Category Archives: Science Fiction Saturday

The Inheritance Cycle is informed by Science Fiction

I finally finished listening to the audio books for the Inheritance Cycle, the 4 books starting with Eragon by Christopher Paolini. You can watch his skill as a writer and his world grow and develop through the books, as well as getting deeper as you see more of the cultures and locations in the world as it goes along.

I’ve been trying to think how to write about these books, and a review of each one is probably in order. However, there’s also talking about them as a whole, and for Science Fiction Saturday, it seemed right to talk about just how much science fiction informs these books.


It’s definitely fiction with an understanding of science, that’s for sure. It has all the trappings of fantasy, yes – elves, dwarves, magic, a medieval setting, and a hero’s journey. However, it’s this fantasy world that has a clear underpinning in the laws of our world, and where the magic is different, it’s a highly defined and explained magic system.

Really, the magic system and the way it works and is used in the story is one of the main reasons to read these books, one of the main unique features. Also probably some of the harder parts to adapt into film! (I never saw the movie adaptation, short of a few painful moments caught on TV). And it’s the magic system that both allows for that view into the world of science, and which takes this world and matches it to the definition of science fiction that I’ve worked with here on the site.

Well, matches somewhat. When magic itself is called out as a difference, it’s hard to get past. However, the magic system in Inheritance is all about ingenuity, cleverness, and out-thinking your opponent. It’s a magical language with the names of things, and where the mages have to commit to the spell they have spoken. So what happens with magic is based mainly on the knowledge and imagination of the magician.

Mainly on knowledge… and the rest is about energy. It takes as much energy with magic to do something as to do it in the mundane way, it just happens faster and perhaps differently. But that means the magician expends all of that energy at once – to, say, dig a ditch or descend a mountain. It’s dangerous.

So a lot of the science in this series is about energy – how much it takes to do a task, how much the magician has available. And the distance from a target (it’s harder to do something far away), or the weight of things, or these other physical aspects of the material world.


However, there’s also a mental aspect to the magic system – magicians are telepathic, they can read minds and speak through minds. And through this open mind experiencing the world around him, Eragon discovers a great deal about the natural world – following the lives of ants, for instance, like in The Once and Future King.

There’s all kinds of great scientific discoveries peppered throughout the series, for instance when Eragon discovers the fact that the world is round, or when he hears theories that we are not solid, but mostly empty with small particles holding us together. Lots of information about animals (as well as the invented biology of dragons, of course). About human anatomy as well, ways to kill them for sure, as well as some of the concerns Eragon starts to have about protecting himself or others. His magically calloused knuckles for punching, for instance.


Paolini also worked in plenty of war, and politics, and other problems that are common in science fiction. And the modern world. And fantasy too, I suppose. It mostly just ends up genre-bending, with so many aspects of the world thought out and explored and explained. It’s modern, I suppose, with so many things we know today being an exciting discovery in the medieval world of Inheritance. It has a science fiction feel, with so much focus on science. It’s fantasy in its outer shell, with the races and places and magic. It has elements of horror, of war.

It’s good stuff. I had remembered liking it, but was not disappointed in the re-read (listen). It was quite good.

Feeds You Should Follow: Museum of Science Fiction

I’ve recently found a fantastic feed for science fiction news and articles and I thought I would share. I’m not sure if they’ve just really stepped up their game, or if I’ve passed some threshold of interacting with their posts so that I now see them more regularly… whatever it is, I’m liking what I’m seeing.

What’s funny is the articles shared I’m interested in and I save them on Facebook, but I’m just finding more and other interesting articles from them to save and just creating a backlog… so much good content!

It’s the Museum of Science Fiction, out of Washington D.C.: Museum of Science Fiction Facebook.

They’re not necessarily creating all the content themselves; just doing a good job of curating articles from around the Internet. Definitely worth a follow! Here are a few recent posts:

Enjoy the addition of some good science fiction discussion in your news feed! What other articles would you recommend?

 

Star Trek’s Back… And so is Parody

So this happened.

That all looks really good right up until you think about it being on CBS All Access. CBS has been notorious for not playing well with others online, so outside of CBS All Access, I doubt it will be accessible anywhere in America. If I recall, it’ll be available streaming in other countries.

What this means? Well, for one thing, they’d better be ready for all the news reports about how it’s a heavily torrented TV show. And what it means for us is that we’ll probably just be waiting until it’s available to buy as a season after the fact… sadness!

Still, it looks great. It reminded me a bit of Mass Effect Andromeda, which more than anything means they’re both really current effects and visuals in similar sorts of space exploration stories. They both look gorgeous.

But then, there’s another show coming that had a trailer drop.

Sneaking this show out as competition for Star Trek: Discovery like this, and on a normal network like Fox, should be interesting. They’re both around 13 episodes (sounds like Discovery got bumped up to 15).

Star Trek parody can be great, though – Galaxy Quest proved that. With The Orville be anywhere near as good as Galaxy Quest? That remains to be seen. But we may give this one a watch and see!

Video

View… from… Spaaaace!

So I’m still as sick as when I posted yesterday, but when I opened up YouTube I saw a fascinating video link…

Opening it up in YouTube gets you the chat feed, which was surprisingly active and not at all good to read. Still, just getting that view from space is fantastic. It’s a reminder for me too that this is one of the underlying foundations of science fiction: wonderment at space.

Enjoy!

Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu

So this is the show that I need to find a way to watch. Everything that I have read about it makes  me want to watch it, but unfortunately right now we do not have Hulu. We ended up switching to Netlix because there were more original shows that we were watching and Hulu lost access to the CW. At the same time the question is will The Handmaid’s Tale become available to purchase somewhere else eventually or will it only be available on Hulu for such a long time that I want to just watch it there? It isn’t really like much can be given away because it is based on a book, but sitting around seeing these gorgeous visuals and hearing about the performances of some amazing actors and actresses just makes me want to watch it even more.

Actors

So the main character is played by Elizabeth Moss who everyone says is amazing, which I do not doubt. It sounds like much of her acting is about silent subtle facial expressions while her voice over tells the audience her true underlying feelings. That alone makes for such an interesting way to tell the story. In a world where saying anything against the ruling people could mean death our thoughts are the only way to rebel. Now Moss is joined with Samira Wiley, Alexis Bedel, and Ralph Fiennes all whom I have loved in other things. The little I have seen of clips and trailers all of the actors look incredible in their scenes.

Timely

There is an amazing timeliness to this series coming out now. When we see some groups who would probably be willing to see women no longer working and men should be in control it is hard not to imagine a world where this is possible because it happens. It is good to look at these dystopian futures and remember the perseverance, but also know that we do not want that to happen. These stories are important warnings about what has happened and what could happen. The ideas of many dystopias are not far off from things that have come before. People have turned a blind eye to small changes before until finally the world is on fire and they wonder how it got that far.

Hulu or Not Hulu

So the big question though is that do I want it enough to possibly pay for Hulu again. Now we could just plan for a month to try and watch the whole series, but do we really want to do that? If we get hooked then that means that we will want to pay again for the second season. The other option is to wait until it potentially comes out on DVD or to purchase digital and basically take the risk of just buying it. I am already watching so many shows, but this one just seems so poignant and the rave reviews just make it seem like a show that needs to be seen.

What do you think?