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Geek Parenting – Comparative Opinions Episode 45

Welcome to the Comparative Opinions podcast! In honor of Mother’s Day, hosts Holly and David talk Geek Parenting. Some thoughts on how they became geeks, how they are parenting now, and things they want to do with the Geek Baby in the future. Lots of talk about when it’s right to introduce media, and how. Happy Mother’s Day!

Comparative Opinions is a weekly half-hour-ish podcast hosted on ComparativeGeeks.com. Subscribe for new episodes every Sunday!

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Music is by Scott Gratton: http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Scott_Gratton/Intros_and_Outros

Star Trek vs. Star Wars – Throwback Thursday

After defining Science Fiction and the then Fantasy, it seemed appropriate to do something with those definitions. So why not dive into one of the biggest fights in all of fandom: Star Trek vs. Star Wars? They’re both billed as Science Fiction, but do they hold up as such when you’re working with these definitions? Let me know what you think!


This is an age-old geeky/nerdy question, as to which is better, or which is what, and I think now I am at a place where I can weigh in. Because both have a huge fandom around them, both have TV shows and movies and different eras and books and video games and… on what grounds do you compare these two worlds?

I have at least one way I would like to compare them. I recently did a post on the definition of Science Fiction – and one on the definition of Fantasy. I am going to be relying heavily on these definitions, as I think that weighing these will show a difference you can discuss between these two series.

Read up on the definitions if you haven’t already, and then let’s compare Star Trek and Star Wars!

STAR TREK – SCIENCE FICTION OR FANTASY?

Star Trek at its base is a story of exploration. This may be the very basis of science, as well, if we break it down, so in that way calling it Science Fiction makes sense. It also includes the hallmarks of science fiction stories, especially the large, space opera kinds: space travel, aliens. But does that all make it science fiction?

Looking at Frank Herbert’s definition of Science Fiction, Star Trek uses the aliens and situations to put the humans (and the rest of the crew of the Enterprise) to the test. There are varieties even within the alien races, with great examples being Spock and Worf. They stand out from the rest of their races, and we learn something through this interaction and comparison.

As Star Trek is an exploration story, it is not really a specific journey – even things like the five-year mission, or Voyager returning home, has strong episodic tendencies. This lends itself towards many problems, handled in a wide variety of ways. But the crew must always use their wits and technologies to handle these problems. Even if some of these technologies – like replicators and warp drives – are little more than wishful thinking.

Because of this episodic nature, Star Trek is not quite as escapist as it could be. It is still an escape – Tolkien may very well have liked it – but not so much so that it seems like a fantasy. The world is not so different from ours – it is, after all, our future – and is really more of a scientific utopian dream. It makes us think, and wonder, but maybe not escape from our world completely.

Star Trek is solidly Science Fiction.

STAR WARS – SCIENCE FICTION OR FANTASY?

Alright, you say, so far, nothing particularly surprising. Star Trek, a Science Fiction show, is Science Fiction. To which I say, let’s do that again, and see if the results are the same – with Star Wars.

Star Wars, at its base, is the hero’s journey of first Luke Skywalker, and then Anakin Skywalker (or really of Obi Wan Kenobi) before him. Even a story like Knights of the Old Republic, which I am playing right now, focuses on the journey, and rise to power with the Force, of your main character.

And here, then is the crux of the story: The Force. A mystical force of the universe which helps solve the characters’ problems. The good and evil of it are the basis of the conflicts in the story. It guides them, solves their problems, gives them powers to fight, to persuade… it is the mystical basis of what is done in the stories.

Following Frank Herbert’s definition of Science Fiction, characters in Science Fiction use their own wits and technology to solve their problems. But in Star Wars, there are pivotal moments where technology is turned away in place of the Force – like, say, in destroying the Death Star.

We also use aliens to tell us about our own humanity in Science Fiction – but in Star Wars, the aliens are far more part of the environment. They also, by race, tend to be similar to one another – a common trait in Fantasy, not necessarily Science Fiction. So are the Wookies, Hutts, and other aliens of Star Wars just the Dwarves and Elves of Star Wars?

I would say yes. Star Wars is escapist fun – if only there were the Force, we too could fight with swords and beat people with laser pistols (moving faster than light? Only possible if you can be in the right place before they fire, right?), move objects with your will, persuade others to your way of thinking… Yep, it all sounds really cool, and may be why Star Wars video games tend to be really excellent, and why Lucas Arts going away is such a devastating blow to the video game community.

