Shame about the ending though.
No guns firing beams of light. No photon torpedoes. And, sorry, no aliens – menacing or otherwise. The "re-imagined" Battlestar Galactica that concluded last year couldn't have been further from its 1970s namesake – or from what most of us think of as sci-fi. In fact, the science and technology in the award-winning show – the …
This one zaps my brain when I think about it ....
A teat pipette (eye-dropper) will not work in a vacuum.
If you have something that is liquid in a total vacuum you can not use a
teat pipette to suck it up because the 'suck' part (the rubber bulb) relies on
creating lower pressure in the bulb.
But you can't have lower pressure than total vacuum. So it won't work !
This post has been deleted by its author
I was trolling, badly, over my first cuppa coffee at 4:30AMish my time (Me? Troll? Whodathunkit!) ... and then I realized that Sarah would have enough on her plate with the comments on this particular article's subject matter and deleted my posts.
I'll try to minimize my impulses in the future :-)
"because you won't have a liquid in a vacume[sic]. It will become a gas."
Eventually, a body of liquid will evaporate in a vacuum, but not instantaneously. You can see the same effect simply by exposing volatile liquids to normal atmospheric pressure and seeing that they don't all instantaneously and exposively vapourise.
A fluid that exhibits low vapour pressure and high surface tension could potentially form stable droplets, I guess, but they'd be a wee bit smaller than the average pipette nozzle. I guess its not beyond the realms of possibility that heat loss via evaporation would freeze some fluids in a vacuum and leave them to sublime instead, but my physics is pretty rusty nowadays.
You could certainly get enough liquid together long enough to demonstrate that pipettes would not work.
Things have changed somewhat if Star trek is being held up as 'proper' sci-fi. I'd have called it 'Space Opera', if anything. Haven't seen BSG, so can't really comment on it - but from the article it seems more like Science Fiction to me - ie bare minimum technological advances, just enough to provide a justification for the setting of the story.
Anyway, SF is such a wide-ranging area that it doesn't pay to be a purist - you miss a lot of thought-provoking stuff if you're picky about it.
I haven't seen any of the new BSG, but I definitely enjoyed this article and will be more likely to watch BSG now (after I get round to watching the new V :) ).
I'm a bit of a TNG fan and I concede that very often the writing was awful (and often the acting too!), but I just loved the whole package - the fact that they were out in the vastness of space and these completely crazy things happened to them every week, like 'devolving' into putative ancestor species, lol! And 'The Game'? It is real and it is called Angry Birds.
Anyway, I had been a bit sceptical of ST:Enterprise at first because of the 'temporal cold war' nonsense, but I thought season 3, with their mission to the Delphic Expanse was fantastic because, much more so than Voyager, you really got the sense of a small crew far from home doing difficult things. Plus, when mistakes and set-backs happened (which was rare in the TNG days) you felt it much more than Voyager's Year of Hell. And what show isn't elevated to greatness by presence of the Commander of the Saratoga?
Finally, a lot of the article made me think of Firefly.
Coat icon because I bought a brown coat recently without realising the significance.
Finally, finally. Why the fashion in going 'back' and doing prequels? Star Wars, Casino Royale(sort of), Superman Returns, Batman Begins, Star Trek Enterprise, etc. Is Tolkein to blame because he wrote Silmarillion after LOTR?
This is the whole problem with the Internet and mass availability of media. Instead of kids growing up in the present with new music, media and so on they are able to look back at the past. Which results in so many remakes when some of these kids grow up into adults and become film directors. They then go on to remake things.
John Taylor of Duran Duran fame made a point like this, although he talks about music in particular. I think he has a point.
Now I loved the reimagined Galactica, I thought it was a brilliant show, but it always niggled me that the people of the 12 Colonies had managed to invent faster than light drive for their ships, they'd manage to create artificial gravity, they'd even invented the Cylons, but somehow they'd never managed to improve weaponry beyond bullets and nukes, always found that odd.
Oh and surely as they aren't from Earth they were aliens by default, they just happened to have our humanoid form.
But as they very briefly explained at the very start of the series, they couldn't use high-tech, computer controlled stuff 'cos the Cylons would infiltrate it. In Caprica, set 60ish years before BSG, they have much higher tech stuff kicking around than you'll ever see on BSG.
One of the reasons the Galactica survived where other Battlestars didn't is that - dating from the first Cylon war as it did - it was largely low-tech/mechanical and couldn't be compromised by high-tech (cyber) attacks. It was on it's final flight before decommissioning when the Cylons attacked.
Anyway, kinetic weapons in space are pretty handy things, what with the lack of air resistance and everything. I'd have probably expected railguns on the ship rather than chemical explosives, but they don't flash and bang when firing so don't work as well on TV. Nukes are a cheap, relatively low-tech means of creating a very big bang. Quark bombs and matter/antimatter devices are bigger bangs, but take more tech to make and use.
Without wanting to spoiler the series ending too much - if you haven't seen it, you should probably stop reading before the end of this sentence - the humanoids in the BSG universe are not aliens by your definition. Clue is when BSG is set - in the far, far past.
Mine's the one with the robot hidden in the pocket.
*continuation of above spoiler alert.
I thought they were "alien to earth (2.0)' and that we were the result of breeding between Colonies Humans, Earth (2.0) Humans, (who the last episode determined evolved independantly, and 2 breeds of Cylons (i.e. Cylons from Earth (1) and the Colonies originated Cylons that they helped to upgrade to human form after the war).
