Someone to walk all over me

I wasn’t planning to post on this episode right away, but readers need a place to put comments, so I will start with some thoughts. The episode was a good one but wasn’t tremendously surprising to some. Many were of the opinion that Boomer was still working for Cavil and they were right. And we’ve always known that Starbuck was under the influence of the mysterious string-puller who showed her a vision of Leoben and gave her a destiny. Now that we know the Final Five wake-up wasn’t part of their own plan or Cavil’s, it has to have come from the string-puller, who likes All Along the Watchtower (whether Anders wrote it or not.) And Hera’s been involved in the visions of the Opera House, which are also clearly the work of the string-puller/One-true-god.

Still, the depth of the betrayal was good and shocking. The kidnapping in a box. The sex. The building of a complete fantasy world, complete with kid, to seduce Tyrol. When she leaves him, she tells him she truly felt all that.

Perhaps she did. This is the Boomer who, along with Caprica Six, seemingly saved the human race by convincing the Cylons not to kill them on New Caprica. She betrayed Adama and shot him, but due to programming. Now she’s ready to betray those she loved, as she betrayed her own model line.

Is it possible that she has been programmed by Cavil? This would disappoint me, I want my characters to be acting of their own will, make their own choices for their own reasons, but it is not out of the question here. The other, nice alternative is that she and Tyrol had a plan ready to betray Cavil (“I’m not sure I can do this on my own”) though it is clear that Tyrol didn’t realize a Hera kidnapping was part of what was going on. Where did he think he was sending her? To wander the stars in a Raptor until she runs out of air? Why did she ask him to come with her?

And I liked the stronger use of piano music. Though I kept expecting them to break out into “Someone to watch over me” at some point, not the All Along the Watchtower bass line.

A few other notes:

A Stream of Stars

Michael Hall, who has been diligent in finding Earth star patterns in recent episodes, has now found them in too many places, including the Ionian Nebula from the start of season 4 and after jumps from there. In spite of what seemed like a strong message with:

  • The most well known constellations being presented blatantly over the Cylon battle location and other locations
  • The use of random constellations over the 13th colony

May be just poor work on the part of the graphics dept. Clearly they have two modules for doing their backgrounds in post, one for the real solar system stars, another for random stars. They never used the real system stars until season 4, which seemed like a signal, but they’ve used them willy-nilly. While they would not expect most fans to have fancy star pattern matching software, the use of Orion and the Big Dipper did not require this to match.

So we have to seriously reduce the confidence we can make in predictions based on those star patterns.

Anders’ last words

Anders’ memories caused him to shout out “stay with the fleet. It’s coming. The miracle.” to the others. Doesn’t Ellen have these memories? It sure seems she would be asked about them, but we still learn no more.

That Seven

While we are told to not expect much more of Daniel in this show (though those saying he is Starbuck’s dad got a boost) we should pay attention to the exact wording of what they said about him. When Ellen talks of Daniel, Cavil says, “that seven was…” This suggests there were, at that time, multiple sevens. And Anders, though mumbling words, calls him “the Daniel.” So Daniel might not have been the original #7, though Cavil does seem to have shut down the further duplication of that line.

Poor Galactica

It will be sad when she breaks up. Just a few more jumps. We at least learn that jumping inside a ship is bad news. And it was so nice to see the cliche space opera scene of the ship racing for the closing doors of the launch bay — and this time actually hit the wall. Of course the bad guys always do hit the wall in that scene after the good guys sneak through, and Boomer is now fully bad guy. Curious that the Tylium ship was able to jump away while vipers were trying to land on it to board it, and they were not hurt.

Just because

Just because you or i cannot come up with a scenario does not mean others cannot. You say they can do it with 'cheating'. Well, that means they can do it, can't they? You may not like it and be critical, but it can be done, and it does follow the rules of logic.

"So how far back to you have to go? Well, I put it to you that the answer is very, very, very far. Before the origin of multicellular life"

But man did not emerge until after the fall of the dinosaurs, at the latest. Science itself is ever-evolving. It's not too much of a stretch to say that scientists could discover a new branch of humanity that either still exists or died out thousands of years ago, and was descended from beings from the stars. Is parallel evolution unlikely? Sure, but it's no impossible and it's a staple of most science fiction.

Again, I'm not proposing BSG to be in our past, just that it can not be ruled out because you can't think of a logical explanation.

I'm fairly okay with the

I'm fairly okay with the idea of parallel evolution and/or using genetic technology to integrate. Fact is, xenobiology is just making stuff up. Nobody knows for sure. The biggest issue is diet and bugs. We could starve or be wiped out before we even get to that question. I'm pretty sure these questions will become real one day and we'll develop answers to them.

Science-fiction is going to have to tackle this one day, and introduce the concepts and narratives so people understand and feel comfortable with how things are going. Later, once this is embedded and these realities and technologies are familiar to the point of invisibility it will date as the last generation of science-fiction. Other challenges will arise to take its place.

Lesser of the evils

If we do get a BSG-in-our-distant-past story, I'd find parallel evolution somewhat more satisfying than the seeding/ark idea. But only slightly so. Over the last ten years, the decoding of the human genome has virtually proven a common ancestor for humans, so a parallel evolution story really isn't any more plausible than the idea that everything we are now -- Bob Dylan song and all -- re-emerged after millions of years of guided evolution from the genetic seeds of an ancient alien race.

For me the point isn't that BSG writers are incapable of coming up with a credible way to make an in-our-past plot work. In fact if we get this plot, I hope they do. And of COURSE they can write whatever they want. But like Brad I am not convinced that BSG will suddenly veer away from naturalistic science fiction, and I think that's what they will have to do for a "past" plot that is connected to our real Earth in our real universe. If we get real Earth and real universe but in our past, I think they will have to invent a huge overlay of mythology and pseudo-science that really does contradict what we know to be scientifically true . Sure, it could be dramatically good, my point is that the connection to our real world (if one exists) is above all other plot points the ONE place where breaking the rules of science will seem most glaring - far more than jump drives. And I just don't think they will do it.

p.s. this assumes the parallel race doesn't die out

More thoughts on my previous post: If an alien race crash landed in our distant past, lived and evolved alongside us and then died out, then sure, our modern analysis of the human genome might not detect them (assuming no interbreeding). But as a dramatic point for BSG, that would ring kind of hollow because then there's no real connection to us. If they interbreed with us, you could tell that story but it flies in the face of some pretty hard genetic evidence about us.

I also forgot to mention that a parallel alien race is really, really unlikely from a scientific point of view. People that are just like us (except for trimming the corners off their paper) and who also wrote the Watchtower song, evolving independently in another corner of the universe and also managing to stumble across our planet? Again: sure, the writers can posit this if they want and maybe they can make it dramatically enjoyable. But it will seem to me a major departure for how they have done the show so far, and that is to minimize scientific violations for major story points. (Granted, some things in the show currently seem unexplainable by science -- head characters, opera house visions, etc -- but under this model I'm assuming we'll be offered a reasonably plausible scientific way of understanding these, although it may be ambiguous and open to a religious interpretation as well)

No offense to Alvin and others who are more open to a "past" plot, mind you. Arguing this point isn't about proving anyone wrong, at least for me -- it's more like a late night college dorm discussion where you spend hours mentally jousting and pushing each other's ideas to the limit, all as a way of engaging in a shared interest. And I do realize that what I call a violation of science, another person views as a possibility that will be realized as our own science develops and evolves over time.

Again...

Naturalistic Science Fiction and the description of it, given by Ron Moore, does not hold science to the same category as Hard SF. It places more weight on cinematography than it does on hard science and even more weight on drama, story and character. It is a complete misunderstanding of Moore's intention to assume everything will have a neat science explanation. Sometimes you are gonna get a blinking box, and that is science explanation enough.

Honestly, I hope the idea that I saw with the piece of Galactica being a meteor that hits Earth and one cell lives on creating life on Earth and however improbable we get the right conditions to have everything come out very close to the BSG humans. And then the cycle starts again. I mostly liked the idea that they didn't deserve to live and they don't get to change the cycle and ultimately destroy themselves. It makes ending on our Earth as a new start to the cycle somewhat meaningful, on a socio-political level.

