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Babylon 5/Star Trek and Serious Sci-Fi about the Shape of Things to Come
Posted: 13 July 2007 12:32 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I don’t want to start a Babylon 5 versus Star Trek debate because I am not concerned with the coolest looking space ships or the best space battles, but is there any meaningful social value to good sci-fi shows?

Just to state my position to begin with I think Babylon 5 is somewhat better than Star Trek though there are areas in which Trek is superior.

Some people accuse Star Trek of being socialist propaganda and other people like it for that:

So, what, specifically, do I mean by “Star Trek socialism”?

Nothing.

I mean nothing specific. I mean it as an invitation to imagine, not as a definition to impose.  Such is the nature of utopia—it is, above all, an exercise of the imagination, which is a core part of what makes us human.  By using the term “Star Trek socialism” I want to indicate and help re-establish an alternative viewpoint that is not just valuable in itself, but also for the sorts of discussions it can generate.  The viewpoint is that which we can see embodied in the United Federation of Planets, and how we can imagine ways to “Make it so,” as Captain Picard would say.

http://www.myleftwing.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=354

I don’t know what to call the Star Trek economy since it apparently works by magic but I think the important thing is that it portrays a future society that is significantly differnt from today’s.  That is what is wrong with Babylon 5 as a portrayal of the future.  Star Trek probably is not correct but I hardly think society will be so little changed in 200 years as shown in B5.

But if one of the functions of good sci-fi is to make people think then what B5 does is not really BAD it is just using the magic looking glass of sci-fi to show us ourselves instead of showing us a possible future.  Or maybe evn another side of ourselves if you encompass the entire human race.  Very few TV programs, at least in the US, bring up the concept of reincarnation.  And yet that is an integral part of the backdrop of the Babylon 5 story. 

Where the Star Trek portrayal would have you believe that religion has been eradicated like disease and poverty, Babylon 5 instead shows all of it’s major characters on a spiritual journey. The Bible is frequently quoted on the show, and the overall story arc is epic in an almost Biblical way

http://merecatholics.blogspot.com/2004/06/faith-manages-on-babylon-5.html

On the topic of religion…yes, we’ve spent a fair amount of time on the subject, and to your note that the “show has portrayed religion exceptionally well; it is nice to know that faith is not dead in your future as in all the ST shows,” someone commented on another forum that because I’m an atheist, and don’t have any particular axe to grind, it’s possible to treat the beliefs of others with some measure of equanimity. - jms

http://midwinter.com/b5/CompuServe/cs94-09-02

So the soul form in Minbari is different from the soul form in humans; also, in their view, having been civilized longer than us, their soul form is more elevated,  more evolved…and thus the pices are more precious, to them, and to the Soul Hunters.

http://midwinter.com/b5/CompuServe/cs95-12

Many of the current struggles in today’s world involve religion and economics and it is the changing technology in the background that makes this a kind of For Real Sci-Fi planet.  So can we learn anything from the fictional sci-fi?

There are a couple of things I will say are wrong with B5.  There is no Scotty type character and they flushed out the techno-babble. LOL  B5 is a 5-mile long space station with a fusion reactor and lots space fighters and ships to maintain and a jumpgate into hyperspace but apparently there is no chief of engineering high up in the command staff?  Tell me another one.  And can you imagine what kind of techn-babble conversations occur on a nuclear submarine when it is on a mission?  Although I think Trek often went overboard with it, though I just find it funny, I think pretending it ain’t going to happen in the future is absurd.

You want I should tell you about the impulse response test that is done on my Vandersteen speakers to measure the phase allignment of the dynamic drivers?  ROFL  Believe it or not that question made perfect sense.

psikey

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Posted: 13 July 2007 01:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Well… I actually like the fact that in the B5 universe we haven’t eliminated poverty, and racism, and xenophobia, and all that jazz. Trek was a communistic utopian society. Unrealistic? I’d say so… I’m not saying whether or not communism is bad or good, because that would start a debate I don’t want to start.

