User:Cavaliergirl96/Journal for HUMN 4472

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August 18, 2019 - What is science fiction?

Although I cannot come up with my own streamlined definition of science fiction, I have read and watched enough of the genre to know some general themes. technology always plays a large role in science fiction (especially if the government is controlling technology), as well as scientific advancement. Humans, aliens, and machines are usually examined to figure out what it means to be human or "alive". Other planets in other worlds are common settings, as well as any time in the present or future. Time travel is also common.

Essentially, science fiction is a combination of characteristics. No single characteristic is strong enough to make any story with that characteristic science fiction. Usually, many of the previously mentioned themes and ideas are explored together to create a science fiction story.

@Cavaliergirl96: Check your links. They must be formatted a bit differently here, like aliens. —Grlucas (talk) 07:25, 10 September 2019 (EDT)

August 25, 2019 - Building on a patchy foundation

Many of the characteristics I mentioned in my first post are similar to what Ursula K. Le Guin attributes to the common reader in her introduction for The Norton Book of Science Fiction.[1] I had a few facts but I didn’t have any theory by which to organize those facts.

Science: progenitor of science fiction

One obvious point I missed is that science fiction uses science as the primary launching point. It doesn’t just include scientific advancement, the genre exists because of scientific advancement. L. Sprague de Camp mentions in  “Science Fiction Handbook” that “we might try to define science fiction in this broader sense as fiction based upon scientific or pseudo-scientific assumptions (space-travel, robots, telepathy, earthly immortality, and so forth) or laid in any patently unreal though non-supernatural setting (the future, or another world, and so forth).”[2] The same ingenuity that leads to scientific discovery also leads to science fiction.

Scared in the 1960s

Another thing I learned came from Le Guin when she mentions that the 1960s were a turning point in science fiction, which truly surprised me.[1] I would have assumed World War II would have been the turning point (like it was with the shift from modernism to postmodernism,) but the looming threat of the cold war actually makes more sense. People had more time to understand nuclear warfare and grow to fear destruction worse than Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Prevention, not prediction

Finally, the documentary Brave New Worlds: The Science Fiction Phenomenon makes an interesting point about science fiction and the future. In a soundbite from Arthur Clarke, he mentions a quote from Ray Bradbury: "I don't try to predict the future. I try to prevent it." He then builds on that sentiment, saying “science fiction can prepare the reader for unpleasant surprises, but the surprise is going to come all the same.”[3] The future in many science fiction stories is horrible. If people read about potential problems in the future, people then have the opportunity to possibly stop that specific problem. They usually don’t, but they still know what’s probably going to happen.

September 9, 2019 - "The Swimmer" and science fiction

I do not think that this story is science fiction, but the perspective and the way the story is told certainly give credence to the thought that it is science fiction. It reads like an episode of The Twilight Zone, which is commonly considered a science fiction show. Like The Twilight Zone, “The Swimmer” includes time-travel. Neddy’s swim down the line of pools in his neighborhood is eccentric, but it does not seem like a conduit for time-travel until near the end of the story when he returns to his abandoned house years later. The river itself seems to transport Neddy into the future, though it is clear that he himself is growing older as he swims.

@Cavaliergirl96: A bit more analysis and research is necessary here. —Grlucas (talk) 07:26, 10 September 2019 (EDT)

September 9, 2019 - "The Swimmer" and Le Jetée

When the two narratives are analyzed together, “The Swimmer” and Le Jetée are grounded in mundane situations. Both “The Swimmer” and Le Jetée begin on seemingly normal days in a reality the audience can recognize: a backyard pool and a jetty. Because of this, the audience has an easier time following the path away from the familiar and toward the fantastic. As the reader follows Neddy through the Lucinda “river,” time travel slowly seeps into the narrative and shifts the story into science fiction territory. Le Jetée introduces a survivor of an apocalyptic event with a memory of a beautiful woman at a jetty right before the takeover of Paris during World War II. Scientists use the man and his memory to travel through time, but the man continues to return to an event in his past involving a woman. Both Neddy and the man return to situations and places the audience might recognize, which can make the strange circumstances believable and even more unnerving: if some part is recognizable, how far could it all be from reality?

September 15, 2019 - Wobbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff

Although Doctor Who is a well-known science-fiction television show, "Blink" has a horror vibe. Sally enters an old house to take pictures and discovers creepy statues that move. As the episode progresses, Sally loses both Kathy and Billy to the Weeping Angels and must rely on Larry (why do these names all rhyme?) to defeat the Weeping Angels and return the TARDIS to the Doctor. The horror turns into suspense which then turns to understanding as the audience realizes time travel has been moving the plot the entire time. It is clear by the end of the episode that "Blink" is still in the science fiction genre because of its use of time.

