• Category Archives Movies and Film
  • Should I watch this Shark movie?

    Shark movies - bringing the terror of the deep sea to your living room!If you know me, you know I love sharks. One of my favorite things about summer – almost every year there seems to be at least one good shark movie. This year’s movie, Meg, looks particularly exciting. Every scientific fact I know says the premise could never be. Still – I kind of hope we find that Megalodon exists somewhere. I know that we don’t really want it circling our beaches. Even though sharks don’t actually like eating humans, they sometimes get confused. No if  Megalodon exists – probably best that it exists in a deep cove in the middle of the ocean. But I digress. The point of this article – there are a lot of shark movies! Some of them are good, some of them are – not so good. So, as a community service, I shall give my opinion of several shark movies. That way you will know which movies are worth watching, and which movies you should just skip over.

     

    Jaws

    We all know Jaws – it may have been the very first blockbuster. It gave Steven Spielberg a blank check to pretty much do whatever he wants, and that alone makes me think that Jaws might be the king of the shark movies. I watched Jaws a few years back, thinking this movie will have aged. However – while Jaws certainly does not have the best special effects, the writing is still solid. Besides, who could forget the line…we’re going to need a bigger boat?

    TL:DR Watch Jaws!

     

    Deep Blue Sea


    I have no idea if I watched Deep Blue Sea when it came out. Looking at the era, it certainly is possible. I saw a lot of movies in the late 90s. Still – I might have said…that looks too scary. Yeah – I was kind of a chicken when it came to even remotely scary movies. But I digress. I watched Deep Blue Sea last week, and I enjoyed the movie. However, I would not watch it again as honestly – it really wasn’t that great of a movie. Still – Deep Blue Sea has its good points. Deep Blue Sea certainly keeps you guessing who will live and who will die. This is essential to any shark movie. The writing was a bit wooden – but oh well – giant mutant sharks trap the humans underwater. Why not?

    TL:DR Watch Deep Blue Sea – but don’t expect a serious film.

     

    Sharknado

    I used to love the Asylum – then they made Sharknado. Somehow, Sharknado got a ton of buzz and everyone was like….yeah, I want to watch it. Then they made – what – twenty sequels? Each and every sequel was even more ridiculous. I don’t mind if a movie is intentionally bad, but I feel like the Asylum ran with the popularity of Sharknado to see how bad they could get. As far as the movie itself – it really is not that great of a movie – even for a bad, B movie. I kind of felt let down after watching Sharknado. The concept itself is great! But the execution just failed miserably.

    TL:DR Don’t watch Sharknado

     

    Shark Night

    A bunch of college students go to a cabin and meet a bunch of sharks. Like – ALL the sharks. There were hammerheads and bull sharks and tiger sharks and pretty much every non-extinct shark you could name. Shark Night serves a smorgasborge for all your man-eating shark movie needs! Shark Night certinaly did not take itself too seriously mind you. The tone was almost comedic, and no one expected any accolades. Shark Night was just a lot of dumb, mindless fun.

    TL:DR Watch Shark Night! Shark Night is fun!

     

    47 Meters Down

    My girlfriend loves Mandy Moore and I love shark movies – so of course we had to see 47 Meters Down. I even have a photo of myself getting “eaten” by a giant, cardboard shark advertising the movie. Did I love this movie? Meh – it was ok. I feel like 47 Meters Down felt like it tried to be too serious. The movie tried to show what a lack of oxygen in shark infested waters might do to a person. To be fair – 47 Meters Down serves a great suspense thriller – but just because the movie takes place mostly underwater, that does not mean the movie must be “deep.”

    TL:DR Meh – watch 47 Meters Down anyways.

     

    The Shallows


    Swoooon. I love this movie. I love The Shallows sooooo much that I will probably watch this movie again after I finish writing about this movie. The Shallows really shows the audience that drama and shark movies can co-habitate. The movie focuses on a surfer trapped 200 meters offshore with an angry, vicious great white pining to end her life. The surfer’s injuries bleed into the water, only feeding the shark’s rage even more. Wow. Just wow. This film might be the best Shark movie ever.

    TL:DR Watch The Shallows! Watch it twice!