[Spoiler] They do find Earth 1.0 a wasteland with a few clues as to its fate (eg Cylons and humans living together). They have to move on and happen across another suitable planet - Earth 2.0 - which they decide to settle on. In the end they are shown to be our ancestors... . [/Spoiler]
I'd prefer the beam of the original Star Trek vs STTNG or the original BSG pulse shots. It would be less "dramatic", though, if STTNG and other shows ddn't have firing ranges to have characters one-up each other.
But, imagine Captain Tracy with his Phaser and extra Phaser power packs holding the trigger on two Phasers set on disintegrated (say it slowly: diss-integrate, for effect to sink in), doing his jig and pirouette, slicing Yangs and Koms alike like a wide-dispersal buzz saw, vis multi-shot lightning bolts. But, then, the Phaser would likely overheat and explode in his hand. Or, in Trek, he might open up a multi-dimensional rift into a wormhold or subspace eddy of an alien passing by... Can't having him discovering metrium or tri-nitium before Data's timeline, hehehe.
Anyway, a Phaser on constant discharge would produce a hellaciously gory, smoking firefight.
This show first season was quite good, then got ruined completely.
What Moore did is to change the techno-bable for religion-bable, ruining the show completely.
From the episode in which they are boxing at each other the show went completely downhill.
It did suffer from the same malade the later star trek shows did, too many plot holes explained by holiness, character start doing nonsensical things, killing machines firing machine guns that do not kill anybody even at close range.
For god sake, the show turned into shit. And the ending... oh my god, the ending...
All of this is very sad because the pilot and the few first episodes were so good, specially the first episode 33 where they had to be TFL jumping continuously to avoid being caught.
For me, that was the sole reason for turning off after only a few episodes. The article says "It didn't preach" (first page) but clearly it did, just not in scientific terms. I was even going to put up with the notable lack of a theme tune until the machines started claiming to have found God.
Thumbs up for the comment. Thumbs down for the show.
I too felt that Season 3 was quite slow. But, after having watched the series (the entire production, not just 8 or so months of episodes, or a "season") 4 or 5 times (or is it 6 or 7?) or about 3x a year since 2006, i like it more and more.
Considering that "God" or "god" and Christianity, and other forms of religion are intertwined in the creation of and violent demise of humans, i think it's appropos that BSG's religion is a major theme. After all, if BSG's humans and Cylons are the beings we are, then surely, if we were to descend from them, when we could also screw the pooch (religiously) on religion and "God" and "god" and so on.
I REALLY like the part when, while on Kobol, Starbuck says, something to the effect of "Don't get her started...something about multiple gods...", to which which later-Athena rapidly responds with "WE KNOW MORE about your religion THAN YOU DO." I kind of took that as a nice, surgical, subversive bombshell against current religeous types who think they KNOW what their god wants of them.
Yet, that the Cylon believe in A GOD, whereas the "humans" belive in multiple gods, and the ultimate merger of the species, oh... that is nice.
These films had a similar military low-tech equipment style long before the new BSG series. Like BSG, they did have to add FTL travel and a few other things to have a story in space at all but, like in BSG, they use conventional weapons and the spaceships looks worn and dirty.
Apart from FTL, the most unscientific things about these films are the aliens themselves -- in the original film, the alien grows from a chest burster capable of hiding inside a human body to a 7 feet tall full-grown alien in what appears to be hours. The corrosive abilities of the alien blood also seems rather exaggerated.
But back to BSG, I liked the mixture of 60's-style bakelite phones, modern computers and FTL. This anachronistic blend made it clear that this was not Earth's future.
The thing that bugged me was not the speed of the growth, but doing so without eating - even most of the humans that were taken were not eaten by the post-chestbursters.
Aparrently there was a cut/never-filmed scene in the origional where the crew did discover the food stores ransacked, though.
I remember distinctly that for all the high tech shown everywhere else (including the nuclear RPGs), the future troops still used regular ammunition. The only appropiate weaponry is shown at the end of the movie, where we see rifles causing explosions in the last "Federal Network" broadcast.
The comment about you never see the inside of Galactica during a jump is incorrect. During the Pilot in fact you get to see it's effect in the Viper Hanger Bay with Cally sitting on a box and saying something to the effect "I really hate this bit" whilst the surroundings collapse and "flatten" around her, it then cuts to the re-appearance of the Galactica.
I think that the point may have been that the FTL transition is near instantaneous in the show whereas in Star Trek/Wars you see them travelling faster than light for extend periods. In BSG they just slip from one place to another without "travelling".
By coincidence I watched the tv movies two weeks ago and have been devouring the first season since then. Got to the end of season one two days ago and very much looking forward to chomping into the second. As such, the many comments about the show getting progressively weaker are pretty disappointing. Guess it's tough to maintain quality in these things, not least because success seems to go to writers' heads.
Ron Moore planned on having 5 major story arcs for the whole show, much like Babylon 5.
Because it's a new show season 1 gets 13 episodes, which is relatively short but Ron Moore is happy with. All the episodes are well paced and so is the season 1 story arc.
The show gets huge acclaim and show moves, at the instance of the commisioning tv network, to 20 episodes a season and so the writers have to stretch the season 2 story arc over 7 more episodes, which brings in the inevitable filler episodes and loss of focus on the bigger story. Also the show couldn't really do anymore of the "we've just run out of <insert stuff>" episodes after the first season without looking like it'd run out of ideas.
