Science Fiction Book Club
February 1, 2002
Leaving, not on a jet plane
Today's my last day at AT&T Labs. I don't have a new job lined up, but I'm looking forward to a little time off. Maybe I'll finally finish playing StarCraft. Or read some of the books or watch some of the DVDs that I just can't stop buying. Or do one final rewrite of "Working Graves" and send it to an editor, like I've been meaning to do for months. Years.
Or maybe I'll just start looking for another job.
"I wanna cast Magic Missile!"
I've definitely seen Top Gun too many times. During both of my two viewings of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, I wanted to shout at the screen: "Come on, Gandalf, do some of that wizard shit!"
I have not read Tolkien's books, except for The Hobbit, and that was a long time ago. So I don't really know what the rules are for magic in Middle Earth. If Gandalf is such a great and powerful wizard, how come we only see him doing what seem like simple parlor tricks? He used telekinesis and force fields in two pivotal scenes; why not more? Why use a sword and staff when you can generate pure energy with the power of your mind?
I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. The explanations might have required too much dialogue, which the filmmakers didn't want to add to an already long movie. And it is difficult to visualize magical powers without resorting to hokey light shows, which is fine if you're making Ghostbusters, but a little distracting if you're making a Best Picture Oscar contender and the first film of a very expensive trilogy with a huge global fan base that you really don't want to alienate.
Speaking of the Oscars, I still think LOTR:FOTR is a long shot to win. I'm sure it'll be nominated, but it is quite lengthy with lots of exposition and no real ending. And while most of the special effects are very well hidden, and all of them serve the story, they may be too flashy for some voters. Sad, but true: a lot of people just can't handle science fiction and fantasy. Pity them.
Not that I actually know anything about the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences or its members. Then again, if anybody did, they wouldn't have to do this whole voting thing in the first place.
Disinherit the Earth
Yesterday, NASA concluded their Planetary Decadal Survey, which asked the general public what NASA's planetary exploration priorities should be. Unfortunately, all the survey questions were multiple choice, so I didn't get a chance to explain any of my answers. Good thing I've got my own web site, eh?
Here's my Crazy Idea of the week:
We need to get off this planet. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday, and for the rest of the life of our species. And by "we," I don't mean the entire human race. I mean those of us who can deal with being part of a larger universe.
We need to leave behind all the dead weight. We need to abandon all the people who just don't get it. All the religious fanatics and fundamentalists, all the closed-minded conservatives, all the small-minded drones who are content to never leave the town in which they were born. All the people unwilling to learn new things or tolerate different opinions or allow any significant deviation from the norm. They'll never change, no matter how hard we try to help them. They can have the Earth. The rest of us need to go to the stars.
And we need to understand that we can't go home again. Forget about the fantasy of faster-than-light travel; it'll never happen except in fiction. We'll never come back to Earth. Why would we want to anyway? After we're gone, it'll be overrun by the aforementioned simple villagers, with their churches and wars and bigotry and FUD. They'll be happy to be rid of the weirdos. We'll be happy to be free of their stupidity.
It really can't happen soon enough.