Tuesday, October 04, 2005

So, I finally saw Serenity tonight.


I liked it, immensely, and while I see the necessity for the sake of the story of certain things to happen, I'm still kind of pissed. And emotionally drained.

But I won't dwell on that. What I will harp on is Whedon's SHITTY job at world creation. I won't even go into it except to say that he really should have thought things through a little bit more, or just talked to a physics grad student, or something. Or talked to an actual science fiction writer.

But, despite this, it's still a great story.


Blogger Ken said...

Dude...you've got to be a bit more specific with your criticism. What was the error in the world creation? Wehn looked upon in contest of a stand-alone film...sure...not so good. Taken in context with the show Firefly it's reasonably consistent.

I wish ther had been more time to explore the rather cool sci-fi idea that didn't get revealed until very close to the end of the movie. Can't wait to talk to you about all this...

1:20 AM  
Blogger Michael "VendorX" Heaney said...

You can see where a lot of subsequent seasons might have gone in this movie. Obviously, we can see where more of Book's story would have been covered> Also, the character of Mr. Universe was obviously one Whedon had planned prior to the cancellation of the show (after all, I think we all got a hint of the cyberpunk from Firefly, and all knew that a network dawg would come along sooner or later.)

But I have to agree with Ken, Pete. What was your gripe with 'world creation'? You gettin' all uppity coz of yer mad GM skilz or what?

My instinct is to suggest that the script, being as tight as it was, was more than merely 'reasonably consistent', but I've gone back and watched a few episodes and I've had to admit that I've already caught myself scratching my head a couple of times and muttering, "wait, but..."

12:30 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

Ok, here's my gripe. I thought it was obvious, but I guess I have to spell it out for you cretins. All those habitable worlds in one solar system? It is literally unbelievable. Doesn't wash. And 'terraforming' is not a magic answer. Living worlds, biosystems, whatever, need energy. And there are a limited number of positions, green zones, if you will, around a star, even if you add in some Jovian planets that give off heat/radiation. Three I might have been able to believe, in one solar system. Four even, maybe. But umpteen numbers? Nope.

I think I know why Whedon did this. He didn't want to mess about with FTL. Unfortunately his rubber science is essentially crap, which, speaking as a lover of sci fi, really tarnishes his creation in my opinion.

Of course, this begs the question, how the hell did the colonists from Earth-That-Was get from there to here? Sublight generation ships? Not bloody likely.

Essentially, my gripe comes down to me saying "You expect me to swallow this?" It upsets my willing suspension of disbelief, which is something you NEVER want to do if you're a sci fi author.

Besides, Mike, you've got some mad GM skilz too. You know what I'm getting at, I suspect. An imagined world has to be consistent and logical.

He clearly understands characterization though, so I'll forgive a lot. It's just a gripe. Don't let me overstate it. I still enjoyed the movie.

4:37 PM  
Blogger Michael "VendorX" Heaney said...

Oh, Pete, you don't know the magic of terraforming.

I've been working for some time on my own version of the 'space western' (inspired, naturally, by Firefly) role playing system, and big on my list of things was studying potential terraforming notions.

You'd be amazed how close WE are to being able terraform even pretty extreme worlds. Too much gravity? Evidence suggests that strong electromagnetic grids could reduce gravity significantly. Too little is harder, but with modest resources and desire, you could add mass from easily harvested space debris.

Too much sun? Orbital solar shades? Too little? Orbital solar foci and core tapping for energy. You might as well, since you're going to be tapping that core for precious gases and waste/undesirables cycling anyway.

Water? Once again, it's pretty abundant if you've already got the spacefleet around to harvest it from passing rocks.

Your big problems are atmosphere construction and planetary bodies without molten cores. Terraforming the moon, for instance, would take resources beyond our current means. However, a simple leap towards being able to engineer simple molecules, either being able to knock a molecule a few levels up or down the periodic table (helium to hydrogen, lead to gold, etc.) or simply building atoms from subatomics provides possible solutions to even most of the atmospheric problems.

Now, you're not going to be terraforming gas giants any time soon, but stack, say, 300 years of sci fi tech onto our current holdings, add a ready made space fleet and a colony desperate species, we could do mars, venus, probably mercury, some of the moons of both jupiter and saturn, probably with additional mass added...it's a cinch, buddy.

But most important, Pete, is that we don't fall into the ol' trap of conservative assumption thinking. Our knowledge of 'average likelihood' for a solar system amounts to pretty much dick. We have some ideas, but honestly, when it comes to what constitutes, galaxy wide, a typical or believable solar system we're shooting in the dark.

5:03 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

Well, not really.

We have a fairly good idea about the temperature range of water, freezing to liquid to vapor. That's the determining factor for human-friendly life here. And for liquid water to exist energy is required. However, the caveat is that each locus of energy, a planet or planetoid, is competing with others for the ideal life sustaining position.

IF you posit extreme technological intervention, I might be willing to suspend some of my disbelief. But only so far.

Anyway, take me with a grain of salt. I thoroughly enjoyed it, it's just that the idea of a hundred or so habitable worlds all in one solar system just makes me go "Oh come ON!"

Here's a link to a thing on scifi.com about this subject. It's a little tongue in cheek at the end, but interesting.


10:01 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

Also, if you have the technology for space flight and stable biosystems in said ships, then you don't NEED planets. If you're presupposing that level of technology.

10:03 PM  
Blogger Michael "VendorX" Heaney said...

No, a ship is a lower energy level. We can survive for literally years on ships we can build now, but only because we reduce the amount of energy within the environment. Sooner or later, to live at a regular energy level, which is to say within the psychological and physiological norms of not merely humanity, but a working and sustainable ecosystem, would require more than our ships could generate consistantly.

11:06 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

Well, what I'm envisioning aren't really 'ships' per se. They're much grander. Space stations with habitats etc. Like GSVs in the Culture universe, or the Deep Domain in Nick's Space Gurps. If you have the energy to terraform a planet, you certainly have the energy available to create a large sustainable ecosystem in a metal /and or stone and glass shell in space. Then you wouldn't have to worry about planetary orbits. Just put your space station wherever you wanted to live. Soak up all the solar radiation you could use. Add, rinse, repeat. Pretty soon, you've got these gigantic space habitats throughout a good portion of the galaxy.

Don't even get me started on the prospect of burnt out brown dwarfs in between the bright stars that you might be able to use to hop from star system to star system. There's a good possibility that there may be substellar objects with their own 'planetary' systems in between the bright stars. Think MegaSuperJovians, warm up close, but not bright, thus, hard to spot.

1:23 AM  
Blogger Michael "VendorX" Heaney said...

Pete, when I get in, you and I are devoting a night to planet design!

11:41 AM  
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