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SCI-FI - game related or just favourite books or screen 
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I'd be inclined to say Star Trek, but then again I'm a bit biased. I don't consider Star Wars to be science fiction. It's space fantasy. It makes no effort to explain how core, integral mechanics (such as The Force) actually work. Star Trek at least tries, even if it does end up being pretty far from the mark sometimes. Don't get me wrong, I love my Star Wars as much as the next guy, but there's a deficit of science, and thus it's hard for me to consider it science fiction. Expanded Universe tries to fill in some blanks, but the original source material doesn't even try.

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Fri Sep 18, 2015 7:19 pm
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Star Trek vs Star Wars? Not sure they're really comparable.

Star Trek was designed to be eposodic story chunks, whereas Star Wars is a galaxy-wide war between Jedi.
I like some of one, and some of the other, but there are also some things I don't like about each one.

I like the old Star Wars movies, but can't stand the new ones. The dialogue on the new ones is so dry and lifeless, it makes me want to puke.
I actually own a DVD for Star Wars III Revenge of the Sith because someone gave it to me as a gift. Sorry to say, but I watched it one time and almost threw it in the trash.

I like Star Trek, but it leans more towards the goody-too-shoes solve everything with kindness sort of thing. I'd rather they killed each other more often. :)

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Sat Sep 19, 2015 5:59 am
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MonsPubis wrote:
I don't consider Star Wars to be science fiction. It's space fantasy.
I've said exactly the same thing. Perhaps elitist of me, merely saying it's not very 'hard' sci-fi. It's definitely space opera, in terms of scope and such (more so than StarTrek - perhaps a space drama in comparative scope). Space action-adventure, perhaps.

Serenity is another good example: a show I totally dismissed first time around as a nonsensical space western. But I'd mellowed (almost a decade) later and really started to be lulled under it's spell. But that's perhaps just the genius of Joss Weadon - magically transforming unlikely, plot hole riddled, disasters in the making into totally watchable fun (e.g. Avengers 1 and 2, Buffy I just liked out the gate - teenage angst age, perhaps).

sumplkrum wrote:
I like Star Trek, but it leans more towards the goody-too-shoes solve everything with kindness sort of thing. I'd rather they killed each other more often. :)
Ah, but techno-optimism, humanism, extropianism are themes that run to my core, so I love this kind of comforting future outlook. The Culture too, for the same reason; they seem like relatively lonely counter-examples in a genre dominated by dystopia, noir, and dingy industrial space ships.

I know what you mean about the more recent Star Wars movies, being less carefree fun, more over-produced, over-designed, I guess. Ewan McGregor not exactly shining with pizzaz, etc. But then just the odd line in Ep-II tipping a hat to bot's (inexplicable) lack of true intelligence was enough to engage me more. Star Trek cat often be said to go too far that way, with reams of techno-babble to deus-ex any and all situations (something the writer, what's his name, who later went on to the Galactica remake, went to the extreme to avoid in the later show).

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Sat Sep 19, 2015 6:38 pm
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Ooh, I like these kind of topics...
For a long time I was heavily into Battletech - novels and games both. Played pretty much everything from MW2 onward, although I haven't picked up with the new online ones at all. MW2, MW3, MechCommander (and its Gold version with the extra campaign), MW4, MC2, and the two MechWarrior spinoffs on the Xbox, although those were kind of a disappointment.
Book- and film-wise, I am of the firm belief that if done properly, the Blood of Kerensky trilogy could become one of the greatest movie sets ever made. Of course, I can't think of anyone I'd trust with that material off-hand, except maybe Peter Jackson. With his love of grandiose battlefield scenes, the final trials on Tukayyid would be a sight for the ages...

Ah, good times.

Other than giant mech combat, I don't have a preference for "hard" or "soft" sci-fi, as long as it's reasonably entertaining and the story holds together in the telling.
-Ray Bradbury is probably top of my list for authors, because as much as I value character-driven pieces, it's always the plot that really grabs me, and he did this very well.
-Isaac Asimov sparked my interest in the concept of AI, and more importantly, the notion of "robots can be people too." I can't say his writing style is my favorite, but the ideas are so fascinating it doesn't even matter.
-Same can be said for Arthur C. Clarke. I tend to find his stories hard to get into at first, but once the ideas begin to come together...
-Otherwise, I mostly look to Timothy Zahn for my sci-fi tales. I prefer his one-offs, like Angelmass and Night Train To Rigel. Something I can pick up, read, and put down again, without thinking I've "missed anything" by it being part of a series or saga. I'll give other random authors a try as well, if the description grabs me.
-Been reading "The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet" (Becky Chambers) recently, at the suggestion of a friend. Very character-driven piece, which I'd describe best as a novelized episode of Firefly, with different crew (most of whom are alien).
-I am also in the process of writing my own sci-fi novel. Probably falls under "soft" sci-fi, since it focuses on a college grad from Rhode Island getting tangled up in interstellar brouhaha. Plot centers around a race of genetically-engineered semi-sentients, and could loosely be described as "The Island" in space, minus Michael's Bay-splosions.

