transferring my website

I love blogging, and I think I have a lot more to say, but I need to transfer to a better website.  So, I’m turning my Book review podcast website into my own personal blog. It’s now located at literary-views.com  Hope you enjoy.

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Why Sci Fi? An exploration of Science Fiction’s value for the thoughtful reader

 Science fiction is one of those genres that is both enjoyed and looked down upon by the general public.  We see Science fiction films making hundreds of thousands of dollars every year in the box office.  However, most sci-fi literature is looked down upon because of it’s niche audience, and it’s tendency to be written as sheer folly. This thought pattern makes one wonder why a thoughtful reader should read science fiction?  In this essay, I hope to define what I feel is the redeeming characteristic for this genre.

 Science fiction, by definition, is “Fiction based on imagined future scientific or technological advances and major social or environmental changes, frequently portraying space or time travel and life on other planets.”  Science fiction relies on these two elements to fuel it’s plots.  The scientific advances and social changes are usually based on a mixture of scientific theories and sheer imagination.  Whether the theory is realistic or not is of little consequence to the author.  All he has to say is that it occurs in the future.

Along with being creative and imaginative, Science Fiction’s futuristic settings also allow for an  deeper exploration of the possibilities.  When  an author  comes up with a unique concept, they  have the   opportunity to explore  how the concept will be created and used, as well as how mankind will react and use the concept itself.  A great example of this exists with the classic story of robots reaching a point of “sentience”, which is the ability to independently perceive the world around them.    The concept was inspired by Moore’s Law, which states that the number of transistors that can be placed on a integrated circuit will double every two years.  Since the robot’s basis for thought is an integrated circuit, then that means that the potential processing power within a robot’s “mind” will grow over time.  If this process were to continue onward without any friction, then a robot could, in theory, gain a system that resembles the complexities of the human mind, and thus gain “sentience”.

Now that we’ve introduced this concept of Robotic sentience, we can start inquiring into the details.  How did the robot enter into sentience?  Was it intentional, or simply based on a random event?  How would humanity react to this newly sentient being?  Would they fear it or embrace it?  How would the robot himself handle these new feelings and abilities?  Would he explore them, or expunge them?  How would the sentient robot react to mankind and it’s flawed nature?  These are only a few questions that one can consider when predicting the events, and giving us details.  Many science fiction books have explored this topic. however, the best science fiction takes time to expound and explain it all away.

It is through these great books that we find opportunities to engage issues.  In an author’s attempt at recording reactions and realities about a theory or concept, they reveal their own belief system about any number of issues.  For example, the sentient robot story would most likely rely on a random event on the robot being so advanced, that one event causes a shifting of wires and sparks, and Voila!, Robotic Sentience.   This origin story implies that the original creation of life is random by definition, and thus irreplacable. Many people may say that life’s creation was random, while others would say it was intentional.  But then as readers, we must ask “What is life?  how do we define a living being?” Most people won’t have an answer.  But that is why science fiction is fantastic.  It gives us the opportunity to engage these bigger-than-life issues that otherwise wouldn’t influence how we live.  By reading Science fiction,you are being offerred the opportunity to think, while also reading great stories.

In conclusion, Science fiction is first and foremost, a story.  It is  a grand tale set in another time and space, and often relies on a concept that seems “out of this world”.  As a reader, we enter the story, and are able to see the minutia and how it all fits together. We then have the opportunity to engage the bigger questions of life, and consider what we believe about reality, man, truth, and everything else.


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Continuing Firefly interest

My interest in Firefly continues to grow over the days.  I am seriously enjoying it all.  The show’s value philosophically, and the emotional attachment to the characters keeps me interested  In fact, I recently found a contest hosted by T-Shirt Spotlight where he is giving away Firefly T-shirts. You should go check it out here: http://tshirtspotlight.com/t-shirt-reviews/contest/ I’d love to get a Serenity Browncoats T-shirt in XL.    Anyway, go check it out, cause TSS is Shiny.

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Why fireworks on the Fourth of July?

I’m a big fan of fireworks.  I love the lights, I love the sound, and I especially enjoy the aspect of explosions that come with it.  But there is also a risk that comes with it.  So, I recently been considered the value of this act.  What are the implications, values, and reasons We do fireworks?  I don’t think I have an argument, but I just wanted to write a short bit about what, why ,and why not fireworks are worth doing.

The Reason for fireworks: The holiday of July 4th is connected to the establishment of America as a country.  Ever since the Revolutionary war, they are used as a form of celebration.  Now, they are extensively connected to our country’s history, and it’s past.  So, we continue the tradition as it is today.

Value of fireworks:  The fireworks are a unique aspect of the 4th of July.  In fact, it is the defining point of this holiday.  So, the history is the big value.  It also creates a big show, and is a great visual way to express one’s joy over a certain subject. It’s fun, and is entertaining.  It can unite a family around a great show, and is a finale worthy of the establishment of a nation.

