Science fiction has been one of the most dominant forms of writing and media since its origins, which has always been an engaging debate. Some say that science fiction began with the origin of the first piece of fiction in history, The Epic of Gilgamesh. Others claim that science fiction couldn’t have really started until all of the great post 17th century discoveries in physics, astronomy, and other various cosmic fields. One may debate today, however, that the genre is not only breaking new ground on idealistic theories for storytelling, but showing viewers their own reality through the medium known as cinema.
Okay, so maybe not all modern science fiction is completely accurate.Sebastian Cordero‘s was bold enough with his recent Europa Report to include almost no actual scientific facts in his film despite its plot being based on the recent discovery of water on one of Jupiter’s moons, Europa. For example, the distance that they travel in the film to reach Europa(which is included in a piece of dialogue so affirmatively that one would be disheartened to know that it’s actually not true) is not the actual distance to the enigmatic moon. Despite some modern sci-fi falling victim to the cliches of the genre such as inconsistencies with fact and far-fetched idealism, a good bit of recent works of science fiction have done the complete opposite: Proposed an idea that, when processed by the viewer, arouses a state of logical revelation AND inspired entertainment.
One of the best examples of this was J.J. Abrams‘ Star Trek reboot in 2009. I have to be honest; Not only had I not seen the film until this year, I had never seen a single episode of any Star Trek series until this year either. By the first scene of the movie, I was completely enthralled… A black hole!? I felt like up to that point in my life, the only times I had seen the whole “wormhole” idea in a film, it either felt ridiculously intangible and nonsensical, completely unaware that they actually exist in the universe and disrespectful of their enigma, or just contrived and played out. The anatomy of the whole scene up to the first title sequence had gripped me though… And in a place where a piece of science fiction had never gripped me. This was the definition of the genre on a screen… This was a cinematic celebration of scientific uncertainty.
I saw Into Darkness the day it came out, and despite the lack of the cosmic plot, I still thoroughly enjoyed having the 2 hour Enterprise rollercoaster/lens flare overdose(seriously, J.J., have an epilepsy warning at the beginning of your movies!)… but only because of where the plot then stood due to the genius script from its predecessor. Ever since my experience with Star Trek, though, I have attained not only an entirely new perception on science fiction, but on life and existence itself. One can argue when a work of science fiction noticeably flubs in its factual accuracy… A true science fiction fan, however, cannot reasonably be dissatisfied with a plot that presents all of the known scientific facts involved accurately yet presents its own logical theories in place of the vast uncertainty still remaining in what modern science has managed to come to understand about the nature of our universe, our place in it, and why a bunch of weird things walking around on a floating green and blue sphere in space like to watch manifestations made by their own kind on a screen… And that’s exactly what Abrams did and I believe will continue to do with the rest of his career (especially excited about a recent announcement that he found an old Rod Serling script for what was apparently his favorite Twilight Zone episode that Serling never got to make. Yeah, I got chills, too.)
But he’s not the only one. With upcoming films like Christopher Nolan‘s celestial thriller, Interstellar, and Alfonso Cuarón‘s Gravity (his previous film, the hyper-real, Dystopian Children of Men is another supporter of my theory that modern sci-fi is growing eerily more intelligent and sublime), viewers are bound for more cosmic inspiration and thought-provoking innovation on top of the classic elements of science fiction that we all know and love. As a human race, we have always operated our thirst for knowledge as follows: The more we come to understand, the more vast our range for curiosity becomes and with this uncertainty comes the need for the philosophers and storytellers to nourish that inspired desire for enlightenment with imaginative possibilities of not what existence COULD BE, but what existence IS… This is why modern sic-fi is so important, and why I am so stoked to see it entering this new era of dignity, aesthetic grace, and vision.
Warp speed ahead, Dr. Sulu.