     

    2-Headed Shark Attack

    A year before Sharknado, the Asylum released probably their best shark movie. A group of teens encounters an unnatural predator in a hungry, viscous, 2-Headed shark. The teens escape to a deserted atoll, only to find their island of safety is sinking and the 2-headed shark followed them. The acting is bad, the props are ridiculous, and the plot really stinks. Still 2-Headed Shark Attack shows the best of the Asylum. 2-Headed Shark shows a bad movie with a small budget that just does not take itself too seriously.

    TL:DR Watch 2-Headed shark if you like cheesy B movies. Stay clear of the two sequels though.

     

    Finding Nemo

    Wait a minute – Finding Nemo isn’t a shark movie. Finding Nemo is about a clown fish and Blue Tang fish trying to find Nemo. But wait….do you not remember some of their buddies? The Sharks sworn to the oath – fish are friends, not food? OK, ok, so Finding Nemo as a shark movie might be – nay – is a huge stretch, however, I feel as though Finding Nemo serves as a decent palette cleanser. You just witnessed a bunch of carnage at the hand, err, Jaws, of some of nature’s most vicious killing machines. You need this! Besides – sharks really are friends. Most sharks attack humans not out of hunger or even malice (bull sharks being an exception). Most sharks attack humans out of – well – accident. They think you’re food, yes, but they don’t think you’re human. They actually don’t like the way we taste.

    TL:DR Watch Finding Nemo as a palette cleanser.

     


    So many other shark movies.

    There are other shark movies I skipped over: Ghost Shark, the Reef, Jersey Shore Sharks, Open Water et cetera. Omission by no means says anything negative or positive about these movies. I just have not seen every shark movie. I mean, I am only one man with a finite amount of time. Maybe by next summer I’ll review a few more. I will say that if a shark movie is a sequel, a good rule of thumb: skip it. There are a few exceptions mind you – but Open Water 2, Sharknado 2, Deep Ocean 2, Deep Blue Sea 2, and the like – meh. You’ve got better use of your time.


  • The 6 most amazing ships in Star trek (that aren’t the Enterprise)

    51 years ago, a “Wagon train to the stars” was launched, and no one – not even Gene Rodenberry himself, had any idea of the life it was going to take. 13 movies, five live action series (err, now it’s six), and even a cartoon….the franchise has certainly been a huge part of our culture. Star Trek has introduced us to characters we love, and even a few that we hate. Star Trek has introduced us to worlds and aliens we would have never met. And of course, the ships! What would Star Trek be without the ships? So many amazing ships too! There’s the Enterprise, the Enterprise A, the Enterprise D, the Enterprise E….ok ok. There are a lot more ships than the six versions of the Enterprise. And as Star Trek is about exploring strange new worlds, and new civilizations, what better way to celebrate than by exploring vessels we don’t know a whole lot about? I mean….we know a lot about the Enterprise D, we were there every week for 7 years! We even know a lot about Voyager and The Defiant. But there’s some ships that are just as interesting which we hardly know about. So…as we prepare to learn about the US Discovery, (and oh how stoked I am about the new series) let’s take a few minutes and….discover…. some of the amazing ships that made Star Trek awesome.

    1)The Borg Queen’s Cube (First Contact)…

    battle001
    Efficient is one word. Egalitarian is another. The Borg Cube has very little in the way of aesthetics, but while it looks like something designed by Soviet Russia, it’s far from a boring ship. Firstly, the size of the ship. It’s huge! In the above picture, you can see the Enterprise E (the largest Enterprise) for scale. The Enterprise looks like it’s the size of a runabout compared to the cube! Borg Cubes are, of course, decentralized. The weaponry could be fired from pretty much any spot on the vessel. Any Borg from any station can do any task. And then of course there’s the fact that it contained a time traveling escape sphere! Seriously….who has one of those, save for the queen of the Borg? The Queen’s Cube, if it were not for the intervention of the Enterprise E, would have assimilated Earth. It’s the only ship to ever evoke the Klingon Death Chant (Perhaps today IS a good day to die) from Worf himself….while captaining the Defiant no less.

    Kelvan Multi-Generational Ship (Original Series)…

    Not much is known about these ships or even what they looked like, but what we do know is quite impressive. First launched in the 1960s, these ships traveled from the Andromeda Galaxy (hence the picture above). In a series full of interstellar travel, it’s hard to believe that intergalactic travel is almost a thing of fairy tales. To put it in perspective, a constitution class ship would take thousands of years to travel in between galaxies. The Kelvan ships can do it in 600. If we fast forward to about the year 4000, we might finally know more about these amazing ships. For now….we know they’re fast. We know they’re built to last for hundreds of years….and that’s just about it. But those facts alone are quite impressive.

