the sci-fi page

the cast of Star Wars

the cast of Star Wars takes a break in Threepio's torso

Science fiction rules. 'Nuff said.

There's no other literary or cinematic genre where you can go all over the map, create some off-the-wall creatures and worlds, and make it sound believable. Unless you count fantasy. Unfortunately, they say a lot of sci-fi is crap. I would agree with that assumption, but there are some bright stars in this galaxy.

I guess the thing that got me hooked was the George Lucas masterpiece Star Wars. He took all the things that were good about sci-fi and made it into something better. It's good to get hooked with that stuff when you're a kid. Those Star Wars action figures up top are evidence of that. Back then, I wasn't in the collector frame of mind. I wanted to play with them, dammit! Even with the new toys, I still break them free from their plastic prison.

The next big sci-fi thing for me was The Transformers. What could be more cooler than vehicles and such that transform into mighty robots? What could be even MORE cooler than having toys to play with? It sure worked on me; I've got over 60 Autobots and Decepticons. There's one of them below, Autobot leader Optimus Prime.

Optimus Prime

In terms of fiction, I recommend Neal Stephenson's "Snow Crash" (a humorous look at the cyberpunk world) and "The Diamond Age" (nanotechnology is the norm, and a little girl grows up with an interactive primer). There's also "Dune" by Frank Herbert. It seems Mr. Lucas could have "borrowed" some things from this epic novel, but I can't confirm this. If you've seen the movie version of "Dune," the book is better. Trust me. You can find some fiction on the Net at Asimov's Science Fiction Web site. And although I haven't seen the movie, I have seen the Web site for The Matrix, and it's got some cool stories, including one from my literary hero, Neil Gaiman.

I also recommend Joe Haldeman's "The Forever War." It's sort of a pot-shot at the Vietnam War, but in space. Some people call it the opposite of Robert Heinlein's "Starship Troopers," and I agree. It's also better than "Troopers." But that's my opinion; I could be wrong.

As far as science fiction on the Web, the first place you could go is The SF Site: The Best in Science Fiction and Fantasy. Next in your travels is The Sci-Fi Channel. This channel used to suck in terms of programs, but they've gotten better. But this is the same channel that plays "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade." Go figure. They did save Mystery Science Theater 3000, but then they canceled it this past April. Grrr. If you don't know what MST3K is, it's basically about this guy and his two robot pals who are stranded in space and are forced to watch bad movies. It's pure genius! Some other interesting shows include Farscape, about an astronaut (John Crichton, below with Rygel XVI) who's lost on the other side of the galaxy with alien renegades, and First Wave, about Nostradomus' predictions on the end of the world, and how invading aliens are tied into it.

John Crichton and Rygel XVI

And let's not forget one of the leaders of sci-fi, Star Trek. Sure, it might be a somewhat sanitized version of the future, but thank God for the Borg and the Klingons. All kidding aside, some of the episodes are powerful and action-packed, some even leading to tears. One thing that Star Trek has, like Star Wars, is a damn good plot with beleiveable characters. If you can't have that, then it's going to suck.

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