Not simply science

Understand this is not simply science I am talking about. When I challenged you with “Could the fleet have arrived yesterday” which is one example of “in our past” I hope most of you answered that this was not a story which could make sense, not in the context of what BSG is. And you can see this is not about science, it’s about logical sense. “You can’t get here from there.” This world, I hope you are comfortable saying, unless it is all an illusion, can’t be the result of an alien colonization last weekend.

And you probably agree that it doesn’t make sense going much further back, not within your own lifetime, and indeed not within recorded history. Some of you might try to say, “well, maybe recording history before date X is a lie” but this isn’t what BSG is about — I hope you all agree it would be poor (and entirely unexpected) writing for this to be the case.

So I continue to challenge you for dates when you would say it could make sense to you. This is the point where science starts to come in. Because the more science you know, the more you realize the date is so far in the past as to also not match the flow of the story. Because, like BSG 1978, BSG 2003 is peppered with things like our names for gods, constellations and more. In BSG 1978 the message was clear — “Earth culture came from these people.” But you can’t have that message with colonization a billion years ago, and you can’t have it make logical sense with colonization 10,000 years ago.

It is a mistake to think that humans have been on the Earth only since “dinosaurs.” Mammals arose about 200 million years ago, but the real truth is that humans are part of an unbroken chain of ancestry that goes back a billion years. It’s not just fossils in the rocks. It’s that we have now looked into our DNA, and seen that the same DNA is in all the life on Earth. We’re all related. We all have a chain of ancestry that goes back over a billion years, and the fossils show us this chain took place on this planet, not elsewhere.

Yes, that is science. So a show deciding to ignore science could ignore it. BSG is not that show I hope.

So how far back could the colonization be in your book, to start making logical sense, and how far back to start making logical sense with the facts science has discovered, in your books?

Sure, you could always write that we are Cylons living in a projection, or Neo in the Matrix. But that’s not this story.

And again

I am completely willing to accept that whatever fragment of DNA makes it to Earth in the big explosion at the end of the show (if it were to turn out that way) contains the knowledge to name everything the way we do. Kinda like how Joseph Campbell pointed out that we keep telling the exact same story over and over again. Something about naming Zeus, Zeus just seems right to the inherent fabric of the DNA. I can accept that. I don't know why it is so hard for you to believe that possibility. Sure the chances are infinitesimal that humans could be reborn out of primordial soup twice (assuming gods didn't really create them out of thin air on Kobol, being gods and all, than technically it would only happen once), but it is possible, it just requires a lot of things to go right. A huge amount of them, but hey, maybe you could give the string pullers enough credit to pull their strings and force life to develop a specific way. Add in the ideas about the human mind and Joseph Campbell, link the DNA to Hera (just to tidy that story element about her importance) and presto, nice story with a great philosophical take on life.

Names in DNA

I haven’t said I would outright reject that. I mean it’s still mumbo-jumbo, there is no indication in anything we know that suggests DNA would work like that, but it’s a lot less nonsense than most of what I see people posting about, a suggestion that we are culturally descended from alien colonists.

But for the god to be guiding it? Sure, I’ve seen that in SF before. But today I would not be thrilled to see SF giving credence to intelligent design. Again, this is in the “would not be thrilled to see” category because of my tastes in what makes good SF. This is different from the “can’t make any logical sense” category in which the idea of arrival in the last million years falls.

This is really a dramatic argument, not scientific

Hey, that's what the show may end up doing. Like Brad, I hope not, because I'd find it unsatisfying as a cheat, but it's obvious that other people would find it stimulating and fulfilling. That's cool. When you have a show with FTL drives, the argument about how far they stretch (or violate) science is a matter of degree. For me, the closer the story gets to our real Earth the more I will be bothered by elements that smack up against what I know to be true or at least to be likely. But that's a dramatic complaint; what we are really arguing about is what's personally believable. It's not that I can't allow or imagine that the writers couldn't spin out a tale setting all these events in our distant past, and do so in a romantic way that may even have dramatic logic to it. But if they do, they're going to have to invent some kind of game-changing concept that can't help but fly in the face of everything we know about our own origins. And for me that would actually WEAKEN the feeling of connection between our own civilization and theirs.

They wouldn't need to find

They wouldn't need to find some game changing way to change life on Earth since there is no definitive answer to that question even now. We have theories, none of which we know to be true. All we can prove is evolution happened. The origin of it all is still a mystery meaning as long as their example allows for evolution it will be scientifically possible as Earth's past. Unless you know something the entire scientific community doesn't about the origins of life on Earth.

What we know and don't know

We still have much to learn about our past. But that doesn’t stop us from knowing that some things didn’t happen. You are very closely related to all the other Eukaryotic life on Earth. That’s not history, that’s a statement of what we know today from reading the DNA. We know you’re not a colonist because you are cousins with all the other creatures. If you were a colonist, there would be two completely disjoint trees of life on the Earth, one for whatever made the planet habitable in the first place (ie. air to breathe) and one for the colonists. You might imagine the first tree died off, but all those fossils going back a billion years are from our tree. Only in the last sentence do I refer to the history.

What you propose is like looking at a family of clearly related people, all green eyes, red hair, freckles, and saying, “I have a theory that little Fred there is really a Shiitake mushroom who was adopted last week.” Except it’s less likely than that, because the family has more in common DNA wise with the mushroom than an alien would with Earth-life.

I find it funny

I find it funny that you cannot accept a BSG past scenario simply because it makes no logical sense, when there are lots of ideas and stories in BSG that defy logical sense, some big, some small. We are all willing to suspend not just our disbelief, but our 'logical sense' to some degree when we engage in science fiction, fantasy or any form of speculative fiction.

Would it be dramatically satisfying? Perhaps not. Would it gel with what we know in our current, real-world science and history? Perhaps not. But if recent events have taught us anything at this point, it's that they're willing to bend certain rules and narrative conventions to meet their storytelling ends.

What's acceptable

Well, it’s true. For better or worse we accept FTL jump drives in space opera because we know you can’t have it without them.

What is worthy of criticism is getting it wrong for no good reason. If a show wants to break the rules, that’s OK, but there has to be a reason to do it, a reason the show could not be made to work and be good without breaking the rules.

What’s worse is if not only is that reason absent, but it would actually have been better, story wise, to have not broken the rules.

I believe there is an excellent case that setting in the future is a far better story, one far more relevant to us and our lives. Setting in the past is a cheezy 1950s plot. It’s hard to make it relevant to us because it’s not our history, it’s just an idea that was popular with religious zealots and new-age Chariots of the Gods types. A story set in the future can say, “we’re addressing what might be. It’s relevant to who we are.”

And “They did it this way in 1978” is of course not much of a reason when a show’s goal is to reimagine and fix what they did in 1978.

I find that hilarious

I find that hilarious because I would think the show failed if this takes place in Earth's distant future.

My point exactly.

This show-- no show-- will satisfy everyone. Each person has their own set of expectations and desires for where it should go and how it should end.

It's not that simple

If you think the show will be better if set in the past, it’s appropriate to say why. We can all have our tastes, but only the tastes that have reasons behind them will make good fodder for discussion. I hope I have given my reasons. Some of them are subjective, relating to good quality fiction. However, the standards of whether a plot makes logical sense have a little more objectivity. (Whether you demand a plot to make sense is a subjective matter of sorts, but I think most people prefer that.)

Once again...

... saying it isn't logical doesn't make it so. I'm pretty sure most of your reasons are subjective (and that's okay). You've been willing to accept leaps in logic before with BSG, why not with the proposed scenario? We don't even know how they would go about it.

Personally, I don't think a past scenario would work well-- but if it's done right it can. If this scenario is the way they end it, I look forward to seeing how they pull it off. I will not defend it if their version is nonsensical or silly, but I will defend the absolutes of 'it is illogical' before a story is dreamed up.

For what it's worth, here's a past scenario that might work:

The fleet arrives in a primitive Earth time period, in Greece, even. Their ships are toast, they bring with them little but knowledge. They assist the locals in building a new civilization, impart their wisdom, the knowledge of colonial culture. . Perhaps the colonials simply die off, perhaps they integrate-- perhaps only a handful are even left to land on earth-- but the locals eventually name their gods after the colonial tribes, signs of the zodiac, etc. Maybe they are even responsible for naming the planet 'Earth.' It could even fit in with Pythia, that humanity was destined to land here, that the future of humankind on our Earth would eventually be the true 13th tribe.