Kathy and time

Kathy is the first character that introduce the audience to time travel. When she looks at the Weeping Angel, she is taken back to 1920. She is not brutally murdered, which is what one would expect from an episode that's exclusively in the horror genre, but given the chance to live a life in another time. Kathy herself dies before she is born but her letters to Sally influence Sally's actions in 2007. Without the letter, Sally would have wondered what happened to her friend for the rest of her life and probably would not have understood the connection between the disappearance and the Weeping Angels.

Sally and time

Sally is the catalyst for the situations in "Blink." In his article on Weeping Angels, Peter Sutton explains the idea of time travel how this happens: "Sally's actions, in 2007, cause events in 1969, that cause events in both the 1990s and 200s that cause events in 2006 that cause Sally's actions in 2007."[4] Essentially, Sally's actions make her friends travel to the past and also help her in the present. She herself does not travel back in time, but she benefits from those who do.

The Doctor and time

The Doctor has the most interesting relationship with time of all the characters: his actions in the past influence the distant future which in turn influences his present. Sutton simplifies this explanation when he says "the Doctor gets himself into a pickle and manages to get himself out of that pickle by influencing the future."[4] When Sally finally meets the Doctor at the end of the episode, this version of the Doctor is younger than the version that helped her. He lives his life until he is stuck in 1969. He then uses the tools Sally gave him from her future to help him escape in his present and her present (which is his past and her future). This, friends, is the clearest example of science fiction I have seen thus far in this class.

@Cavaliergirl96: In your analysis of "Blink" I think the main theme of time is the same as it is in "The Gernsback Continuum". When I think of time as the past, present, or future. I already bring a preconceived idea of what to expect. In both of the sources, time is not predictable. We have to separate what we think and how we think everything should go. After all, everything is eventual. MarinChristina (talk) 20:45, 15 September 2019 (EDT)

@Cavaliergirl96: Having Sally as the main catalyst for all of the events that occurred throughout the time experienced in the episode came as a shock due to our perception of time and how events are expected to occur, but we come to realize that it is possible for these versions of ourselves to impact each other simultaneously as time plays out. -Atallent (talk) 23:55, 15 September 2019 (EDT)

September 15, 2019 - Haunted: the presence of the past in "Blink" and "The Gernsback Continuum"

At first glance, I had trouble seeing any similarities in these two narratives. Upon closer inspection, both "Blink" and "The Gernsback Continuum" specifically include architecture from the past as part of the setting. In her article on how science fiction intersects with history, Janice Liedl writes that "Works of science fiction follow historical practice by grounding stories in notational details of the past (or other temporal alternatives to the present) while emphasizing the power of historically informed interpretation to engage the reader."[5] Both "Blink" and "The Gernsback Continuum" use architecture to help the audience see that the past influences the present, even in science fiction stories. Even if time travel is not possible, reviewing the past can help people see the present for what it is and what it is not.

The old house in "Blink"

Sally kicks off episode by scaling an iron gate and breaking into an abandoned Victorian mansion. Chandeliers are broken on the floor, glass windows are broken, and wallpaper is peeling away from the walls (which directly influences the plot) She encounters the Weeping Angels when they take the form of statues. These statues look old-fashioned, like what one would expect to see on a Victorian property, but not so old that they are unrecognizable to Sally or the audience. In fact, similar statues are seen at the end of the show on top of buildings, in parks, and in various other public places as the Doctor warns Sally (or possibly the audience) to not blink. The effect is unsettling and leaves the audience seeing statues differently.

Haunting architecture in "The Gernsback Continuum"

The photographer also sees old houses and encounters old technology as he takes pictures of older architecture. The architecture is of a more hopeful time, when utopia was possible in the minds of many like Dialta Downers: "She was talking about those odds and ends of "futuristic" Thirties and Forties architecture you pass daily in American cities without noticing; the movie marquees ribbed to radiate some mysterious energy, the dime stores faced with fluted aluminum, the chrome-tube chairs gathering dust in the lobbies of transient hotels."[6] As the photographer works on his assignment, he is too caught up in the idealized, alternate present. He sees the idealized world and it frightens him. After he finishes the assignment, he struggles to ignore echoes of the past in his present. He sees the shark-fin roadsters and the flying wing-liners as he travels the United States.[6]

Brief final thoughts

What we might believe is in the past may not necessarily be gone. Weeping Angels are not real, but connecting them to statues might lead someone to wonder what else is not as it seems. The future that people predicted in the past, as the American photographer realizes, is worse than the present he lives in. When the proprietor states "Hell of a world we live in [...] but it could be worse" at the end of the story, the photographer's response is appreciation: "That's right, or even worse, it could be perfect."(465).