So if we could just get the tv execs out of tv, we'd have much better stuff on the small screen.
And I agree with most that is said in it about the BSG.
I found it difficult to really believe the bit with instant downloading across light years without even as much as an external transmitter and an energy source. Would have been much more realistic if they went for periodic backups on the base ships or something similar.
Also, there could have been some lasers too! Not side-arms or assault weapons but why not have some large "caliber" lasers on the ship itself? Energy is cheap on a battlestar, lead is expensive...
Finally, they were losing ships (raptors especially in the later seasons) like there was no tomorrow and no one seemed to care too much - however, BSG, IIRC, did not have the facility to build new ships.
If you think about it, directed energy weapons (such as lasers) aren't much use against a target that's capable of manoeuvring and is more than a light-second away. You can only aim at where it was a few seconds ago, and spreading the beam over the whole of the potential target area greatly reduces its effectiveness.
OTOH chucking rocks at something with a relative velocity of many miles per second can be quite effective.
One that goes 2.4 seconds into the future or some such. But, recoverable weapons would be useful, if say, you carry a mind-boggling slew of them, fire off some percentage, remote detonate only what is close enough to make a constructive or actual kill, and then mop up and recover the non-exploded ordnance. As long as your ass isn't going to be jumped by an inbound hostile Raider or Base Star, it could become feasible to "bracket" a target with some sort of predictive shots. Much like "anticipation shots" of today. But, due to gravity and all, not many would trust ordnance that fell to the ground and might explode on the slightest disturbance.
Lasers aren't much good at ranges of a light second or more because they're diffraction limited, unless you can work out how to make hard xray lasers.
Chuck rocks at something a light second away? You'd better be pretty patient. Missiles carrying one-shot railguns and lasers and fragmentation warheads are the most sensible things to use, not plain old chemically driven bullets.
"You can only aim at where it was a few seconds ago"
Path prediction is cheap and easy, no matter what the distance. Aim where you think it's going to go and 95% of the time you're going to be right. Objects in zero-G don't zip around all over the place, they tend to be a bit more oil tanker in behaviour.
Also 1 light second is like almost 200,000 miles, which is a big distance to be having a war at, even in space.
There was also an interesting episode of Star Trek TOS where the Enterprise was pitted against a cloaked Romulan ship. The Enterprise went into blackout mode because the Romulans under cloak could not detect them. They also had to resort to nuclear weapons. I rather enjoyed the drama.
And The Undiscovered Country, apart from the final scene at Kitthomer with everyone in sashes (Where was the Orange Order?) was a rather fine film in its own right. The tech was hardly mentioned and the explosion of Praxis was merely the McGuffin to get everything started. The rest was a dressed up comedic thriller with a great performance from Christopher Plummer.
"I googled that virus and all I got was spam"
"Pass the remote, I want to watch Strictly off the PVR"
"Who left a readymeal in the microwave?"
Pop back in time 100 years, go around speaking like any of the above quotes and you'll get funny looks. Talk about the things we take to be commonplace today and you're likely to get committed. The point is that all the "Roddenberrian nonsense" used in ST would have been everyday phrases for the crew (and, frankly not that hard for the rest of us to get the jist of). In fact it no more hinders a show than hearing medical people in a contemporary drama rattle on about all the medical terms and jargon "I'm sorry nurse - he's got a subdural hematoma".
So no, I don't buy the BSG guy's premise about banishing the technobabble from BSG. You can't explain 99th century (or whenever it was supposed to be) concepts and occurrences with 21st century words - just like it's completely incongruous that a civilisation with star-travel and AI robots would still need spectacles and WW2-style field telephones (complete with Bakelite handsets) - and yes, I do know all about the profoundly shaky rationalisation for not having networks in the show.
I think you may have misinterpreted what was meant by "banishing the technobabble" - which is fair enough, as it wasn't explained all that clearly.
The show never intended to dispense with any and all terms that would not be familiar to the audience - take DRADIS (the BSG equivalent of "scanners") for one prominent example. What they actually banished was the Trek-like use of random techno-phrases as a dramatic device: -
1) Dramatic situation occurs.
2) "Quick, reverse the phase of the x by re-routing the y through the z!"
3) Dramatic situation is resolved.
I'm making a terrible generalisation about Star Trek here, for which I apologise to all Trekkies, but this (along with the lack of decent intra-episode plot arcs) is what turned me off Trek and onto shows like BSG - speaking purely from a personal perspective.
not because it's particularly bad, but because it's odd. It seems almost designed, from the ground up, to try and get a cult following. A high tech society (with technology that's not a massive stretch above what we have now) that seems to be set during the equivalent of the 1930's depression! The continual switching between reality and VR also catches people out.
Thanks for a very good read. I like my scf-fi but hate anything Star Trek for exactly the reasons outlined here. There seems to be this smugness amongst the characters that they know they are much cleverer than the viewer and spout all kinds of technobullshit that the Fanbois take as literal. A friend of mine, a big fan, heard that when Stephen Hawking was given a tour of the set he was heard to say "yes, I'm working on that!" when he saw the Warp Drive. He seems to think that Star Trek 'invented' many of the things we use today, communicators became mobile phones, etc.
