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mygif

As I just said a second ago:

The difference is that LOST told me it was about a magical island in the Pilot.

BSG waited until the finale.

–M

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mygif

Additional lesson: Viewers are morons and will weep and gnash teeth for their precious Space Atheism even if you’ve made God Almighty a character literally since the miniseries.

So, LOST, have fun when they howl that your clearly supernatural creatures with biblical names turn out to be supernatural and possibly biblical!

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mygif

Also, don’t even both bother with some half-assed tie-up-the-loose-ends-we-forgot movie after the fact that’s just rehashed old episodes. Thanks a lot, BSG, that’s two hours of my life I’ll never get back. I could’ve been watching something GOOD, like Spice World!

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mygif
Tim O'Neil said on February 2nd, 2010 at 4:53 pm

Well, uh, sci-fi is by definition atheistic. The whole purpose of the genre is to explore the possibilities and limitations of human agency and foibles. Whether we’re we’re talking about Foundation or Dune or Neuromancer or 1984 – the problems are humanity’s problems, to be dealt with in a the context of a universe that is an avowedly materialist zero-sum game. Otherwise, like Star Wars, it’s fantasy. I have no problem relabeling BSG fantasy – as soon as I heard about what the finale I was sapped of the desire to ever watch it (maybe if I’m bored or something, someday), so it’s of no consequence.

(How, then, to read the coda to Stranger in a Strange Land? Either as tongue-in-cheek, as I have usually done, or recetagorize the book in hindsight, which might actually be necessary since most of Heinlein’s later books feature crossovers with overt fantasy worlds such as Oz.)

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mygif

By what possible definition

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mygif

Mysteries that should be answered:
1) Black smoke monster
2) Origin of the Others
3) Black Rock
4) Nature of the Island itself
5) How everyone looks so well groomed after month on a desert island with little soap
6) Why they didn’t goth up Claire more than just that one episode
7) Christian Shepard
8) The damn numbers
9) Time travel device
10) Why everyone gets all excited about controlling a magical time travelling island that seems to kill most of the people who set foot on it

Answer one of those every couple episodes, and keep the character drama going, and I’ll be ecstatic.

Especially 6.

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mygif

Dune wasn’t atheistic. Arguably Foundation wasn’t either. Neuromancer was until the last few pages (C’mon, the damn AI basically become God!). 1984, you’re right about.

Just because God gets dressed up as a robot, the Biznatch Haderach, an AI, a Martian-raised human, etc., doesn’t make it atheistic.

Hell, When HARLIE Was One is sci-fi, and that’s about as theistic as it comes- the ending literally is the birth of God. Or jeez, come to think of it, most of Arthur C. Clarke’s fiction.

And yes, I know it’s not “Biznatch” Haderach. :)

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mygif

“Viewers are morons and will weep and gnash teeth for their precious Space Atheism even if you’ve made God Almighty a character literally since the miniseries.”

First of all, he was? That’s news to me.

Second of all, I don’t think most people were pissed off that we got some God in our Space Atheism. I didn’t like BSGs final run -because it was bad-. I think that’s kinda MGKs point, in’it? That RDM violated some good general-purpose rules for ending the grand cycle of his mythology?

It’s not like the above JUST apply to BSG or to Lost. ‘DON’T MARRY YOUR ENDING’ needs to be stapled to J.K Rowlings forhead in reverse, imo.

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mygif

Funny story about that- I don’t blame Rowling. Authors frequently get a little too carried away.

I will, however, reserve a special place in Hell for her editor, who completely abandoned his/her duties after a few books.

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mygif

Huh.

As an evangelical Christian who is also a science fiction nerd, the genre being “by definition atheistic” is news to me.

I don’t want to get into a big argument or anything, but you can occasionally find true SF that assumes God exists and even that parts of the Bible are accurate. Or at least gives Christianity some credit for getting some things right. I would recommend Calculating God by Robert J. Sawyer, for example, if it was better written.

Personally, I think all the wailing and gnashing of teeth over God and angels being real in BSG had more to do with the fact that a lot of people who post stuff on the Internet hate Christianity than with anything having to do with writing or staying true to the SF genre.

I mean… If they hate bad science fiction that much, some of those people would have stopped watching the show somewhere around the point when Baltar became a cult leader. If not earlier. Maybe back around the time of that stupid boxing episode.

As a genre purist, I almost gave up on BSG during the original mini-series.

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Tim O'Neil said on February 2nd, 2010 at 6:55 pm

I think we got different things from Dune – the books, to me, were (at least partly) about the dangers of religious belief when wedded to a highly militaristic jihadi culture – ie, the inhabitants of a Godforsaken desert that just happens to be home to the one substance that the rest of the universe needs to maintain a functioning economy. The only God in Dune is the God manufactured by believers for their purposes.

