Science Fiction World Building

In science fiction, the story sometimes takes place on a world or galaxy we don’t know. Other times, it takes place on our world (or includes our world), but it’s set in the future and the rules have changed. Either way though, the building of the world for a good science fiction story is key.

To create a world or galaxy from scratch, like George Lucas did with Star Wars, is pretty amazing. I remember when Episode I came out, and I got one of those picture encyclopedia things about the movie. I was fascinated to learn that Amidala’s hairstyle, clothing, makeup, all stood for something in her culture. It wasn’t just random, but there was this whole other story behind what she wore and the rituals she performed. I didn’t know it yet, but I was intrigued by world building.

Queen-amidalaSome stories that use our world also create new worlds and alien species, such as Star Trek, Babylon 5, and Ender’s Game. Sometimes they choose to focus on one other species, like Ender’s Game, and in this case, they are viewed as an enemy. In Babylon 5, there are more species, and a handful of them are ones Earth has made peace with, though unfortunately there was war before peace when it came to some, and still quarrels within the alliance they have formed. And then with Star Trek the number of species out there seems as infinite as the galaxy, from the Klingons to the Vulcans to the Cardassians to the Breen to the Xindi, some who are friends, some who are foes, some who have played as both.

Xindi

The Xindi are especially unique because they have five different species within their own kind.

But there’s more to the world building than the aliens, of course. They create Earth histories that gap the period of time between now and then, and these gaps always seem to include wars. World War III is a common one to be seen, but there’s also wars between us and aliens, and then one that I find particularly fascinating in the Star Trek universe: the Eugenics War. Which if you think you know about Khan from Into Darkness, check out The Original Series’ episode “Space Seed” and the movie Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan to learn more about his past and his involvement with said war.

khan-crewThen there are the stories that feel closer to our time and that take place on Earth, but society has changed. The Island and Gattaca are two great movies (that will be discussed in more detail in a future post) that answer “what if” questions. Fringe focuses on strange things happening in our current world, and leads both the characters on the show and us to believe that there could be a lot more to what’s possible in our world than what we think of on the surface.

fringe-lab-work

Some creepy creature the Fringe team found.

Then there’s Firefly, which doesn’t focus on aliens but humans, but they travel in space and have been spread across the galaxy, and war has separated people to either side with the Alliance or with the Browncoats. The story has a Wild West in space feel to it and Chinese and American cultures, as the only superpowers left, have blended, which also adds an interesting element to the world of the show.

kaylee-parasolAnother great thing about science fiction is the technology. It can play a significant role in the world of the story, and even influence the technology of our world Who doesn’t want a lightsaber or wish they could just teleport to their destination? Star Trek, and I’m sure other science fiction stories as well, have actually influenced our progression of technology, which I think is awesome.

star-trek-techBut I feel all this barely scratches the surface on world building elements, as well as the great worlds seen, in science fiction stories. So I ask you: What science fiction story’s world building has captured your attention the most? What elements of world building in science fiction do you particularly enjoy seeing?

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Memorable Characters of Sci-Fi

I am almost a bit intimidated by the topic I chose for today’s sci-fi month post. Memorable sci-fi characters?! Where do I begin?!

I think one of the misconceptions about sci-fi is that it is all boring science babble and space battles, but as most you are probably aware (because I think I have pretty intelligent and awesome readers!), it really explores humanity in a way no other genre does, and it does this largely through its characters. There’s no way on Earth I could create a list that would true justice to all the fabulous characters in science fiction, but I’m narrowing it down to 2 characters from each of my top 3 sci-fi series: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Firefly, and Babylon 5. These aren’t necessarily my favorite characters, just ones that I find extremely memorable and extremely interesting in their character arcs.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Elim Garak

Bashir_and_GarakGarak is in an enigma, which is what makes him such a great character. The first time I saw Garak, the Cardassian tailor exiled on board Deep Space Nine, I found him extremely odd, and in a more annoying way rather than an interesting way. But after the first season episode “The Wire,” which I won’t give away for those who have yet to see the show, everything about him made so much more sense, and I liked him so much more afterwards. Is he telling the truth? Is he on your side? Just how many back-up plans does he have? Garak is true Cardassian, sneaky and smart, and he never ceases to amaze me with his spy skills.