    Species 8472’s ships (Voyager)…

    While not a specific ship, these ships are certainly some of the most impressive of the Star Trek universe. Organic technology alone might be impressive enough….but that’s just the start of this species’ amazing ships. The first time we are introduced to these ships, they’ve outright flattened a Borg Armada of 15 ships. What other species can say that? If not for the alliance with Voyager, these ships would have totaled the Borg Collective in six months time. How, you may ask? Their ships were not that big – they only carried one crew member. But these ships used the borg tactics of working in unison. When several ships came together, they could form a planet killer weapon which totally anilated anything in it’s destructive path. If there’s one thing you can take from species 8472 by the way….never piss off a xenophobic species that can wipe out the borg.

    The USS Valiant (Deep Space Nine)…

    While this ship is almost identical to the Defiant, the crew of the Valiant is what makes it so extraordinary. This ship, full of cadets and trapped behind enemy lines for months was able to survive long enough to complete it’s mission. While the captain’s huberis is what ultimately got most of the crew killed, it still must be noted that this was more than an ordinary crew. They knew what they had to do, despite being alone, despite being cut off from communications with rest of Starfleet. Red Sqad, we salute you. We can’t blame you for being inexperienced cadets.

    The Prometheus (Voyager)…

    This ship can separate into three….yes, three parts. Not even the Enterprise-D could do that! Each section of ship was a vessel that was more than adequately prepared to kick the Dominion back to the Gamma quadrant. In addition, it had regenerative shields as well as the same plating as the Defiant (and of course, the Valiant). Oh, did I mention it’s EMH could roam the entire ship without a mobile emitter? And did I mention this ship was the fastest in all of Starfleet? Seriously – it’s almost like they took the best parts from Voyager, the Defiant, and the Enterprise C and mixed them all together. If only they had shown more of the Prometheus….sigh.

    The Narada (Star Trek 2009)…

    This ship (along with Spok’s) pretty much split the Star Trek Universe into two timelines. But asides from that, this ship was essentially a weapon of mass destruction which was far more a match that any and all ships it encountered in the 23rd century. It had a primary assault of several missiles which could seperate into multiple projectiles. It had a drill (I mean, it was a mining ship) which was used to destroy the planet Vulcan!!! And it had a crew that was pissed off. More pissed off than species 8472, as their homeworld had been destroyed and they themselves were catapulted back in time. Yeah…..don’t mess with a shipload of pissed off Romulans. Just don’t.


  • Can we please get another Vacation movie?

    Two years ago I walked into a theater – skeptical, yet optimistic. There was a new Vacation movie. I had seen every single Vacation movie multiple times, including Vegas Vacation (Hey! It’s funnier than you remember!). And this one stars one of my favorite actors (Ed Helms). Still – the idea of a new Vacation movie just sat wrong with me. It was a reboot – or so I thought. It was also rehashing the plot of the original, again, or so I thought. Still, my curiosity outweighed my skepticism, so into the theater I went. And I am so glad I did. Despite the reviews, this turned out to be a very funny movie and true to the spirit of the “original” series. Ed Helms Rusty might be my favorite (sorry Johnny Galecci – you’ve been dethroned). And while absurdist humor is not en vouge anymore, this movie was not afraid to take an absurdist route. Sadly, absurdism is probably why Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 26 percent (I will note that IMDB was a little kinder, giving it a 61 percent). Vacation 2015 was so much fun, and as I sat through this film again recently, one thought came through my mind: I want another Vacation movie, dangit! While I can’t find any hints of a new movie in the works, I can only hope the producers take a chance and go for it. And Hey! If they’re looking for some suggestions, I just happen to have some!

    Firstly, let’s not rehash one of the first four movies. It would be really tempting to do another Griswold family Christmas, but I’m not quite sure we’re ready for that yet. A new European Vacation might make sense, as the last scene of Vacation (2015) shows Rusty and Debbie flying to Paris, but we need the kids. And Vegas? Eh….not interested. No, what we need is a fresh destination. I’m thinking Hawaii or Mexico. Somewhere sunny and tropical. And yes, Christmas Vacation 2 went to Hawaii, but no one really counts that movie. Another fun idea: we could see that cabin in Michigan they kept talking about at the begining of the film. Heck, Vacation 2015 was trying to go for a Trains, Planes, and Automobiles vibe – the next movie could go for a Great Outdoors vibe! OK – maybe not.