The AI in Neuromancer is hardly God – maybe god-like, but hardly the historical Yahweh, or Allah or even Zoroaster.

Asimov’s later Foundation sequels kind of ruined the premise by going for some sort of perfect world-mind Eden / Earth goddess metaphor thing – but still, by no stretch of the imagination capital-G “God.”

All of these books toy with the idea of belief, and the concept of God, and even have “gods.” I don’t think the existence of Q or Sha Ka Ree means there is a “God” in Star Trek.

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mygif

For “mythology show that isn’t F/SF”, Monk comes close. It at least had a Mythology thread (who killed Monk’s wife), although it didn’t touch on it nearly as often as most mythology shows do…

(And, going back even earlier and advancing it even less often, I suppose “The Fugitive” qualifies as well. With the same myth-thread.)

I’m probably in the hardest-to-please category on Lost, with the threads around Walt, Libby, and Aaron topping my “must resolve for complete satisfaction” list. But I’m not going to absolutely hate any non-perfectly satisfying ending I can imagine, either…

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mygif

Science Fiction is, if anything, inherently [i]secular[/i], which isn’t quite the same as being atheistic. It doesn’t usually (emphasis on “usually”) have miracles happening or religious beliefs being proven correct, but it doesn’t depend on them being incorrect either.

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mygif

And on the other end, don’t go overboard with the shipper stuff either. That was one of the weakest points of “The End Of Time”, the grand finale to Russell T Davies’ tenure as showrunner on Doctor Who; sure, I cared about all the supporting cast, but not enough to give them a thirty-seven year long send-off one by one. :)

That said, if you want a perfect example of a well-done payoff, watch the absolute killer moment where the Doctor foils the schemes of the Master and the power-mad Time Lords. He’s spent the whole episode assuming that the Master would kill him because of the prophecy, “He will knock four times,” and the constant four-note drumbeat in the Master’s head. But he defeats the Master, he defeats the Time Lords, and he’s miraculously still alive!

…and then Wilf, the old man who’s been helping him, taps four times on the glass to attract his attention. That moment where you hear the four knocks, not even in any particular rhythm, is an absolute bone-chiller.

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mygif

“What Lost can learn from Battlestar Galactica”

Mormonism makes for shitty TV.

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Matthew Johnson said on February 2nd, 2010 at 8:41 pm

Andrew: I’m not sure if you were responding to my post or to things you’ve read elsewhere, but I had no problem with the concept of Head Six and Baltar being angels, or of God being an active presence in the story; my problem was with _how_ that was done — instead of being “Whoa, they were angels” it was “Oh, they were angels.”

Murc: Just for the record, I wrote the post, not MGK. Not that I mind him being blamed for stuff I did, but he might.

Jeff R.: I can’t speak for Monk, but I don’t think The Fugitive was really a mythology show — AFAIK the central mystery had little depth, and few episodes touched on it directly. If it had followed the plot of the movie version, with the original murder spinning off into a big conspiracy theory, that would have been a mythology. My personal favourite example of a non-genre show that’s (almost) a mythology show, in that a lot of the pleasure of watching it comes from learning previously unrevealed bits of background, is the US version of The Office, where the funniest bits are often offhand revelations about the characters (particularly Creed, whose best bits usually get cut and are the main reason to watch the DVDs.) However it too is disqualified because a) there’s clearly no fore-planning and b) the new info almost never relates to the plot. Still, it’s fun to build a composite history of Creed’s life based on all of those little revelations…

John: Good point about not going overboard on the shipper stuff, but that’s true of any show with continuing elements (Friends, for instance) and not just mythology shows; it’s only mythology shows, though, that are likely to skimp relationship payoffs in favour of expository ones. Agreed, though, on both points about The End of Time (though the sequence you cite would have been a lot more powerful if we didn’t already know it was Tennant’s last show.)

That raises an interesting question: is Doctor Who a mythology show? The original certainly wasn’t — they were clearly making things up as they went along, and like Buffy what mythology did develop was often contradictory — but I think over the years fans succeeded in turning it into one. (I remember poring over the Lofficiers’ two guides that made it all seem like a well-ordered, planned out universe.) But I’d say the new series isn’t really a mythology show beyond its season-by-season arcs: there was no reason, for instance, to suppose that the Time War would ever be revisited, whereas in a mythology show we would know that what happened in it — and why we weren’t being told what had happened — would wind up being important.

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mygif

Honestly, we still don’t know much about the Time War, and we’re OK with that. Why? Because it’s treated as fait accompli, rather than something the Doctor could affect at this point.

