View Single Post
Old November 13 2011, 12:59 AM   #140
Christopher
Writer
 
Christopher's Avatar
 
Re: the state of sf/f TV development for 2012-13

Temis the Vorta wrote: View Post
The premise sure sounds like "first-contact" with aliens to me - "powerful and enigmatic entities that begin appearing all over the world."
Well, that depends on what they mean by "entities." Since they describe it as a "UFO" drama, that suggests something more like mysterious phenomena showing up here and there, rather than alien ambassadors who show up and say "take me to your leader." As it's generally used in SF, the phrase "first contact story" implies (in this context) a story where aliens come to Earth with the intent of revealing themselves to us and interacting openly with us, thereby changing the world forever, while the phrase "UFO story" implies a story where aliens come to Earth to observe or influence us in secret and most people don't know or believe they're here, or at least have very little information and no understanding of the visitors' goals or motives. The X-Files is a UFO drama; V is a first-contact drama. They're more or less opposing ways of approaching the "alien visitation" trope.


And obviously the story is going to have to evolve just beyond that kind of shadowy presence, or they're not going to have any story at all.
Again, I'd cite The X-Files as a counterexample. Or Lost in its early seasons. The story could be about the characters trying to cope with the mystery of these entities or the effects they inflict for inexplicable reasons.

I vaguely recall reading a prose SF story involving a situation where aliens had been causing certain bizarre, inexplicable manifestations on Earth for years and humanity was just trying to cope with the consequences and adjust their lives around these phenomena, without ever understanding where they came from or why they happened.


Or it refers to aliens arriving on Earth regardless of whether they want to set up formal diplomatic relations and cultural exchanges. Simply being present and making humans aware of them unambiguously constitutes "contact."
Strictly speaking, yes, but "first contact" is a term of the art which carries certain specific connotations, ever since Murray Leinster coined it in the 1945 novelette of the same name. Or to put it in more broadly familiar terms, consider the Star Trek episode and movie that used that title. In both cases, the TNG episode "First Contact" and the movie Star Trek: First Contact, the more advanced of the two cultures had been observing the less advanced one for some time, even clandestinely moving among them, but actual first contact was not considered to have occurred until the two species officially met and communicated openly. I concede it's not a rigidly defined term, but I'm talking about its general connotations.
__________________
Christopher L. Bennett Homepage -- Site update 4/8/14 including annotations for Rise of the Federation: Tower of Babel

Written Worlds -- My blog
Christopher is offline   Reply With Quote