Ridley Scott: "Science Fiction is Dead" --Not a Match for Reality
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February 16, 2014

Ridley Scott: "Science Fiction is Dead" --Not a Match for Reality

 

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In a speech at the 2007 Venice Film Festival at special screening of his seminal noir thriller Blade Runner, Sir Ridley Scott, the legendary director of Alien, announced that he believes that science-fiction as a genre is dead.

From warp drives to hyperspace, science fiction has continuously borrowed from, and sometimes anticipated, the state of the art in scientific progress. This has resulted in the perception that science and science fiction have a causal relationship, one finding direction from and fulfilling the science fantasy laid out before it.

But that is rarely the case, according to Lawrence Krauss, a Foundation professor in the School of Space and Earth Exploration and the Department of Physics at Arizona State University. No doubt, science fiction has taken inspiration from the cutting edge science of its day. And, as Stephen Hawking reaffirmed in the preface of Krauss's bestselling book, the Physics of Star Trek, science fiction helps inspire our imaginations. But Krauss believes science fiction is not a match for reality.

"Truth is stranger than fiction," Krauss said at the 2014 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago.

"The imagination of nature far exceeds the human imagination, which is why we constantly need to probe the universe via experimentation to make progress," he said. "In fact, I tend to think that what makes science fiction most interesting is what they missed, not what they got right."

Krauss, a renowned theoretical physicist and science popularizer, was giving his talk, "Physics of the future," on Feb. 14 at AAAS as part of a session titled "Where's my flying car? Science, science fiction and a changing vision of the future."

As examples, Krauss mentioned the World-Wide-Web, developed at the CERN scientific laboratory and which governs the world in ways that were not anticipated. He also described "The World Set Free," often quoted as a prophetic book by H.G. Wells, which was published in 1914 and anticipated the development of atomic weapons that could be used in war. It even coined the term "atomic bombs" decades before they became a harsh reality in the modern world and perhaps influencing some of the scientists who went on to create these weapons.

"Nevertheless not only did Wells' continually burning atomic weapons bear no resemblance to the engines of destruction in the real world," Krauss emphasized, "he thought it would unite the world into one society whereas we are painfully aware that it hasn't changed human thinking, except to divide the world into nuclear haves and have-nots."

"Nevertheless it is instructive, and fun, to compare the 'science' of science fiction with that of the real world," said Krauss, who also is the director of the Origins Project at ASU. "Rather than dwelling on things that don't work, it is fun to explore closely related things in the real world that might work."

Krauss discussed a variety of classical science fiction standbys – space exploration, faster than light travel, time travel and teleportation. It seems almost tragic that science fiction is full of space travelers, freely and technologically effortlessly fulfilling their manifest destiny in space while we remain stuck on Earth. But the reality of the situation, according to Krauss, is that space travel costs a lot of money and energy, is a very risky endeavor and humans, as "hundred-pound bags of water," are not built for space.

On a more positive vein, Krauss described how exotica live warp drive and time travel are not ruled out by known laws of nature, though from a practical perspective even if possible in principle they are likely to be impossible in practice. While it is not likely that humans will be "beamed" from one place to another, quantum teleportation might revolutionize computing in ways that science fiction has just begun to come to grips with, said Krauss, who has authored more than 300 scientific publications and nine books, including the international bestseller The Physics of Star Trek, a tour of the Star Trek universe and our universe, and Beyond Star Trek, which addressed recent exciting discoveries in physics and astronomy and takes a look at how the laws of physics relate to notions from popular culture.

Krauss concluded that predicting the future of science if fraught with problems.

"The best part of physics of the future is that we have no idea what the exciting discoveries of the future will be," he said. "If I knew what the next big thing would be, I would be working on it now!"

In a speech at the 2007 Venice Film Festival  Ridley Scott announced that he believes that science-fiction as a genre is dead -gone the way of Westerns (which didn't  seem to prevent him from directing Prometheus in 20012).

Scott believes, as we do at The Daily Galaxy, that although the flashy special effects of block-busters such as The Matrix, Independence Day and The War of the Worlds, may sell at the box office, that none can beat Stanley Kubrick’s haunting 1968 epic 2001: A Space Odyssey. The film is as fresh (and perhaps more relevant) today as the day it premiered.