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mygif

We wanted to know who Head Six and Head Baltar were, but having them suddenly talk about God as if they spent weekends with him was not an interesting way to do it. We wanted to know the connection between the Colonies and present-day Earth: having a newscaster explain it was not an interesting way to do it. And so on…

In my case it’s not really the delivery so much as I just thought the answers themselves just weren’t really good or interesting at all.

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mygif

PS digging the atheism-bashings; keep it classy, Christian faithful.

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mygif

I’d go so far as to say that Sci-Fi isn’t intrinsically atheistic, but that many of the defining voices in early SF were absolutely atheists themselves, and they had a strong secular influence on the genre. Sagan and Asimov to name two of the most obvious.

Some lesser known authors have done interesting things with faith in SF, sometimes as simple as a nod here or there to the idea that as we move into the stars, we will take churches with us. H. Beam Piper used this in some of his stories.

A lot of the American Colonies were founded by religious exiles, and the settlement of the American west was led by Missions. It’s not so crazy to speculate that such things might happen again.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine absolutely played with the balancing concepts of religion vs. reason. Usually did so in an interesting and thought provoking way, too.

Does this make the end of BSG good? no. I stopped watching about the time they put Baltar on trial, in fact.

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mygif

@Dan:

What bashing? Was that directed at me?

Calm down, dude.

I love how nonbelievers try to use the “judge not, lest ye be judged” thing to try to say that Christians should never say what they think about other people’s beliefs ever.

You know… Despite the fact that Jesus and the writers of the New Testament had quite a lot to say about other belief systems. Religious debate has been part of Christianity since day one. We’re allowed to do it as long as we don’t get too mean.

It’s not like I called anybody a “brood of vipers” or anything. I just vaguely alluded to some of the comments about BSG I saw at other sites, such as the Onion A.V. Club.

Based on my own first-hand experiences, there are a lot of bitter atheists on message boards who will jump at any excuse to call Christians “sheeple” and bash my beliefs in far, far worse ways than whatever I said that bugged you.

And some of those people are also BSG fans. And some of them have a real problem with their show having any content that might be interpreted as Christian.

That’s all I’m saying.

I’m sorry if the truth is offensive to you somehow. I’ll try to be more classy in the future.

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mygif
Marionette said on February 3rd, 2010 at 7:24 am

Too many revelations come out like revealing how a conjuring trick was done. It’s interesting, but somehow mundane. A good revelation needs to give you something more than you expected.

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mygif

The main thing the show-runners on Lost should learn from BSG is to have Lucy Lawless on to make out with Kate…

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squishydish said on February 3rd, 2010 at 11:11 am

I agree with your points, but you left out the major one for me.
The thing that bothered me most about the BSG finale was that the characters apparently decided to blame all their conflicts on Technology and Knowledge instead of their own failings, so they destroyed all that they had and settled down to devolve. Instead of learning from their traumatic past, they chose forgetfulness for themselves and ignorance for their progeny.
By doing that, BSG told the viewer that all the amazing revelations and poignant moments throughout the run of the show were worthless.
So I would say that another lesson other shows should learn is don’t tell your fans that the whole show, and their involvement in it, has been a gigantic waste of time.

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mygif

@dumas
Maybe I’m wrong, but it sure seems like no one on this board was making the kinds of anti-Christian remarks that would call for calling atheists weeping, teethy-gnashing morons. And, clearly, you’re totally justified in telling someone who calls that atheism-bashing to calm down, because what Dan wrote was just outrageous. You must feel so victimized.

Anyway, I was sure BSG was heading to a kind of thing where Starbuck had created cylon-like multiple versions of herself by passing through the wormhole, so I felt pretty cheated by the triteness of the actual “explanation”.

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mygif

I didn’t call anybody morons. That was Andrew. And I have no idea what Andrew’s beliefs are. If you’re going to be as oversensitive as you accuse me of being, you could at least stick to stuff I actually said.

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mygif

That is an excellent point. I pretty much lumped you together in the “Christianity is under attack” heading- sorry bout that.

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mygif

Nowhere Man was a borderline SF show that certainly seemed to have a mythology, though the creators weren’t really looking to develop one. Laurence Hertzog said he never really cared about answering any of the questions he’d raised in the pilot, but realized he’d probably have to, but the last half dozen or so episodes left me thinking he’d planned it that way from the first.

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mygif

On an only tangentially-related note:

(Soap operas don’t count because there has to be a sense that the mythology was created before the show started, whereas the revelations in soap operas are generally retcons.)

THIS. This needs to be papered on the walls of every room the Heroes writers and producers ever enter, to explain to them why their clever plot twists and revelations ceased to be clever about three years ago.

I still watch in the forlorn hope that it will become the great mythology show it promised to be at the start.

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