Science Fiction is…dead???

Back in February I saw the following tweet from @sciencefictionnew:  Ridley Scott: “Science Fiction is Dead” –Not a Match for Reality – The Daily Galaxy (blog)

My knee-jerk reaction had me initially thinking that he was just miffed that Prometheus didn’t get the reception he thought it deserved.  Then I read the post and, as it turns out, the statement came from a speech in…2007.  Before I address his statement, I first want to state, for the record, that this brings up a problem with the internet.  Once something is out on the web, it lives forever.  Anyone can bring up a comment from the past, that may not be accurate anymore or was taken out of contect in the first place.  The tweet got me a little riled up, thinking Mr. Scott was making a broad generalization about science fiction, in general.  That bothered me and I loaded up both barrels, ready to fire back with a response.

Then I read the article.

He did, indeed, say science fiction, as a genre, is dead.  However, he was referring to movies.

He said there’s nothing original anymore.   Agreed.

Filmakers rely on special affects.  Agreed, again.

On so on and so forth.  It is very rare that a truly original story comes out of Hollywood on film.  Big budget blockbusters bombard the audience with lens flares, and Michael Bay style story telling through explosions, falling buildings, fire and brimstone.  We walk out of the theater with friends, and during the ride home and the invetible film review discussion, we say make statements like:  “That was badass!”  But when some asks us what the movie was about, generally we stumble through a synopsis saying it was about this guy that had to go get something to save everyone, but the best part was when the talking robots were kicking each other’s asses.

BUT…this does not mean that science fiction is dead.

The problem, in my opinion, with science fiction in movies is the limitations of movies as a story telling medium.  How many times have you heard someone say “the book was better”.  There’s a reason for that.  The book almost always IS better because of what we, as writers, have at our disposal.  Movies almost always HAVE to adhere to the three-act structure, and filmmakers have two hours, maybe three, to develop characters, their relationships, their back stories, their roles in the overall story, and the progression of the story itself, often having to distill 500+ pages of a novel down to less than a 100 page screenplay.  It’s hard.  To do it right, a story often requires more than one movie, but studio big wigs don’t often commit to multiple films unless its a guaranteed winner, a la Hunger Games, or a remake of some pop culture favorite.

So yes, Mr. Scott, has a point to a certain degree.  But its up to the movie industry to adapt.

Thanks for tuning in, kids.  I’ll try to be back soon.


About Thomas J. rock

Writer of Science Fiction

Posted on March 23, 2014, in The Daily Grind and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I don’t buy this generalization — there are plenty of small budget films still making some intriguing original SF — Moon a few years ago and Upstream Color from last year come to mind.

    • True enough. Unfortunately the general audience doesn’t even hear about those films, let alone, be able to see them. The internet is changing that and I think as time goes on, good, small films will get their due.

  2. Well, Moon at least has almost 200,000 votes on imdb. So, although it didn’t make a huge splash in theater it was definitely seen on home video. Have you seen it?

    He went on to make Source Code which wasn’t that great but ok for a Hollywood blockbuster.

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