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April 10, 2006

Comments

Sifu Jones

Wasn't it established in some way that Baltar's #6 was not, actually, a fantasy in his head? Didn't she tell him things he could only know if she were really in there?

But here's my prediction, probably for season 3 or 4 since I can't be the only one seeing this possibility:

SPOILERS AND PROSPECTIVE PLOT THREADS ALERT

They finally identify all twelve models, perhaps each based on a real person from each of the 12 colonies. But there's that pesky 13th colony, and a corresponding 13th cylon: Baltar.

Caprica 6, on her reawakening, was very surprised to know Baltar was still alive. In fact, look at the explosion in the intro to every episode: that's the producers rubbing it in our faces. He didn't survive. He's a Cylon, a sleeper one, that some upper-echelon Cylons planted without telling even OTHER Cylons, perhaps knowing some of the other sleepers would go off the rails like Boomer and Caprica 6 did.

This would also explain how the #6 in Baltar's head is a fantasy, but how he ALSO knows secret Cylon stuff. He never did test himself for Cylon-ism, did he? And everything he's done has helped them.

Maybe he's not the "13th Cylon", and those two ideas (a 13th model, and Baltar being one) will be separated. But I expect to see one or both soon.

Jimmy Akin

I, too, thought for a long time about the possibility that Baltar is a Cylon. However, based on recent developments in the show, I no longer think that he's likely to turn out to be one.

The reason is that the creators of the show have positioned Caprica Six and Baltar as mirror images of each other: Both of them are representatives of one race (Humans, Cylons) who are tied so strongly to the other race that they have a member of that other race in their heads, advocating its interests. (The Six in Baltar's head advocates Cylon interests, while the Baltar in Caprica Six's head advocates human interests.)

These two characters, in a special way, thus represent the symmetrical collision point between the two races.

Collision points are where drama happens, and having Baltar turn out to be a Cylon would destroy the symmetry they've got going between the two characters.

Though it once would have been dramatic to make Baltar a Cylon, the symmetry they've established with Caprica Six changes this. At this point, it would feel dramatically cheap to make Baltar a Cylon.

The much more interesting, mysterious, and dramatic option for the writers is to leave the two characters in exactly the state they're in now--members of one race obsessed with and covertly working for the interests of the other race.

Sifu Jones

Good points, Jimmy. I would, though, still like to see an explanation of how exactly Baltar knows secret Cylon stuff. There was one particular episode where he even says something to #6 to the effect of "OK, so that proves you aren't just a fantasy in my head".

So how does he know what he knows? And how DID he survive that blast? Maybe he's the twin . . .

I just hope the producers don't leave it at that. It seems like they are definitely going somewhere with how she got in his head, and I like the fact that it's still a long-running mystery (my wife and I were just agreeing that we like it better when they don't pay off quite so fast; the 1st season used this longer set-up time much more than the 2nd).

But I think it's coming time to reveal the secret. No matter how compelling a thing is, constant exposure to it gets viewers used to it, and they just assume "that's just the way it is", and stop caring. Although at that point, they'll need a new, equally compelling mystery.

John Gibson

Here is my prediction Jimmy.

Currently there is a Cylon Civil War. With Sharon and Caprica six leading a smaller contingent of Cylons looking for the humans so they can protect them from the other 1/2 led by the Lucy Lawless Cyclon.

I agree that Starbuck's hubby will get wasted in the first 1/2 of Season 1. However I think it will be within the first 3 to 5 episodes.

More as I ponder it

John Gibson

J. R. Stoodley

I have never seen this show and doubt I ever will. I'm more into Tolkien than Asimov and Roddenberry their successors. I bet Battlestar Galactica has good moral teachings or something or it wouldn't be being discussed here, but I wonder about Science Fiction in general.

It's aestetics are so modernist for one thing. I like things to be beutiful, with a beauty based on the beauty of nature, so they draw you to God. It also suggests that great technological acheivements will be had in the future, which strengthens this progressive industrialist modern mindset that is so unhealthy. It can help people imagine that we will find alternate resources to replace the ones we are depleting, an extremely dangerous and unwarrented assumption.

More than anything it seems more or less a waste of time, unless as I suggested it is packed with moral meaning or social commentary like I suggested, or with beautiful imagery, music, etc. that draws one to God in some way. But you people don't seem to be talking about any of that.

Perhaps someone could enlighten this poor ignorent fool (and others mystified by this post) about the spiritual merits of Battlestar Galactica and its genre?

Marc

On the Boomers - I prefer to call them by their love interests. Tyrol Boomer and Helo Boomer....
on
On Baltar - I can see Sifu Jones' idea. But, I'd like to take it a little farther. What if he's the only one that is unique. That would explain why the others don't know him. He was reborn there on Caprica after the attack and then met up with Sharon and Helo. If that's the case, then he is probably the imperious leader, head cylon or whatever you want to call him. That would also make him the "13th model", which corresponds to the "13th colony". That might mean he has to be with the colonists in order for the to find Earth and plays an integral part in creating the hybrid, which is why Six keeps referring to the baby as their baby.

On the Cylons looking for the baby - I thought everyone thought the baby was dead. Since Helo Boomer seems convinced the baby was dead, why would the Cylons in general think differently? Would they know something that only Adama, Roslin and Doc Cottle should know?

