It’s fair to say that US scientist and science fiction author David Brin takes a reasonably dim view of the Star Wars films, especially the first six movies. It’s series creator George Lucas’ “sneering contempt for democracy and the common man”, that particularly gets on Brin’s goat, to say nothing of that “nasty little green oven mit” Yoda:
Yoda is pretty much, inarguably, the most evil figure ever in the history of any human mythology. I have defied folks to name one time when he says or does anything that is indisputably wise. The trail of destruction that follows him and every decision that he makes is inarguable and overwhelming.
Evil, and not much of a strategist either. Or was he?
I do hope folks will notice, for example, that Yoda, in Attack of the Clones, orders the Jedi into a suicide charge that kills most of them, then conveniently shows up with the new clone army that he ordered. An act of treachery and betrayal so stunning that I had to watch the movie twice. Perhaps that was Lucas’ evil plan.
Brin has written a book, Star Wars on Trial, that examines the good and bad aspects of the saga in court case fashion, where he, unsurprisingly, acts as the prosecuting attorney.
A new book by Sir Christopher Frayling presents the largely unpublished archive of art director Harry Lange’s designs, concepts, roughs and photographs for Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. The result is a veritable feast for design and film geeks.
Today’s obligatory Star Wars related post – I think have one ready to go for tomorrow as well – asks the question, should there be a Han Solo anthology, or “spin off” film made? As I said a few months ago, Solo’s the sort of person who’d have a couple of stories to tell. Thing is, would it be a good idea to make movies out of them?
Why do audiences need to see the events that made Han Solo who he is? He’s a complete package the second he’s introduced – rebellious, charming, with just enough bravado to disguise that he’s making it up as he goes along – and so much of that is down to Ford’s performance. Any new actor in the role will be saddled with the choice between trying to imitate Ford or creating their own take on the character, and both will be a tough sell.
I think he missed the mark however in regards to the current crop of villains who are intent on galactic domination. They have no presence. Darth Vadar was terrifying. Kylo Ren is not. Ditto Supreme Leader Snoke, who completely lacks the enigma and menace of Palpatine, the Emperor.
Palpatine went virtually unseen for the first two original Star Wars films, and that, I thought, played a big part in building up his character. An over size hologram of Snoke is the only fear instilling mechanism this time around, and that’s not saying much. It’s also something we’ve seen before anyway, in The Empire Strikes Back.
So, what to expect in episode eight then? Another “I am your father” sort of moment? Might be brother, or sister, of course. Time will tell.
The hoverboards in question are not the least bit like the devices from the Back to the Future films, but maybe they’re close enough for some people. I’ve seen a few of these around now, and while they look fun, it appears some models have an unfortunate tendency to burst into flames. That’s not much use if Biff Tannen happens to be in hot pursuit.
An exploding two-wheeler burned down a house in Louisiana a few weeks ago; another scooter combusted in the same state in the past week. A gyroboard caused significant damage to a home in New York a few days ago. At a mall in Washington this week, a scooterboard caught fire and shoppers were forced to evacuate. The perceived danger is significant enough that major airlines have banned the little vehicles altogether.
I guess some of us will be waiting to hear what whispers emanate from Los Angeles, following the premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens yesterday – I’m going to try and block out any chatter for now – but let’s not forget that a new installment of the rebooted Star Trek films, Star Trek Beyond, is out next year.
If this first trailer is anything to go by, they’re definitely ramping up the action aspect, and possibly the slapstick. Is that because Justin Lin, who directed the Fast & Furious films, is at the helm, or is that the way the producers want to take the series? Time will tell. Also, it seems the USS Enterprise has been lost/destroyed.
Didn’t that happen in the third film that featured the original Star Trek cast?
General relativity is a treasure trove of ideas that have enriched science fiction for decades. Take wormholes – a popular form of transportation for fictional space explorers and a consequence of general relativity’s stretchy space-time. “That kind of flexibility allows you in theory to kind of bend space so much that you actually get really a shortcut between different parts of the universe, potentially even opposite parts of the universe,” Pope said.
It’s the problems of faster than light travel that I’m grappling with at present, in regards to a science-fiction project of mine, but that’s the great thing about sci-fi, those sorts of troubles are easily taken care of, thanks to the conveniently timed advent of some futuristic technology, or advances in the understanding of the laws of physics, between now and a certain future time.
The downside there of course is that people may take exception to such ideas, because they’re not scientific. I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I reach it, because, by thinking fourth-dimensionally, by the time I arrive at the location where the bridge should be, it should have been built, and I can coast safely across the ravine.
Whether the laws of physics are sufficiently malleable to the point they may one day be manipulated so as to allow faster than light travel, remains to be seen. In the meantime, an understanding of Albert Einstein’s special, and general, theories of relatively, might help, and here they are, set out in relatively simple terms.
The first idea is called the special idea, because it covers only a few special parts of space and time. The other one – the big idea – covers all the stuff that is left out by the special idea. The big idea is a lot harder to understand than the special one. People who are good at numbers can use the special idea to answer questions pretty easily, but you have to know a lot about numbers to do anything with the big idea. To understand the big idea – the hard one – it helps to understand the special idea first.