Never start a fight… but always end it.

Brownie points if you can name who said that quote. It is my (depressing) belief that you’re always going to have people like the Home Guard, the Warrior Caste, and the Lurkers in Brown Sector. Am I saying things ought to be that way? No… But they are that way because it’s only human. I’ve come to accept that part of our nature, even like it because I like solving problems. It gives us a challenge to overcome as a race and bring us closer together. Then again, I wouldn’t be surprised if we do end up eliminating racism… but I wonder how long it would take man kind to get over their xenophobia if we were to meet aliens someday. I mean, think about it. Segragation ended only in the last century. We spent more time discriminating because of skin color than we did accepting each other.

As for the techno-babble… Let me put it this way… In Star Trek, the explaination for an opening wormhole would go along the lines of “OMG! I’m detecting elevated neutrino readings.” The shuttle was explained away be thrusters… But with the Starfurries, JMS actually went ahead and decided which way would make more sense to place the thrusters. NASA later asked if they could borrow his design for something they were going to do with building the ISS, and JMS said “Sure. But you have to call them Starfurries.” I’ve always liked things better when they made sense.

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Posted: 13 July 2007 01:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I’ve enjoyed science fiction ever since my father bought me the two magazines, Amazing SF and Astounding SF (subsequently became Analog SF) in 1941.  I watched B5 for a while, but it was seemed to me to a cowboy stories set in space.  StarTrek has always raised important social questions, so was far more ineresting to me.

Occam

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Posted: 13 July 2007 09:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Battlestar Galactica beats them both… except for the pandering to horny teens.

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Posted: 13 July 2007 11:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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StarTrek has always raised important social questions, so was far more ineresting to me.

Battlestar Galactica beats them both…

Could you be more specific, episodes, message, signicance,...?

psik

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Posted: 13 July 2007 11:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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B5 to me was more about religion; issues of myth and religion, in the plot and storylines. Trek tended to avoid religion, and certainly its roots are much more in a sort of unrealistic utopian vision of the future. But for all that I enjoyed them both. Trek dealt more with traditional SF issues that are so interesting to philosophers: personal identity, time travel, mind/body problem, etc.

One reason I particularly liked B5 is that it was non-episodic, it was all worked out in advance, and the creative genius behind it stayed until the end, writing most of the episodes. That said, it petered out in the 3rd season ... 4 and 5 were downhill.

Haven’t watched Battlestar Galactica.

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Posted: 13 July 2007 03:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Occam - 13 July 2007 01:55 AM

StarTrek has always raised important social questions, so was far more ineresting to me.

Since when did Babylon 5 not raise social issues, eh?

And Battlestar Galactica does raise social issues… But let’s face it… The jihad analogy is getting old… and tired. I find it interesting that the cylons are monotheistic and the humans are polytheistic though.

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1. God is omnipotent.
Source: Several incidents where I’ve annoyed fundamentalist Christians by challenging God’s power.
2. If God is omnipotent then he can travel faster than the speed of light.
Modus Ponens
3. Nothing can travel faster than the speed of light.
Source: Einstein
Therefore, God is nothing.
QED

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Posted: 20 July 2007 03:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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2. If God is omnipotent then he can travel faster than the speed of light.
Modus Ponens

How can God travel if He is everywhere?

Babylon 5 proved that God was everywhere, He just couldn’t spread the name Allah faster than light.

psik

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Posted: 20 July 2007 08:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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He just couldn’t spread the name Allah faster than light.

psik

What, you mean god can’t go at warp speed????  I’m shocked, shocked I tell you.  shock

  LOL

Occam

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Posted: 23 July 2007 08:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Occam - 20 July 2007 08:30 PM

He just couldn’t spread the name Allah faster than light.

psik

What, you mean god can’t go at warp speed????  I’m shocked, shocked I tell you.  shock

  LOL

Occam

No, it’s a matter of principle.  He has to let humans do their Jihad thing.

