This blog, by writer and aspiring novelist Stephen G. Parks, is about science fiction, space, creativity, and occasionally wildly off-topic ideas such as ethics, politics, music, or journalism. Take a look around, maybe leave a comment!


. . .

The Martian is NOT a true story (but could have been)

So the buzz this morning is that a number of people are leaving theatres after seeing The Martian, believing that what they’ve just seen was “based on a true story”. Why are people coming to that conclusion?

For The Martian to have been based a true story, we would have had to have put people on Mars three times (The doomed expedition was the third mission to Mars). We would have to have a cool spaceship like the Hermes to ferry people between planets. None of which is true.

So why do so many people believe that it is a true story?

Ethics: The Right to Be Forgotten vs Censorship

Recently France’s privacy commission ruled that the European Union’s “Right to Be Forgotten” law applies to Google worldwide, not just Google’s European operations. In theory, the right to be forgotten sounds like something that we should have. In practice, such a ruling, if corporations are forced to implement it, would be tantamount to censorship.

Is R2D2 Being Demoted?

What happens when your old astromech gets replaced by a shiny new one? R2D2, along with C-3PO, was an iconic symbol of first the 1980s, then the 2000s. Now he's being replaced by a pipsqueak, half his size.

Realistically, R2’s brand took a hit with the release of the prequel trilogy. In those films, the little droid that could revealed himself to be superdroid - look, in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s R2D2! There was nothing he couldn’t do - fly, fight fire, fight warrior droids, or any combination thereof. And he was invincible! All it cost was his role as comic relief.

So now we’re at the precipice - the arrival of a non-George-Lucas-helmed third Star Wars trilogy. We’ve all seen the hype - if you’re reading this, you have, I know. There are many intriguing ideas revealed, and few questionable ones (Luke’s/Anakin’s light sabre? Vader’s mask? Is this a film about fandom?)

One of the most interesting elements was included in the first trailer, BB-8. It’s the next generation R2 unit! (I haven’t heard that specifically, but that’s what it looks like - an R2 head on a beach ball.). So what becomes of R2D2?

Creator Intent versus Reader Ownership

Who owns the meaning of a story? There’s an anecdote about Kurt Vonnegut that may be apocryphal. It goes like this:

A university student contacted Vonnegut and told him that the professor teaching Vonnegut’s book had bizarre interpretations of it, and insisted that the class embrace his views to pass the course. Vonnegut sits in on a lecture then argues with the professor on the interpretation. The professor’s finally refutation is along the lines of, “What do you know? You’re just the writer.”

Arrogant, isn’t it? Why am I thinking about this? I just had a twitter conversation that would fall along those lines, with me arguably cast as the nutty professor. READ ON

No Consensus on the Best Science Fiction of 2014

What does it say that the four top awards for science fiction had zero consensus on what deserved to be honored last year? In America, the Hugo is awarded by the fans, and the Nebula by professional authors (technically the Hugo is worldwide, but American voters are the majority). The Arthur C. Clarke and BFSA (British Fantasy and Science Fiction) Awards don't align with the American choices at all, and don't match up with each other either. Also interesting is that the winners of both the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the Nebula Award don't appear as a finalist on any of the other awards.

Hugo Awards 2015: Justice Served or Much Ado About Nothing?

So, the most hyped, bitterly fought and controversial Hugo Awards season has come and gone. The “Sad Puppies” and “Rabid Puppies” each of whom tried to ensure that only their candidates were nominated, won a total of zero awards (ONE actually, if you include their pick of Guardians of the Galaxy as best long form presentation).

Where the "Puppies" had managed to get the full slate of five potential candidates set as their choices, the voting members decide to give “No Award,” something that the rules allow. You will also see "No Award" in the middle of some listings. Voters rank their choices, and No Award is one of the rankable choices, allowing you to say, "Well if my choice(s) isn't going to win, then I want no award given."