This is why I'm a BSG. The technology isn't stuffed in your face and so the story can concentrate on real character development. Characters have weaknesses and faults set against the wider arena of political machinations. I'm a fan of Babylon 5 for the same reasons, which, whilst a bit cheesy in parts, does have some incredible dialog. I want dialog, I don't want a show with a load of bollocks about how a hypermegaplasmeriser works or seeing the characters dicking around in a hologram suite...
True Science Fiction is about stories that explore what might happen in situations that cannot currently exist but may do if the technology becomes available. It doesn't have to involve laser beams and space travel. If it doesn't rely on advances in science and technology it isn't SF. Yes, Star Wars I'm talking about you and your Western set in space stylings.
To my mind BSG could be set as a native tribe fleeing before ruthless invaders at almost any point in history. It is, like SW a contemporary story set in space. Try setting I Robot in a historical slave owning society and you get a completely different story. 1984 doesn't work without the technology to oversee every aspect of every citizen's private life (which still doesn't exist despite tabloid journalists protestations).
This is absolutely, dead, right.
Sadly, Hollywood thinks of SF as "space ships" or stuff we can't explain (a la X-Files). When it's really about the concepts, opportunities and problems that will come about as a result of the SCIENCE we will discover and the technology we'll develop from it. Almost all the SF on TV is derivative. Whether it's the insultingly obvious cowboy ripoff of Firefly, or the "running from the law" of Blakes 7 (or Farscape) - or pretty much anything else between them and now.
I have a suspicion that if anyone had a truly original SF idea, it would be so foreign to the studios' money people and so far outside their comfort zone ("where are the disintegrator guns?" "but it's got to have e a warp drive?") that it wouldn't stand a chance of getting onto the screens - certainly not in its original form and not without turning into yet another WW1 dog-fighting, our guys against the other guys piece of pantomime. Thank god we still have books.
but I'm not at all surprised that the science doesn't leak heavily into good sci-fi. I AM surpised when that ethos leaks into TV sci-fi.
I enjoyed most of the article except the opening few bars where it seemed astonished that a sci-fi show might not be 'all about the science' (real or imagined).
Am I alone in this?
SF is frequently NOT about pulpy rockets and rayguns. This is just a characteristic of one particular type of SF - Space Opera. There is a whole sub genre dedicated to scientific realism, and there's even movements to take SF in a realistic (and potentially optimistic) direction.
Retro-Futurism is also nothing new, so I am a little perplexed to discover you're surprised by it..
"Rather, you'll get a wicked case of the bends, which occurs when nitrogen bubbles enter the bloodstream. It can prove lethal to ocean divers who surface too quickly."
I'm not sure where this nitrogen's going to come from in a vacuum. I accept that you maybe don't die quite so pyrotechnically as Hollywood suggests but surely it'd be more akin to drowning than the bends?
Nitpicking aside, a good article. I read the lot and haven't even watched New Battlestar Galactica.
Its already in our bloodstream if you are breathing air - the reason it becomes and issues is that low pressure allows it to bubble out of our blood. Therefore you get the bend both when ascending too fast from a dive or being exposed to a vacuum.
That is of course assuming that the person has been breathing standard air on BSG and not some strange mix like Tri-Mix
> That is of course assuming that the person has been
> breathing standard air on BSG and not some strange mix like Tri-Mix
Trimix isn't giong to help - you might have less nitrogen in the mix, but you've got helium to deal with, and that comes out of the tissues quite a bit more quickly than nitrogen does. The bend is even more dangerous...
I understand, though, that spacecraft don't usually contain air - all the N2 doesn't really serve much purpose. By using low-pressure oxygen, you can keep the ppO2 high enough to sustain life, but keep the ambient pressure right down, thus reducing the force on the hull. That makes the craft lighter.
Now oxygen does dissolve in the body, and you can cause an oxygen bend if you drop the ambient pressure rapidly enough. But oxygen bends don't create the cell hypoxia risk of an inert gas bend (even if they occlude the blood vessels, you'll still get oxygen from the bubble), and they spontaneously resolve. So an explosive decompresion from O2 saturation would undoubtedly be painful - but would it be lethal? Inquiring minds...
Let's not go near the barotrauma risk of such a decompression, though - that sort of thing gets very messy.
I believe the Soviets always used a mix of N2 and O2. The Americans initially used pure oxygen but I believe most shuttle flights these days use a blend close to that of atmospheric air.
Aside from the the reduced fire hazard, there appear to be other reasons why breathing pure oxygen is not good for one, even in a low pressure environment like a spacecraft.
The hamburger is my face? Just the kind of intelligent comeback we've come to expect from you, Sarah. I like the 'sir or madam probably sir' bit, too. Normally we have to wait whole hours before your sexist inferiority complex comes out. Maybe its just your time of the month - but believing in equal rights I don't think that's an excuse for your crap. You really make this site look like the amateurish trash it actually is. Shame.
I'm still annoyed about the Christmas 'prank' when you pretended you were leaving. This place would be better without you. You stupid, sexist old bag.
This is The Reg, you're obviously confusing it with a serious news site. In all the years of reading The Reg (or El Reg if you prefer) I can honestly say it's always come across as a site more about "news articles of interest to IT geeks", rather than "news for IT professionals". The fact that a lot of the stories are also for IT professionals is purely coincidence and based on the fact that many (but not all, I recall an IT director at a previous company who clearly was not a geek, he seemed to assume you needed a degree in order to find the on switch for the PC) IT professionals also happen to be geeks
for me SG Universe draws from all previous SG incarnations, but giving time for personal development and back story. And not many shows cross between galaxies, which gives the show a true feeling of going into the unknown.