@Cavaliergirl96:: It was very interesting to see what direction you were going to take comparing the two because your introduction is similar to mine as I also had a hard time trying to compare the two. I had not noticed, but both stories do refer to architecture. However, I think the “Blink” episode was tied to old architecture and “The Gernsback Continuum” was tied to architecture of the future, or at least what it should have been.--Daisja30 (talk) 23:09, 15 September 2019 (EDT)
@Daisja30: That is a good distinction to make! I wonder how that would affect the interpretation of the stories... Definitely something fun to think about! --SaraKathryn
@Cavaliergirl96: Good work. Be sure to proofread to get those typos. —Grlucas (talk) 13:04, 16 September 2019 (EDT)

September 22, 2019 - Plural perspectives and The X-Files

Instead of limiting the perspective to one character, the episode "Jose Chung" in The X-Filestakes a postmodernist approach by having many different perspectives show how each character is impacted by the story. Douglas Kellner discusses the impact of having many perspectives in his article "The X-Files and the Aesthetics and Politics of Postmodern Pop”:

The X-Files exhibits a level of narrative ambiguity rarely encountered in mainstream media culture. In many episodes it is not clear whether the rationalist or the supernaturalist explanation is more salient, mysteries are not unraveled, the resolving of problems often creates many new ones, and it is often not clear what actually happened.[7]

There are few "facts" in the episode. The young man who is obsessed with aliens believes people are trying to suppress the truth: a real alien died and government employees performed the autopsy. Scully and Mulder both know that the "alien" was a man in a costume. Scully does not remember inviting Mulder into her room, nor does she remember the men in black who threatened Mulder. Mulder relates his conversation with the Air Force officer in the diner differently than the waiter does when Jose Chung asks for his side, asserting that Mulder asked one question per slice of pie. Then there is still the main question of whether the kids were actually abducted by aliens or hypnotized by the government into believing they were abducted. The ambiguity the author mentions goes beyond what one would expect from a simple mystery. It instead makes the narrative multifaceted and treats the perspectives that do not seem rational with a kind of respect simply by sharing the seemingly impossible circumstances with believable ones.

On a related note, I wonder how many of the qualities we ascribe to science fiction are actually more representative of the literary period, such as modernism and postmodernism. It seemed that modernist science fiction stories were more optimistic about technology and that postmodernist science fiction stories were more pessimistic about technology, but that's just an observation. I'd love to hear any other perspectives on this!

@Cavaliergirl96: I fixed your block quotation for you and ref. Good source. —Grlucas (talk) 10:54, 24 September 2019 (EDT)

September 23, 2019 - Malleable Memories in "Jose Chung" and "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale"

One clear theme in this week's short story and show episode is that of changeable memories. Changing memories or tricking the brain is reminiscent of Dorsey's discussion of Leroy Dorsey's discussion of the "trickster", a mythological character that is usually amoral and tries to confuse other characters for the sake of entertainment or some kind of personal gain.[8] He or she fools people into believing something true when it is actually false. Similarly, different characters challenge the memories of other characters.

"Jose Chung"

In this X-Files episode, two teenagers wake up and find themselves beaten and bloodied. Both remember that they were abducted by aliens and their stories initially line up. However, after the young woman is hypnotized for the second time, Scully and Mulder hear a completely different experience. She changes her story to say that the government took her and her date and tried to convince them they were abducted. In this instance, the audience does not know what really happened. The two stories line up, but that doesn't matter if they were hypnotized into believing the abduction narrative.

"We Can Remember It For You Wholesale"

The question of true memories comes up in Philip K. Dick's story as well. When Quail tries to pay someone to implant memories of a visit to Mars, instead of paying for a real trip to Mars, the doctor explains the experience he will remember will be better than any trip that actually happened. However, Quail turns out to have real memories of a trip to Mars where he was an agent: "I have both memory-tracks grafted inside my head; one is real and one isn't but I can't tell which is which."[9] In this instance, Quail's memory has been tricked into believing a lie, even though some of the lie is the truth. He cannot remember what actually happened because he has another set of memories of an entirely different trip happening at the same time.

@Cavaliergirl96: I really wish you had followed through on your discussion of the trickster. Please see my feedback that I will be updating through the day on 9/24/19. —Grlucas (talk) 10:55, 24 September 2019 (EDT)
@Cavaliergirl196: I have to agree that I wish you had gone a little further into the trickster, as it would be interesting to look at that concept and how it connects to the two stories and those that set out to switch memories of those involved. Tprouty93 (talk) 23:54, 28 September 2019 (EDT)

September 29, 2019 - Rumination: it's a trap!