Cost:  We consistently hear horror stories of people’s hands being blown off, and of fires, and emergency room visits.  This injury ratio is because of a misuse of the tools.  Then we must consider the pollutionary effects.  The huge amounts of smoke and carbon are certainly polluting.  So, is it worth it?

Truthfully, I’m not sure.  There are costs.  but I am also too much of a wannabe pyromaniac and a boy to say no.  Fireworks look fun.  I think it has potential.  It’s just misused all of the time.

 

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What I’m Watching: Firefly Pt. 2

In Part Two, I’m going to go into more detail about the conversational nature of the show.

Philosophical roots:  As I mentioned earlier, this show’s roots contain large traces of philosophical and moral statements.  First off ,the show creates a large amount of tension between Mal Reynolds, and Book, who is the Pastor of the show.  Now, Book is presented in a fairly realistic light so far, but we do see a nice-sized portion of conflict between these two, as they disagree over a simple concept as God and faith.  This conflict was purposefully put there ,and I believe is a great starter for conversation about both faith in general, and how those who disagree can handle it.

Also, Whedon chose to put a legal prostitute in the story, who is called a “companion”.  This character does this as a living.  However, Mal often calls her a “whore”, which shows his strong dislike for her profession.  So, we often see the upside and downside of this culture of casual sexual relations, and how it is insufficient.

I can’t forget to name off any number of occurances worth considering, including River Tam’s condition, the overbearing presence of the Alliance, and even Reynolds personal struggle with getting paid, while not harming others.  Many of the episodes contain elements that can be discussed right after watching, while it also helps for many if you’ve seen the whole show, and understand the narrative as a whole.

 

In conclusion, this show is a great investment, and I hope you have the oppurtunity to check it out.

 

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What I’m watching: Firefly

In a new series that I’m going to try and maintain, I will be writing about some of the TV shows that I am watching, and the philosophical conversations that I’ve found within it.   First up is the cult-favorite Firefly.

Plot:  Mal Reynolds is an ex-soldier and captain of Serenity, a Firefly-class spaceship.  Reynolds and his crew fly their ship around their galaxy and seek out jobs both legal and illegal.  However, there are many problems, including double-crossing salesmen, cannibalistic Reavers, and a Big-Brotheresque Alliance, who seems to desire to control everything.   Throw into the mix a number of characters, including a runaway doctor and his experimented on sister, a Shepherd-like pastor, and a Legal prostitute, and you have some excellent human drama.

History: Firefly is a show with an interesting history.  As a broadcasting show in 2004, the program had a horrible record.  Within the first 12 episodes, Fox pulled it off the air.  However, when it came out on DVD with all 14 episodes, the show suddenly developed a large fanbase, who called themselves the “Browncoats”.  Now, there is a official movie alongside fan-based films, comic books, and websites dedicated to getting the main star Nathan Fillion to buy the rights, and make the second season.  So, why is this outdated program still have such a strong fanbase?

I picked up this show because of this large fanbase.  How can a show with only one season of episodes have such a loyal following?  I found out that it is because of it’s sheer quality.  Joss Whedon (Of Buffy The Vampire Slayer) directed this show, and brought what I think are it’s best values.  The characters and actors are all real, and humorous.  But they are also dark and vivid.  The main plot concept allows for a potential plot that might resemble Star Trek.  But by creating constant themes throughout the programs, the story progresses well.  We are able to see the struggles of Reynolds and his morality versus his desire to be paid.  We see Inira, and her constant bickering with Reynolds about her profession.  The overwhelming nature of the government is also another big player.  We see them “over-stepping their bounds”, and stealing human rights.  These plotlines have certainly been one of the big draws for me.  I like seeing a consistent narrative that also attempts to explore aspects of certain ideas, like faith, and politics.  This show does even better by also building a simple, yet enormous universe for our heroes to explore and engage.

What made Firefly unique as a show was it’s western aura.  We see this use of many “Wild Wild West” style weapons and tools among the space-ships and foreign enemies, as well as the outlaw nature of the heroes. In this, the show leaves a great impression.  Especially if you listened to the soundtrack, which only uses a simple guitar sound for transitions in space and time.

Overall, this show is worth seeing.  It brings great aspects of sci-fi, westerns, drama, and humanity to the screen. Sadly, this show did end too soon.  I have not finished the show yet, but I am both impressed and excited to see what’s next.

 

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Owl City released it’s new album

I  really enjoy Owl City and his work with electronic music.  He released a new album, and I am enjoying it very much.  Check out his new video for the hit single “Alligator Sky”.  I can’t explain the name, it’s just what defines Owl City.

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