Lewis Beale Has Appointed Himself the Czar of Sci-Fi

And he doesn’t have a clue it began before Asimov as his screed indicates here: http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/02/opinion/beale-star-wars/

He tries to convince us the first commercial Sci-fi was Star Wars. Should we discuss Star Trek, from a decade before? Or Flash Gordon or the entire sub-genre of pulp fiction sci-fi?

His claims as to ‘smart’ sci-fi not being made movies is laughable, given the immediate concessions that are. Not to mention that Johnny Mnemonic was a Gibson short story, as was Blade Runner. And oh, btw, may I note there is a script for Neuromancer being developed presently? Sorry to break your heart on that.

And then he says Matrix was original. Did he note the second and third entirely annihilated its own mythology and emptied the 1st of meaning? Did he forget that Grant Morrison believes it to be a plagiarization of his own The Invisibles.

At least he doesn’t claim Glittry Good, Not-Glittery Bad.

And here’s the kicker: Not all ‘smart’ sci-fi is good. And even he is forced to admit Star Wars & Empire Strikes Back were good movies. Star Trek II is one of the best sci-fi movies to be made, and that despite it being in one of the most pulp of all franchises. Now I’m not saying smart sci-fi is necessarily bad, either. I consider Babylon 5 smart, even when I disagree with some of its messaging. It’s still my favorite series of all time. I can watch Blade Runner marathons of nothing but the various versions.

And I can enjoy everything in Star Wars up to the Ewoks, and the Thrawn books within the Expanded Universe, before it was rendered defunct. The problem with Lewis Beale’s article is he gets the problem with Star Wars exactly wrong. The Prequels weren’t bad because they were pulp. The Prequels were bad because they forgot the joy of the optimism inherent to Space Opera. The Prequels failed because they became obsessed with their own importance–and in no small part because they attempted ‘smart’ messages that didn’t fit the nature of the story. And the less said about political commentary in the Prequels the better.

The issue isn’t ‘smart’ or ‘pulp.’ And we all want to talk about ‘original’ stories. But honestly, what’s ‘novel’ to the first person is trite to the second. What matters is trying to tell a good story. Not concerning yourself with how ‘smart’ or ‘edgy’ or ‘novel’ it is. Rather, does it take us someplace we don’t want to leave? On an adventure we want to be part of? With characters we enjoy, even if we’ve seen them before? If yes? Then we have the potential of a ripping yarn. If not, it’s going to disappoint.

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