Rumination is one of many unhelpful thoughts patterns people use to cope with problems. Someone who is ruminating will review embarrassing or distressing events over and over again.[10] At best, it's distracting. At worst, rumination allows a person to spiral out of control. Liam in "The Entire History of You" uses technology to ruminate which results in losing his friends, his family, and satisfaction in life.

Liam's rumination

Liam uses the a memory recording and preserving device planted in his neck called "the grain" to obsessively review situations in his life, bringing emotional pain to himself and others. Liam reviews the events of the interview as he rides to the party, focusing on the interviewer's expression and choice of words to decipher whether he will be hired. The more Liam reviews each moment, his interpretations become darker. He reviews a moment with his daughter where she turns in her crib toward her mother instead of Liam. As he reviews the moment again and again, the audience might begin to believe Liam thinks his daughter does not love him. His insecurity drives his rumination, interpreting Ffion and Jonas' microexpressions as proof they are romantically connected. This fuels his desperate need to discover whether Ffion is cheating on him.

Abuse of technology

The grain makes it possible for Liam to ruminate in a way people today cannot: he can review every moment of his life. He can search through his memories and pull up all memories related to Fi. All of the characters with the grain are able to share their memories with each other. This provides Liam with the opportunity to see for himself whether Fi cheated on him by bullying her into showing her memories. He is so obsessed with the past that Liam ignores his present. Liam does not spend his energy trying to become the kind of person Fi would want to be around. Instead, he torments himself and torments her by refusing to let the past go. He is unable to recognize his abuse of the grain is self-destructive.

Personal responsibility

The grain is a tool. It is neither good nor bad and it certainly is not responsible for Liam's obsessive rumination. The grain did not make Liam attack Jonas or harass Fi into showing her memories of the affair. Unfortunately, the grain gave Liam the opportunity to fall deeper into unhealthy thought patterns he probably would have struggled with anyway. Liam gives his insecurities full reign and follows his overwrought emotions into a disastrous downward spiral. Liam really needs to see a counselor.

Leaving it all behind

In the end, Liam makes what might seem to be a psychologically healthy decision to cut out the grain. However, his motivations for doing so are more to avoid the past all together rather than find a way to integrate his experiences and move forward. Liam's insecurities have not been resolved and his emotions have not been addressed. He will be stuck in the past just as much as he was when he had the grain.

@Cavaliergirl96: Good point about the microexpressions. Those are something I think a lot about too. The whole time I was watching the episode, actually, I was thinking that I really don't need one of those Grains in my life. I already read too much into people's texts sometimes. I agree that Liam was wrong but I could understand where he was coming from, like with his analogy of a bad tooth that he just kept pushing around. It would be hard to get over that if you were literally carrying the evidence around with you everywhere. -MorganAtMGA (talk) 20:17, 29 September 2019 (EDT)

September 30, 2019 - Technology and exaggeration

Julia Shaw asserts in her article "From homo economicus to homo roboticus: An Exploration of the Transformative Impact of the Technological Imaginary" that technology can significantly impact how humans interact with each other and within themselves: "Just as at a human level, rational thought processes restrain ideas which are unruly and require control, ICT advancements have proliferated to the point where these technologies also need to be classified, constrained where necessary, and diluted into the real world in real time."[11] Human thoughts must be controlled and how humans use technology must also be controlled. Without that control, excessive use of technology exaggerates human failings. Liam and P. Burke live with the extra electronic aid but are unable to avoid human failings.

Liam's exaggerated obsession

Compared to other characters, Liam has a more difficult time disconnecting from the grain. While the partygoers are content to review a few memories before having a lengthy dinner together, Liam is the only person who sifts through his memories while the party is in progress. This suggests that his relationship with the grain is a bit unusual, reflecting more about who he is as a person than about the technology itself. He reviews the moment he walks in on Ffion and Jonas having a conversation, searching for proof that his wife is cheating on him. He refuses to let go of the past even after Fi repeatedly says she does love him. He gives in to his obsession and ultimately loses his wife and daughter. The grain gives him the opportunity to be more neurotic, more obsessive than he would without it.

P. Burke's exaggerated desire

When P. Burke has the opportunity to be the brain for a beautiful young girl, she takes advantage of the positive attention others give her. She wants to be loved; walking around as Delphi gives her the opportunity to love and potentially be loved by Paul:

A caricature of a woman burning, melting, obsessed with true love. Trying over twenty-double-thousand miles of hard vacuum to reach her beloved through girl-flesh numbed by an invisible film. Feeling his arms around the body he thinks is hers, fighting through shadows to give herself to him. Trying to taste and smell him through beautiful dead nostrils, to love him back with a body that goes dead in the heart of the fire. [12]

P. Burke's physical appearance prevents her from finding the love she wants, but even controlling Delphi does not help her find real lasting love. As Paul tries to rescue Delphi, he kills P. Burke. She dies without experiencing true, unconditional love and acceptance.