In this scenario, there's really no reason to explain the parallel evolution. A quick comment by scientist baltar could sweep it under the rug. Some clever dodging with mythology can retcon the history as well.

Now to be clear, I am not a proponent of this ending, nor do i think it is incredibly clever, nor am I fond of excessive retconning. But it follows the same logic we've seen thusfar on the show (i know, you'll cite minutiae like animal and insect life) and it satisfies most of the criteria laid out by the series thusfar-- but this was just a 2 sentence synopsis of a possible logical ending, an illustration that it can be done. Get a team of professional writers together and i'm sure they can come up with something a thousand times better.

I fully exepct you to tear apart my 2 sentence scenario and why it is illogical, but really, it's just a quick example, so spare me.

With respect

I haven’t just said it’s not logical, I have outlined why in a great amount of detail in several postings. This isn’t just some casual opinion, it’s one of the most carefully documented scientific debunkings in the history of the human race. It’s pretty rare to be able to say, “this could not have happened” because who knows what might be imagined. But this is one of those rare cases.

Perhaps the confusion is that your scenario is not what has been on the table. As the show presents itself, these characters aren’t just played by human actors, they call themselves human and are shown to be human in every way. You want to propose them as aliens who come here, leave some culture and die off. (I am not sure what you mean by “they integrated” since there is not another species here on Earth with us unless you know something we don’t :-)

Now I could show the flaws in this, but actually I could also fix it for you. If I were writing this plot (which is often called the Chariots of the Gods/Ancient Astronauts plot after the New Age books of that name from the 60s) I would have makeup or special effects show us as alien looking, and reveal that from the perspective of the colonials, we are the aliens, which we would be. That’s because, as I think you know, there is no such thing as “parallel evolution” that would produce two identical species like this, as much as TV writers like to use it to explain why they have human actors playing aliens.)

But that’s not the plot we’re talking about, because again, I think it’s core to this show that the characters are humans, or at least descended from humans (or for those who insist, ancestors of humans.) I’ve never said you couldn’t write the story where they are an alien species. Even in the alternate universe plot which is likely to be what we actually see, they are meant to be the humans of that alternate universe. This is central to giving the story meaning.

The plot that I continue to declare as nonsense is the one where these guys are the ancestors of present day humanity on present day Earth. That’s the plot the writers can’t write (and make sense) any more than they could write John Carter of Mars today and have it make sense. Do you understand how the story of a populated, dying Mars full of canals was perfectly fine to write as SF 100 years ago, but would be silly to write today? That’s what I mean when I say the writers “can’t” write it. Of course it can be written — it was written. But it can no longer make sense, outside of its context of what people thought of Mars 100 years ago. Not once the world saw photos of the real Mars.

As I have outlined there are a variety of (fairly well trodden) plots involving aliens coming to Earth in the past. These include

  • The Chariots of the Gods plot you describe
  • The Ancient Atlantis plot where there was once an advanced civilization on Earth that seeded the stars and then vanished from the Earth
  • The “aliens harvest early humans from Earth, and the humans build an advanced civilization in the stars, then return” plot as written by many authors.

None of these are BSG though. Both because BSG’s characters are meant to be human, and because RDM has promised no aliens. The Atlantis plot can be made to work, as I have said, though it remains a stretch that this race vanished so completely, even from the moon.

But what we’ve been talking about isn’t these plots. It’s the BSG 1978 plot, where life here began out there. Where the Kobolians are our ancestors. That plot remains as nonsensical as John Carter of Mars.

Human vs. human

"As the show presents itself, these characters aren’t just played by human actors, they call themselves human and are shown to be human in every way."

But in the scenario I describe it is the colonials that impart their humanity on us. When they arrive, our ancestors bear little resemblance to colonials (culturally). Eventually, colonial culture, religion, language, art etc. influences our ancestors and shapes the history of Earth to what we know today. With this in my mind, it actually EXPLAINS why our two cultures are so similar (to a certain degree).

And I think it's a little egotistical of you to say your theory is " one of the most carefully documented scientific debunkings in the history of the human race"... or are you referring to something else? Evolution? I already said, in my past scenario example, the colonials do not change anything regarding evolution.

The most debunked idea in history

Is the idea that we (and animals) arrived on some Ark in recent geologic time, rather than evolving here. It is the most debunked idea in history because creationists keep trying to come up with twisted logics to try to pretend it’s true, and thus scientists have found themselves spending lots of time on detailed debunkings. Normally, when people have a crackpot idea, scientists do not spend that much time tearing it apart. This idea, however, is so pernicious that scientists have spent more time on debunking it than anything else.

Because of this, there is also a new second place idea, that our evolution must be the result of some intelligent designer.

So you can see why I object to using this idea as the plot of BSG. It’s not just any ordinary bad science idea. It holds a rather special place of “honour.”

Ideas

In my scenario, the fleet was not an Ark that seeded Earth, but rather came to an Earth and simply influenced the existing humans culture. Parallel evolution was more my scenario.

Here is a simple reason why

Here is a simple reason why it should be in the past. Based on everything I have seen in the show from a story perspective, I think it would take away from the story, if we don't get to be the next cycle. I really don't care if the science adds up as long as the story does and the story to me breaks if everything started on Earth. The only logical step from a story point of view, is to lay the burden on the audiences shoulders next to break the cycle of destruction.

I would rather see Newhart wake up in bed with Edward James Olmos and he talks about this crazy dream he had and then Head Six says, "Or was it a dream?" Newhart can turn to her and say "Of course," and Olmos could say, "Who are you talking to?" queue BSG version of All Along the Watchtower, roll credits, than see us not get to be the next cycle.

Ok, that's more like it it.

I understand your reason. I happen to think that it still has meaning if we’re the first cycle, and it’s up to our heroes, or their successors to break it.

To attain your story, what would make sense would be to do that Atlantis plot or the Alien abduction plot. (While Moore has wisely pledged no aliens, I am OK and I think he would be OK with offscreen aliens who played their part 10,000 years ago and vanished.)

With one of those plots you can even return to Earth in 1980 if you want, flying motorcycles and all. :-(

Of course that doesn’t work as an ending. An advanced Earth is too pat, unless it says “we told you not to come back.” A primitive Earth or vacant one makes the most sense. You can do this in either of these plots as long as the few Galactica survivors don’t change Earth history very much.

But there’s no sign, no clues of either the alien abduction plot or the ancient Atlantis plot.

Head Characters

But there’s no sign, no clues of either the alien abduction plot or the ancient Atlantis plot.

The writers could easily make use of the head characters in this way. Like, I dunno, the Beings of Light.

Best ending ever

"Newhart wake up in bed with Edward James Olmos and he talks about this crazy dream he had and then Head Six says, "Or was it a dream?" Newhart can turn to her and say "Of course," and Olmos could say, "Who are you talking to?" queue BSG version of All Along the Watchtower, roll credits"

I change my opinion on the show. I want this.

Why future is just as fulfilling for me in this respect

I like this argument for a "past" scenario. In fact, the underlying reason is pretty much the same one I have for personally favoring a "future" one: the ending will have more meaning for me if it makes a direct connection to us. How we think about technological evolution matters. How we define personhood matters. How well we differentiate individuals vs. entire groups matters. Even if the show ends up being set in an allegorical universe and not ours, these themes will resonate. But how much more striking if the promise of Crossword, Part II is realized and we finally see that the BSG universe is our own.

Personally, I would find this connection just as strong in a future vs. past plot, because it might challenge us to think about the paths we are blazing now. We can make our future what we want it to be. Even "change" it from the future visualized in BSG. Not to get all Pollyanna about things, but this level of dramatic purpose can transform good storytelling into great.