 

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The video at the end of the post -Kubrick 2001 -The Space Odyssey Explained- is a minor masterpiece in itself and is not to be missed. In a speech at the 2007 Venice Film Festival at special screening of his seminal noir thriller Blade Runner, Sir Ridley Scott, the legendary director of Alien, announced that he believes that science-fiction as a genre is dead -gone the way of Westerns.

“There’s nothing original. We’ve seen it all before. Been there. Done it,” Scott said.

Made at the height of the “space race” between the United States and the USSR, 2001 predicted a world of malevolent computers and routine space travel. Kubrick had such a fanatical eye for detail, he employed Nasa experts in designing the spacecraft.

Sir Ridley said that 2001 was “the best of the best”, in use of lighting, special effects and atmosphere, adding that every sci-fi film since had imitated or referred to it. “There is an over reliance on special effects as well as weak storylines,” he said of modern sci-fi films.

More than anything, 2001 and its journey from the origins of life in prehistoric Africa in 4 million BC to Jupiter, where a new creature, the HAL 9000 computer inhabits the dark void of space. The film is Kubrick's philosophical statement about humanity's place in the universe, about where we as humans rate in the pecking order of life -- "feral, intelligent and hyper-intelligent."

The famous Monoliths at the opening of the film and the Star Child at the end indicates that entities have reached a higher level of consciousness. Despite the fact that humanity remains more or less earthbound, Kubrick -- through his strange, infuriating and by turns terrifying movie points towards our future: to our destiny beyond the Solar System.

 

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The film's primary themes include the origins of evolution; sentient computers; extra-terrestrial beings; the search for one's place in the universe; and re-birth all seen within a cold, foreboding light. Viewers often read the monoliths as signposts of our discovery of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. Shortly after the film's release, however, Kubrick told a New York Times reporter that it's more a matter of the other beings discovering us.

Steven Spielberg called 2001 A Space Odyssey (1968) his generation's "big bang," focusing its attention upon the Russo-American space race -a prelude to orbiting and landing on the Moon with Apollo 11 on July 20, 1969. And it prophetically showed the enduring influence that computers would have in our daily lives.

The special effects techniques Kubrick pioneered were further developed by Ridley Scott and George Lucas for films such as Alien and Star Wars. 2001 is particularly notable as one of the few films realistically presenting travel in outer space, with scenes in outer space completely silent; weightlessness is constant, with characters are strapped in place; when characters wear pressure suits, only their breathing is audible.

Stanley Kubrick -director of Dr Strangelove, Lolita, and Clockwork Orange- spent five years developing 2001, collaborating with SF legend Arthur C. Clarke on the script, expanding on Clarke's short story "The Sentinel". The screenplay and the novel were written simultaneously. The novel and the film deviate substantially from each other, with the novel explaining a great deal of what the film leaves deliberately ambiguous.

The film is notable for its use of classical music, such as Richard Strauss's Also Sprach Zarathustra and Johann Strauss's The Blue Danube waltz, as well the music of contemporary, avant-garde Hungarian composer, György Ligeti (though this was done without Ligeti's consent). Atmospheres, Lux Aeterna, and Requiem on the 2001 soundtrack was the first wide commercial exposure of Ligeti's work.

The moon docking sequence, which preceded the actual moon landing by a year, looks remarkably accurate. It's no wonder so many people believe the Apollo 11 landing was filmed on a Hollywood sound stage -- Kubrick had already done it, and he made it look easy.

One of the more crucial elements of 2001 is the lack of sound that dominates the film, which is true to that there would be no sound in space (no atmosphere means no medium for sound transmission).

The real drama begins when HAL, one of cinema's all-time evil and terrifying characters, makes his appearance. The HAL 9000: a malevolent, homicidal, and sightly effete (he sings "Daisy") intelligent computer that controls the operations of the spaceship Discovery, which is on its way to Jupiter with a team of astronauts to explore the monoliths' origins.

In the movie's climatic sequence, Discovery crewmen David Bowman and Frank Poole attempt to disable the computer after the stability of his programming becomes suspect. Omnipotent in their microcosmic on-board setting, HAL doesn't take kindly to this suggestion. Bowman and Poole hole themselves up in space pod to engage in what they think is a private conversation. HAL, however, watches, reading their lips. Not good...

