It’s Science Fiction Saturday, so today I want to consider a fairly common question a fan might encounter: “Science Fiction or Fantasy?” The implication is that one tends to exclude the other. In these polarized times, it can amount to a declaration of your tribe.
One problem is there’s a spectrum from hard SF to pure fantasy with everything in between. But let’s take them as two legitimate poles and consider the question in terms of configuration space. (See posts #1 and #2 if you need to catch up.)
I think you’ll see that using a space give us a new take on the question.
Art, famously, is a matter of taste, and as a general rule of thumb, you have it while others often don’t. Just goes to say. Because you know what you like, even if you don’t know anything about art. Simply put: taste is personal.
With commodity art like most films, many people weigh in, and opinions are often split, but sometimes, even with, or perhaps because of, so many, a consensus grows — thumbs up, thumbs down. Everyone, or nearly so, seems to agree one way or the other. In particular for today, there are the films everyone hated.
I’ve found some of those despised films are underrated gems — or at least are not as bad as popular vote makes them out to be.
Judy, Judy, Judy!
I’ve been a fan of science fiction since the early 1960s. I was already an avid fan and ready audience for Lost in Space (1966–68; Judy was one of my earliest childhood crushes), It’s About Time (1966–67), and I was glued to the TV set enthralled when Kirk, Spock, and the rest, first boldly went in 1966.
By then I’d already consumed all I could of Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein, along with Verne, Wells, and Burroughs (I didn’t discover Tolkien or Howard until high school a few years later).
Movies like The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), and Forbidden Planet (1956), all had me avid for 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).
It’s been a whole lot of years, and a whole lot of science fiction, is my point.
Make no mistake here: I am still definitely a fan of HBO’s Westworld. I think it’s pretty darn good television science fiction, but I do recognize that it’s not great TV SF. It is a bit niche, both as SF and as a puzzle box, and this season seems to suffer some poor (or at least odd) thinking along with some apparent style-over-substance decisions.
But I’m still a fan; I’ll be back to watch season three. In 2020. If I’m even still alive. (I’m old enough for that not to be a given, although it never really is.) I’ve seen a lot more negative coverage this season (generally well-deserved, I think), and I’m hoping it is taken to heart and results in a better third season.
In this last Westworld post (for now) I offer some general reflections and observations of the series so far.
The more I reflect on the second season of HBO’s Westworld, the more I have some very serious questions about key aspects of the story. In the first season, I had serious questions about The Maze, which was central to the story. This season’s serious questions, equally story central, seem even more serious.
Primarily, there is the matter of the Peter Abernathy encryption key, which spans both seasons. Secondarily, there are the related matters of The Door and The Flood. And, finally, there is the matter of Ford’s Final Game for William.
I really can’t seem to find the logic behind any of them! They all give me a bad case of the Yeah, Buts!
The second season of the HBO show, Westworld, has answered many of the questions raised in season one. Of course, it’s also raised a whole crop of new questions! And, sadly, that crop seems to contain more WTF questions than last season.
The big WTF in the first season was The Maze, and there were some smaller ones, mostly to do with Ford’s astonishing foresight into what people would do. (Smacks a bit of Hari Seldon’s Psychohistory.) But this season has a number of choices that strike me as working backwards from a cool image or as style over substance.
More important are the actual questions raised, and hopefully there are far more of those. Let’s find out (serious spoilers, obviously)…
In a previous post I wrote a story about how the guns might work in the HBO show, Westworld. In this post I thought I’d take a stab at describing how the host brains might work — a much more challenging task!
As with the guns, as with any of us fans trying to understand any work of fiction we love, our guesswork depends on the facts we can observe in the show — the official canon, so to speak. Additional facts can come from the Word Of God (the show’s creators). Any creation of ours has to fit all these facts, and has to be logical and plausible within the context of the story.
So what do we know about host brains, and what might we guess about their operation, capabilities, and limits?
As a long-time fan of both science and science fiction, I expect the science in the fiction to be, at least, not mind-blowing stupid. Especially, I expect it to not be too magical, but a better way to put it is I expect it to not piss me off. Granted, the hardness of the SF determines how important this is. By the time you get to fantasy (completely soft SF), the science is magic!
And as a long-time Star Trek fan, I’m used to taking the ball and running with it, to imaging how, for instance, transporters and holodecks work. In fact, I call such flights of imagination “Star Trekkin’ it,” and I’ve been doing it since the 1960s!
The point is that I’ve decided how the guns work on the HBO show Westworld. And the best part is, it might even actually work!
The first time I posted about the HBO show Westworld was after the first season had completed. Back then I called it a “gem” with much that was “worthy” of “thought and discussion.” I saw it as some of the best science fiction available on TV or in film.
With the second season now over — the finale airing just last night — I am still a big fan, still consider it very worthy, very superior, SF TV, but some of the blush is off the rose. Just a tiny bit. I just wasn’t quite as impressed with season two, but that could be a matter of familiarity.
In any event, now that it’s over, and we know the whole story (so far), it’s time to start dissecting it!
I really thought the previous post was the last of this series of (13!) posts looking into the first season of Westworld. I thought I’d covered everything, but the more I thought about Arnold’s Maze, the more confused I became.
Either I’m missing something (which is certainly possible), or there’s something muddled about the whole thing. This could be a case of my over-analyzing things; fiction almost always has flaws, and apparently the show did alter course about halfway through the season (plus, the actor playing Kissy died). But since the name of the season is The Maze, I’m surprised how muddled the core idea of it seems (or maybe I just don’t get it).
In any event, here’s what’s bugging me (as always: Serious Series Spoilers)…