BSG is men in brown flight suits and star buck was the guy from the a team, as soon as i heard that nugget, i vowed never to watch anything related to it, and i havent.
the shows has been axed and the current run pulled from the schedule. It gets about another 5 episodes next year, presumably containing some hasty rewrites to wrap things up and set up the Cylon war show.
The socio-religious aspects during the first couple of seasons made it really interesting. The Cylons representing Muslim extremists\Al-Queada with thier 9-11 esque attack on the colonies and the subsequent enemy within paranoia, whilst also being 12 disciples of a single God.
And then the Colonials being the US, a supposedly enlightened mostly secular culture that accepts all faith's as having value except one. But is prepared to use suicide bombings as legitimate tactic against thier oppressors.
Also don't him God, you know it doesn't like that name.
That is my summary of the 5 BSG seasons. The story really went off-base towards the end and became more like an clandestine attempt at indoctrinating people into Christianity than a Sci-Fi story; which was a real shame as up until part-way through season 3 it was kick-ass.
I watched it on and off, and as a fan of the original series I can honestly say it didn't win me over at all. I certainly wouldn't have called it science fiction, at least not in the traditional sense, it was more like a 'soap in space', maybe they should call the prequel 'Caprica Street' or something similar instead.
I didn't even bother with Caprica the trailers put me off completely, I just found the whole 're-invention' of BSG very dull to be honest.
Galactica was pretty dull. And parts of it made no sense to me (unless it started making more sense after the first season) how are you going to come up with astrogation co-ordinates and send all the data to a jump drive? How is the jump drive going to do all the math, ensure it's getting power it needs, have safeties, how do you co-ordinate your firing algorithms, launch missiles, so on and so forth. I understand the why, and so don't get hung up on it, but I did always find it a bit :/ but on the whole, it's a sci-fi, it should be a "imagine if" affair.
Most science fiction will depend upon certain "magic wands". Whether it's FTL, Transportation, Transendental AI, Immortality, instantanious communication meshes, inertial nullifiers, gravity, etc.
We like to call them magic wands because from our current technological point of view they are little more then magic.
Of course show a caveman an iPhone and I'm pretty sure it would seem like magic. The truth of the matter is we don't really know that much about how everything works, and what we do know is limited to our point of view. Thing is when it comes to technology and science perspective hasn't moved forward a whole lot, for the most part our power comes from heating liquid to turn a wheel that makes energy, and we've been doing that a long darn time now lol.
There's an interesting trpg called Sufficently Advanced which talks about the issue (written by a physicist) that talks about the issues.
Both BSG and ST are space opera, and both make use of magic wands, and both focus on telling stories about characters and peoples instead of focusing on tehcnology. That's part of the point of the techno babbel in star trek, it's meaningless but adds colour.
Space above and Beyond is a good show. Silly at times and awful acting, but good fun. Babylon 5 was also interesting.
There are Sci-Fi novels that are termed "hard Sci Fi" these work from the point of view that our current understanding is static and that no new discoveries in physics will ever be made (so no AG, no FTL, no inertial nullifier, etc) they can be very good but tend to look at the technology and science fact a lot more then characters and story.
Talking about the effects of vacuum, they were quite nicely covered by Event Horizon.
*minor spoilers* I have to confess the only part of the newer BSG that I was interested in was the whole buildup to 'the Final Five', but then after that the entire mysticism and fantastical side to the show disappeared again.
All I ended up watching was a load of miserable people in a miserable situation all trying to find ways to fight with each other. It was like EastEnders in space.
They never had to go completely over the top or remake the original, but couldn't there at least have been a fun character or two, or someone with some cheer - the original Apollo was a good man, a heroic type who tried to help others and risk his own life, Starbuck was a charming rogue - fun and funny but with a surprising depth. The new ones were miserable angst-ridden sods with no fun factor to them whatsoever.
Personally, I wasn't entertained. It really was an effort to watch the show through to it's weak and boring conclusion - and I wish I hadn't bothered.
"All I ended up watching was a load of miserable people in a miserable situation all trying to find ways to fight with each other."
Yeah, but what else do you expect from a bunch of people whose homes have been destroyed, who know they can be killed any time through an accident or hostile action and who are forced to live in a steel bucket for years on end without any possibility to escape or resign? Oh, and if they screw up that means the end of the whole human race, so no pressure at all...
I expected mixed reactions from people. Some people out there thrive in the face of disaster. Some people get gung-ho, some collapse completely, some laugh and face adversity with humour, some are a*seholes who make jokes about other peoples' miseries....but in Sci-Fi, particularly a show that was building off the back of a classic, there should be something to entertain the audience, not make them feel like someone is thumbscrewing their teeth.
So yes, it's a dire situation, but I reiterate that if I had wanted to watch miserable people in dire situations I'd watch EastEnders or X-Factor or some cr*p like that. I watch sci-fi to be entertained, to see the best of what people could be, to gain hope for the future, and to fall in love with the characters and see them develop.