Sir Ridley is one of Britain’s most acclaimed film-makers. His extraordinary number of box-office hits include Alien – another sci-fi classic, best remembered for the scene of an infant creature bursting through John Hurt’s chest – as well as Thelma & Louise, Gladiator and Black Hawk Down.

But it is for Blade Runner that sci-fi fans revere him most. Ridley's vision, writes Cinematical writer Kevin Kelly, turned Philip K. Dick's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? "into a look at a dystopian future that still influences the look and feel of science fiction films to this day."

Scott began his feature film directing career with The Duellists, a small but dazzling masterpiece, which brought him the Grand Jury Prize at the 1978 Cannes Film Festival. His second film was the breakthrough hit Alien, which won an Academy Award for Special Effects. This was followed by Blade Runner, now considered one of the landmark science fiction films of all time. In 2003, Scott was knighted by the Queen of England.

The Daily Galaxy via Arizona State University 

Comments

As humans we can only imagine within the realm of our senses.
Those senses were derived over millions of years of evolution on a planet orbiting an unspectacular yellow star. I find it laughable that an author would discredit a genre derived from qualified scientific speclation. The better authors of the so-called "Hard Sci-Fi" genre usually do extensive research into the subject and consult with the leading scientists in order to make their work more detailed and above all more interesting to those not carrying a pocket slide rule. What lies beyond our senses is all that's left to speculate about. As an author of "Hard Sci-Fi, I find the hubris displayed by Lawrence Krauss to be without peer. Perhaps he is beyond being thrilled by that which he helped to define. But, isn't that like never reading a novel that you didn't write? We are trapped within our senses. ATC, so what?

This reminds me of that guy about hundred years ago who said we should close the patent office because there was nothing left to invent!

Ridley Scott..."Science Fiction is dead". It seems Mr. Scott should take a closer look at the words science fiction. Fiction is the key word here. It means entertainment which cannot and should not be confused with science fact.

And he decided to go ahead and prove it by making Prometheus.

This is about the hundredth time this has been announced. Oh, and ouch KenInCO. True, but ouch.

I think Mr. Scott's declaration that "science fiction is dead" is an attempt to garner a little press attention for himself. The commenters above took the words right out of my mouth.

Scott's comments simply indicate that he's stuck in a sterile corner full of producers, publicists, agents, etc. Don't look for this crowd to come up with anything fresh. Look for the folks who write SciFi because it's fun, such as:

http://home.earthlink.net/~wpine/rogue729.html

To my mind, the notion that the advent of nuclear weapons hasn't mobilized humanity isn't consistent with experience. I suspect the cold war never became hot because the alternative was unthinkable for both sides. We're now challenged to eliminate all weapons of mass destruction, thereafter banning them by international law, and proscribing their development.

The problem du jour is growing dependence upon near-instantaneous global communication. Broadband is what is. Information is the contemporary jugular. The global discourse that underlies social functioning relies upon an unimpeded flow of information. Thus the obvious avenue of local attack, accessible virtually everywhere on the planet, is the internet. The arms race of the future is bound to be cyber rather than nuclear, Iranian aspirations aside.

SCIENCE FICTION ISN´T DEAD
- It thrives very much so in modern theoretical astrophysics and mathematics and speculative cosmology with lots of dark entities and energies and strange singularities from where everything can be created and black holes in which everything can vanish and never bee seen again.

Now, thats real fiction for you!

Ridley Scott is out of ideas?

-Not a Match for Reality - is key to the perception issue of stifled human imagination.

Institutional science, particularly that of astrophysics and quantum physics has so stretched and blurred the boundary between fact and fiction that we argue about what we can't conceivably apply to real scientific standards of experimental proofing.

The event horizon of scientific credibility is violated when science is prohibited by pretension to ethics of open investigation of phenomena that challenges the accepted basis of both standard modeling and sacred materialist paradigms. There's primary cost to wages of that sin. Political dominance is a consciousness death sentence.

So, Clarke's and Kubrick's star child has no sequel simply because science can't go there, and won't defiantly go there. Prometheus failed because of, among other things, our special scientific reluctance to open the box of Pandora's anomalies. What results is melodrama with lots of explosions and requisite carnage. What else is there of entertainment value in bankrupted imagination?

