A nerd’s paradise

anything sci-fi, fantasy, computer and rants

Battlestar Galactica

As you might already know by reading my blog, I like science fiction. All kinds of it actually. I can really enjoy Star-Trek, Star-Wars, space above and beyond, Firefly (one of the best out there), Andromeda and many others…

But one show has really attracted my attention big time and in a very positive way. The re-imagined series of Battlestar Galactica. Just like Star-Trek the show has depth to it. It has a gripping storyline, raises philosophical questions, great special effects, characters I really care about and…yeah OK…some great looking girls. I really love that number six (played by Tricia Helfer; I have written something about her here. )

Not surprisingly I am far from alone in my appreciation of this show. But what makes the show stand out amongst so many others? For me it’s the mystery, the suspense and, yes…Tricia Helfer and Grace Park. Not just because they are good looking, but because they can act.

What gives true depth to the TV-show are the theological references woven through the storyline in such a way that it builds up suspense, makes you think and gives it all an air of suspense and mystery. And that’s what makes it truly interesting.

The human race (that is almost exterminated in the miniseries) is essentially polytheistic. They believe in multiple gods that seem to have been derived from ancient Greek mythology. (And I love that era in history)

The Cylons (or ‘the bad guys’) are monotheistic, like many of us now in the west. And wish do destroy the human race, which they consider to be evil. Mankind created the Cylons (and here we go again with Artificial Intelligence and the questions raised by Data, I have written about that Here )
The Cylons consider themselves to be the children of Mankind, but have rebelled against them, such as a child rebelling against his parents.

The notion of life and death is also touched upon in the series. The Cylons cannot die. If their body is destroyed or ‘killed’ their memories and consciousness are transferred to another body. They can do this indefinitely, as long as a resurrection ship is in the vicinity to download everything into a new body. This resembles reincarnation and eastern religions are clearly present in the storyline of BSG. No wonder that the intro to the show is nothing less than a Hindu mantra. And here it is:

The humans believe that they will join the gods after death, and the Cylons believe that in the case that the really die and cannot download their souls will join the one and true God. And as they have proven in the show, they are willing to take that step. To stop existing, for instance to save their race from infection from the virus that infected a Cylon Basestar the episode ‘a measure of salvation’. More info Here.

Facing death, and the belief in overcoming it is clearly present in the mythology and throughout the storyline. And I find that really refreshing as it gives us the opportunity to reflect on our own mortality. This reminds me of episodes in Star-Trek, such as the confrontation between Captain Picard and Q (who poses as God in his version of the afterlife), were Q claims that Picard has died and allows him to review his life and reflect on his choices. And how everything could have been different.
It’s a theme that is often shunned way too much, but without a shadow of a doubt is a part of our lives. Mortality and death. And one day we will all have to face it.

One other thing that I find absolutely brilliant about the show is the ambiguous relationship between Gaius Baltar and Number six. He has visions of the number six Cylon who saved his life on Caprica. But these visions are very real and can even effect the real world. Is he nuts or is she truly an angel of God, as she claims to be? Who knows? I am not going to write down the entire relationship between the two characters, you can read about it on Wikipedia. Worth reading.

The depth of the show makes it great to follow and gets you totally hooked. I love speculating on where the story is going and all the mystery is simply making me crave for more BSG!

To give you an example, the one thing that has always bothered me: The number six Cylon (who saved his life) was resurrected and ever since, apparently also had visions of Baltar (as also explained on Wikipedia). This fits in with the Cylon psyche of ‘projection’. Which means that they can see whatever they want, and it seems real to them. They can walk through a hallway and see a forest… As if it was real. And to her Baltar seems real, as if he is there. But to Gaius Baltar Number Six (or Gina) seems real too. This has made me suspect that the character of Baltar is himself a Cylon without knowing it. Just like Boomer (Played by Grace Park) was. This was hinted on during season three as well. To me it is very plausible. It would not surprise me. And the fact that Cylons can share visions or hallucinations such as music in the final episode of season three only enhances my suspicion, since it could be that Baltar and Gina are sharing some sort of hallucination.

On the other hand, during the last season he has also taking on more mythical proportions. Almost like a sort of Christ figure. Writing his own book and spreading it, blessing children and building up a base of followers. Could it be that he is on the other hand not a Cylon but that he is really chosen by ‘God’, such as his visions claim. Or perhaps he is a Cylon believing to be chosen by God to do his will. A dangerous idea indeed and a very interesting path for the final season. Or even better, perhaps they were both chosen.

to give you an idea of the religious ideas and visions Baltar has been having:

You see, that is what I love about it. So many angles…Who knows what the last season will bring. Do not miss it!