Read all your comments and don't agree

I think it is possible that they can write it that they are landing here in our Earth's past, and still not violate the tenets of evolution. Let me say that I don't want them to land in the past. However, what it requires is this progression:

- Tribe of humans (10,000BP or farther back in time) with advanced technology.
- Tribe leaves our Earth and heads for Kobol.
- Tribe settles Kobol.
- Kobol falls - 12 tribes found colonies, 13th tribe founds BSG "Earth"
...
- The fleet arrives at our Earth in our past.

Pros of this is it preserves the "human" aspect of the storyline, allows interbreeding, preserves DNA history, etc.
Cons - there are many. You have to assume that some group of humans develops advanced technology at a much earlier time than we know of here on Earth. It requires that we have no evidence or recollection of such a society. But there are ways to explain that (Shangri-la in Lost Horizons). If you think about human technology development, it was both slow and rapid at different times. Leaving aside FTL, the colonies still have essentially the same technology we have today. They still shoot guns instead of DEWs - in that regard, WE are more advanced than they are. Overall, we are about where they are, especially if you assume that AI is about to take a leap forward here today.

So is it such a stretch to assume that some humans couldn't have developed technology much faster in ancient times... I would say no - you can make a case for it. Our technological progress has been a mix of little to no advancement punctuated by huge leaps in advancement. If you removed the stagnant times in our history, you could compress our technological development into a thousand years easily, perhaps even a few generations making it as little as 200 years. What could make that happen? Well, if you had a cloistered society that eschewed war and idolized scientific discovery, yeah, that society would advance rapidly.

Now could they have existed in our past, and still left without leaving any traces? Maybe, maybe not. But you could write it and make it plausible. Maybe they are such advanced recyclers that essentially they take everything with them when they go. Maybe what they leave behind is hidden from us (Atlantis sinks, right?). Maybe they blow it up. Maybe it is buried under sheets of ice in Antarctica and we haven't found it yet. Regardless, you can have them develop and leave. No settlements on the Moon? Who says they stopped on the moon - but maybe they did. Maybe their landing site got hit with a asteroid, so it's gone from our POV. Their satellites? Low earth satellites would likely have crashed by now. Or maybe the recyclers picked them up and took them with them. Likely? No. Plausible... I'd say okay to it.

Now, fast forward to the BSG events and they are about to land... when do they land? Maybe it's around the time of the ancient Greeks and thus our history is infused by the gods landing on Olympus and subverting Greek culture with BSG culture. Maybe it's before that and they develop Greek culture from scratch. Maybe they land and create the mythos of Atlantis we know today.

In this way, you can sort of have your cake and eat it too. You can have the Chariots of the Gods answer, but it still makes sense from an evolution POV.

It also jibes with a few other things... "Life here, began out there" True enough if you wrote it on Kobol. And the Kobolians would have handed that down to the colonies.

At the end of the day, you can go back to a point before recorded history and as long as you include our Earth as the cradle of humanity, and have them leave, and come back in the past. You don't need to retcon evolution or our understand of Earth history to do it.

Not Chariots

That’s not the Chariots of the Gods plot, that’s the Ancient Atlantis plot. I outlined all these plots in the original essay. Unlike the “Kobolians are our ancestors” plot which is nonsense, those plots are possible. Though they are not particularly likely, as you would have to explain the complete disappearance of the advanced society not just from Earth, but from the moon and other places where things don’t degrade. Not that you could not explain that, but I don’t see the point.

One reader has suggested a point — to make it so that we are the next ones who must break the cycle. That would suggest our heroes don’t break it this time, of course, which is what I was expecting with Hera, etc.

The thing is this, according

The thing is this, according to Brad (and correct me if I'm wrong), the theory that the fleet would arrive to our earth and crossbreed with cavemen (or simply become cavemen), will not make sense. Because Brad claims that BSG is "hard" sci-fi, congruent with known scientific facts, such as finds of fossils, evolution etc.

BUT! I think it's pretty frakking clear with sugar on top that they don't write "hard" scifi. Actually the term "hard" scifi, wasn't it used by RDM in a draft towards the network executives, when he was developing the concept? What he's said later on, rather points to the fact that he has let it go. Does it mean that it doesn't make sense? No, I don't think so, I think they have established the BSG universe as a narrative with their own set of rules, and these rules clearly establish that scientific nitpicking/analyzing won't provide anyone with the probably outcome from the show.

Past vs. Future

Some of these "it's in our past" ideas are intriguing. I might be satisfied by them, but they still need to explain how our constellations ended up on their flags if they've never been to Earth before. Did one of these ideas address that and I've just missed it?

Yeah, the guy spouting A

Yeah, the guy spouting A Hero With a Thousand Faces addressed it.

Yes, but what if they don't

Yes, but what if they don't explain how the scroll pythia wrote landed on Kobol, since she (according to some sources) followed "the caravan across the heavens"? What does that tell us exactly? Well, first of all we probably should remind ourself of the fact that pythia is a myth, it isn't a scientific record, it might very well only be a NARRATIVE CUE, supposed to connect the world of BSG with our own. And with connect I don't mean a scientific connection, I see it more as a cultural/mythological reference.

Like All Along the Watchtower. To quote Bear McCreary's blog: "...the idea was not that Bob Dylan necessarily exists in the characters’ universe, but that an artist on one of the colonies may have recorded a song with the exact same melody and lyrics. Perhaps this unknown performer and Dylan pulled inspiration from a common, ethereal source. Therefore, I was told to make no musical references to any “Earthly” versions, Hendrix, Dylan or any others. The arrangement needed to sound like a pop song that belonged in the Galactica universe, not our own."

I think Ron's going with the notion that 'creativity' isn't a composer creating something from nothing out of whole cloth, but instead tapping into something that was already there. It goes with BSG's mantra of the cycle of time, and it allows for certain things to be 'universal' and timeless.

It answers in a very sci-fi/spiritual way the question of how come BSG has people in suits and ties, phones with cords, creation of slaves, manipulation of life (perhaps not creating life, but instead manipulating DNA in crops, animals and humans) slave rebellions, mass-slaught and other recognizable things. It allows for them to use culturally familiar things like All Along the Watchtower and yet still have the setting of the show be the distant PAST, if that's what they want to do (and I believe it is.). And instead of just ignoring these similarities as storytelling devices like other shows do, it allows the writers to acknowledge them and actually make those similarities part of the mystery and mythology of the show!

Of course most posters on this blog, including Brad, probably will puke on this resolution(but it's actually your problem), but I believe this is the way it will go. I.e. the connections will be mythological/narrative cues connecting our world with BSG's, not as a way to describe what is reasonable, but more as a hypothetical speculation.

I'm not trying to defend anything at all, but I just happen to think that the show has been reeking of this from the start, and I've chosen to just buckle up for the ride, since BSG is a rather strange beast in TV entertainment.

Not bothered by dramatic devices

I am not actually bothered by the incorporation of our items (songs, fashions) in an alternate reality with alternate humans. That’s a dramatic device. That certain ideas are universal is also a suitable dramatic device. That a very specific song lyric would be universal is not realistic, but I could tolerate it.

These dramatic devices would exist to make a connection between the characters and ourselves. It would be obviously allegorical. And writing them as our ancestors would also make a connection, but the reason we would “puke” at that one is that this would be an attempt at a literal, not dramatic connection between us, and as a literal connection it would be bogus.

So either give me a dramatic connection with no literal interpretation, or if you want to give me a literal connection, then your job is to do it right. At least to get the highest marks.

The show will still get high marks if it screws this up, but it will no longer get the highest marks. I am not sure why people think this is such a great condemnation.

No I don't consider it a

No I don't consider it a great condemnation, lol what I am debating is whether the connection to our world is "literal" or not. You think it is, I don't think it is. I think it's more allegorical/cultural than literal.

Ok, but why don't I think it's literal? Because of the arguments you have used yourself, the presence of the evidence(for evolution), common sense etc, makes it more or less impossible to take this connection literally. Basically, what I think it revolves around the cycle of time. In this circle of time certain things are bound to repeat themselves. This cycle of life is referred to literately ("all of this has happened before, and will happend again"), but also through allegories; for example how humans creates artificial life, which turns on its masters, and eventually repeates the misstakes(humans haven't created artificial life, but history is full of examples of slaves rebelling against their masters, just to become new masters with their own slaves). Another allegory for this is how certain cultural themes reappear in the BSG world, Colonies names as astrological signs, Baltar quoting shakespeare, Anders writing all along the watchtower.

