Ripping the supernatural out of science fiction.

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

  1. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    I haven't seen it, but I suppose that qualifies Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, since it is a TV series after all?

    What about Babylon 5? Well, I could make that argument up until The Lost Tales, anyway. The Vorlon (or other First Ones) advanced tech seem to be the root of anything perceived to be supernatural on that series. Of course, the "demon" in The Lost Tales doesn't fit that explanation. It's nearly presented as a demon. Yes, there are pseudo scientific explanations that can be made about it (and have been on these boards), but that's not really found in the text of the episode.
     
  2. Haven't seen either series so I'm not qualified to comment. B5 was always a series I meant to get around to but just haven't for whatever reason. One of these days...

    It's been a while since I've seen Space Above & Beyond. Has anyone checked it out recently (either in reruns somewhere or on dvd) that could comment on it's supernatural content, or lack thereof?
     
  3. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    I've never seen Space: Above and Beyond. I've been meaning to, but after Morgan and Wong's mismanagement of Millennium in that series' second season, and the fact that it ends on a relative cliffhanger, I've never gotten around to it.

    Maybe when it's marked down from $20.00 to $10.00.

    Anyhow, off to bed for me.
     
  4. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    As far as we know, Lost has no supernatural elements.

    And if you assume the Prophets are really just wormhole aliens, DS9 is totally within the realm of science as well.

    That definitely counts.
    Zhaan's abilities could have been natural for her species. Switching bodies isn't inherently supernatural.

    "Supernatural" is different from "silly pseudo-science" - the latter abounds in TV sf. ;)
     
  5. Again I point to the example of Dukat's "posession" for DS9.

    As for Farscape. If you can show me one example from nature of a living creature switching bodies with another creature I'd be willing to accept this one. But I'm fairly certain such an example will never be found.

    Your point about Zhaan is well taken. It's been a while since I've run through the show but I'm sure there are some other examples. Such as her being able to commune with the deceased Aeryn and bring her back to life. Inherent in the species or not, it doesn't fit with the laws of the natural world.
     
  6. Hennessy Badger

    Hennessy Badger Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    ^ Plus, wasn't there a villain from farscape who was an evil wizard? He was in two episodes of the series, I think. And he was actually referred to as a wizard. Not "an alien with wizard like powers" but a wizard-wizard.

    Definitely supernatural. :techman:
     
  7. I think his name was Maldis if I remember correctly. And yes... very supernatural!

    Also, back to DS9. Jadzia's ability to transfer the memories of her previous hosts to members of the DS9 crew in that one episode was definately supernatural in nature.

    This also leads me to another thought. Are supernatural abilities/powers used as a storytelling crutch when the well of ideas has run dry?

    It's ironic that as i type this there is a banner ad on the right of the screen saying "click here to download your personal horoscope". One often forgets just how pervasive the supernatural/pseudoscientific is in our culture.
     
  8. Hardin

    Hardin Captain Captain

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    how about Dark Angel? S1 especially.
     
  9. Another series I haven't seen. Reading the wiki entry on it tells me that while it may or may not have supernatural elements it would appear to have a heavy pseudoscience bent to it. Though that is going strictly by the wiki entry.

    Anyone else who's seen the series have any insights on this one?
     
  10. Hardin

    Hardin Captain Captain

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    well, season 1 really didn't have any supernatural elements.

    It's maybe a bit trickier with season 2 (which I sometimes like to consider as a different series altogether), but the physical prowess of the familiars is explained as a product of selective breeding through the ages. Still well in the realm of science (or pseudo-science), I would think. S2 also has a brainy guy who's able to predict the future, but it's supposed to be statistical analysys and probabilities calculations. It's been a while since I've seen S2 but I don't recall straight-forward supernatural elements.

    As for pseudo-science: yes, most of it, obviously.
     
  11. As an aside, just how was the show in terms of watchability?

    And seeing as how I stated I was willing to draw a line between pseudoscience and the supernatural earlier in this thread I won't hold the pseudoscience against the show in terms of the topic of this thread.
     