“Truth is in the eye of the beholder, Doctor. I never tell the truth because I don’t believe there is such a thing. That is why I prefer the straight line simplicity of cutting cloth.” – Garak

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Dukat

dukatI really hate Dukat, which is exactly why is the perfect villain. He’s creepy and manipulative, always striving for a position of power. He’s a complex character who goes through a lot on Deep Space Nine, and though I always saw him as evil, he certainly presented himself to others in shades of gray, but I don’t want to get into spoiler territory so I’ll leave it at that. He’s exactly the sort of character you want to see go down at the end of the day. 

“One man’s villain is another man’s hero, captain.” – Dukat

Firefly: Shepherd Book

shepherd-bookShepherd Book is such an interesting character because he’s a preacher who lives on board a ship with criminals and a companion (essentially a prostitute, more on that later), and while he doesn’t agree with what they do and they know it, he doesn’t condemn them for what they do. He’s an interesting man who clearly has a past apart from the ministry that unfortunately, we never learn. What we do know is that he is a man of conviction and a man who loves people, the way I think we all should be.

“When I talk about belief, why do you always assume I’m talking about God?”

“I don’t care what you believe in, just believe in it.” – Book

Firefly: Inara Serra

inara-serraInara is a companion, which in the world of Firefly, is basically a high-class prostitute, a part of an elite group who go through training and screen their clients. Inara also clearly cares for the Captain of Serenity, Malcolm Reynolds, even though she claims she doesn’t. But a large part of the reason why I chose Inara for this list, and it might be cheating, is that I learned that if we had gotten more Firefly, we would have learned that she actually had an incurable disease that she was dying from, which of course shapes her. What the what?! So fascinating. It’s too bad that, like Shepherd Book and the rest of the Serenity gang, we did not get to know them as well as Whedon had intended for us to.

“A companion chooses her own clients, that’s guild law. But physical appearance doesn’t matter so terribly, you look for a compatibility of spirit.” – Inara

Babylon 5: Londo Mollari

londo2I was continuously floored by Londo’s development throughout Babylon 5 as I watched it. I can’t even scratch the surface of his development in this short paragraph. When we first meet Londo in Babylon 5, he just seems silly, and he somewhat reminded me of Quark on Deep Space Nine. Then things took a turn for the serious. His drive for power, greed, and his hatred for the Narn drove him to make poor choices that went from bad to worse and took him down a dark path. He does find some redemption, but there is no easy out for Londo, and he does get a lot of what he deserves. To sum up Londo’s character development = WOW.

“The quiet ones are the ones that change the universe… The loud ones only take the credit.” – Londo

Babylon 5: Alfred Bester

b5-BesterBester is one of the best villains ever in my opinion. Though he is only in twelve out of 110 episodes of Babylon 5, he goes through quite a lot and we learn a lot about him, about his past and what drives him. He’s frustrating to deal with, he hurts a character on the show that you will love so much more than him, but he has a story too, and that’s what I love so much about the characters on Babylon 5: they have amazing stories. You’ll never root for him, but by the end of the show, you do understand him better than you did at first sight.

“…you’re curious. Kill me and you’ll never know what brought me all the way out here. I think if you weigh that against the brief satisfaction of blowing me out of the sky, you’ll do the right thing.” – Bester

(BTW, you need to read Lianne’s post about why you should watch Babylon 5 if you haven’t already!)

As mentioned before, this list could go on! So tell me, who are your most memorable sci-fi characters?

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Sci-Fi Month Intro Post!

