A Note on Science Fiction, Writing and Philosophy – Part II
If you didn’t get a chance, feel free to check out Science Fiction, Writing, and Philosophy – Part I before continuing on to this next post. If you have read it already, I finally present to you the much awaited Part II! Hooray!
What is real?
Oh yes. We’ve seen this theme time and time again. Why? Because it’s fun! Audiences love having their minds blown. Questioning reality is one of the oldest philosophies of our culture, dating as far back as ancient greece. Asking ourselves ‘what is real’ is a great way to start a premise to a story.
Philip K. Dick’s story Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? or what many of you might know as the movie Blade Runner, is a good example of how a story can lead the audience on, only to throw in a plot twist that questions the character’s entire outlook on reality.
Chris Nolan’s Inception, is another reminder of why reality genres are so much fun in science fiction. Inception leaves us with an idea that keeps us thinking the entire ride home from the movie theatre. From the Matrix to Total Recall, alternate-reality genres will not go away. They have the power send the audience on mind benders. They open windows to different worlds, and let us take a peak into the impossible.
Don’t forget Time Travel!
Back to the Future is a movie that showcases how the invention of a ‘Time Travelling Delorian’ leads to the complete unravelling of time on earth. Marty McFly must race to fix his past, to save himself from being erased from existence! Time travel is an integral sci-fi genre that allows writers to drum up any and all quirky situations.
Time travel will always carry social repercussions, as they fundamentally alter the course of history. Who are we to do that? H.G. Wells knew this question well. He presented us with an alternative theory that we cannot change the past, but can have control over our future. This opens a doorway that a positive change for our corrupt culture is very possible if we act today.
Thankfully, time travel is still a science-fiction theory at this point… hopefully.
Wait a minute! What if someone invents something that has different social repercussions?
Advances in Technology = Social Conflict
Philip K. Dick being a father of great science fiction writing, is also the mind behind the story Minority Report. Popularized by Stephen Spielberg’s 2002 movie adaptation, this story gives the audience a glimpse into an almost perfect future. However, it asks us a fundamental question: Do we control our own fate?
A question like this is the foundation to any great story. Minority Report is a story centred around a crime unit where pre-cognative beings can see a crime before it has been committed. The individual centred around the ‘pre-crime’ is then arrested before having committing murder. Yes we’ve gotten rid of murder in a way, but perhaps we have taken away peoples’ freedoms to choose their own fate?
What if the future isn’t set in stone?
Surrogates is another fantastic movie featuring the social repercussions of a new form of technology. People live their lives vicariously through robots, and never leave their homes. What can get more socially awkward then that? What happens if you lose your surrogate? This type of society creates a false sense of comfort, and humanity can hide behind the blanket of robotics.
When someone finds a way to start murdering people by destroying their surrogates, you open up another whole can of worms. Surrogates are no longer safe? Well, that just F***S up EVERYTHING! New technology is a great way to showcase how society can change in the blink of an eye, leading us all into a bizarre new future.
This is also a question that leads us into the next category:
A good dystopian future (or universe) questions our current living environment or situation. Take these ‘advances in technology’ plots for example:
iRobot, The Time Machine, Idiocracy, Robopocylipse, Tron, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Repo Men, Timeline, Resident Evil, 2001: A Space Odyssey, In Time, The Matrix, or Jurassic Park.
These stories showcase how society has fallen, and our positive vision of future has collapsed in the aftermath of the technology grabbing hold of us. In addition to these plots, dystopias showcase the follies of man. For example:
What will POLLUTION or GLOBAL WARMING lead to?
Answer: Waterworld, The Day After Tomorrow
Where will WAR or NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGY lead us?
Answer: Mad Max, 9, City of Ember, The Hunger Games, The Book of Eli, The Road, Escape from L.A., Planet of the Apes, or GODZILLA
Where will APATHY, CORRUPTION, or IGNORANCE lead us?
Answer: The Abyss, AVATAR, Brazil, The Day After Tomorrow, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, or Metropolis
Another way to write a good Dystopian Sci-Fi, is to introduce a foreign element that changes the fate of our world. Entire stories can be written featuring the aftermath or threat of a global catastrophe.
What happens when a SUPER-VIRUS spreads like a plague?
Answer: Night of the Living Dead, Resident Evil, 28 Days, Children of Men, The Happening, The Walking Dead, or 12 Monkeys
What happens when a giant meteorite crashes into earth?
Answer: Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, Armageddon, Deep Impact
What happens at the end of the world?
Answer: 2012, 7 Days, Titan: A.E.
The only limit we have as writers in the sci-fi genre is our own creativity. There are countless ways to retell and ask the same questions without getting boring. Aliens, Space Travel, Technologies, Viruses, Monsters, whatever element it is that you want to introduce to your story, just remember that it all starts with a question.
What is real?
Do we control our fate?
How do we react to an Alien invasion?
Do we remain civil at the end of civilization?
What questions do you want to ask?
This entry was posted on July 20, 2012 by stigmatascript. It was filed under Authors, Books, Films and Television, Screenwriting, Writing and was tagged with Back to the Future, Blade Runner, Brazil, Dystopian Future, Dystopian Societies, End of the World Movies, Minority Report, Philip K. Dick, Questioning Reality, Science Fiction Philosophy, Science Fiction Writing, Surrogates, Time Travel writing, Total Recall, Total Recall Remake.