    This wouldn’t be as funny of it were Ed Helms under the door.

    Secondly, either Get Chevy Chase and Beverly Diangelo to matter or don’t use them at all. I really appreciate the fact that the original couple had a cameo in Vacation. It worked well to establish the film’s place in the canon. Having said that, now that the new series of movies has been placed, maybe we should just steer away from Grandpa and Grandma. Or – maybe we should make them a major part of the movie. Let’s look at Clark’s parents in Christmas Vacation. Would the movie be the same without them? Of course not, their presence mattered. In the same breath – if Clark and Ellen are used, they need to be side characters, again, just like their parents (both sets) in Christmas Vacation. They can come along for the ride if they enrich the movie – but the movie should be about Rusty’s family.

    Thirdly, don’t forget the things that worked in the original movies. There should be some absurdist comedy. There should be some stupidity. There should also be a man just trying to do right by his family. There should be some inconsistencies with the kids – different actors, maybe different ages. There should even be a cousin Eddie Shenanigans. Why not?

    Fourthly, there should be things that are new to this movie and series. Yes – every movie has had a different Rusty, but replacing Ed Helms would be a crime. For one thing, I like him too much. He’s a funny man and fits the part well. He’s also the main character in this series of movies, and not just a smart alec kid that can be replaced. Another different thing, we could perhaps see; some of the Cousin Eddie clan as not just a bunch of hillbillies – but as people who’ve matured and actually have made something of themselves. So yes, do something different. Especially since in Vacation 2015, the tone was actually set by a conversation during the begining sequence of the film where they recognized they couldn’t just redo the old movie.

    Finally, while this and all the Vacation movies are, as I’ve stated earlier, about a man trying to do right by his family by giving them a decent vacation, we need to realize this is not the 80s anymore. Female characters should be a bit more independent. Christina Applegate’s character, Debbie, should not be a housewife, but rather a working mother herself. We should also see (or at least mention) that Audrey gave up on her sham of a marriage. And hey, if Ellen and Clark are in the movie, we should see that Ellen works just as hard (well, most likely harder) as Clark to keep their bed and breakfast Afloat. Seriously, Ellen must be super woman, considering her husband’s zany schemes.

    The only reason the idiot in pink hadn’t burned down the green house behind them? The woman in blue.

    I know the last movie was kind of a flop; I know doing another movie might be a big risk – and let’s be honest – the critics won’t like it no matter how good they make this movie. Still, there’s a lot of good content just waiting to be explored in a future movie (or two…..or three). Dammit! I want another Vacation movie!


  • The worst movies…….ever

    I’m usually not very harsh when it comes to movies. If I’ve plopped my 10 or 12 bucks down, I’m most likely going to enjoy myself. My degree in English helps – as it arms me with the ability to find subtext where others might not find it. So I often times find significance and enjoyment in films in which others tend to view as a waste of time and energy. Having said that – there are some movies that simply have no redemption as far as I’m concerned. Come join me will you, as I give a big fat raspberry to what I view as the worst of the worst. These are movies that are absolute abortions, or rather should have been aborted. Seriously Hollywood, why did you make these films?

    Small soldiers – Ok, so my view of this film might be tainted. I went to see it for two reasons. 1) I thought it was going to be a spin off of Toy Story staring the army men. I was stoked to see it and very disappointed when I found out (in the theater) this was not at all related to Toy Story. 2) I was in college and had a crush on a girl who liked to go see the latest films – so I was stoked to be able to talk to her about this one come Monday afternoon in History 101. Sigh….she didn’t even see the damned movie. Ok, ok, so maybe I’m being unfair – maybe this shouldn’t have, as I stated in my opening paragraph, been aborted. And maybe, just maybe, an early 20’s college student just wasn’t the target audience. Still…it was not a good experience for me, and thus it is on my naughty list.

    I thought I was going to see this dangit!!!