So yes, I agree with you, that the connection to astrological signs probably won't make much logical sense. They should have used other, more distorted signs, implying that these were the signs from cylon earth. But I still claim that the role of the connection is allegorical in the narrative. Personally I've never even bothered about whether the signs look like they do in the Tomb of Athena or not.

Dreilide Thrace Live at the Helice Opera House

This is what the cover of the recording that Starbuck gets back from Helo. We keep calling him Daniel, but Kara's father's name was actually Dreilide Thrace and it has to be significant that this recording took place in an opera house.

My Father's

So I guess my thought that her dad was a piano player was right. I was unsure if they'd go literal with the comment in "Valley of Darkness'. I'm telling you people, if you own the DVD's, go back and re-watch from the beginning before the finale. It will bring a whole new perspective on certain things.

I always assumed she was

I always assumed she was being literal in her apartment on Caprica.

50/50

I thought it could go either way. I think the exchange between the two of them was Helo commenting that the music was 'not her' (as in not her style, not that it wasn't her playing) and she responded with 'it's my dad'-- this could have meant that it was her DAD'S style, her dad's CD (or whatever format it was). I'll agree that it most clearly was her referencing her dad being the composer/player, but it was juuuust ambiguous enough that they could write it differently if her father as a piano player didn't work with the final story.

That episode was an early one, before the idea of the final five, before the hybrid nonsense, before Daniel-- so I was wondering if they'd just drop the whole notion.

Hm, I think it might be

Hm, I think it might be reeeeaaally simple, the cover says: Dreilide Thrace Live at the Helice Opera House

The character Slick has been said to be loosely based on Bear McCreary. And "Helice" was what the greeks called Ursa Major, Great Bear...t

And no, I don't think Starbuck's father was Daniel, and I do think he composed All Along the Watchtower all on his own (like Anders did on cylon earth and Bob Dylan did in our universe). So the song probably is some kind of road sign, appearing in due time for the coming end in each cycle, Anders wrote in on Cylon Earth, Dreillide Thrace wrote it when Starbuck was young (ca 20 years before the second attack on the colonies), Hera drew it on a piece of paper, and Dylan writes it in the 60s, and some spoilers claim that the finishing of BSG will be Head 6 + Head Baltar strolling around in modern day New York (40 years after the song was written by Dylan, and several artists have made covers of it).

Helice Constellation and Gazelles

I never knew the connection between Ursa Major and the word "helice," so I just conducted some searches. I found this:

Helice is the Great Bear, Ursa Major, the name Helice is cognate with the name Helen, who might also be Helen of Troy? [I have never seen Helen of Troy identified with any constellation]. Female bears might represent the 'fallen woman' in society; bears have loud passionate 'love affairs' and then part company, leaving the female pregnant and alone.

The constellation below Ursa Major is Leo Minor. From the same site:

The picture shows three of the Bear's paws are placed on the ground and her right front paw is lifted - not leaving a track. The Arabs called these tracks the 'three gazelle leaps'.Ideler, translator of Kazwini, an Arabian astronomy book, surmised that the stars of Leo Minor were the Arabs' Al Thiba' wa-Auladuha, the Gazelle with her Young..."

Remember that Anders calls Ellen "the gazelle":

"I guess he boxed us for a while. Introduced Saul first, not long after the war. And then the gazelle, the Ellen. And back on Earth, the warning signs that we got it looked different to each one of us. I saw a woman. Tory, you saw a man. Funny, no one, no one else could see them. Galen, you thought you had a chip in your head."

Equating Ellen with a constellation reminds me of the ancient mythological stories where all the gods were represented in the stars. Also, while we're equating Ellen with Helen of Troy at all, it should be pointed out that the return of Ellen on Boomer's Raptor was a huge Trojan Horse that was used in reverse to kidnap Hera.

Heads in NY

Interesting that you say 'Head 6 + Head Baltar strolling around in modern day New York' I hadn't thought of them as the head versions. If they are, could it be that Dylan or Hendrix or some other person in our time is seeing head characters as well, past or present?

We'll see, I don't want to

We'll see, I don't want to fall to deeply in love with my own speculations :)

However, I'm not sure that Anders/Dreillide Thrace wrote the song as a result of direct manipulation from the head figures, I'm saying that perhaps the song reappears, in every cycle. The song is a part of the cycle, together with many other things and they are discovering it, rather than creating it. And if this is the case, it means that the show revolves around the notion that certain events and cultural manifestations that are bound to reappear in each cycle. All of this has happened before, and will happend again. The music, the rebellion, the star patterns, they are symbolic/allegoric connections...at least from my point of view :)

What's you're saying

It might not be what you're saying, but the head characters writing, or subtly influencing the song-writer helps explain it's reoccurrence a lot more logically than saying 'it comes around every cycle.' It also explains the NY photo and helps link it to our Earth.

And you will still annoy

And you will still annoy Brad because than our Earth is still impossible scientifically.

Well what's the point of

Well what's the point of discussing of just agree with each other :) ?

They are both Cylons

This is silly. Starbuck and Baltar have to be cylons because they see Virtual people. The only people who have seen Virtual characters, without being asleep, mid jump, on drugs, daydreaming are known cylons (the Final Five) and Starbuck and Baltar. They are cylons. End of story.

So you can't see another

So you can't see another common denominator between the final five (on one hand) and Starbuck + Baltar (on the other hand)?

BSG Mormonism Connection

Brad,

As I have been watching this last installment of Battlestar Galactica, the third season of HBO's "Big Love" has also come on, and I have had the occassion to watch them side by side. Seeing "Big Love" reminded me of all the Mormon connections from the original back story, such as Kobol, the Quorum of the Twelve (apostles in the case of Mormonism), etc. Also, I realized that Baltar has been made into something of a Colonial Joseph Smith. He has the multiple wives (of a kind), lives in his own "compound", is a prophet of sorts, sees visions, etc. Also, stronger themes are emerging about eternal life, reincarnation, and conflicted religious views.

These thoughts have also reminded me that the true innovation of BSG is the great storytelling, the depth of the characters, the stories particularly of betrayal, infidelity, loss, redemption, loyalty, human rights, slavery, etc. This is a show that makes you think, and not about FTL drives or star patterns.

What Moore Meant

You put it very aptly and very succinctly.

I wonder if that's what RDM meant when he used the term Naturalistic Science Fiction. The 'naturalistic' wasn't meant to describe the science per se, but the way it interacts with the fiction. It's simply a drama that uses sci-fi as it's backdrop.

I think most people here

I think most people here have been saying that for a while. It is mainly Brad and a few others who hold out hope of more science fiction and less naturalism.

No, not less.

Now you clarify what people may be meaning and what I haven’t gotten about your statements. You think I want less of something in order to have more realism. I can’t imagine what I said that led you to that. I want them both.

Written SF delivers them both all the time. TV SF sucks at it. Normally the very best of TV SF has been quite below the quality of the best written material. That’s the way it usually is, the book is better than the movie. BSG has been showing the promise of being far above other TV SF. That’s the hope it gave us, and the disappointment if it doesn’t deliver.

Naturalistic Science Fiction

What I find contradictory about the term "naturalistic science fiction" is the artificial separation between "science" and "naturalism." Science is the study of the natural world as opposed to theology, which is the study of the supernatural world. So, "naturalistic science fiction" seems redundant to me. RDM was trying to find some way to describe BSG without using the term "Soft SF" because he knew that would turn off the Hard SF fans who, frankly, look down on it. I don't think that's what Brad is doing since he's said several times that if the show doesn't measure up to Hard SF standards that he will still enjoy it, just that if it did measure up he would enjoy it more. The show has already not lived up to those standards, however, and the abandonment of the "no sound in a vacuum" fact is just one example. RDM has been pretty up front that if he has to choose between maintaining the Hard SF standard and character development that he'd pick character development, but I think Brad's point is that RDM doesn't have to choose.

Ideally, I agree that a writer doesn't have to choose between maintaining a Hard SF standard and a dramatic story, but in reality I think it's a rare individual who can wear both hats equally well. The pace and consensus style of TV writing I think adds another challenge to maintaining this standard. An SF show can definitely employ scientific consultants, and should, but getting all the science right still takes a lot of time that TV shows simply don't have.