Some final thoughts

Liam and P. Burke use technology to try to improve their situations but still become exaggerated versions of themselves. Liam tries to divine whether his wife is cheating on him (even though she repeatedly tells him that she is committed to him) by reviewing his memories, her memories, and even the memories of an acquaintance. Using the grain allows Liam to be an obsessive exaggeration of himself. P. Burke controls Delphi and meets a young man with whom she falls in love. When she meets Paul, her desire for love is overwhelming. He is the first person who treats her well (though he does not know her real appearance until later) and her deep, human hunger for acceptance is exaggerated while she lives as Delphi. In both narratives, technology provides the opportunity for both Liam and P. Burke to be more emotionally unhealthy than they might be without the technology.

@Cavaliergirl96: Wow, good work. Be sure to get those typos, especially in your coding. —Grlucas (talk) 11:45, 30 September 2019 (EDT)

October 6, 2019 - Breaking the 4th Wall and Representation Inspiration

One thing that stuck out to me while watching Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is how the show breaks the 4th wall and comments on representation in media. Carlos Cort explains in his article that media representation of different places affects how people view those places. The same idea is true for racial groups and can affect people on a deeper level: "Minorities realize — supported by research — that the media influence not only how others view them, but even how they view themselves." [13] When it comes to racial representation in science fiction, aliens seem to be more prevalent than people of color.

In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Benjamin Sisko has an experience where he lives as a science fiction writer in the 1950s. He yearns to write stories that represent people of color like himself in positions of power and honor, like a captain of a space ship (which correlates with his position on the USS Defiant.) His colleagues agree that his story, as well as later stories, are worth publishing in their science fiction magazine. The magazine printer ultimately pulls the magazines from the heading to the press. Having a man of color pilot a space ship is more unbelievable than men on Mars.

When Sisko returns to his present time as the captain, he makes an unusually self-aware remark for even a science fiction show. He seriously considers whether the experience as a science fiction writer was actually reality and that maybe his own reality is what helps inspire the writer to continue writing. The idea is a nice nod to people who want to see more representation for people like themselves. If science fiction can create a reality where equality is expected, then it can encourage underrepresented people to keep pushing for equality and not stop until they are fully represented as nuanced people, not just caricatures of stereotypes.

October 7, 2019 - Loss of agency?

In “Bloodchild” and Deep Space Nine’s “Far Beyond the Stars,” the protagonists both face unfortunate circumstances that result in losing agency. Gan is a human who lives in a community where people are treated like incubators for alien creatures. Sisko, the caption of the USS Defiant, is transported to New York in the 1950s. He is a talented science fiction writer who cannot "out" himself for fear of public backlash. However, neither character is as powerless as he seems. María Ferrández San Miguel suggests in her article that Gan specifically is not as powerless as he seems in the short story. Sisko, too, appears more powerless than he actually is. Both characters gain some sense of agency by the end of their respective narratives.


In Bloodchild (a short story I found to be quite disturbing), Gan becomes the "mother" of T'Gatoi's offspring. He is given the opportunity to choose whether he or his sister will have the "privilege." Although he is in a situation where he has little personal power, he does decide make a few decisions on his own:

First of all, he demands from the Tlic that she formally ask for his consent. Secondly, he convinces her to let him keep the forbidden firearm saying: “If we’re not your animals, if these are adult things, accept the risk. There is risk, Gatoi, in dealing with a partner” (26), that is, dealing with an equal. Thus, by accommodating the posthuman, Gan proves that he is more than simply a victim, and in so doing he recovers a form of agency for himself and his species that allows him to overcome his earlier traumatic shock and to influence, to a certain extent, future Tlic-Terran interaction. [14]

When faced with the possibility that Gatoi might actually use Gan's sister, Gan persuades Gatoi to leave his sister alone. He chooses what he believes is the lesser of two evils. In this, Gan has a choice, makes a choice, and is given the opportunity to live with what he chooses.

"Far Beyond the Stars"

Unlike Gan, Sisko is familiar with having power. He is the captain of a large spaceship and has many people serving under him. However, when he visits New York in the 1950s, Sisko loses whatever power he might have had, including power over his own identity. His publisher and editor refuse to let anyone know that Sisko is a person of color. In spite of this, Sisko writes a story where a black man is the captain of a ship (not unlike Sisko's actual ship.) When Sisko's editor tells him he will not publish his story, Sisko decides to write more stories in his made-up universe. Even though Sisko's stories are not printed, he does decide to continue writing science fiction stories and submitting them for publication.

What does it mean?