Corresponding historical evidence also threatens our pathetically limited materialist paradigm. If one lives in a dictated historical fiction to begin with how can truth find a resonant place in human imagination? Institutional force won't allow threatening blasphemies. Just ask a witch.

Science is chained to limits imposed by occult political agenda. Fiction only works when it resonates with truth. When truth is co-opted for purposed political controls there's no discernible event horizon, if you will, to identify and know the point of no return from the truth of our human reality. Truth in our reality is weaponized against us by occult governance.

Hawking is right, we've lost the visible boundary that denotes reality from a black hole of willful unconsciousness to what's real. Why? Because we're told we can't handle the truth. And, because our conditional reality is a political contrivance there's no resonance left within it to guide a liberated human imagination to what's actually true.

'Contact' is oddly omitted from mention here. Wonder what Carl thinks about that? Wonder what we all think about that.
Wonder why star child has apparently transited an in-evident event horizon. Wonder why we so fear contact.

you helped kill it, Ridley, with your TERRIBLE film Prometheus ... this guy takes is apart brilliantly and hilariously http://bbot.org/badtranscript-prometheus.html

Prometheus failed because the effects were waaaaaaay better than the script. Which isn't really saying much because it was beyond derivative. Again, his best ideas have been done, by other authors. Box office is a matter of PR, movie stars and pre release advertising budgets. Move along, nothing new here.

I don't know why many "experts" keep repeating the same lie, like parrots.

I quote: "the World-Wide-Web, developed at the CERN scientific laboratory and which governs the world in ways that were not anticipated."

The web was anticipated with lot of precision in the tale "The logic named Joe" by Murray Leinster, writen in 1946.
I will suggest, expert get theirs facts right because building theories up from smoke.

totally disagree with this guy,

I only watch scifi so if scifi is dead then it's all dead lol

and real life is better than movies lol no such thing as real all movies are completely total fake so this guy is delusional if you ask me:)...

we need good scifi shows and good scifi games simple like star citizen will rule:)

But nowdays prety much all movies suck not just scifi so gtfo and stop this nonsense.
and avengers or spiderman etc rap is not scifi.

scifi is battlestar galactica,strar trek, star wars etc.


There is a lot of bad sci fi.

There is a lot of great sci fi.

You just have to READ it. The really great stories- even Ridley Scott can't put on film.

Some forty years ago, the concept of an invisibility cloak was derided as science fiction (Klingon vessel decloaking...) or more likely as total fantasy. Today we work on widening the cloaked spectrum. Forty years is not all that long a time, short I think to give an example of Clarke's advanced technology as magic meme. The technological singularity looms and our foresight shortens.

But if Sir Ridley said that in 2007 (check the date above), surely it must have resurrected... since he was willing to shoot 'Prometheus' in 2012 and Prometheus 2 due in 2015?

AH youngsters! You TOTALLY missed it.

**The HAL 9000: a malevolent, homicidal, and sightly effete (he sings "Daisy") intelligent computer that controls the operations of the spaceship Discovery, which is on its way to Jupiter with a team of astronauts to explore the monoliths' origins.**

HAL sang "Daisy" because that was his FIRST program attempt at vocalization. If you were around when that segment was created you understood the connection because Kubrick lifted it IN TOTO from the original. **In 1961, the IBM 7094 became the first computer to sing, singing the song Daisy Bell.**
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41U78QP8nBk

HAL was NOT malevolent nor homicidal. He was a victim of impossible conditions. How could HAL uphold the directive of the mission as PRIMARY while understanding that the astronauts were countermanding that directive with their talk of mutiny? Obviously his logical outcome was to disconnect the astronaut.

Plus the monolith had no "origins" because it was a gateway - a door. A blank space does not have an origin. That which fills it has an origin.

Ridley Scott DIRECTED "Blade Runner". P.K. Dick WROTE the story. So if Ridley Scott means that what he has done in his career is science fiction then I agee with him that "science fiction is dead." Ridley Scott's science fiction is dead (see Prometheus - DOA)

If you define "science fiction" to be what P.K. Dick wrote than you are totally in error and science fiction is alive and well and living happliy in the 21st century.