As a reader and viewer I'm OK with writers taking some literary license, even beyond the commonly accepted FTL travel device, so long as it serves the story well and it's the exception not the rule.

"the true innovation of BSG

"the true innovation of BSG is the great storytelling, the depth of the characters, the stories particularly of betrayal, infidelity, loss, redemption, loyalty, human rights, slavery, etc. This is a show that makes you think, and not about FTL drives or star patterns."

Exactly. Asking for anything more is the same as trying to get a stone to bleed.

As a wise man once said...

"You can ask."

You can do more than ask

Unless you are going to say something about science or technology or the future and the issues that surround them, why do SF? You can give me all the other things drama gives, the stories, the characters and everything else, without a fantastic setting. And of course TV and movies usually do.

So why do SF? There are various reasons. To bring in a certain audience. To have cool special effects. To make allegorical points. But the best of all the reasons is because your message actually pertains to SF’s subject areas. In which case it is best, by a long shot, to make it real.

Give me a story about the difference between man and machine and the conflict between them. I welcome it. But to make it relevant, to make your point be that much more meaningful, make it a story that’s possible, in a setting with as much relevance to reality as you can attain.

I want drama, characters, stories and all the things you name. And I want SF. I want both. If you’re not giving me both you might as well do fantasy, or mainstream.

Brad, discussing this is

Brad, discussing this is pointless. You have made your point, your vision of scifi/BSG is right and RDM's is wrong. We are not even discussing nuances here, it doesn't sound like that in your replies anyway. And it's your site, so ok.

So I've enjoyed your blog and your speculations, they could have made a great novel series, but a TV series with lousy ratings (mainly finding a small devoted group of scifi-enthusiasts). Let's not forget that RDM succeeded in doing a show that's appealed to a broader audience that any before.

Faith in ourselves

Lew Grade did it all before RDM and did it better.

ATV is what Sci-Fi Channel wants to be.

"I have a very good sense of what audiences want and expect from movies and television. That's because I'm one of them." -- Lew Grade.

TV (and politics) has forgotten that. But this is changing.

It is just not true to say

It is just not true to say that Sci-Fi only has a point to it when the science is accurate and holds some greater meaning about our future. It is just stupid. You tell stories, to TELL STORIES. As a successful writer/producer/directer in the field of television and film in Canada (currently working on Flashpoint) I can tell you not all my stories have relevance. If I wanted to tell a love story in a sci-fi genre I wouldn't care about making a relevant statement about the world we live in I would care about it being the best love story it could be. Stupidity.

Limited Real Estate

Flashpoint looks very interesting and two of the main female characters might make great Danger Gal profiles on my blog. I'll have to catch up on that show.

I think you make a great point about sometimes having to choose between two story elements. Romance Fantasy author Mary Jo Putney has called this "limited real estate" (but I heard about it via SF writer Linnea Sinclair) and I think that applies no matter what combination of Suspense, Romance, Science Fiction, Fantasy etc. you're writing. I think a similar concept is what SF author Melissa Scott calls a "weirdness budget." Most readers/audiences can only handle a finite number of story elements simultaneously and still enjoy the story. I like my Science Fiction with some romantic elements because the desire to be loved is a fundamental human emotion, but my favorite stories are those that weave this into the world-building so it's all intertwined.

I think the Lee-Starbuck-Anders love triangle is a good example of this. Starbuck's fundamental personality traits, which are intimately tied to her "special destiny," have at every turning point influenced how she deals with Lee and Anders. The stakes were raised even more once Anders found out about his true nature. You can't lift this triangle out of the story and drop into another venue, like say an historical, without changing the dynamic itself.

Key to success

You can make a story fit mechanically produced noise because of the underlying form and relationships. Credibility and rapport, or scientifically accurate and emotionally relevant stuff maps on top of that. You might not perceive that as a writer and the audience might not be conciously aware of it but it's there.

I'm not going to say you're wrong but you're not right either.

The games industry had a philosophical fight running for years between "narratology" and "ludology". It was the biggest time sink going until I (and other leading developers and media support) blew it out of the water. It looks like TV writers have a similar conceit but from the opposite side. You need to fix that.

UK politics is in a similar mess,and some of the more savvy players have got that policies and polls aren't the whole picture. They have to tell a story as well. The problem is that if the story for the sake of story becomes too dominant then politics loses all form and relevance. Mastery is about transcending this dualism.

Understanding and self understanding are key to success.

It might just be my simple

It might just be my simple mindedness, but I am doing the job that I wanted when I was 5 and getting paid to do it, I call that successful, but like you seem to think, I am just a simpleton, so I must be too ignorant to know better.

Ego

You're missing the intent of what I'm saying here. When games developers don't understand narrative, and writers don't understand game theory you're heading for a disaster. This is essentially a personal issue. I take it seriously because I understand and want to improve my understanding of both and improve my own execution.

I had this arguing and personal thing with Lisa and I'm not going to repeat it again. It's not fair to Brad to fill his blog up with noise, and I've seen plenty of people slap things down and "monitize" them later. So, yeah. I'll just keep to shipping killer product and tell people afterwards why it was successful.

There's a place for run and gun shooters just as much as there's a place for hazy romance novels. People (including cliche male and female stereotypes) have their specialities. Being successful in one niche is fine but if you want mega success across the range you have to get over yourself. That's hard but the beginning of wisdom.

We've seen, probably, the single biggest economic crisis in history and that's been driven by machismo. TV is in a similar crisis because it's got too cluttered and touchy feely. That's a women issue. The common ground is that people (men and women) have got too egotistical. That's why letting go and developing from within is important.

"All my shows are great. Some of them are bad, but they are all great." -- Lew Grade.

I think I should say, my

I think I should say, my point was not to say people shouldn't have an opinion on what they like, or don't like. I was trying to say the use of a science fiction backdrop does not necessitate a need "to say something about science or technology or the future and the issues that surround them", as it was put. Why use a science fiction backdrop? Sometimes the answer is simply because I wanted to.

Just because you wanted to

Indeed, you can do it just because you want to. And I would say the majority of works that call themselves SF (indeed, the vast majority of TV and movie SF) are really more accurately fantasy that is trying to stay roughly within the SF rules, but not precisely.

But I am advancing a critical theory here, an ideal. Not just an ideal to strive for, though, because it can be attained, and it’s not even that hard to attain.

I’m saying that SF, at its best, is there to explore themes that relate to science, technology, the future, the very nature of man and the universe. And again, at its best, it does this in the real world, so that its explorations are as relevant as they can be.

I’m not saying this is the only way to do it, or even the most popular way. I am arguing that it is the best way. You can use SF just for entertainment, or just as an excuse for special effects (which is often the case in movies) and it can be entertaining, and spectacular. Nothing wrong with that. I’m trying to paint a path of how it can be that, but more.

The problem is you are

The problem is you are dealing in absolutes. She has a point when she says a writer is telling a story first and foremost and you cannot hold an author to a different storytelling standard just because you believe the writer should be telling the story your way. At the end of the day, it is their story and it can be just as great if they aspire to the goals you hope for, as it can be without those goals. I really dislike the constant use of absolutes.

Perception

Brad is highlighting some realities that some people find uncomfortable. As BSG is failing to live up to standards it's turning into a roadcrash and people are getting personal. That's understandable but beyond the initial tearing of clothes and gnashing of teeth people have to learn from that. If they don't they'll keep making excuses and we'll be back here in 10 years time discussing the same nonsense about another show.

Anne-Marie and Lisa are handy examples of arrogance and tuning out anyone who isn't a member of the rah-rah crowd. Yes, this is getting personal but where people don't pay attention to good technqiue or listen to what the market is telling them those awards and claps from the peanut gallery mean nothing. It's just so much ego bouncing back into your face and a big roadsign pointing out the inevitable crash down the road.

Ron can and has admitted he fucked up and delivered on some of what the audience wanted. That's something that neither Anne-Marie, Lisa, or the crowing attention bubble of fanbois and whiners get. Heck, the central theme of BSG was as Zen as it's possible to get on TV without TV-execs and the religious establishment getting their panties in a bunch and nobody sees that. They're just listening to the ego reel playing in their own heads.