Both "Bloodchild" and "Far Beyond the Stars" both comment on agency. Gan and Sisko both lose their agency to powers greater than themselves. However, as San Miguel suggests, even with the loss of control, Gan eventually gains some kind of agency. Similarly, Sisko loses his power when he is a science fiction writer and regains it by writing about Captain Sisko of the USS Defiant. In a way, these two stories both support the idea that a person can have some agency even in difficult circumstances.

@Cavaliergirl96: Generally strong. Here's your first sentence written correctly: In “Bloodchild” and Deep Space Nine’s “Far Beyond the Stars,” the protagonists both face unfortunate circumstances that result in losing agency. Do you see the difference? —Grlucas (talk) 09:52, 7 October 2019 (EDT)
@Grlucas: I see what you mean. I'll be more conscious of how to treat titles in the future!

October 13, 2019 - Article review

I answered the suggested questions related to the article review on my original Wikipedia page. You can find the article review here.

October 14, 2019 - When science has faith

Battlestar Galactica is the first show we've looked at that I had never seen before this class. I knew nothing about the Cylons, Dr. Baltar, or Caprica Six. Even after doing some extra research on the background, I find myself still confused. The person that Dr. Baltar imagines is with him also imagines he is with her? One thing that was not confusing, but nevertheless jarring, was hearing Caprica Six mention God's will. Science fiction and religion are often at odds, especially since science and faith often seem to oppose each other. Episode "33" begins with the premise that the Cylons believe in something higher than their human creators. In an article on trauma and science fiction, Tobias Steiner compares the Cylons' beliefs against the beliefs of their creators: "Having developed a monotheistic religion that runs counter to humanity’s polytheistic beliefs, the Cylons strive to find their god, a task that can only be fulfilled by removing their intermediate creator, man." [15] Cylons believe in a god and it is not their creators or their creators' gods.

Cylons are in an interesting position in that their evolution is fairly recent. They are not like humans whose bodies have evolved over millions and millions of years. Our time on earth spans beyond our memories. Cylons know they were created. Maybe this knowledge gives them the eyes to see something beyond the physical. I suppose the logic is that if humans created Cylons, then something else must have created humans. Eventually it devolves into Aquinas' unmoved mover argument.

In the context of the episode, Dr. Baltar does not believe in any god. He is not polytheistic. However, his dismissal of faith is juxtaposition with Caprica Six's beliefs. Caprica Six believes in a personal god who cares about the affairs of some. Dr. Baltar is one of the lucky few who has God's favor, so whatever benefits Dr. Baltar will happen as long as he has faith. Caprica Six does not understand how Dr. Baltar does not agree with her perspective. She expects invoking God will justify the death of over a thousand people because her God cares about Dr. Baltar. She thinks it should comfort him that her God cares about him. Understandably, it doesn't. The human creator does not have the faith of what essentially is a robot. The disregard for human life (even if it is not his own) is one of many things that stops him from having faith in that God.

Science fiction can uniquely bring up these kinds of discussion because science enables the creation of another human-like being. In Battlestar Galactica, the creator of the Cylons is not God, but God's creation. A conversation about faith that would, under any other set of circumstances, end with frustration on both sides is able to happen in the context of a story. Personal opinions can be set aside long enough to watch the episode and begin asking questions. No matter what you believe, this kind of act is valuable.

October 14, 2019 - Ethical dilemmas

In Battlestar Galactica's "33" and Tom Godwin's "Cold Equations," the problem is the same: people who do not deserve to die will die. Cylons might be controlling the Olympic Carrier which would kill thousands of people, but pilots shoot Olympic Carrier down. They kill the few to save many. In "Cold Equations," the pilot jettisons the girl into space because her extra weight would crash their aircraft, which carries a vaccine that would cure a terrible disease. Both narratives involve ethical dilemmas. Researchers from Harvard Business School explore ethical dilemmas and how to potentially resolve them in their article "Does 'Could' Lead to Good? On the Road to Moral Insight." They define ethical dilemmas as follows:

In these dilemmas, individuals are often caught in a conflict that entails sacrificing a moral principle (e.g., acting ethically and fairly, being loyal, and avoiding harm) in order to pro- tect or uphold duty to another individual (e.g., a co- worker, supervisee, manager) or entity (e.g., team or organization). To resolve these dilemmas, individuals may prioritize one imperative over another, resulting in deontological or utilitarian choices. [16]

Although the article discusses how to resolve moral dilemmas (which is arguably the better conversation to have), both stories give scenarios where there is no real resolution.

The point of these stories is not to find a way around the dilemma, but to see how humans respond to such circumstances. The pilots who shoot down the Olympic Carrier feel remorse about killing over one thousand people. The president feels guilty about giving the orders. Dr. Baltar, who benefits from the situation, also feels guilty. The pilot in "Cold Equations" does everything he can to keep the young woman alive for as long as he can. He contacts her brother and gives her time to write letters to her family. When he sends her out, he still hears her final question: "I didn’t do anything to die for... I didn’t do anything..."[17] Even when there is no other option, humans grieve over ethical dilemmas and lose-lose circumstances.