It’s November, which means it’s Sci-Fi Month, hosted by Rinn Reads! I was very excited when I found out about this event, as the sci-fi genre has been creeping into my life in the form of movies and TV for well over a decade now. It all started with…

star-warsOf course! I thought it was a lot of fun! And then one day I caught a marathon on TV of this show…

The-Twilight-ZoneAnd fell in love with this particular kind of science fiction that examines humanity. Then while dating my husband he introduced me to…

Star-Trek1We watched the original series while dating, and after TRYING to watch the first few episodes of The Next Generation (those first few episodes really are pretty bad), we put the rest of the series on hold until after we married. But now I’ve seen it all and love them all! But in the meantime, we were introduced to…

fireflycastSuch a unique and awesome (but sadly short-lived) series! Then after we finished Star Trek, we watched…

babylon5It’s crazy underrated. I mean seriously, how many TV shows do you know of where the creator/writer of the show had the entire series plotted and planned out beforehand? Amazing story and character arcs in five seasons (or four… the fifth season sadly didn’t live up to the rest of the show in terms of great stories). And currently we’re watching…

Fringe-season2Most of these movies/shows will come up again in my posts this month! And now I’m starting to gain interest in sci-fi books as well, though I think the only true sci-fi book I’ve read so far is Ender’s Game. I liked it pretty well and I’m planning to check out more sci-fi books! But since I will not be reading anything new this month due to NaNoWriMo, I will have no new reviews of sci-fi books to share, and will be focusing exclusively on the movies and TV shows that made me fall in love with the genre over time. Here’s my personal schedule of posts that you can look out for:

November 7: Elements from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine I Want to See in Books

November 11: Ender’s Game movie review

November 18: Memorable Characters of Sci-Fi

November 22: Science Fiction World Building

November 27: My Top 3 Earth-Bound Sci-Fi Movies

And since I love to share Trek with all and didn’t want to re-write the post for Sci-Fi month, I thought I’d take this chance to refer anyone new to my post from several months ago about how to dive into the world of Star Trek, Your Star Trek Introduction, in case you’re interested!

If you’re participating in Sci-Fi Month as well, leave a comment and let me know! And if not, I hope you’ll enjoy some of these posts!

What’s your favorite element of science fiction? 

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The Top 10 TV Character Names I Came to Love

Last week for Top Ten Tuesday I explored the Top 10 Book Character Names I Came to Love. Because I enjoyed creating the list so much, I decided to do it again for TV characters!

1. Peter, Fringe

peter-fringeBecause it’s similar to Peeta, but more legit? Or because of Joshua Jackson’s portrayal of his character Peter on Fringe? All of the above.

2. Olivia, Fringe

olivia-fringeOlivia is a nice classic and feminine name, but I used to think it sounded a little old. It has seemed to gain some popularity lately though, and Olivia from Fringe really made me appreciate it more.

3. Lincoln, Fringe

lincoln-lee2I was already kind of liking the name Lincoln, and even came up with the name for a character in a story. I also had a friend name her son Lincoln (and he’s totally adorable). Then Lincoln Lee came along on Fringe and made me like it more! I like that it’s unique without being strange.

4. Julian, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

bashirIs Julian a girly name for a guy? I don’t know, I can’t decide! But I love Dr. Bashir and he kind of made me like the name Julian.

5. Tucker (from Charles “Trip” Tucker), Star Trek: Enterprise

tripTrip Tucker is my favorite character from Enterprise – a Southern(ish) boy with a lot of personality. I think his last name works well as a first name.

6. Jadzia, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

jadzia2No, I would not name my child Jadzia. But I really want someone else to, and I will give them much kudos. It’s just a fun name for a fun character.

7. Kate, Castle

kate-beckettFor some reason, I don’t really care for nicknames. Maybe it’s because the name Amy isn’t conducive for nicknames, who knows. I’ve always liked the name Kathryn, which is Kate’s actual name, but Kate made me like Kate.

8. Ryan (from Kevin Ryan), Castle

ryanWait, this was on your list last week! Wait! You said you already loved the name Ryan! All true, but it’s my list, so I do what I want to. Besides, Ryan’s a fun character.

9. Kaylee, Firefly

kayleeI already like the named Kaylee pretty well before watching Firefly, but Kaylee from Firefly just made me love it more.

10. Jayne (but NOT for a guy), Firefly

Jayne_With_HatBetween Jane Austen stories and Firefly, I came to appreciate the “plain” name Jane more, particularly with the spelling Jayne. But Jayne in Firefly is a bitter guy, and I definitely would not do that to my son.

What about you? What are your favorite TV character names?