A New Grammar for Science Fiction

Science Fiction is no longer a novelty.

We do not want to read Science Fiction because it is set in the future. Science Fiction must offer some deeper, truer view of ourselves and our place in the cosmos.


Another Brief Commentary

I love photos taken behind the scenes, especially on the sets of canonical science fiction movies.

These photos Sean Young took on the set of Blade Runner nearly did me in when they hit the Internet a couple years ago.

This image of Princess Leia and C-3PO we ran last week seems particularly evocative, especially with Star Wars Day fresh in our memory.

I grew up with Star Wars. Like so many other adolescents, my unfledged loins were first enlivened by Princess Leia. So this picture is especially funny when read in light of awkward pre-pubescence. What young lad wouldn’t suddenly become as awkwardly prim (and as hard as steel) as the big brass dork when in such close proximity to a bonafide space princess (or the roguish charm of a smuggler who plays by his own rules or even the latex menace of a Sith)?

Of course, we should recognize that this sexualization is problematic for any number of reasons, and I think is probably a strike against the franchise’s greatness - except, remember, Leia will grab a blaster and terminate stormtroopers with extreme prejudice. That this ferocious quality of hers is secondary to her beauty makes it less redeeming. But let’s not dwell on the negative.

There’s something else in these pictures (and the others in this notable set )

You can see that movies work in two directions. The audience is not the only one to be transported by the script. The actors too are carried away in their roles, which are, let’s face it, archetypes. They can’t help but to become these people (or are we just a perpetual audience unable to see artifice for what it is?).

Star Wars works because these archetypes are so recognizable, so universal. We get to know these characters so well that we could write their dialog if we had to. And we can use these archetypes to help us to understand the human experience. We sometimes feel like Han Solo, sometimes like Luke Skywalker, sometimes like R2-D2 and sometimes like C-3PO. We’re doing more than merely relating to these characters - we recognize aspects of ourselves in them. I’m not saying this is anything new: sometimes we feel we lack courage, or a brain, or a heart, or we just want to get back to Kansas. But regardless, these characters do not tell us about far away, fantastic places, but instead provide us a lens with which to perceive ourselves. 

-David Gill - co-editor - Pravic Magazine - 5/6/13