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Some Blog I Wrote

stuff i think about and then type on a keyboard

Friday, July 15, 2005

Sci-Fi Friday!

Unless you're living in a cave or are like some persons I know who think science fiction is just "silly" or "dumb," you're chomping at the bit to watch the debut of the 2005 season of Sci-Fi Friday tonight. While my craving for good television has been slightly satisfied by the new season of Rescue Me on FX, the new season of Battlestar Galactica (BSG) will keep me full. (Following the analogy, the two Stargate installments would be appetizers such as gyoza or lettuce chicken wraps.)

Beyond the politics and the survival story, the part of BSG that most appeals to me is its strong sense of spirituality. What ultimately keeps Star Trek away from being unquestionably regarded by the public is its lack of spirituality. According to the story, humanity by the 23rd century developed a secular utopia free of any notion of religion beyond an offhand use of a ship's chapel in one episode of the classic series. The most acclaimed Star Trek series, Deep Space Nine, stood out because it attempted to deeply explore religion. Specifically, it explored the religion of one alien culture who worship wormhole-dwelling aliens unbound to time unfortunately called the Prophets.

Whenever Star Trek explored religion, it was usually as parable. The singularly awful "Chosen Realm" on Enterprise has left a permanent bad taste in my mouth for such episodes. Its message of religious extremism and intolerance was overwrought. Like many modern Star Trek episodes, its climax was rushed and shoved to the last two minutes.

My problem with science fiction of sci-fi such as this is that spirituality is something inherent to all of us, regardless of our beliefs. I would hazard a guess that even some atheists are partial to believing in some kind of spirit inherent to each of us. To dismiss spirituality as something "past us" in a futurist narrative is to deny a part of humanity. Some might say that humanity in the Star Trek universe has universally embraced (don't get me started on the vapid monocultures in Star Trek) science above religion. Science has become religion to them, but the writers are denying themselves a whole universe to explore -- the complicated relationship between science and religion, often in conflict, often in harmony.

BSG has embedded spirituality in the story. The Colonials worship a pantheon of twelve Lord of Kobol. Some might also be monotheists, but this could have been a writer's mistake in an early episode. The Cylons, created by the Colonials, have rapidly evolved and discovered "God" in their absence following the Cylon Wars, declaring their god to be superior to the Lords of Kobol. One Cylon even opined that God deemed humanity unworthy of souls, took him away from humanity, and gave them to the Cylons. On the face of it, the Cylons certainly seem more spiritual. They exhibit some form of shared consciousness that seems like a very advanced form of a modern computer grid. Meanwhile, the Colonials are dealing with visions and prophecies that may lead them to Kobol and perhaps to the mythic Earth.

This coming season will put some of these pieces together while throwing a few more on the table. Whatever happens, after a hell of a ride last season, the second season should be even bigger and better. Star What?

Posted by GiromiDe @ 11:25 AM
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At Fri Jul 22, 05:46:00 PM CDT, Anonymous Feldspar wrote...

I'll comment on your great entry since no one else has. BSG is defintly the best sci-fi to come alone in a while." So say we all" I found myself watching SG-1(I mean Fargate) and Atlantis ,but they didn't have me on the edge of my seat like BSG. I'm also looking forward to Friefly being a fan of Buffy.
DS9, what can I say. Best trek ever!!
They developed 2-3 races on that show; Enterprise couldn't develope 7 people. Ditto on religion adding another level to both shows. I always found it somewhat insulting the way Dax called them wormhole aliens. To Kira they were gods.

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At Sun Jul 31, 10:39:00 PM CDT, Blogger Aussie-Askew wrote...

Indeed, BSG and Rescue Me have caught my frequently series-proof viewing habits of late.

Great note re: BSG's spiritualism, and indeed I really enjoyed those early s1 episodes whereby Cylon #6 (the blonde) frequently berated the Dr for his lack of faith. And slowly we have seen him coming around to believe in something more than himself, regardless of whether or not it looks misplaced to the average viewer.

Great television, irrelevant of its sci-fi theme.

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