Of course if the Minbari do it batter, in Valen’s name of course.

psik

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Posted: 24 July 2007 12:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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psikeyhackr - 23 July 2007 08:48 PM

Of course if the Minbari do it batter, in Valen’s name of course.

Valen isn’t their God. Valen wasn’t the being the Minbari saw when Kosh left his encounter suit. Valen is sort of kind of like Jesus, sort of kind of not… And I would also argue that he technically wasn’t reincarnated either because it was a time loop so he was technically only born once.

I should get an encounter suit… they’re fashionable… and sexy. tongue laugh

Good point… God is omnipresent… I have to change that…

Can’t wait for Babylon 5: The Lost Tales to come out next Wednesday.

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1. God is omnipotent.
Source: Several incidents where I’ve annoyed fundamentalist Christians by challenging God’s power.
2. If God is omnipotent then he can travel faster than the speed of light.
Modus Ponens
3. Nothing can travel faster than the speed of light.
Source: Einstein
Therefore, God is nothing.
QED

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Posted: 29 July 2007 05:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Good point… God is omnipresent… I have to change that…

You realize of course that God’s omnipresence is proof that He is Black.

Consider all of the cubic parsecs of empty space between the galaxies.  What color can he be?

Don’t tell Farakhan, we will never hear the end of it.  ROFL

psik

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Posted: 01 August 2007 03:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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LOL.

Then again, our bodies are not entirely perfect and the fact that we can choke on pickles because the voice box is in the wrong place is evidence that the creator was drunk at the time…

Proof that it was the Flying Spaghetti Monster!!!

I saw Babylon 5: The Lost Tales today. Loved the second story with Galen and Sheridan… The first story… well… Let’s just say that demons were real and they were conducting an exorcism before exploring other possibilities. Now, if it’s fiction, I’m ok with them having demons… as long as they prove it’s a demon first. But it was the line before they got the whole possessed guy that set me off.

“There are still a lot of scientists who believe in God.”

I’m ok with scientists who believe in God as long as they don’t favor their dogma above evidence… but most of the real scientists don’t believe in God. That’s just a simple fact. Either way, I went into a coughing fit and spent a few minutes banging my head against the floor with the whole demon stuffs.

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1. God is omnipotent.
Source: Several incidents where I’ve annoyed fundamentalist Christians by challenging God’s power.
2. If God is omnipotent then he can travel faster than the speed of light.
Modus Ponens
3. Nothing can travel faster than the speed of light.
Source: Einstein
Therefore, God is nothing.
QED

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Posted: 03 August 2007 07:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Haven’t you done your demon research?  LOL

host-cvr.jpg

http://www.theharrowing.com/martin.html

http://www.amazon.com/Hostage-Devil-Possession-Contemporary-Americans/dp/006065337X

Would demons in the reincarnation metaphysical paradigm be the same as demons in the heaven/hell metaphysical paradigm?

Of course Malachi Martin’s interpretation is based on Roman Catholic theology.

psik

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Posted: 09 August 2007 05:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Sudden random thought here…

But if Babylon 5 has a fusion reactor, why does it need solar panels?

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1. God is omnipotent.
Source: Several incidents where I’ve annoyed fundamentalist Christians by challenging God’s power.
2. If God is omnipotent then he can travel faster than the speed of light.
Modus Ponens
3. Nothing can travel faster than the speed of light.
Source: Einstein
Therefore, God is nothing.
QED

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Posted: 23 August 2007 10:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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logicisrefreshing - 09 August 2007 05:55 PM

Sudden random thought here…

But if Babylon 5 has a fusion reactor, why does it need solar panels?

1. They look cool.

2. Emergency power source if reactor needs to be shut down for repair.  Murphy can’t be trusted.

psik

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