Now I know the name of the man that found the 70s-era sound-powered-phone warship equipment and installed it on Galactica. The "aircraft carrier" vibe was pretty strong in the series (particularly in the first couple seasons) and I appreciated the relevance but seeing actual gear that I'd used shipboard was a little jarring.
For all the supposed true-to-physics-ness, the ships still made zooming noises when they went past the camera though. Sound is the result of air molecules being pushed. No air, no sound.
Babylon 5 stands alone as the only sci-fi series to get this right. It's also the only series to abandon the "jet fighter" look for its ships - again, if there's no air then there's no need for aerodynamics.
Incidentally, building ships on BSG. They *did* build a ship - the Blackbird - which was a crucial part of a strike against the Cylons due to it being ultra-stealthy. And then the whole crew conveniently forgot they'd done it and never built any more, when you'd think a squadron of stealth bombers would be kind of a useful card to have up your sleeve.
The Vipers were dual-role space/atmospheric craft so they needed some aerodynamic surfaces, even if they weren't much more than NASA put on the old X-15s. Plus, they had to look a little like the original series ships.
But what was that with the Blackbird? How many times would another one have been useful?
(Gentle Giants trilogy, Foundation Trilogy, dabbled in some Heinlein but gave up on him as someone afraid to take a story where it wants to go). Over the last few years I've pretty much given up on the genre. Where it isn't too PC the sf reads more like fantasy, and regardless of what it is, it has all gotten a bit too preachy.
Even when I was reading it, I quickly grew tired of super-hard sf described in this article. I eventually read an article that pointed out why: When was the last time someone stopped in the middle of Monty Python skit to explain the basics of how the internal combustion engine works? How about in the middle of a Micky Spillane novel? Same thing applies to sf. You may need the occasional visit from the Doctor's companion asking how the internal combustion works so the audience will get a plot point, but when you focus too much on the science behind the story. Quite honestly, I find it less believable that the military will still be using slug throwers 50 years from now than that they will be using lasers. When the power density/killing power ratio is sufficiently high, we will switch to them. They always go straight so there is a better chance of hitting your target. Rail guns, okay, that works for me if it is something getting a significant percent of c for velocity. Anti-matter rail guns is getting on toward space opera (which I also enjoy but distinguish from hard sf). I use to work with the definition that hard sf was about the improbable possible, while fantasy was about the believable impossible. But I eventually decided what really interests me is a story where the technology is an important but minor character in the tale.
BSG was barely science fiction, and that's fine. But it was very much a soap opera, and that's what caused me to lose interest. Character interaction is fine, but when it becomes contrived in an attempt to pander to the General Hospital crowd, that's when I switch off. Life is too short for mediocre TV.
The first season was great, though. Too bad they couldn't keep up the energy. And too bad they couldn't think of an ending.
ST was not about technology - was about people and situations. Technobabble was there to entertain. And anyway a lot of it was based upon something possible, although some authors were better than others.
BSG is really like a soap-opera, maybe is tech is more undertandeable, but its characters and its plots were really awful. They used the usual tricks to appeal the public, some sex, unrealistic people always over the top... good for today public that needs this kind of charcaters and can't understand more elaborate ones.
I stopped to watch it after a bunch of episodes, they all were pretty dull and boring. And I really hate then new habit to use an hand-held camera without a stabilizer, it makes me sick. Our eye stabilizes images even when we move - if it can our brain thinks something is wrong.
... how wonderful Truth, Justice and the Starfleet way was, when stuck in Gene Roddenberry's "Wouldn't it be nice if everyone was nice" universe.
At least in BSG the characters developed and changed because of their experiences, rather than pretty much every episode in every version ending with a big "reset button" being pressed that restored the status quo ante.
Someone should really try and translate an Ian M Banks book to the screen.
With our current level of special effects, I think it is now possible. Quite sometime back I would have been doubtful to be honest. In any case such an endeavour will either be highly abbreviated and hence, shite, or a possibly an epic series. I think it is worth a try.
How unbelievable is his work? Well, in his books, it would seem the computers/AI's there are powerful enough to run crysis. Maybe even in a VM. And that's saying a lot :P
With so much of the plot involving sentient ships, it would be difficult to create a credible screenplay, though I would love to see an Affronter.
Alastair Reynolds' "Revelation Space" books would make great TV. Great characters, twisted plots, and I'd really like to see Nostalgia for Infinity.
Another series of books I'd like to see as a TV series, or even movies, are Kevin J Anderson's "Saga of Seven Suns". Space opera in the grand tradition.
The original BSG was cheesy, stilted, chock-full of crappy (and repeated) special effects and an obvious attempt (along with Buck Rogers, etc) to jump on the Star Wars bandwagon
And it was bloody brilliant, for all that.
I watched the new BSG, assuming it was going to be the same sort of thing, but slicker and with better effects. Sure it *was* slicker and *did* have better effects, better sets, and better acting, but it wasn't BSG. It was a political drama set in space. If I wanted that I'd watch The West Wing, or something.
Couldn't be arsed after a couple of episodes.
I am completely mystified as to why the author of this article, and numerous commentators, are listing all the things that made BSG excellent Science Fiction as reasons that it wasn't.
Good science fiction is plausible (even when seeming far-fetched, such as Stephen Baxter's treatment of Feynman radio in "Time"), it uses the science, the different perspectives of distant or future societies, or alien races, as backdrops for exploring the impliacations of current science, current society and current issues. This is exactly what BSG did, and why I rate it as the best Science Fiction TV series I've ever seen.
