Ripping the supernatural out of science fiction.

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by cynical dreamer, Sep 4, 2008.

  1. Here's a question:

    Name me a science fiction series that avoids any and all supernatural elements in all of it's many forms.

    Yes that includes psychic councellors and doctors, psychic links to marine mammals, ghosts, demons, gods, devils, mind melding, vampires, etc, etc...

    I mean a complete rejection of the supernatural.

    There's a few movies out there that fit that description, but precious few tv series.

    So, with your help, I'm looking to compile a list.

    I think SeaQuest could have been an outstanding series if you ripped the supernatural from it.

    I also think the new BSG, as good as it is, would be that much better without invoking the gods and the various visions of many of the characters.

    I just long for a sci-fi series that plays it straight. At all times.
     
  2. Nedersong

    Nedersong Captain

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2008
    never mind.

    I originally had V but there was elizabeth. Definately supernatural elements to it.
     
  3. Orintho

    Orintho Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2003
    Location:
    USA
    Firefly perhaps?
     
  4. Lindley

    Lindley Moderator with a Soul Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2001
    Location:
    Bonney Lake, WA
    Offhand I don't recall any such elements in Earth: Final Conflict.

    I mean, there were those nuts who worshiped the Companions. And some of the tech (such as memory transfer) was pretty farfetched. But it was technology, ultimately.

    Of course, the line between supernatural and sciencenatural is extremely blurry.
     
  5. Firefly comes pretty close. However there's the matter of River and her "powers of the mind".
     
  6. That's a good point. You can explain away a lot of supernatural elements by having them be 'part of an alien race's natural abilities'.

    I'm going on the premise that even an alien species must submit to the natural laws of physics, chemistry, biology, etc... So in a way that disqualifies EFC as well (though I am quite fond of the show).
     
  7. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles, California
    I'm hoping the forthcoming series Virtuality (or perhaps even Dollhouse?) will approach this territory, but it seems almost impossible for a science fiction series to avoid these tropes all together.

    Sliders wasn't a series devoted to the supernatural, at least until Tracy Tormé was jettisoned (actually before, starting with Into the Mystic, but I will say that the series wasn't supernatural when Tormé had the most control during the pilot and season one).
     
  8. Lindley

    Lindley Moderator with a Soul Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2001
    Location:
    Bonney Lake, WA
    If you're looking for "hard" SF, you're not likely to find a pure example outside of novels. A few movies have come pretty close; TV shows have not. The convenience factor of things like FTL drive is just too tempting.
     
  9. Non Sync

    Non Sync Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2002
    Location:
    Mission Viejo, CA
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
    Arthur C. Clarke
     
  10. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles, California
    The films of 2001: A Space Odyssey and 2010: The Year We Make Contact might qualify, but that depends upon your interpretation of the Monolith, the Star Child, and such.

    Silent Running perhaps?
     
  11. I hadn't quite thought of it in those terms. I suppose I make a distinction between 'supernatural' and 'pseudoscience'.

    I suppose it's hypocritical of me to say I'm willing to take a little bit of pseudoscience while rejecting the supernatural but it does end up being the case (in a way it's an argument for another day).

    I should make a point to say that I'm not against watching shows and movies that contain supernatural elements (and in fact many of my favorite shows do). It's that I'm specifically looking for shows that break that norm.
     
  12. I'm less looking for films than I am looking for tv series.

    Though now that you mention it I would put Apollo 13 and the first 2 "Alien" movies into the category of movies without supernatural elements.
     
  13. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles, California
    The X-Files definitely deals with the supernatural, as does Millennium. It's been such a long time since I've seen Farscape, and I haven't finished the last season or the miniseries yet, so I'm not sure.

    Should we talk about the big elephant in the room here, Star Trek? It has employed pseudoscience left and right all the time, but has it been explicitly supernatural? Even the Prophets on Deep Space Nine were explained as non-corporeal aliens.
     
  14. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles, California
    If you'll count Apollo 13, then From The Earth To The Moon (the HBO miniseries) should count.
     
  15. Farscape had Zhaan, a Delvian priest who displayed many mystical abilities. It also had people switching bodies, etc... (I love Farscape dearly but there's a lot of supernatural elements to be found).

    As for Star Trek, I've always found mind melding to be of supernatural origin in it's concept. A bit like so called "mind readers" parading around in real life. Though you could make the argument that this is pseudoscience rather than the supernatural.

    Science (and in particular Biology) have always been used pretty "fast and loose" in Trek. The demands of drama i suppose.

    As for the particular case of DS9. Having Dukat become "posessed" for lack of a better term is one element I would consider supernatural. And the whole concept of Sisko being 'the chosen one' seems to fit with the notion of precognition (on the part of the wormhole aliens) which would also make it fit as supernatural in my eyes.

    I'm sure there are plenty of other examples I'm not thinking of atm.
     
  16. I haven't seen it yet so I can't say. I'll put it on my list of things to track down.
     
  17. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles, California
    It's not really science fiction. Maybe historical fiction with science as a genre? Very much in the vein of Apollo 13 (even with a returning actor or two).

    Wow. I should have thought of Zhaan immediatly. She's the face of Farscape. It HAS been a while.

    That certainly takes on the appearance of the supernatural, but it's all been explained with pseudoscience. i.e. the Prophets aren't providing precognition, they just exist on a non-linear plane. Yes, it's millions of lightyears more advanced than us, but it's not presented as supernatural.
     
  18. Brikar99

    Brikar99 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2002
    "Terminator" definitely didn't have psychics or ghosts or any such stuff that could be labeled as "supernatural". It was time travelin' man vs time travelin' killer robot from beyond tomorrowwwwwww!
     
  19. Haha, when you put it like that it makes me want to break out the dvd again.:guffaw:
     
  20. Yeah it's definately a grey area. The writers and producers really shoe-horned in Roddenberry's take on religion into the concept of the prophets. That's a tough one that I don't really have a good answer for. Anybody else have any feelings on this one?