the ramifications of a successful Galactica on TV programming is yet to be seen, but it will certainly be interesting to watch.

Ah, good old 1978. It was the best of time, it was the worst of times. Television bosses were actively censoring TV. Major studios were trying to control the fate of genre media. Journalists were hoping for a future that resembled a rose-tinted past. And beneath the surface, a vast array of creators were waiting to unleash their derivative works that had the potential to change the face of a genre, at the very least, and media in general if we were lucky. In short, it was a time much like today.

A Great Cory Doctorow Speech at USC

SciFi writer, activist, “BoingBoing”:http://www.boingboing.net editor, EFF evangelist and now US-Canada Fulbright Chair at the University of Southern California recently gave a talk to people at USC that covers many topics ranging from digital freedoms to science fiction that is “truly worth listening to”:http://uscpublicdiplomacy.com/audio/060830_doctorow.mp3 [MP3]. Of course, the greatest Cory Doctorow speech of them all is his “talk at Microsoft about why DRM is bad for business, bad for people, bad for artists and bad technology”:http://researchchannel.org/prog/displayevent.asp?rid=3302 (streaming video). The “text of that talk is also available”:http://www.dashes.com/anil/stuff/doctorow-drm-ms.html online.

Star Wars from a Fresh Perspective

By way of “GalaxyFarAway.com”:http://www.galaxyfaraway.com/gfa we have a story from “the desk of Ghent”:http://blogs.starwars.com/ghent where the blogger’s 7-year old son has some fresh perspective on the original Star Wars trilogy having watched the prequels first! The “story”:http://blogs.starwars.com/ghent/15 has a lot of interesting observations that definitely didn’t cross anyone’s mind in ’77 least of all mine because I was -2.