Posted by: movieotaku | November 24, 2007

Top 10 errors?

Found this today:

I gotta disagree on some of these.

10. Simplicity

The examples of exotic scenarios are, at best, extreme science. At worst, impossible. Life around a pulsar?? After a supernova, the only planets remaining are the lumps of rock & gas that re-form after the explosion. The environment around it is hostile to life:

“Pulsars emit a tremendous amount of high energy radiation, yet within this harsh environment we have a disk that looks a lot like those around young stars where planets are formed.” Dr. Deepto Chakrabarty, “Pulsars Form Planets Too”

The scenarios he describes are definitely science fiction.

9. Simplistic Planets

While it’s a good point, I think we’ve all seen plenty of worlds in media SF with variety. The reason he probably remembers this one is because film makers will create an extreme world for artistic reasons, and that will stick in our heads more so than Naboo.

8. Alien / Human Breeding

Gotta agree with him there.

7. Alien / Human communication

This one is harder to discuss for the simple reason that we haven’t encountered extra-terrestrial intelligence yet.  But we do share a common reality and experience the same phenomena.  If they can build a civilization & technology, they would probably have a similar concept of  mathematics and science.  Which is exactly what the movie Contact showed.  So this isn’t so much an error as a failure of imagination.  There may indeed be other novel forms of communication that can evolve and could be interesting premises.

6. Instant Communications

Yeah, this one is amusing.  Star Trek takes the attitude they are using sub-space and are those using FTL communication all the time.  But in movies with combat ranging over a solar system, like Star Wars, the time lag would definitely be noticeable.

5. Humanoid Aliens

While over used in SF movies, I take exception to his idea that the humanoid form (1 head, two arms, two legs) would be unique to Earth.  The humanoid form is pretty amenable to a tool manipulating species.

4. Explosions in Space

I agree with him to an extent, but there are exceptions.

3. Superluminal Travel

I prefer to think the jury is still out on this.

2. Earth Gravity

To be fair, most movies & TV shows these days recognize the concept of artificial gravity.

1. Sound in Space

OK, we agree there too. 🙂



  1. That’s why the how FIREFLY was so cool, there was never any noise in space.

  2. The author of this list has little idea what he’s writing about.

    Point 10: Simplicity
    Writing about relatively ‘mundane’ stuff (if you can call starships, aliens, and AI ‘mundane’) is not an error, it is the author’s preference. This is simply the author bitching that SF writers don’t write far-out stuff. He also misses the point of SF. SF is not about exotic locales or beings or whatever, it’s about the stories of characters set in non-contemporary realities.

    Point 09: Simplistic Planets
    He does have a point here. Too many worlds are given too little thought to their design, and the implications of that design. However, consider this: Earth is the only rocky planet in this solar system with more than one significant biome. Life-supporting single biome planets can actually exist, it would just have to have ecosystems that function differently to ours.

    Point 08: Alien / Human Breeding
    He’s right on the dot here, really. Humans and aliens should never be able to reproduce together sexually. Non-sexually however, is another matter. The reproduction method of the xenomorphs from the Alien franchise still comes across as quite plausible actually, considering.

    Point 07: Alien/Human Communication
    This guy again complains that SF writers don’t write what he personally expects to see from them. No one knows anything about how contact with extraterrestrial intelligence will be like, and that’s one of the reasons why first contact stories are always so popular among writers, it’s free ground for them to speculate.

    Point 06: Instant Communications
    Who’s to say FTL communication isn’t possible? Yes, there’s the light speed barrier, but there may yet be ways to circumvent that barrier. Wormholes for instance are one popular possibility. FTL radio is an error, but FTL communication isn’t necessarily. Also it’s simply needed too damn much for plots that it basically has to be excused when it pops up.

    Point 05: Humanoid Aliens
    He’s mostly right for this one. There just won’t be any Space Vikings or busty Green Babes, not matter how cool that would be. But we still do not understand evolution fully, and it is entirely possible that extraterrestrial intelligences will move about in generally terrestrial configurations.

    Point 04: Explosions in Space
    Yes there’ll be no sound, and most booms won’t be big. But there’s still oxygen in the ship, as well as other combustibles to burn. Also there’ll be mass to blow apart and glow. There won’t be big fireballs, but the Deathstar would still make quite a spectacular earth shattering kaboom.

    Point 03: Superluminal Travel
    Insert my arguments from Point 06 here. Faster than light is handwavium, superluminal travel and communication is still unobtanium.

    Point 02: Earth Gravity
    Actually this is addressed very often in written SF. Most pseudo-gravity generators are also left unexplained, so one can’t know if it really is bullshit or not. This is just another case of unobtanium so it isn’t necessarily an error, unless someone tries to explain it or it really does violate the laws of physics. Gravity on planets is however typically ignored on screen, since it just wouldn’t be worth the special effects budget to simulate different gravity (a very difficult thing to do you might find) when it isn’t important to the plot.

    Point 01: Sound in Space
    This one is defiantly a true error. Sound just shouldn’t exist in the vacuum.

    It’s obvious from points 10 and 07 that this guy expects SF writers to write according to his specifications, and that thinking goes across almost all the other points too. I find it strange that things such as visible ‘lasers’, force fields, and Hollywood kinematics didn’t make it to this list, since they’re more prevalent and important than half of the things on this list.

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