It has happened before. *sigh* It will happen again.

...Unless people change themselves.

Not absolutes

I don’t think I’m dealing in absolutes. Other than the one called “reality,” I guess. And I don’t know how often I have said that I’m never saying one should sacrifice story. What I have said is that trying to be more realistic often makes story better. It’s not a sacrifice to constrain your story to a set of rules and stick with them. The special set of rules known as reality may seem more limiting, but it is (mostly) consistent and adds a special relevance to, well, reality.

What's "Best"

I’m not saying this is the only way to do it, or even the most popular way. I am arguing that it is the best way.

This is where you lose me. I'm all for defining a rigorous standard, but who decides what's "best?" Who defines that? It moves this out of opinion and, as Terry noted, into absolutes.

Criticism

That’s the essence of criticism. Discussing what standards a work should be held to, and how well it attains them. In this case there are genre standards, my standards, and Moore’s own standards which are all worthy of discussion on a blog like this.

You can disagree with my picture of what’s best, or say that you never felt that BSG was aspiring to anything like it.

My judgment of what’s best is, I hope, not just my own, but based on analysis of the long history of the genre, with which I have had some involvement both as a reader and a publisher. This in turn is based on analysis of the works that have had to most impact and acclaim in both the written field and the dramatic one. Realize that TV SF has rarely, if ever, reached the highest standards, and so it is not surprising if people say “you’re holding it to a standard that TV SF never tries to attain.” Even if that were true, it would not be wrong to compare it to such a standard, for the standard is not impossible. More to the point, it isn’t an all of nothing. One can get close to the standard by degrees, and the standard even changes over time. For example, we may lower our bars based on budget, audience or when a work was made, as the bar changes over time.

I would contend that Star

I would contend that Star Wars is, to this day, the most impactful SF, from both a critical acclaim, but also a cultural impact. It is also timeless, which I think is very important. I would also argue that the newer films and cartoon are just as good as the original and all I give you as proof is to sit your kids in front of it and look at them. The looks on their faces will prove that expectation killed the newer work. When you are a kid you don't have all these expectations, you just sit back and enjoy the ride. My kids know the different films, but I never hear them say, this one is better than that one, it is all Star Wars to them. Isn't that what all fiction really aspires to, immortality? Do you account for that because I get the feeling you are someone who would decry Star Wars as a waste, even the originals.

Habit and reactivity

Star Wars got there first and has all pervasive marketing behind it. It's no different to Microsoft Windows. To some people who've never used another OS they see OS through the lens of Windows. Office, and X-Box. There's other and, arguably, better stuff out there. QNX? RiscOS? VMS?

I'm a great fan of standards and only fully undertood a few years ago why one of my old college lecturers used to bang on about standards like it was his religion. You see, standards help level the playing field and put end use higher up the chain than mere Darwinian consumption.

Anne-Marie and Lisa don't quit get this but when I discuss skill and change, like standards versus marketing, the key issue is looking beyond surface convention and sentimentality, and discovering something better within ourselves and creating something better. Ya know, being alive.

Sometimes, you have to break the rules to keep the rules. This can take a while to understand.

Star Wars?

Star wars is culturally important, it provided icons and stories, and it’s important in dramatic SF as everybody has seen it and will compare things.

But I think it is actually quite a lightweight in terms of influencing thinking about the things in its setting — religions, empires, war in space, universal life-generated forces. The only thing I think it has a big influence on is droids. And not that big, there, not in comparison to the movie’s cultural status.

Far greater influence came from Star Trek and 2001 if you want dramatic SF.

Star Wars and Star Trek

Star Wars and Star Trek cannot be compared. You can't try and be both at the same time. You can try and do one, or the other. That being said, Star Wars is clearly the cultural favorite, it just isn't close there. Star Wars deals with something far more powerful than all of those things: love. The truth is I understand Anakin/Vader's actions. I can talk a good moral game, but for my wife, or kids, I know morality takes a back seat.

I think you mean the other way round

If I had to guess, I would have ranked Star Trek’s cultural influence as greater, simply because there is so much more of it. Star Wars is 6 movies and a clone wars TV series. Star Trek is 6 TV series, 10 movies. Star Wars box office was much larger for each individual movie, but I would guess that person-hours watching Trek exceeds person-hours watching Star Wars by a good margin.

In addition, by virtue of being 10 years older, Star Trek seems to have had more influences on society because of who it affected. From cell phone and other product designs, to naming the prototype space shuttle, to a whole generation of young engineers and scientists, the impact is so much greater. Within the SF field there is no comparison. Only space operas get compared to Star Wars. Everything gets compared to Trek. No accident that RDM cut his teeth in Trek.

I would say given the fact

I would say given the fact that there is no stigma attached to knowing what a Wookiee is, or that it is spelled with 2 e's, yet there is with just saying the word Klingon, I disagree. Star Wars enjoys mainstream success, much like Galactica. In fact, one of the main criticisms from people who grew up with the original Trek is that it has lost the drama and moved into a more science explanation show. I think being able to quote Yoda and not sound like the comic store owner from The Simpsons is the same thing. Star Wars, and now Galactica, have broke the culture barrier. The kid who goes out and skateboards, the kid who plays baseball (or football, etc.), the kid who enjoys reading comics and the kid who is trying to build a robot in his basement all liked Star Wars. Star Trek, not so much.

Monopoly

Star Wars is a brand that's been constantly milked. It hit big because it had glitz and didn't place any demands on the auidence. It got people's attention in a big way, anyone could swallow it, and the franchise has been managed well. There's a lot of iconography in there and a heck of a lot of stuff blagged from other sources, and it's grown and grown as people painted their own expectations on it. There's been some very good games and books that have come out of the franchise but it's nothing that needs Star Wars. I think, that's where I see Brad coming from.

Star Trek and other material like Blake's 7 (which strongly influenced Babylon 5), and Space: 1999 (which influenced a lot of British sci-fi writers who in turn influence the American comics industry and Hollywood) has more story and character substance. This is harder to brand and consume but without grit like that the likes of Star Wars couldn't exist because they would have no foundation to draw from. Digging deeper, a lot of this earlier material draws from earlier generations of classic works and craftsmanship.

I know people who hate or have no interest in Star Wars. They're another generation on from me and I can understand their view. It's just instantly forgettable stuff for kids on one level. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back tried to correct that but Lucas has his bubblegum philosophy and won't let any contributer to the franchise step into bigger shoes than his. I like great games and sc-fi, and have to conciously tune out the Star Wars syrup to enjoy them especially when it gets too self-indulgent. Sadly, there's no way around that because Star Wars is in a monopoly.

LOL! Do you just make stuff

LOL! Do you just make stuff up as you go along?

Practice Makes Perfect

Dude. I'm responsible for about 90% of the anonymous posts here. I don't want some random guy rolling up and abusing anonymous after this week. I'm not taking the heat for that and am too lazy to create an account, so don't mess it up or Brad will bring down the hammer.

As for making stuff up, I'm just borrowing from stuff I've learned in work and material I've viewed. Anyone who knows anything about branding and marketing, the entertainment industry, and sci-fi output around the world would recognise most of what I've said. It's sound enough.

"Making stuff up" is a bit of a sore point around here at the moment but reality and relevance to the audience are important issues. Good technique and the background culture is a foundation that flows into creating opinions or TV shows. As with all things, practice makes perfect.

Sure, I write bullshit but, by God, it's great bullshit. RDM, take note.

Star Wars wins, hands down

I remember a time when Star Wars fans were "cool" and Trek fans were "nerds". This was, of course, a matter of perception - there is a lot of overlap in the fandoms- but the image of "Trekkies" were nerds in costumes at conventions. Star Wars fans were "normal" people who liked the movie. But then the prequels came out. People camped out for weeks before hand, often in costume. As it turns out, it was the lack of an outlet and new material that had kept the SW geeks from sinking to the low level of the worst Trekkies, but now that difference has been erased. The two have saturated culture so much that there is no shame in either knowing what a Wookiee OR a Klingon is, but if you can spell Wookiee, or speak Klingon, you've entered the nerd zone as far as most people are concerned.