    Battleship – After this movie came out, Gail Simone wrote on her twitter feed “I saw Battleship…” The tone, if you can’t tell, was “why the hell did I see Battleship? And that’s pretty much my reaction. Seriously….what kind of idiot decides “Hey, here’s a popular board game, let’s make it into a movie. But let’s not make it like the game at all – let’s add aliens!!! But all that could be forgiven if they had actually given the lead role, Alex Hopper, a freaking personality. He was basically a piece of wood. Seriously – this is the idiot that saves the world? No…just no. This battleship deserves to be sunk.

    Yes please…..

    Napoleon Dynamite – Ok, I realize this is going to be polarizing – I don’t care because I’m right and anyone who disagrees is wrong! Did that sound harsh? Well…..that’s basically the reason I hated the movie. Almost every character was an absolute jerk. It wasn’t just the mean high school teenagers, Napoleon’s uncle, grandma, and brother….the titular character was an absolute jerk. In fact….there were two characters, and only two out of a pretty large cast that weren’t absolut jerks. There was Deb, who probably should run away from that town as soon as she turns 18, and there was Pedro. Oooo, and let’s talk about Pedro. The character himself is fine, but his cousins were nothing but a Hispanic stereotype. Kids who dress in the Vato style and drive around in low-riders. Oh, but that isn’t the only racist stereotype. Napoleon’s eventual sister-in-law, Lafawnduh is a walking stereotype. Even her name – I just spent five minutes googling said name, and all I found was references to this movie, thus I feel safe in saying this: Lafawnduh sounds like a name a bunch of white people would make up trying to make fun of African Americans. Napoleon dynamite is a racist turd of a movie and a study in how not to treat people. Naopolean Bonaparte was exciled to Malba; Napolean Dynamite should be exciled down the toilet and into the sewers!

    Where’s a giant meteor when you need one? Gosh! That’s harsh!

    San Andreas – Hey, let’s make a movie based on the fallacy that the entire state of California is going to fall into the ocean! Ok, ok, I actually enjoy movies like this, but I have to care about the characters. In San Andreas, I found myself just wishing Dwayne Johnson’s role would just freaking die already. Oh, and let’s talk about the fact that he goes to save his daughter. Sure, this is noble, yadda yadda yadda, but in doing so he abandons his post and therefore condemns others to die. Seriously – he’s a helicopter rescue pilot – he is needed right now, and yet he decides he doesn’t need to fulfill his duties. I can’t blame him mind you, but I hope when the dust settles, he’s severely reprimanded by his superiors. Actually, 90 percent of the movie could have been rescued if this one character was maybe rehashed a bit. You hear that Dwayne Johnson, San Andreas is all your….fault.

    And then thrown into this scientifically impossible pit.

    Skyline – This is, undeniably, the worse movie I’ve ever seen. Seriously, I felt this movie was written by a committee. I can hear them in their board rooms: “Ok, this worked in the Matrix, so let’s use it. This worked in Star Wars, so let’s use it. This works in…” you get the idea. The main character was the biggest douche nozzle ever. OK, so he’s going to break up with his girlfriend, then he finds out she’s pregnant, and then at the very end when the aliens have sucked up their brains, they still find each other because true love? Huh? So….we go from “I’m done with this girl,” to “I won’t let anything, even our disembodiment, stand in the way of true love!!!” Right. And by the way, they’re the only couple, out of the billions of couples on Earth, who are able to find each other because of the power of love…riiiiight. Some other notes – every time I started to actually like a character, they got killed or brain sucked by the aliens. And let’s not forget that while the entire planet was being invaded, this movie focuses on just a handful of people. I guess their lives are more important than anyone else’s…. By the way, for added torture, there was also Battle LA. Basically the same movie, only it was military people instead of civilians. I heard the two movies were supposed to actually be one, but someone got mad or something. So instead of one pile of crap, we got two! What a deal! What a brain sucking turd of a deal. I’m so glad this movie flopped at the theater.

    Skyline’s brain removal was a perfect metaphor for what the movie did to the audience.

    Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen – Oh Micheal Bay, how you spit upon my childhood. Is that a bit harsh? Yeah…probably. Still, as someone who was the target age of the first wave of Transformers, I feel justified in saying this. Yeah, the first movie kind of sucked, but the second movie – well that was just more than awful. From the two streetwise, jive-talking autobots, to Devistator’s testicles, this movie just…no. Just no. Bad Micheal Bay, why does he keep making movies? Well – at least the third movie wasn’t as bad. In fact it kind of gave me what I wanted in the first two installments, that is Big Giant Robots Killing Each other. Added note: #5 just came out and while it’s not as bad as 2, it certainly is close! (bleep) you, Micheal Bay. (Bleep ) you in the (bleep) until you (bleep) and (bleep) like a red hot (bleep) and a I (vleep) you in the (bleep) like bongo!