October 19, 2019 - The impact of one choice

In the Star Trek episode "City on the Edge of Forever," we have another example of an ethical dilemma. Kirk and Spock's dilemma is different from the physical limitations of a space ship in Tom Godwin's "Cold Equations". Their dilemma is not the same as the one in episode "33" from Battlestar Galactica, where the self-preservation of a single person is weighed against the survival of hundreds of lives. Their dilemma is against the future itself.

When the crew on the Enterprise realize their ship is gone because Dr. McCoy accidentally jumped back in time and changed the future, Kirk and Spock make the decision to jump even earlier in the past and stop Dr. McCoy. Kirk, as he is apt to do, falls in love with a woman in this time period and is horrified when Spock tells him that Edith's death is the single event that changes the future.

Science fiction is uniquely positioned to suggest that any insignificant action can change the world, for better or worse. Fairytales or stories in the fantasy genre usually involve fate controlling the outcomes of situations. Star Trek isn't fantasy, it's science fiction. In science fiction, on event leads a chain-reaction of events that will lead to something else. In science fiction, fate doesn't control the future; people control the future.

It's an interesting idea that one small change like that can change the future in such a dramatic way. It's an easier idea to believe as a plot device, but not something humans tend to believe about everyday life. We dismiss making small changes because we think only big changes amount to something important. However, some psychologists support the idea that small changes matter:

Tiny actions in treatment slowly dissolved [negative] beliefs. Week one, say hello to someone. Week two, ask someone about their midnight guilty pleasure. Week three, go out with people and play volleyball. But the weirdest thing happened months after treatment ended. Baby steps somehow became giant leaps. Patients now spoke of positive self-regard, intimacy and laughter, and ambitious accomplishments.[18]

There are consequences for even the smallest of actions. On one hand, it's a discouraging idea. Any action can lead to change. However, for someone who might struggle with recovering from a disorder or an addiction, the idea that small changes can amount to big things is vital. Every choice matters. Every action matters.

On a larger scale, this is why stories matter: they can give people hope. Yes, the episode is about how allowing one person to die will keep history intact. However, if one looks at the ideas driving the episode, one small action can change everything. I'm riffing on this idea because, in my experience, this idea is life-changing.

@Cavaliergirl96: Great points! I really enjoyed your post, especially the last paragraph. It's definitely interesting to think about how easily our actions could have far-reaching consequences. Maybe there are more people as important as Edith Keeler than we realize. -MorganAtMGA (talk) 19:20, 19 October 2019 (EDT)
@Cavaliergirl96: I enjoyed reading this post. I liked how you made the comparison between this week and last weeks readings. I believe that any change is significant in the future because in order to recieve what someone want in the long run. They have to set their self up for success. In order to get the things in life we want we have to work for them even though they are not garenteed. The SF part allows us to see time impacted by previous actions and actions to change the future.--TSmith2020 (talk) 13:55, 20 October 2019 (EDT)
@Cavaliergirl96: Nice post! I like how you connect these stories to previous stories we have read. I also agree with you that every choice matters. That said, this idea ties into a video I found for my post that explains three theories of parallel universes that scientists propose. The way you describe the stories follow the many universes model. Basically, we are living out one branch of a tree of infinite possibilities based on the decisions we make. Therefore, do you think there are other universes that exist where we are living out the choices we did not decide to make?--Daisja30 (talk) 22:36, 20 October 2019 (EDT)

October 20, 2019 - To boldly go...

At first glance, Star Trek's "City on the Edge of Forever" and Tim Pratt's "Impossible Dreams" are similar only in that they both involve romantic relationships. Kirk falls in love with Edith Keeler, a woman who lived during the Great Depression. Their relationship cannot last because only through her death can Kirk's future remain intact. Though it seems unlikely, "Impossible Dreams" provides an example of an alternate solution to the same problem. Pete and Ally live in two different dimensions, but Ally decides to cross the barrier and stay with Pete. Pete and Ally go where none of Captain Kirk's relationships have gone before: into the future.