Film-wise... I'll at least attempt to watch most anything sci-fi but I can't think of a whole lot that's really been stand-out awesome. AI, Ex Machina, Chappie, Automata, Bicentennial Man, and I, Robot are all ones that've dealt with my favorite idea (sapient machines), but none of them have quite hit the mark for me. These days it seems like sci-fi films are all about the spectacle, and story be damned.


Sat Sep 19, 2015 7:44 pm
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Kieve wrote:
I am also in the process of writing my own sci-fi novel.
Oh wow! 8-) Post us all a link when it's done. And good luck!
Kieve wrote:
These days it seems like sci-fi films are all about the spectacle, and story be damned.
Well, 'sci-fi' seems to have become the defacto genre for blockbusters (fits well with high budget CGI, explosions, skipy leather outfits, whatever, I guess). Which is a mixed blessing, in that I didn't expect there to be multiple mainstream flicks explicitly dealing with (a version of) the technological Singularity quite so soon, but also the the plots are mostly shot through with holes for dramatic effect and design by committee to tick all the demographic boxes.

The biggest of the big, The Avengers even pivot around (creating) AI. Although they have a bizarrely neurotic blind spot for the fact that Stark has had a perfectly suitable general level AI since the start of Iron Man, with "Jarvis", who was always a bigger invention than the decreasingly plausible suits. The ambiguous android in "Promethius" (2012) was perhaps one of the best things. But talking of "I, Robot", with Will Smith, that was probably a perfect example of Holywood block-busterification nonsense (even having never read the original). "Chappie" was only just ok if you accepted it as an overly long Die Antwoord 'music video' - plot was soo much swiss cheese and (Johnny 5) clichés that it made the film Neill Blomkamp addmitted to being a deliberate Micheal Bay tribute ("Elysium") look near perfect, "District 9" being the stand-out, with it's gritty surreality culminating in that awesome mecha-suit action sequence! :)

I actually like Spielberg's "AI", while all my friends got very bored. Aside from jerking the tears out, on pat, it had a proper sci-fi kind of ending, with transcendent alien/robot things mega achelogically dig uncovering and resurectinc robo-boy. I liked "Ex-Machina" too, although "Her" (2013) blew that out the water, in terms of having so many subtly believable concepts woven together into a plausible reality, and in terms of mood and even music ("The Arcade Fire" I like much of).

But that's the trend, the good sci-fi has all been forced to be shorter-term, closer to the more rapidly changing now. And while big movies are more sci-fi themed than ever (Wachowski's "Jupiter Ascending being another let down), there seems like there's been a relative puacity of good sci-fi TV in recent years. "Continuum" being my favourite, of recent times (cleverly made to minimise the budget to small time TV manageable levels). "Humans" (Akta Manniskor" remake) was alright-ish, but even it's description described it as taking place in an alternate world, since the ubiquitous synthetic robots, indistinguisable from 'real humans', are pretty anachronistic, given that they (and) human level AI are supposedly created soon after the millenium...

Actually, my favourite Sci-fi is perhaps "Ghost in the Shell" (1995), and the "Stand Alone Complex" series (I can't really enjoy manga in general, so will set aside the original source material). That had quite an impact on me. Not a fan of the way these things get perpetually re-made/re-booted though, but mostly the movies, series and made-for TV lined up together (until the latest "Arise" version). Like "Full Metal Alchemist", which was pretty great, but I wasn't prepared to follow through the "Brotherhood" re-imagining (so much overlap the narratives would clash in my mind). Masamune Shirow's "Appleseed" is pretty cool too, though less cerebral than his G.I.T.S. work, and more a case of style over harder plausibilities. While on classic anime, "Akira" is obviously a big one too, although even more in that direction, to the point of being science fantasy, but with enormous amounts of style and flair...

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Fri Sep 25, 2015 6:32 am
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since the ubiquitous synthetic robots, indistinguisable from 'real humans'


Never found this sci-fi concept very realistic. Other than the fact that you can have actors play 'robot' parts without needing make-up, it makes no sense.
If a robot had enough AI to maintain a level of consciousness, why would it choose to look like us?

#1. We're ugly. :)

#2. If it's an AI, it would certainly choose a more 'optimal' design.

#3. If we made the robots, why would we want them to look like us? - The clear threat that any one of us could be replaced by a bot would mean the robots manufactured by humans would have some identifiable feature. Maybe a big red dot on their forehead or something. Not to mention a remote-destruct button in case they started thinking for themselves.

