Latest Articles

Latest Topics


Scientific accuracies in Sci-fi movies

Christopher Nolan’s Tenet (2020) is said to employ many physics theories. Compared with historical drama films, sci-fi movies tend to receive less attention on accuracy – critics and viewers alike often note historical inaccuracies in Braveheart (1995) or Gladiator (2000), but much less so do we discuss scientific inaccuracies. We all know movies to a certain extent are worlds of make-believe, but why such difference? Is it because history and most films are narratives but scientific concepts and theories are not?

  • I think scientific inaccuracies have been discussed in YouTube videos. I think that a simple examination of scientific inaccuracies in science fiction movies would suffice. If anyone had one particular one in mind, that’s fine too. – J.D. Jankowski 3 years ago
  • I agree that scientific in/accuracies are discussed over YouTube videos, but my question is why is there a bigger general disregard than accuracies in historical dramas. – KM 3 years ago
  • Interesting topic. I would wager that it has a lot to do with history being significantly more accessible to laymen than the hard sciences typically are. Anyone who's done as little "research" as skimming William Wallace's Wikipedia page can boast a relatively firm grasp on the inaccuracies plaguing Braveheart, but the same can rarely be said about doing minimal research on quantum mechanics to know if/where Tenet errs. In light of the average spectator's inability to recognize scientific inaccuracies, they'd likely have an easier time taking the film's claims at face value. Neil deGrasse Tyson owes much of his early reputation as a public intellectual to some series of tweets he made about the inaccuracies in various science fiction films; it's noteworthy that the one-two punch of his scientific credentials paired with the easily consumable quips (in 280 characters or less) made the flaws comprehensible enough for a largely scientifically illiterate general audience to suddenly feel intellectually superior to Hollywood screenwriters. – ProtoCanon 3 years ago
  • Great topic, but I have to quibble with the idea that science doesn't rely on narrative. I'm pretty sure it does, in fact. Natural selection and global warming seem to me like good examples of scientifically-grounded narrative. Scientists can complete small, controlled experiments or analyze big data for years, but in the end their findings -- if those findings are to have any larger significance -- have to be related through narrative and ultimately woven into the much larger narrative of what we call "science." – JamesBKelley 3 years ago

Sci-Fi without spaceships

The title is a simplification, but one of the things that defines sci-fi is gaving science as a frame for the possibilities of the world. There are many classical sci-fi topics such as space exploration and time travel, for instance. I am interested in thinking about sci-fi on a very small scale. I can’t really think of many examples from the top of my head. "Melancholia" and "The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes" would be examples where the sci-fi elements dwell in the background. Any thoughts?

  • Could you kindly correct the typo "gaving?" – Munjeera 3 years ago
  • Interesting. You might delve into the original Twilight Zone series (you can find it on Netflix) for examples. Several episodes deal with spaceships, aliens, and/or space exploration, but just as many do not. Personally, the ones that do not are some of my favorites, partly because the "usual" sci-fi elements aren't used. – Stephanie M. 3 years ago
  • H.G. Wells’s literature could prove useful here for some ideas. – J.D. Jankowski 3 years ago

The Political Impact of Science Fiction Films

From Star Wars and Star Trek to movies like Dune, there has always been either establishment affirming or anti-establishment views within these films. It would be interesting to compare and contrast science fiction films throughout the ages and how they take a look at the societies we grew up in within a detached viewpoint and how it has affected our own view on politics and ourselves.

  • Another film to look at would be Blade Runner. There are issues about free will, power and slavery. It is also interesting because Deckard is part of the political machine, enforcing the status-quo about how Replicants should be act and what the consequences are. – Sean Gadus 4 years ago
  • I know, although a web search would be needed, that both actors and directors have talked about political issues they could address in science fiction movies, that were acceptable to be addressed, but they could not do, or were reluctant to address in a movie about life on earth. – Joseph Cernik 4 years ago

Hard and Soft Science Fiction

Define ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ sci-fi. [See for distinction: (link) Why are they distinct? Where are each found (types of books, age/gender-demographics, or region)? Where does ‘soft sci-fi’ end and fantasy begin? Are they distinguished by authorial background? What trends have been seen in both over time (what are the trends right now?). Most importantly, what are their different narrative functions/potentials (are hard meant for commentary on humanity while soft are just set dressing? Vice versa?)? And why does the distinction matter?

Some examples of ‘hard sci-fi’: works of Isaac Asimov/H.G. Wells, The Martian, The Diamond Age, Interstellar (arguably)
Some Examples of ‘soft sci-fi’: Dune, Star Trek, Ender’s Game, Slaughterhouse-Five, most dystopians

  • Adding to the list above, I think Ted Chiang is an author who writes wonderfully in both soft and hard science fiction. Even his hard science fiction works still reveal a theme about humanity. I think these two distinctions are based on the social sciences vs. stem (chemistry, engineering, physics, etc.) but I think both groups are important. Soft is just as important as hard; the one biggest thing that truly differentiates them is the subject matter, but both types of fiction still tell a story. – seouljustice 7 years ago