... there is nothing to stop the same story lines being set in a different genre. An ethnic group running before an all-powerful merciless enemy is a story as old as time. Exodus for example. The actual plot points are based on contemporary political issues.
SF is fiction based on science: advances in science suggest alternative futures where current thinking may be challenged. Asimov was struck by the possibilities of willing of slaves with no free will and no wish rebel. Without the science of robots his robot series doesn't work and is therefore Science Fiction. You could argue that replacing science with magic would make a similar story. Magic has no boundaries except those stated by the author. It exists in world created especially for it. SF is bound by current scientific knowledge. If not it is fantasy.
"... there is nothing to stop the same story lines being set in a different genre. An ethnic group running before an all-powerful merciless enemy is a story as old as time. Exodus for example. The actual plot points are based on contemporary political issues."
ANY fiction is based on some plot which you can boil down to elementary human interaction and transpose onto any other setting. It's happen before and it will happen again, sorry but we are just humuns and only can has our humun fiction...
Science Fiction, if it's any good, uses science and technology as a plot device. Otherwise it would not be fiction but popular science or dilettante hypothesis paper whose author is afraid to submit it for proper peer review through established channels.
"SF is fiction based on science: advances in science suggest alternative futures where current thinking may be challenged. Asimov was struck by the possibilities of willing of slaves with no free will and no wish rebel. Without the science of robots his robot series doesn't work and is therefore Science Fiction. "
You just can't see a wood for the trees. He could easily replace the robots with autistic people and base the stories in, say, Victorian England. Or substitute lawyers for robots and write Law & Order episodes instead of the robot stories.
The robots have to have the power to carry out the rules to their logical conclusion. The robots are numerous enough and identical in their thought process. A few specifcally autistic individuals is not going to do it. For one thing, humans die: robots don't. The future is not cast.
Perhaps you could use genetic engineering to create a race of strong yet literal thinking humanoids to use as slaves Oh no - it's science fiction again.
There were plenty of robot stories (in fact, I believe most of them) where the whole story revolved around an individual robot who got tangled in conflicts caused by literal interpretation of the 3 laws. In the end they were all legal or detective stories set in a futuristic environment.
Also, the robots did learn to die, as we know from the Bicentennial Man. And when they did not die of natural causes there were plenty of stories were the robots' demise was expedited by external means...
So, Asimov's robot stories were SciFi, equally as is the new BSG, Q.E.D.
He was showrunner on the latter part of Deep Space Nine, and infected that with some mad spiritual guff as well (although some of it did lead to great storytelling, just as it did in BSG). Does Gavin Clarke know the genre?
DS9 under Ron Moore is almost a trial run for BSG, with many of the same themes running through - the sacrifices a democratic society has to make for war, infiltration by an undetectable enemy, living under occupation. Moore successfully undermined the main problem with Trek that everyone gets along nicely, but even so, Starfleet is made up of the best of the best, while BSG is - by necessity - whoever didn't get killed in a genocide, mugging along to survive day-to-day. DS9's also got some of the most stunning space battles made for the small screen, with fleets of ships swarming across the scene. Who cares if it's not perfectly accurate (whatever that means for an imaginary universe 300 years in the future)?
And why are bullets and nukes or instant FTL any more realistic than phasers, photon torpedoes and warp drive? They're all just stylistic choices. The only reason Moore dropped the technobabble in BSG was 'cos he got sick of writing it in Trek and he wanted to focus on the characters.
All the best Sci-Fi was done in by the authors of the '50s, so now instead if sci-fi they aimply fill the shows with soap, after all that's all their script writers are good for.
You want Sci-fi read a book, your imagination will far exceed anything a special effect budget can accomplish and you don't have to put up with their cultural propaganda..
Reckon you're right there.
If you want imagination try The Stars My Destination (= Tiger! Tiger!), The Forever War, Babel 17, Eon or Ubik.
I watched the first half-dozen episodes of the first series of BSG and it was so bloody boring I vowed never to watch another episode. I thought the characters were lacklustre, the plot contrived, the graphics good but ultimately filler, the science more-or-less non-existent, and the whole thing lacked any sense of drama - just like any episode of Star Trek.
"the idea was mostly to weave the science and technology into the fabric of daily life ..."
Ah, but daily life is just fucking tedious (unless you're Leo Houlding and he tends to grate a little on my nerves if I watch him for too long). Surely the idea is to write something which sets people's imaginations on fire, not something which just warms it up a bit?
Has to go to the BBC's "The Deep"
Even though it was in the near future, and featured known technology, the scientific bollock-dropping was loudly audible at about 10 minute intervals in every episode.
Add that to the lame plot, stupid ending and wooden acting (particularly by Minnie Driver), then you have the biggest pile of "sci-fi" shite to grace our screens since the BBC's lamentable. Invasion: Earth or the terrible remake of A for Andromeda.
I loved BSG, but this article is completely lame as is the idea that it was SO much better to remove Trek "babble". It is called SCIENCE FICTION and the Trek Babble of years past ACTUALLY inspired true advances in science. That will not be happening with BSG. It was a great show, but this article is a load of something else starting with "B".
BSG sucked even before the terrible (and unrealistic) ending and was blatant religious propaganda. I did consider watching it at one point but before I did, I heard the ending and that eliminated it for me. If I wanted religion in my fiction, I'd go read Narnia.