Now, as to which has more influence, it has to be Star Wars. Star Wars was Woodstock for my generation. You'd be hard pressed to find a person in film under the age of 45 who wouldn't say SW was a major influence in their decision to get in the industry. Star Trek may have affected a smaller number of people more deeply, but Star Wars just wins on the numbers.

Star Trek vs. Star Wars

Since ST vs SW is the classic rathole topic of SF, I am not going to encourage a big thread about this. But I have my Star Wars chops. I saw Star Wars 15 times in the cinemas in 1977-78 (it played for a year, and my dad had a free pass, and I was 17.) Star Wars is a huge entertainment phenomenon, perhaps the biggest of all time. It changed movies forever, and invented merchandising and was mythic. But it is a pale shadow of Star Trek when you look outside entertainment. Star Wars changed moviemaking, and yes, space opera moviemaking, hugely. Star Trek, on the other hand, changed the world, as it raised and inspired a whole generation of engineers and yes, nerds.

Great works of SF change the world. 1984. Brave New World. 2001. Star Trek. Neuromancer. Stranger in a Strange Land. Farenheit 451. Frankenstein. 20,000 Leagues. Asimov’s Robots. True Names. Mostly written, as you’ll see.

Irony: Part Deus Ex Machina

When people talk about influence is that Star Wars influencing them or are they painting things on that aren't there? I suggest that but what might have triggered an interest is one thing and the level of content is another. I've watched the movies, played some of the games, and read some of the books. There's some good stuff in there but beyond a certain point it's content free or nothing that couldn't have flown under a different flag.

It's like this Obama thing American's have going. I've read the same books he has and apart from some polish and apart from the size of the audience pretty much said the same things. He's got the philosophical bling and the chummy handshake like Star Wars but like Star Wars once you get beyond a certain point he's a fat free diet. He's a focus that other people bring their hopes and dreams, their narratives, and a lot of consumer dollars to.

Electronic Arts has a similar deal going. Like the music industry people like to be the big hitters, the household name, the Don whose ring you kiss to get approval to open the shop you've always dreamed of running. This is great because it brings focus, energy, order, and cooperative ecosystem but there's always an element of monopoly, crushing alternatives, and draining the collective capital. How many people has Star Wars snuffed out?

Influence/Misconception

It's a common misconception that Star Wars has more cultural relevance than Star Trek simply due to mass popularity. But that's a mistake because popularity and cultural relevance are not the same. While Trek may not be as popular, EVERYONE worldwide living in a civilized country knows what Star Trek is, knows the vulcan neck pinch, live long and prosper, captain kirk, spock and even khan. So when it comes to knowledge of the franchise, I would say it's at least equal.

But let us not forget how it inspired culture and technology. How many scientists, engineers, inventors and even politician claim they are devoted to their profession due to Trek (answer: a LOT). How many black professionals were inspired by Uhura (ditto)? Professionals who drew inspiration from Star Wars tend to be digital artists, designers and special effects wizards-- people in film as you say. All respectable professions, but they do not influence our society to the degree that engineers, inventors and politicians do (Obama is an admitted Trekkie, you know).

Star Trek continues to influence television and movies to AT LEAST the same degree as Star Wars (parodies of trek are even more common that Star Wars parodies) but usually in more subtle ways.

But more importantly is the Enterprise itself. They named an aircraft carrier after it. And a space shuttle.

Serious Scif-Fi for a Serious Age

Politics is the art of the possible. We can demand a standard but as Brad rightly points out this is often modified by other choices. Mediocrity can become a self-fulfilling prophecy which is why it's important to have some clear understanding of standards and measures even if they're not attained. Indeed, I'd say this was very important.

In an earlier age merchants had their own relative measures and the bad ones short-changed customers. When Henry VIII created weights and measures, and backed it by military force, traders had a standard to aim for and it was kept. In turn, both the quality and turnover of commerce increased. A similar pattern can be found in the feudal history of Europe, the Middle-East, and Asia as well as the more obvious banking crisis of today.

Rules and keeping to the rules may weed out some of the less skilled and freeloaders but the overall gain is worth the effort. The lazy will scream. The easily pleased will scream. But those screams are merely the screams of ego, Voltaires mice having the runaround, but nothing serious. They will stamp their feet and prostrate themselves before corwds but it's only an exericse is sliding off the hook. Anyone who is serious about sci-fi and creating a better and more relevant experience for the audience will take standards seriously.

I am curious how you feel

I am curious how you feel about a film like Memento. Aside from the fake medical problem, just based on fluidity of story. I am curious because Christopher Nolan has acknowledged that the story doesn't actually make sense. There is a huge flaw that turns it into the Esher of film. However, that flaw is what most people consider the brilliance of the film. I am just curious if you feel any flawed story can be great. Granted the makers of Memento knew it was flawed and used it as a device, but it still holds that there is no plausible explanation for the film. Now, personally, I think it is the greatest single piece of celluloid the world has ever seen. Not just from a story perspective, but the way the story was shot, the oh so perfect editing, the overall vision, everything was just so perfect. However, I am curious how you feel about it, because you seem to be against the very idea irrationality.

Momento

Momento was a great movie, but as you say, it doesn’t pretend to be about a real mental disorder, or to be SF. It’s a tool used to create a particular dramatic narrative, in particular a reverse narrative. Why would I have a problem with that?

Again, there is a genre of SF that tries to be realistic, and I believe that has many merits, and eventually produces the greatest and most meaningful fiction. It is common in written SF, but almost never found in TV SF. BSG, unlike most TV SF, seemed to many to be aspiring to this, or a variant of it that Moore named naturalistic, so my critical analysis is tied to that standard, and Moore’s.

Sorry, I must not have been

Sorry, I must not have been clear enough. I mean the flaw that at the end it is revealed his "wife" was never killed and you see her in bed with him and he has a new tattoo over his heart saying "I did it". This creates a paradox within the story itself. Nolan knew that, but proceeded anyway. He felt the paradox added a wonderful enigma to the end of the film. I was trying to see if you can appreciate good writing in a fundamentally flawed story. Which it appears you can, so I truly don't understand your hard line position that to be the best possible show BSG "must" be done a certain way. I understand having a preference, but I don't see how you can outright say the show will never be the best it could have been. It assumes that there are rules to storytelling and I don't believe that is true. I think it is too subjective.

Koan

You're getting trapped by your own logic and experience. The end is a paradox that's resolved. This is an underlying mechanism that's high in reality and relevance to the audience. Anne-Marie who's operating at the emotional fluffy level and yourself dealing with pure logic don't properly get this. The movie experience flowing into an experience of contrasting emotion and logic creates a moment of enlightenment. The frame of reference changes, the audience gets the joke, and the movie ends with a payoff. You have to understand emotion and logic, underlying mechanisms and surface experience, and the flow of one event into another to understand it properly.

People don't understand this which is why they don't see the rules and believe it's all subjective, but this is just their own lack of understanding and experience echoing back to them. I don't think Brad is totally familiar with this point of view which is why he's struggling to make the connections, and your own understanding is locked in its own bubble. It's ironic but the essence of BSG and this movie is about transcending the certainty of logic and emotional clinging and "getting it". This discussion is wheedling out peoples lack of understanding and the irony thing plays its card again as the two domains crash together and, hopefully, some enlightenment develops.

This is old news to Zen Buddhism which makes extensive use of koans.

Really? That is why the guy

Really? That is why the guy who wrote and directed it has said that the movie is paradox and is impossible and trying to figure it out is impossible because you can't. (text removed)

Oh no, sidetracked

You've sidetracked me, now. It's been years since i've seen Memento. I do not recall that ending, nor the paradox it created. Can you refresh my memory (no pun intended, though giddily accepted)?

Memento is a paradox because

Memento is a paradox because at the end of the film, specifically when Leonard asks if anything is real, there is a shot of Leonard and his wife in bed only he has all the tattoos including a new one over his heart that says "I did it". When asked about it Christopher Nolan called it, "The wonderful paradox of the film." He has never said anything else about it, which, as was insinuated, makes the story itself flawed because it is in actuality completely impossible. I actually really like the Esher description.

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