Star Wars is a Fantasy story, where aliens and space are the fantastical landscape, where our heroes battle evil and go on personal journeys to become the saviors of the day.

STAR TREK VERSUS STAR WARS

So, if Star Trek is a Science Fiction world and series, and Star Wars is a Fantasy world and series, how do we compare them? Well, let’s think about a different comparison.

How about in books – can we compare Dune and Lord of the Rings? Sure, in terms of their roles as founding stories in their genres. One is a group, battling for good versus evil; another is a person fighting the various challenges of his day on his own (kind of continually true throughout the series). Comparing these to Star Trek and Star Wars, we switch which is a group and which individual, but these are not the fundamental differences between Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Dune and Lord of the Rings are both books – unlike the media differences between Star Wars with its base in movies, and Star Trek with its base in TV. So they’re more similar in this way. But in terms of what is and what happens in the stories, they are very solidly different. And I don’t feel like I have to say which I like better – they are different enough that I don’t have to choose, because I can’t compare them to each other well enough to say.

In the same way, how do we compare Star Trek and Star Wars? They’ve spawned worlds as large as each other, perhaps, so calling them two of the biggest fandoms and comparing them that way works. But in terms of the content? In terms of their stories? One is Science Fiction, and one is Fantasy.

So you can ask a different question, like, do you prefer Science Fiction or Fantasy? You can ask medium questions, like do you prefer movies or TV shows – Video Games or Books? But just asking the question, do you like Star Trek or Star Wars, is asking someone to compare apples and oranges.

And I’ve played enough Apples to Apples to know – it’s much more fun to compare apples to apples.

The Last Week of SourceFed!

We opened YouTube on Monday and found this video waiting.

It’s the last week of SourceFed and SourceFed Nerd! (And People Be Like). Unfortunately… it feels like we’re part of the problem. Holly and I connected with the original hosts, who were funny and awesome, but who also opened up with a lot of inner thoughts and stories through TableTalk and their many Truth or Dare episodes. TableTalk was probably the beginning of us watching regular daily YouTube content. We followed those hosts onto SourceFed Nerd and have shared plenty of content from that channel, or reacted to it.

However, as time passed and one-by-one the hosts left for other projects and to further their career, we failed to connect with the new hosts in the same way. At this point, we pretty much just watch the Philip DeFranco show and haven’t been watching any SourceFed.

YouTube as a space is more about the creators than their format, I think, and losing those creators, the faces we knew, was a setback. It’s actually maybe a testament to how good a format it was, and how gradual a change, that the channel has survived for this long.


One thing we wonder is how long this has been coming. Philip DeFranco has said the decision was not his to make, and decisions at SourceFed haven’t been his to make for a while.

He also says that the point of the show was for it to have changing hosts, and for the hosts to change – and for the show to change with them. So an experiment about my claim above, that YouTube is tied to the creators.

Phil has been talking about wanting to start a news channel for a while now, and he’s recognized that his timing was bad – that the proper time to start a new news site was probably sometime around the election results or the inauguration. Kind of like Dan Rather’s News And Guts. Waiting pulls us further away from that historical moment when the American people reconnected with the news in a big way.

I think that the end of several projects that Phil started – even if he was no longer managing and running them – feels like a further setback. And it’s too bad. And it makes me wonder if there are other business contracts or timeline elements, like this, that are standing in the way of that news network. We’ve been watching Phil for years, and I’m interested to see what he would do with a news network. Will that network come to be? Will any old SourceFed faces make their way there? Time will tell!

Meanwhile… the last TableTalk

When is Owning No Longer Worth It

We are at an interesting point with technology where more and more media can be accessed any time and any where with a monthly subscription cost. The subscriber does not own any of the media, but they can stream from a library of various media. At one point do consumers no longer really own the media, but instead decide to just use various subscription services to always have access to a multitude of options. There are subscription services that allow you to gain one new item a month, but then for a similar cost you don’t own and just have access. The only issue is the fact that you then only have access as long as you keep paying. So truly at what point does someone say that the subscription is enough. Continue reading

Twitter and History

Twitter has become an… interesting place in the last few months. Interesting things happening on Twitter seems to be something that comes and goes, with it being used to support some movement or help some event happen, and then it kind of quietly goes back to being random-thought-sharing and link dumps. That’s more on the other end of the societal spectrum of Twitter, where we get the idea that our attention span has reached a point where we can only pay attention for 140 characters or so.

Continue reading