    More of this please!


  • Blasting off with Sci-Fi!

    stargate

    I’ve loved science fiction my entire life. The idea of blasting off into space and landing on a distant planet, or maybe slipping into an alternative dimension where all the apes are purple and all the barnacles are made of gold? Yes please! I was two years old when Star Wars came into theaters, I grew up watching Star Trek re-runs, and even went to see the Black Hole in theaters (quite possibly the first time at a theater where I didn’t fall asleep during the movie).I love Sci-Fi so much that I almost feel like I can claim a deep love for the genre is in my genetics……and while I’m on the subject, I’ve got to say – I’ve never understood the stereotype of only nerds liking Sci-Fi. But then again, I am a nerd, so there’s that. Hell, I’m even wearing a t-shirt referencing Stargate (there’s no place like ). But I digress – there’s a war in science fiction – there’s those who care more about the fiction and less about the science, and there’s those who care more about the science and less about the fiction. Whose right? In my opinion, it depends on the piece of Science Fiction. There’s some simple rules one must follow when writing science fiction.

    1) One must know their audience:
    This is such a 101ism that it hurts to include this in this list. I know my readers enough to know that they know this already – but yet for the sake of completionism I feel I must say this. Knowing one’s audience is a basic part of writing, but this is especially important in this discussion, as science fiction fans are a diverse group of individuals. There’s physicists who study things that, quite frankly, I’ll never be able to understand. There’s people who can barely grasp the concept of warp speed. There’s the ten year old kid who saw Anakin Skywalker in the Phantom Menace as character they can relate to, there’s the disgruntled gen Xers who scoff at the prequels and swear by the original three. One has to know what kind of science fiction fan one is writing for, or else you’ll get something that no one likes. To add to this, knowing which audience you’re writing for means knowing which opinions can (and should) be ignored, and which opinions should be taken seriously. Are you writing the next 2001? Then don’t listen to the ten year old kids when they say it’s boring. Don’t listen to those who prefer Micheal Bay explosion type movies. Listen to someone you might find as a character on the Big Bang theory, because they’re the ones who are more likely to understand your creation. Likewise, don’t listen to the hard science crowd if you’re trying to write the next Skyline – though I will say that if you’re trying to do this, maybe you should just chop off your hands because Skyline was the worst movie ever.

    Skyline's brain removal was a perfect metaphor for what the movie did to the audience.
    Skyline’s brain removal was a perfect metaphor for what the movie did to the audience.
    2) One must have likable characters: I just said that Skyline was the worse movie ever written. That was not just a cheap jab – Skyline is seriously the worse movie I’ve ever seen. I hold it as the bottom measure of how bad a movie can be. There’s two things that made it bad: a) it felt like it was written by a board of directors and b) I just didn’t give a damn about the characters. Seriously – the main guy didn’t give a damn about his girlfriend until her life was threatened. He was going to leave because he knocked her up, but then he decided he needed her I guess. It was such a badly written character that I expected him to die pretty quickly, but he didn’t. He was harder to wipe out than a piece of crap stuck to a strand of butt hair and twice as disgusting. Now, maybe there was a small percentage of people who really liked him, but considering that movie was hated by so many people, I highly doubt it. I could go on, and on, and on….about how bad of a movie Skyline is – because seriously, I’ve found things more pleasant in my kitty’s litter box, but my point is if the audience doesn’t like your characters, you’ve failed! Look at Walking Dead. Look at Lost. Look at Star Trek (TOS and TNG). Heck, look at pretty much all of the Marvel Movies! Why are they so loved? Because you don’t want the main characters to get swallowed by black alien goo or zombified or just die. When they do, be it Tasha Yar or Lori Grimes or John Locke or (spoilers) Quicksilver, it’s a tragic thing. You’ve invested yourself into those characters, and even though they’re fictional people, you feel a sense of loss. This is how it always should be. You should be wanting your audience to care about your people enough that if you do choose to go all George RR Martin on them, your audience is going to be a bit pissed off.