Here is a since fan video I found on youtube about Baltar and his visions about six:

September 1, 2007 Posted by | battlestar galactica, sci fi, video, youtube | 6 Comments

Terminator 3

I just love Sci-Fi and have always enjoyed the Terminator trilogy. Especially the third movie with Kristanna Loken. So, here are some fan videos I found on youtube. Very cool.

August 24, 2007 Posted by | sci fi, video, youtube | Leave a comment

serenity

This name probably doesn’t ring a bell, unless when you know the show or are a real sci-f addict. The movie Serenity is a science fiction movie by Josh Whedon. The creator of Buffy and Angel. His third show – namely Firefly – is unfortunately less known. It only ran for one season, while it deserved so much more. For those of you who have never heard of it before: The show takes place in the distant future. Mankind left planet earth in search of new resources. Why? ‘Because the earth got used up’, or so they say in the titlesequence. A mass migration takes place to another system, where planets and moons are terraformed in order to sustain human life. The people that left earth speak both chinese and english, since these are the two future superpowers. You will hear chinese spoken often in the movie, especially when they curse.

An alliance is formed on the new worlds and everything is brought under control of one centralized government. Not everbody agrees with that and a civil war erupts. The Browncoats versus the Alliance. This actually mirrors the American civil war. The Browncoats lose and the Alliance takes over. The story arch of Firefly and the movie Serenity follows a group of people who live on the edge of the system and try to elude Alliance control. They are criminals, living a rough life and struggle to survive. One the main character is the captain of Serenity, a firefly class starship , he was on the losing side of the war and chose life in space over living under control of the Alliance.

The movies picks up were the show left off and ends the main story arch of the show. Namely that of River Tam. I am not going to explain all of this though. You had better see the movie for yourself. It is worth it! Here is the trailer

And the intro to the show:

As you can see in the trailer and the intro. The movie has a wild west feel to it. This is one of the thing I really like about the show and the movie. Who hasn’t watched westerns in their youth? Or sci fi? Well, now they are combined in one show. And it is fantastic! A mixture of futuristic elements and archaic technology, of history and future. A must see.

August 13, 2007 Posted by | sci fi, serenity, video | Leave a comment

Data: the questions that Star Trek raises

Well, this is my first post on this blog…the paradise of all nerds. And what better way to start off this blog, then to blog about the show that springs forth the archetype idea of the ‘nerd’: Star-Trek. On the small screen since the sixties and without any doubt part of American culture.

I always enjoyed watching the show, ever since I was a little boy. But as I grew older I learned to appreciate Star-Trek more and more. Not just for the marvelous special effects and riveting storylines as I did as a child, but also for the philosophical questions that this show can raise. This show has made me think more about what it is to be human then any other show.

In all the series, versions and movies of Star Trek there was room for deeper thought. Every script had details for the viewer to be discovered and messages to convey.

One of the questions that the show raises – and occupies me at the moment – is: ‘Is Data possible and is he a person?’ For those who do not know Data. He is a character in Star Trek the next generation, a self-aware android who can think and act on his own, striving to become more human. You can read all about him here on the Star Trek wiki

Although it is only fiction, in the real world scientists are working on Artificial Intelligence (AI). And every day advances are being made, chatbots appear online whom you can talk to (although some can only produce absolute gibberish), AI in computergames is getting better, …

What is being human? From a biological and neurological standpoint we are nothing more than bio machines. An electro-chemical proces is responsible for everything we do and feel. In a way we could easily compare our brain with a sort of computer. What if it were possible to create life from steel, bits and bytes? Could we consider it to be alive, human? Would we have to respect it rights if it can feel pain, think, …?

I say yes. We should if this were possible.

But is it possible? I don’t know. I think so, and as every other science-fiction enthousiast I hope so too. If were are machines from flesh and blood, if our brain is a computer of sorts. Then it should be possible to duplicate it. If we know how our brain works we could reproduce it. Or vice versa…If mankind evolves further in the field of AI, we will learn to understand ourselves better.

This question is difficult to adress and many thought experiments have been done on this subject. The most famous is the Chinese room thought expirment that speaks against AI and is still heavily debated. The argument and the refutation you can find
here

Here is a nice clip I found on youtube to get to know Data better:

Good episode by the way.

If you have any thoughts about AI, Star Trek or any of the questions it raises, please leave a comment. I am always interested in your opinions. I intend to be writing more about the questions that Star Trek and other shows raise in the near future.

August 8, 2007 Posted by | philosophy, sci fi | 3 Comments