New technologies will spawn new dysfunctions (the brain takes time to adjust) which in turn will generate new problems humans will have adapting. In turn, the creatively neurotic, or neurotically creative, geniuses, and ‘Normies’, will create new fiction to work out individual and cultural-group issues with the new technologies. The result will range from horror, ala ‘Frankenstein’, to the fantastical, ala ‘Journey to the Moon’ (Jules Vernes).

For one, I am confident the artistic human brain will not permit itself to be upstaged and brought to a halt by mere technology and once seeds of new directions have been planted, thinkers and writers will search for resolutions to their dazzlement and confusion - viz., Charles Dodson, aka Lewis Carroll, and his ‘Alice in Wonderland’ which under it all is a product of a master mathematician who found a way to visualize his own mathematical genius (and doubts about the new mathematical-physics, e.g., ‘Uncertainty’) through writing ‘fiction’. Personally, I feel ‘Alice...’ should be required reading for first year grad students in quantum mechanics.

Black holes and time reversal are already topics of ‘old hat’ for creative writers. The same with multi-universes. The wonderful prospect of creative art (writing, painting ala the ‘Cubists’) catching up with and even stepping ahead of the most abstract new physics currently and not-yet-thought-about is an exciting prospect. Out human brain, with its deep mysteries yet unknown, will continue to lead us along a miraculous path as long as we don’t go all mad and self-extinct.

I really like ‘Aimee’s’ comment above because it underscores the political-economic paralysis current art and artists experience:
“So, Clarke's and Kubrick's star child has no sequel simply because science can't go there, and won't defiantly go there. Prometheus failed because of, among other things, our special scientific reluctance to open the box of Pandora's anomalies. “

We’re experiencing a kind of warped artistic and imaginative ‘dark ages’ that stifles creative expression except when it comes to new weapons and big profit. Hopefully, we (modern humanity) will break those bonds and a renaissance in artistic expression of our imaginations , and fears, will arrive.

I think this is like saying no more music can be written because every note has been used before.

I didn't know he was working on a Prometheus 2. Considering that, this may simply be a preemptive excuse.

"which didn't seem to prevent him from directing Prometheus in 20012" Wow he's still directing in the far future?

"2001" has no sequel? What about "2010"? It was both a book and a movie. Clarke also wrote "2061" and "3001".

People who claim SF is dead remind me of the people who declare there is nothing more to be learned in science aside from tying up a few loose ends.

Professor Lawrence Krauss may give voice to a common belief, "The imagination of nature far exceeds the human imagination, which is why we constantly need to probe the universe via experimentation to make progress,...”

Concept-Statement incredible.

How does Galaxy of Matter in Space, or World of Life in Time, conceive patterns of order, give-birth to logical structure; design language system, organize information matrix – raised in time, orchestrated by law, and synchronized energy-mass play?

From “nature” begun, inscrutable “intelligence” spun, ancient creative power unleashed, World-Biosphere wrought. Any infinitesimal element of which, is far superior to the greatest workmanship of human inventive thought: Intellect of Man, to design and build from plan?

Could “nature” ever imagine, design, plan, and execute a robotic rover to explore the ruddy sands of Mars? Forge the work of “Curiosity”, without conscious being, launched from world afar?

Traced to high intelligence, wellspring of imagination springs. How does unconscious mechanism, mindless process, blind force, lay-out the Coral Reef of organized ecology under wave, plant Forest System of economy under air, or assemble Globular Cluster symmetry in fusion of time, glorious galaxy chandeliers? Composed forms, arranged colors, fashioned shapes – blended to perfect beauty? Formations of cycle; but whence, origin of blueprints?

Floral growth comes from seed, intricate packaged instruction, living-soil planted deep, for system production. Program-turns seasonal operation, cycles of completed construction: flowers offer scent of Spring, pollen give creatures of wing.

Nature's imaginative genius, on myriad display; its creative brilliance, in the small and the great. What limitless array! Complex-integrated design, absent guidance of Superior Mind? Creation void direction, for precision-line of inventive Hand?

Patterns of Science imprint clear, the Spacetime fabric embroider fair – endlessly testify (wither below the sea, on the land, or beyond the sky): “Truth is stranger than fiction.”

Imagination only comes from Intelligence.


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