When Is It Okay For Science Fiction To Cling To The Past?

Illustration for article titled When Is It Okay For Science Fiction To Cling To The Past?

Science fiction was supposed to be about the future, so why is it obsessed with its own past? The L.A. Times picks up this familiar lament, in an article appearing Sunday as part of a special science fiction section. And you might be slightly surprised at what William Shatner has to say.

Practically in the same breath that Shatner lobbies to come back as Kirk, he says it's a crying shame that science fiction clings to its old icons:

Science fiction should be about ideas and what it means to be human, it should always be about the new and the challenging.

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And then he adds that Star Wars/Trek connected with audiences for a long time, and people want to see the heroes they know.

Meanwhile, Ron Moore, whose Battlestar Galactica reimagining has now far outlasted the original series, says it's okay to redo old stuff as long as you don't treat it as sacred:

In the same way that Shakespeare’s plays can be revisited again and again in new ways and settings, with things like ‘Star Trek’ or ‘Battlestar Galactica’ there is enough of the core mythology there that you can change and adapt all the things around it for something very new and worthwhile. New generations can make it their own. Strong new interpretations build on the past, they don’t repeat it.

The rest of the article, and a ton of other stuff, will be in the Times on Sunday. [L.A. Times]

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DISCUSSION

Uh, I hate to break it to Ron Moore but most productions of Shakespeare are not 'reimaginings' but rather are faithful to the original right up to using the same script.

Using different actors does not count as a reimagining.

Sure you get your stories like West Side Story too, but at that point it's changed so much it becomes a new story heavily influenced by Shakespeare.

In any case, Ron Moore is not Shakespeare no matter how much he might fancy himself to be. Shakespeare did not say "fuck the plot!" and "continuity is for sissies!" and I somehow doubt he sat at a table with a bunch of junior writers and had them throw ideas at him while he said things like "I like it! Let's use it! I have no idea what it means, but we'll figure it out later".