#4. If robots had the power to construct replicates of us, then surely they have the power to make us extinct without trying. (talking to you Battlestar Galactica)

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Fri Sep 25, 2015 12:32 pm
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sumplkrum wrote:
the fact that you can have actors play 'robot' parts without needing make-up
Well, that's exactly it. The TV that gets made is only ever the TV that can physically get made, which is very non-arbitrary. To be honest, I'm much preferring this kind of non-spectacle sci-fi, these days, if done right. I tried watching SyFy's "Defiance" (on Amazon) and the plot/scrip/acting was just so lame, like they'd spent everything on costumes and special effects, yet still it looked terribly unconvincing. It's a reason to get into anime, since drawing fanciful things is no more expensive than the mundane. But yet it seems that the vast majority of series out there are relatively mundane, soap operas, with perhaps the odd fantasy twist. And this is because it's what people what to see; it's what human viewers select for - the mostly familiar.

sumplkrum wrote:
If we made the robots, why would we want them to look like us?
Because humans are obsessed with humanoid machines, particularly in Japan, of course, with all manner of ridiculous situations for bots. Again, it's about memetic selection: humans have evolved to be almost hard wired towards the human form. And as a super-social species we're permanently obsessed with fitting in with society - each of your ancestor's survival has depended on it (a lone human is a dead human). I think this is a big part of why there's so much appetite for the Battlestar type imposter drama. Identifying free-loaders and external threats to one's tribe (from new members, etc) has also long been essential, and we're mentally well geared to look for subtle cues. Brains like to do what they are good at and tooled up to do.

But I find that whole trope tedious now, since it almost totally misses the point! All manner of machines have been 'replacing' humans for centuries, from the ox pulled plough to fully autonomous cars. There's little hysteria because they take the form of inanimate objects and ultimately are good for society, in replacing worst jobs first. Popular fiction seems to totally miss the true threats, from the insane, emergent complexity of rapid, automated trading (that buys and sells the entire world every day, yet no one vaguely understands). That there are already myriad different AI out there that do things that humans could never do, that are smart in totally diverse ways, like the use of big data in Google search, etc. That the use of this type of centralised super-intelligence is going to dominate and change the world massively for decades before we can pack enough processing power into a skull sized machine to have (isolated) human level intelligent robots...

I think near perfect humanoid robots will come, like all things inevitably do (just to a greater or lesser extent, depending upon what other creations have come to dominate the scene first). Some be humanoid, to be able to easily fit into our physical environment, a strong selection criterion. My expectation is that on the whole they will look like caricatures of humans, cartoons, to avoid the 'uncanny valley' effect (of looks spookily human, but 'off'). Somewhat like the iRobot movie, but with no good reason to need to be any stronger than humans (another unreasonable assumption/fear). That will be a 'kill swtich', the domestic models would be relatively weedy house-elves. More like "Ex-Machina"'s android bodies. But they'd also have an economy of general intelligence, for the same reasons, so no individual bot (or bots) would be an existential thread for anyone.

Of course, I think these type of bots will play a relatively small role in future upheavals, against a backdrop of alternative realities, augmented human intelligence, radically non-human form machines, etc. I think the mass and the space each extra body would take up would be prohibitive; the trend with IT, for example, has been towards ever smaller, smarter devices, moving down from clunky mainframe computers towards contact lens displays (or brain interfaces, or whatever). Physical space and material resources are increasingly the preserve of the super-wealthy too, with ever smaller housing, etc... (Oh I do like to prattle on! :roll: )

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Fri Sep 25, 2015 6:33 pm
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All manner of machines have been 'replacing' humans for centuries

Yes. We should stomp them now while we still have a chance.

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I think near perfect humanoid robots will come

I think I saw them working at Burger King.

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My expectation is that on the whole they will look like caricatures of humans

I'm kinda of expecting most of them to look like sex dolls.


... ah, enough stupid jokes for now. I'm going to bed. Maybe tomorrow I'll get that damn quantum computer I ordered.

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Fri Sep 25, 2015 8:56 pm
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ZeroGravitas wrote:
Kieve wrote:
I am also in the process of writing my own sci-fi novel.
Oh wow! 8-) Post us all a link when it's done. And good luck!

Been writing it since July and just starting to push 50k words now (by most accounts a decent novel should hit between 80-100k words, so by that estimate I figure I'm about halfway done). Expecting completion sometime late spring, perhaps, if my pace holds.


Thu Nov 05, 2015 1:02 am
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I would be very interested in reading what you currently have :3
I basically only read sci-fi, especially steampunk and alternate realities.

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Thu Nov 05, 2015 11:16 am
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