Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Biology in Science Fiction Roundup: August 20 Edition

Here are some Biology in Science Fiction bits from the past week:

At Shakespeare's Sister quixote writes about one of her/his pet peeves: "fostering day-to-day ignorance" by making science stupid in the movies because of laziness, rather than any special story-telling requirement.
Take an example from an epidsode of Star Trek- The Next Generation. There's a big disaster as everyone evolves backward into insects (small problem right there...) and Beverly Crusher is saying, "The DNA! It's degrading into amino acids!"

There's two problems with that. One, any kids who are smart enough to learn will learn drivel. It's much harder to unlearn stuff than to learn it in the first place. Two, exactly how would it interfere with the story to have Crusher shout, "It's degrading into nucleic acids!"
Ouch, that's an especially bad episode, bioscience-wise. There's no excuse for getting the basics wrong (and don't even get me started on the "de-evolution" into animals and bugs plot line).

Peter Watts links to the transcript of a live chat he did on Xfire with fellow Hugo-nominees Charles Stross and Verner Vinge where he talked a bit about why he is no longer a marine biologist (among other interesting topics). He adds a couple of questions that didn't make the transcript on his blog. (That was part of a week of chats with different science fiction authors.)

Paul Di Filippo reviews Phyllis Gotlieb's new novel, Birthstones for SciFi.com.
There is a planet named Shar, inhabited by a race who call themselves by the same name. Shar is not a pleasant place, and its natives—who resemble bipedal wolves in size, fangs and furriness—are suffering. The Shar themselves, over the course of a long history, have rendered their world polluted and diseased. The main consequence has been something horrific: Every Shar female—not that there are many left at all—is born as a bloated, brainless womb, fit only for reproducing. As a consequence, the emotional life of the Shar males revolves around fatherhood and male pair-bonding. Homosexuality, if you must define it in human terms.
[big snip . . . ]
The "thick description" frequently associated with anthropological SF, which LeGuin pioneered, is here in full. The Shar culture assumes a rich palpability that the reader will savor.

Read the full review for Di Filippo's verdict on the story.

SciFi Wire talks to Jeff Carlson about his nanotech thriller Plague Year. In it a cancer-treatment goes haywire, destroying all life below the elevation of 10,000 feet.
Meanwhile, the changes to the environment are accelerating, Carlson said. "Beneath the death line, there are only insects, amphibians and reptiles," he said. "Some have become their own kinds of plagues. The ants especially are taking over, and beetles and locusts and what's left of the ecological balance is rapidly crumbling."
Carlson was inspired by real developments in nanotech and cutting edge military research - and his own imagination, of course.

On the SF Site, Steven H. Silver reviews the final installment of Masters of Science Fiction, "The Discarded." Based on Harlan Ellison's story "The Abnormals," the TV-version was written by Ellison and Josh Olson and directed by Jonathan Frakes.
Starring John Hurt and Brian Dennehy, "The Discarded" focuses on a spaceship full of mutants who have been exiled from Earth and live a nomadic life going from planet to planet, none of which will accept them.
The story takes off when an envoy from Earth arrives telling them they are needed. Should they stay or should they go? Silver thinks it is the best installment of the series. It is scheduled to be shown on Saturday August 25 on ABC.

Tags:, , , , , , , , ,

1 comment:

Tom said...

Thanks for your valuable contribution!