  12. Cicero

    Cicero Admiral Admiral

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    Would Commando Cody: Sky Marshall of the Universe qualify? I don't recall anything supernatural (merely terrible psuedoscience), but it's been quite awhile. (Considering how long before my birth the show was made, perhaps it's not quite been so long.) What about The Secret World of Alex Mack?
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2008
  13. Newspaper Taxi

    Newspaper Taxi Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Just for the fun of it, here's a counter element -- Why should we accept that there's life outside of Earth? We haven't encountered any sentient species and at most have found fossils of bacteria which may or may not be extinct. Is accepting that there could be aleins that far away from accepting that there could be Gods or some sort of psychic energy?
     
  14. Venardhi

    Venardhi Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I find psychic abilities far more viable as a sci-fi concept than many things you're rounding out as pseudo-science. Just because warp drive is a machine rather than a giant space whale with ropes tied to it doesn't make it any less fantastical. I may not buy the modern incarnation of telepaths/telekinetics/whatever, but nothing says that a creature can't evolve (or be engineered) to have sensory organs that would act much like psychic powers.
     
  15. stonester1

    stonester1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Problems with this notion. First off, that psychic phenomenae are impossible. Reputable scientific types are at the very least open to the possibility.

    Second, you want to use present understanding of science ALONE to describe a far future setting, where our understanding will have changed, probably a lot.

    So this pining for "scientific purity" is kind of silly.
     
  16. stonester1

    stonester1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Babylon 5 definitely does NOT qualify, with psi phenomenae galore, and a universe at the very least as open to the supernatural as Battlestar Galactica.

    Farscape doesn't qualify, either.

    Firefly would be close, as would Space: Above and Beyond. Both of them have psychic phenomenae, however.

    The Cape might fit.


     
  17. The Evil Dead

    The Evil Dead Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Miles can see ghosts! That's about as supernatural as it gets!
     
  18. Lindley

    Lindley Moderator with a Soul Moderator

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    And I really have to wonder about the old woman who knew Desmond was time-traveling and explained about the universe "course-correcting".
     
  19. Shawnster

    Shawnster Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Poul Anderson has written numerous stories where humans are the only sentient life forms. Firefly never had aliens (nor sentient robots).

    I posted something similar on another DB. I want to see a science fiction series completely set within the Sol system. Right now our current science tells us FTL is impossible (but we're working on it). Despite that, there are several locations right within our solar system that could be used as settings for a series. All nine, er, eight planets plus numerous moons.

    Someone on that DB suggested Anime's "Cowboy Bebop." I've not seen it yet. I'm sure there are elements in that series that are beyond our current science but it was suggested because it's set entirely within our solar system.

    Why is it silly? We live in the 21st century. We're discussing 21st century entertainment. Why would it be silly for anyone to want to see a piece of entertainment that, while set in the future, still reflects and conforms to our current level of understanding?

    Someone mentioned literature. There are numerous books out there that deal with science fiction in a more "hard" or "scientific purity" fashion. I'm reading Ben Bova's books at the moment. I've completed most of the "Grand Tour" series of books. It's great. Hard scifi completely set within our own solar system. No mental powers, no supernatural beings or cosmically advanced aliens.

    On the other hand wanting or asking for some form of "scientific purity" doesn't exclude scientific advances unknown to us. Bova's been heavy on the practical use of buckeyballs, something that currently isn't being used all that much. Plus he's mentioned advanced or "exotic" building materials, fuel mixtures, etc... Plus Bova's "Grand Tour" establishes that there are microbial life forms on Venus and the moons of Saturn, an extinct sentient civilization on Mars and giant intelligent dolphin like animals lving inside Jupiter. He's presented all of these in such a way that the ideas sound scientifically believable.

    Someone else in this topic suggested or mentioned finding a parallel in nature. Personally I find that a great tool. I guffawed and nearly choked when Aeryn Sun was able to carry a viable fetus for so long without it growing. Sounded far fetched to me until I saw that there are insects on Earth that do the same. If an insect can do it naturally, why can't man eventually find a technological way to mimic that process?

    But does that get us back to psionic powers? Insects seem to communicate "telepathically." That's where we get the term "Hive Mind."

    Perhaps the "scientific purity" qutoent can be satisfied by providing a psedo-scientific explaination for such things. Or at least point to naturally occuring parallels. Maybe this will make it less "pure" but it does keep it from sounding "mystical" or "supernatural."
     
  20. AviTrek

    AviTrek Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    What about SG1/SGA? Does ascension count as supernatural, or can that be accepted as a future form of human evolution?