Why Bad Science is Good on FringeAnnalee Newitz5/14/09 7:53pmFiled to: RantfringeTelevisionpulpweird talesAmazing StoriesTopOvermind711EditPromoteShare to KinjaToggle Conversation toolsGo to permalinkThough the science on Fringe is head-slappingly fake, somehow the series makes real science exciting. The show is like a pulpy 1920s serial, and its fantastic plotlines are far more appealing than hard scifi "realism."AdvertisementI love this scene from the season finale on Tuesday, where Special Agent Dunham tells her underling to get her information on "any incidents related to science, biology, or unexplained phenomena." And then she discovers that all the science things make a neat star pattern - and that is the solution to the mystery! It's completely ridiculous, but strangely satisfying.When I was among a group of reporters who talked to JJ Abrams about Fringe last year at Comic-Con, one of the things he emphasized about his new show was that it was supposed to be in the mold of 1970s scifi. He and show creators Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman grew up with psychedelic scifi movies like Altered States, and wanted to recreate that sense of trippy fun.With all of mad scientist Walter's references to LSD and various other drugs, I think they've got the 70s vibe nailed. But what's really made this show gel reminds me more of old pulps like Amazing Stories and Weird Tales, where writers like H.P. Lovecraft launched their careers. As Jeff Prucher reminded me with his science fiction dictionary Brave New Words, so-called hard science fiction, obsessed with "realism," didn't exist until the 1950s.