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!


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Artificial Intelligence: Malicious in Movies, Benevolent in Books

Why is it that the portrayal of artificial intelligence in movies and books are contradictory? Almost universally, movies portray AI as adversarial to humans. I’ve noticed a disconnect between how books and movies portray artificial intelligence but I don’t have a clear explanation for it. Perhaps I have an observer’s bias and this is completely wrong. If you could be so kind as to read the article and use the comment space below to help me flesh out either this obvious disconnect or my obvious bias, I’d appreciate it.

What’s up with Jurassic World’s Blue Raptor?

If you haven’t been watching the trailers for Jurassic World, well, good for you. I’m not too keen on this movie, it just seems like it’s full of stupidity. But that’s not the point of this screed.

Today’s question for Jurassic fans is what’s up with the blue raptor? If it isn’t clear in this gif, then look at the first 15 seconds of this trailer. The raptor has blue waxy streaks down the sides of its torso and tail - AND - they appear to flash colour as if they had an electrical charge.

... More and bigger images inside...

How Does Luke Skywalker Live with Himself?

At the end of Star Wars (1977) our intrepid hero destroys the Death Star.

Yay, the good guys win!

Note that Luke didn’t kill the bad guy - he survived for the sequel. No, Luke killed the minions. When the Death Star destroys Alderaan, Ben says, “It’s as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.” But that was the bad guy's fault. Luke is a good guy, isn't he?

How many people were on the Death Star? Wookiepedia puts the number at 1,148,309 or just over 1.1 million people. And you cheered when they died, didn’t you? Feeling a little guilty? No, not yet? Read on...

Buying a Book for all the Wrong Reasons

Can there be a wrong reason to buy a book? I think there can, and I think I’m guilty of it. The book in question is Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie, which won the Hugo (Science Fiction’s premier award) in 2014 for Best Novel. Even before I knew that the book had won the Hugo, i had seen the cover and been intrigued enough by it to pick up the book and read the back blurb. Something about the blurb always put me off, and I didn’t buy it. Now I have, and now I know I should have listened to my gut and saved the money.

What led me to buy it? The “Sad Puppies.”

There’s a bit of history here that needs to be explained. A few years ago, some members of the science fiction community noted that the Hugo tended to be awarded to (apparently straight) white male writers, which was fine when that was what the industry was made of, but the growing diversity of the writing pool seemed not to be represented in the Hugo nominees, and good works by women and people of colour (PoC) had little chance of being nominated. Some prominent people in sci fi started suggesting the names of writers who were being overlooked, and last year, the Hugo nominees were much more diverse than in previous years, and Anne Leckie won best novel.

Science Fiction Mullet: Party upfront, brawl out back

*Mullet: A men's hairstyle, short in front and long out back. See Bono, below.

Bono with a mulletFor most people, their main exposure to science fiction is through movies. This has been true for a long time, although in recent years that’s escalated. Even people who don’t like science fiction saw The Avengers. Many probably didn’t even consider it science fiction. Ditto for Gravity.

In the meantime, there has been a slow battle brewing deeper in the science fiction community. This year, science fiction’s pre-eminent award, the Hugos, is wrapped in controversy. One small, vocal group has managed to stack the nominations with works that may not represent the best of this year, or any year. I’m sure you’ve been following this controversy closely (not). If you want to get up to speed, George R. R. Martin can help you.

So while the most fanatical members of the science fiction community look inward and fight over the the soul of the Hugos, society as a whole is bracing itself for a romping summer of exciting science fiction.

When is your story not your story?

"Something unsavoury" happening in Hollywood may not sound original, but then again, when have you seen anything original come out of Hollywood?

To answer my own rhetorical question, I would have said that Interstellar and Gravity were two recent examples of originality, not based on books, that showed that Hollywood could still produce truly engaging original content.

It turns out that I may have been only half right, and that's where this gets unsavoury.