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"I knew nothing, and I persisted in the faith that the time of cruel miracles was not past."

— Stanislaw Lem, Solaris

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Thursday, May 19th, 2005

Update this evening...

Update: Well, not quite that evening.

This evening (Friday the 20th), the entire staff of Net Access Corp. has been invited to see Revenge of the Sith. Some friends of mine will testify how hard it is to get me to see a movie at all. I don't dislike movies per se, and I find it hard to state the reasons for my resistance. Some of it likely is related to my existential inertia in regards to social/public events - I tend not to go unless a friend is coming with me, and often only when that friend has made it clear that they want to see it. I may well enjoy the event once I get there, so it's generally for the best that I was forced to go. But the resistance to variations in my little, instant life remains.

In this case, it's a free movie accompanied by dinner, and I get to bring a guest, so I'm going with Laura. For the record, I was an enthusiastic fan of Star Wars in my teens, but the first movie (Ep. IV) was the most compelling; I liked V and VI, but the magic was definitely waning as I grew older. These recent movies strike me mostly as eye candy; a way to view beautiful CGI planetscapes and fights with little need to pay attention to a plot. I have not seen Phantom Menace and I only saw Attack of the Clones because it too was on NAC's dime. If I wasn't getting a free ticket for this movie, I likely would not be going.

I think my lack of interest here is more open to self-analysis than my resistance to good movies... it's not just that the quality of SW scripts had declined (not just my opinion) but that I've moved to deeper waters of SF. Writers like Stanislaw Lem, Jack Vance, Jorge Luis Borges, John Meyers Meyers, and Harlan Ellison impress and fascinate me, and I've thereby come to have less tolerance for space opera and its purveyors. Science fantasy of that sort doesn't stimulate me, and I don't mean to denigrate fantasy with that remark; it's as worthy a genre as SF for a skilled writer. I just regret the tendency to take lazy and ill-researched attempts at science fiction and call it 'science fantasy' to cover the flaws.

If it's a fantasy that's just wearing the trappings of science fiction? I suppose that such is justifiable, but it's still not excused from rigor. A well constructed fantasy is true to itself and obeys whatever internal rules it has set up, no matter how bizarre they are. A badly constructed sf story, being untrue to the rules of science through laziness or incompetence, is likely to fail this test as well, so tagging it with the word fantasy doesn't save it. Artistic freedom is not a license for chaos, nor for sloppy writing.

I'll add some further thoughts once I see the movie, if such is relevant to my goals for PaaT. This isn't a movie review site, after all...


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