An ill-fated romance

Kirk and Edith seem to be a good match. Edith's interest in the future and spaceships fits in with Kirk's job as the captain of the Enterprise. Kirk is a hard worker and tries to help Edith however he can. Kirk has been in situations like this before; he falls in love with any attractive female humanoid he sees. Usually, he leaves the women and continues on his mission as the captain. Unfortunately for Kirk and Edith, this solution cannot work because millions of people will die if Edith stays alive on Earth. Instead of allowing Edith to live, Kirk stops Dr. McCoy from saving her life and ends up heartbroken in the end. One writer points out that Kirk had another option that neither he nor Spock consider: "Ironically, Kirk’s dilemma had an easy solution. Why not explain the situation to Edith and take her back through the time portal? Her disappearance would have the same effect on history as her death. Captain Kirk could have his dream girl, and Edith could see the future that so fascinated her."[19] Kirk is so blinded by his dilemma that he does not see that he could have a future with Edith. Alternatively, Kirk could believe that Edith would not thrive in the future. Either way, Edith could have survived and the future could have been saved.

An alternate solution

Pete and Ally face a similar situation in "Impossible Dreams."[lower-alpha 1] Both Pete and Ally love movies and talk endlessly about movie trivia. As their friendship develops, Pete realizes that he enjoys being with Ally and wants her to enjoy some of his favorite movies after their portal closes. He gives her a laptop and an extra battery along with many of his favorite movies so that she could enjoy what he has enjoyed. He makes the grand gesture and then resolves to not visit the movie store again. However. Ally decides to leave her dimension with its cinematic classics and join Pete in his world believing that she can begin a new life.

...where none of Kirk's relationships have gone before

Pete and Ally are an improved version of Kirk and Edith, if only because the former find a way to be together in a way the latter never did. Pete's honesty about who he is and what is happening gives Ally the opportunity to choose the life she wants. She knows he is from another dimension and she decides to live in that dimension. He does not force her hand. Edith is given no such privilege. Kirk keeps his identity a secret and elects to let Edith die instead of bringing her with him. Of course, even if Edith knew about the situation and could choose to die or live in the future, there is no guarantee that she would elect to live in the future. It could just bring her emotional pain that she would not have had otherwise. Still, Kirk and Edith had options left on the table that Kirk at least could have considered. He is blinded by his either-or ethical dilemma that he cannot see the third option that would have spared a lot of pain.

October 21, 2019 - Fictional science in science fiction

One idea that has appeared in the digital age is the idea that human consciousness can live on forever as a copy on a computer. In the video game Portal, GLaDOS is (spoiler!) a copy of a woman named Caroline. Sword Art Online is about what happens when who people connect their consciousness to a video game are not allowed to leave. SOMA, another video game, explores the ethics behind uploading a person's consciousness into a robot (and how it would look for those robots to malfunction.) The episode "San Junipero" in Black Mirror also explores virtual life after physical death. Yorkie and Kelly have the opportunity in the online community of San Junipero to live again. As two elderly women, they have another chance to be young and physically unencumbered. Legislation necessitates that living individuals must move back and forth between their physical reality and their virtual reality so that the system will not be overwhelmed with people who do not want to stay alive. When they die, they can choose to stop existing or to live on in San Junipero forever as digital copies of their original consciousness.

Fictional science

Could it ever be possible to upload someone's consciousness into a computer? A graduate from MIT concluded it is not possible. His argument is, essentially, if you could duplicate a brain and consciousness, there would be no way to make it backwards compatible. "For any time period in which conscious lag is insignificant, every conscious state uniquely determines its history from an earlier conscious state – implies that conscious states cannot be copied or repeated (including by duplicating a brain) and that consciousness cannot be algorithmic."[20] The brain that does the perceiving will recognize it is different than the brain that did not perceive the experience. At that point, you would no longer have a copy of another consciousness- you would have another consciousness entirely.[lower-alpha 2]


Although there is certainly more room for research, it appears that, even if the technology existed where the brain could be duplicated, it would be impossible to insert the new experiences into the original brain. Yorkie and Kelly could be uploaded into the system, but neither could move back and forth as they do in the episode. "San Junipero," though a lovely idea, is still science fiction.



  1. I really wanted to write about what I love about this story. I didn't mostly because it is beyond the scope of the assignment but also because I could go on for a while. Either way, you're welcome.
  2. I cannot simplify this idea more than I already have. If you can read the original document and explain it better than this, be my guest.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Norton 1993.
  2. De Camp 1953.
  3. Films for the Humanities & Sciences (Firm) Infobase 1992.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Lewis 2015.
  5. Liedl 2015.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Gibson 1993.
  7. Kellner 1999.
  8. Dorsey 2009.
  9. Dick 1967.
  10. Wehrenberg 2019.
  11. Shaw 2015.
  12. Tiptree 1989.
  13. "A Long Way to Go: Minorities and the Media | Center for Media Literacy | Empowerment through Education | CML MediaLit Kit ™". Retrieved 2019-10-06.
  14. Ferrández San Miguel 2018.
  15. Steiner 2019.
  16. Zhang 2018.
  17. Godwin 2003.
  18. Kashdan 2018.
  19. Picard 2018.
  20. Knight 2019.