PS. Phasers didn't fire light and photon torpedoes were essentially antimatter missiles rather than nuclear, while quantums were similar but with a subspace field. Also, there is no case of exploding eyes/organs in ST. Maybe SW but we all know how plausible that is... </sarcasm>
Dull, tedious, plot-hole ridden and preaching... that's what we decided after giving up half way through the second season from boredom.
From moronic military "pros" who never communicated, to religious-babble and more pointless flashbacks and tedious sub-plots. Many episodes precisely bugger all happened and after a few of these and missing the odd one we just gave up watching it at all. Given how daft the later espisodes and the final season in particular got, just as well.
Of course, this view will offend those who can see no wrong but that's opinion for you. Apparently some people enjoy Eastenders.
Damn right!! thats why I gave up on it .. pity I missed the good bits, buried in the 'dynasty' stuff..
the only other reason why I guess people watched it..
- ladies loved dynasty as well as the babble about 'in your mind' tricks (sure saved on the FX budget!!!)
- guys loved looking at the 'fit' ladies on it..
- girls loved the hunky guys in it...
- teens said oh goody, spaceships and hollyoaks ...
go on do a 'google img search' , that s what you get....
Tricia Helfer - one of the many good reasons to watch BSG.
She even stripped off so that us poor image-motivated males could see that what she had been displaying, so beautifully, prevocatively and flamboyantly wrapped, was just what we had imagined. She gets my vote for the best female in SciFi. She knows what we want and she delivers!
Science-fiction inspireded masturbation is just so right for a geek.
Love the bit where colonel Tigh discovers he is a Cylon. Classic!!
There have only been two decent sci-fi series in recent years: Dr Who (except David Tennant) and Firefly. American stuff drags on for so long it ends up drowned in it's own episode back catalogue. How many times have we said "Well, it started off really good...". The best ever US sci-fi was B5 series 4, and that was because they thought the show was going to be cancelled and so they stuck two series worth of material into it.
I recall one episode when the Galactica was infected with some nasty cylon virus because they'd taken a risk to network the computers (apparently a no-no because of the danger they'll take over). They solved the problem by running a wire from their friendly cylon lady character into the ship's computers so she could sort it out.
And these were cylons that were supposedly indistinguishable from people? I'd be guessing the USB port in the cylon lady's armpit should have showed up in an x-ray?
The whole machine virus thing smacked of Independence Day and other lame sci-fi.
Apart from that, it was rather good though.
There is a reason that a show like this is called a Space Opera or a Space Western because all it really is is a contemporary story in a different setting. There is not necessarily any real "sci fi" aspect to it. Trek was no less space opera than Star Wars. The same goes for BSG. It ultimately boils down to STYLE and whether or not you get bogged down in the bolonium.
Tech takes a back seat for most people, regardless of the era. It's not something to be fixated on to the exclusion of all else (like the plot).
"Wagon Train in space"
Also, fixating on minutia isn't any more realistic. It's just tedious.
you seem to miss the point about "Wagon Train in space" (cant see it, maybe deleted??)
-If they had not managed to sell it this way, by comparing it to a very successful show, it would never have got past the pilot !
- this was refused for being "too intellectual" - it shows the way thinking has changed, now most call it a bit stupid - think of that!!!
And this was in 1965, where the only computers that existed filled a room!
- even the idea of email did not start until years later....
for its time, it WAS scifi, we had not got anywhere near the moon yet!!
BSG Still had FTL, gravity generation and whatever enables raptors to get off a planet with such a small drive (obviously not chemical rockets). It was still Space Opera, but it was less wussy than Happy Trek. It also spouted a lot of mystical dualistic crap about he human mind being better than AI.
BSG was great because of the plot (well, except the ending), and the characters.
Caprica sucks because the characters are so shallow and the plot is pretty meh.
There had to be an ending, like it or not, so what ending would people have preferred? I understand that some or maybe a lot of people were unhappy but has anyone offered a better ending? I think that endings are a very difficult thing to get right and will never satisfy everybody.
1) They never find their home planet and carry on forever.
2) They join forces with the Cylons and become one with them.
3) They all die in a big battle.
4) Some Cylons wake from a dream and that was all it was.
5) They find their home world and start anew.
Which ever one you choose some one will complain. It's like life with your great partner - it has to end. They die. You die. You both die. You go off, they go off, you both go off? None of them are satifactory, endings very rarely are. In the case of BSG I forgive any problems over the ending due to the great entertainment it gave me over all the preceeding episodes. 8/10.
true, true..... I think ages ago there was a tv program talking in the same way about trek....
Sure, be 'realistic' all you like.... But you need to keep your audience!! there will always be 60 Yr olds, saying "its carp, they have 'sold out' ", and teens who say its great, as they have not had 30 yrs experience of the same thing being tried badly 20 times over..... :(
Problem is, without FTL, gravity generation and whatever, plot-lines become difficult and strained, to say nothing about having to build a set with those restrictions.... and the audience loses patience...
- no chance of 'calling for help' if it takes them years to get there..
- 'no gravity' acting may be nice, but is a strain on actors and budget...
- and 'problems' of food and water use and limited storage need some 'explaining away' like replicators, etc...
the better 'realistic' series was Firefly - though many, including Fox, didn't like it as it looked more 'western' than scifi...