    3) One must define what Science fiction is to them: In the last section, I mentioned The Walking Dead, Lost, Star Trek (TOS and TNG), and the marvel universe as examples of Science fiction. I chose these examples, because in a broad sense, they’re all science fiction. In truth however, I see The Walking Dead as horror, Lost as mystical fantasy, and the Marvel Movie Universe is mostly superheros. Again, they all have something involving science fiction, but if I’m writing Sci-Fi, I’m thinking about traveling to other worlds, or the implications of technology in the future or maybe life in an alternative universe. It should deal with issues, though it doesn’t have to be dystopic. It should be a world which we don’t live in now, though this world could be part of it’s history. This is by far no ironclad definition of science fiction, as I am only one voice amongst many – but if you write science fiction you better have at least some definition and focus. Again, The Walking Dead clearly has some science fiction involved – the virus is man made. However, the focus on the series isn’t really how to cure the virus – the focus is surviving a zombie apocalypse, which therefore puts it into a more horror category. The island on Lost has many mysteries, however they’re not scientific in nature. They’re mystical. The Marvel Universe? Well, science has been a huge part of creating most of those guys, but really the focus is a super hero focus. Star Trek however – that’s about exploring the galaxy. That’s about “boldy going where no one has gone before!” That to me is the heart of Science Fiction.

    4) Be it science or fiction, a sense of wonder and imagination is key: This almost needs no explanation but it still needs to be said. I tend to lean towards the fiction part of science, and therefore a sense of wonder and imagination really is key as I don’t really have the science to back up my writings. Sure, I’ll BS my way through some rudimentary physics or what have you, but the science part of the equation really is nothing more to me than a plot device. Honestly, my audience is not the physicist – but that means that I have to work extra hard to present the reader of anything I write with a sense of “wow! I wish that would really happen!” But while it’s not as important for a “hard science” piece to rely on a sense of wonder and imagination, it is important to provide a little. Hard science is, to be frank, boring as hell. It’s fascinating what it can do, but it’s still science fiction – not science. It’s taking a concept and theorizing (and I use the literary definition, not the scientific definition) what it’s implications might be in, say, 100 years. It’s about exploration of things beyond this world, and how it will effect humanity. Most hard science buffs I know really like Stargate, and I do too. I like it because they really do put me in a different place. I like it because it explores the morality scientific endeavors. It’s got action and adventure and big explosions, it’s got relationships and people being people (be it good or bad), it asks the basic “we can, but should we” questions when it comes to some technology (Asgardians singularity anyone?). It really is the balance between the two universes – and that’s why it was such a great series(s) and movie.

    In an alternative Universe, Han Solo is related to Mickey Mouse.
    In an alternative Universe, Han Solo is related to Mickey Mouse.
    5) Don’t be afraid to use an alternative universe: Look, not everything in sci-fi can be explained with modern science. The sooner you learn to accept this, the happier you will be. This concept is not just limited to science fiction by the way – pick a discipline, fictionalized it, and I guarantee they’ll get things wrong. Be it construction, be it medicine, be it the police, be it computer programming. I work in television – this is something TV shows should get right because they know how things work – but Television shows about television get things sooo wrong on so many levels. The reason being is that most things are boring without a little fictionalization added. They don’t make sense, or maybe they just look stale. This is why hard science fans gripe about movies such as independence day or Pacific Rim. But guess what? Science fiction, be it soft or hard or any firmness in between, likes to use Alternative dimensions. This is a great tool to explain why maybe your physics don’t work in this world, because maybe they’re not supposed to work in this world – they work in a different universe that has a different set of rules. I know hard science fans are going to hate this – but like I said, I’m not a hard science person.

    6) Your universe should be consistent
    : Don’t take that last point as an excuse to make your universe a place where any random thing might happen (unless there’s maybe an infinite improbability drive or something). Set your rules and use them. Do not stray too far. If they don’t work for you, then change them – but make the changes consistent or at least find a way to explain why all of a sudden you can travel three times the speed of light, when in chapter 4 you couldn’t even travel half that speed. It is fiction – but it’s science fiction. And even if it’s a different genre of fiction, any fiction worth their salt cares about consistency and continuity.


    May the Force be with you. May the Klingons and the Borg not attack on this day. May the Cylons leave you be. And may there be no Volgan Poetry in your future. Have fun, and write like the wind. Oh wait – that’s not Sci-Fi!

    May Everything you right be as awesome as this,
    May Everything you write be as awesome as this,