On Apollo - I am expecting the conflict to be between him and Duella, probably due to the fact that Starbuck is going to be single very soon. We'll see.

xavier

Jimmy:
One of my hopes with the 3rd season is the exploration of the Cylon's monothesism. I want the writers and producers to really discuss the theme. Also it would be very cool to have some humans- not Cylon collaborators or clones- be monothesists too and be treated as heretics.

In any case, I look forward

J.R. Stodely:

I guess the most succient way to describe the series is the quest to find a supposedly mythical planet- Earth. In the meantime, there are explorations of the human condition after a devestating attack, dependency on technology, abortion, torture and offenses against human dignity. Also there's the subtle conflict between polythesism and monotheism. Henc my hope the writers will explore the theme.
The esthetics may be modernist (as much as I enjoy Lord of the rings, I've always disliked Tolkien and the Inkling's overly romanticized view of the English countryside) but they're just props for the main story

xavier

J. R. Stoodley

Xavier,
What's wrong with romanticizing the English countryside? Still, thank you for the clarification.

Sifu Jones

J.R. Stoodley:

Today's science fiction is yesterday's fairy tales (from which Tolkien drew some inspiration). It's a way to tell a story in a mode where themes and ideas can be explored that could NOT be explored in a "regular" setting. Fantasy uses magic, science fiction uses technology. It serves the same purpose, and the character types are basically the same.

Consider: Spock is a future elf. He lives a long time, is privy to knowledge regular humans aren't, enabling him to claim some moral authority over them, has amazing physical skills, and strange cultural practices.

Luke Skywalker is the typical "young hero" (Frodo), Kenobi the "wise old man" (Gandalf), Han Solo the "valliant rogue" (Aragorn). In fact, George Lucas purposely took common character types from legends and fairy tales. He and Tolkien are using the same storytelling techniques regarding character.

You like Tolkien's ideas based on the beauty of nature, which sounds like another way of saying you prefer a fantasy setting to a futuristic one, which is the same for a lot of people. It just happens that most (not all) fantasy settings in stories now are mere bastardizations of Tolkien, used for nothing more than D&D fantasies or post-modernist romantic fiction. While similar things could be said about science fiction, it still tends to grapple with important thematic elements.

In other words, there's nothing inherently better or worse about either genre, just that we have a Catholic fantasy masterpiece with Tolkien, and a lesser Christian one with Lewis' Narnia, and nothing comparable to either (in my view) for science fiction.

Regarding the "packed with beauty" concept: using that, you could pretty much invalidate any genre at all, including fantasy, because most genres aren't well-representative of Christianity. There's nothing in sci-fi that precludes beauty, artistic merit, or morally inspiring messages about God. It's just that science tends to be, these days, the playground of anti-theists and their ilk, and so the stories tend to be hampered by the lack of interest in really exploring concepts of the divine. And the technology issue is a red herring here: the Enterprise or lightsabers don't more or less glorify God than Glamdring or the Palantiri.

Keep in mind, though, that sci-fi is relatively new, especially if you don't count stuff like Jules Verne, who wrote sci-fi in its purest sense, but only used it to create fantastical scenarios, rather than to explore fantastical themes. Given time, sci-fi will probably come out from under the strict pervue of secular humanists, especially given the much wider public interest in the last twenty years. Who knows? Maybe you could write the first great Catholic Science Fiction novel.

Jimmy Akin

I thought someone already wrote A Canticle For Leibowitz.

B-Chan

A Canticle for Liebowitz, by Walter M. Miller: SF novels don't come more Catholic than that. In one memorable scene, a priest in a parish devastated by nuclear war takes a valiant stand against a government "Green Star mercy center" where horribly-burned victims of the attack are being euthanized. You don't find too many authors willing to argue against killing the suffering in SF today.

J. R. Stoodley

Sifu Jones,

Even J.R.R. Tolkien acknowledged sci-fi/SF (Asimov makes a big distinction between the two abbreviations) as being "fairy stories." Both consist at the most basic level of giving nouns adjectives that don't naturally match. "Green sun," "winged horse," "immortal human," "electric sword."

There still remains I think a huge difference in the product of the images given. Glamdring glorifies the traditional sword, and steel, and perhaps fire. It conjures up all sorts of noble and heroic thoughts from our common past. And yes, I would say that glorifies God. Lightsabers glorify electricity and electrical appliances. Does this move your heart? If so then fine, but to me lightsabers vulgarize the sword. Palantíri glorify glass and stone and reflect the old idea of a crystal ball in a non-occult way. Of course in the LOTR they are given a siniser nature as well, not original to them, illustrating how something good can be put to bad use and even ruined by evil. The idea of a seeing stone is just beautiful in a way to me, unlike the Enterprise.

Also, well written fantasy (and I agree most recently written fantasy is pretty bad) helps one better see the world, if not so much how it is, then how it was meant to be seen. Can Sci-Fi do this? Maybe, but I have not percieved that.

This may largely be just a matter of taste, though. Perhaps neither of the related genra is intrinsically better, comparable to a Benedictine spirituality vs. a Franciscan spirtuality.

J. R. Stoodley

p.s.
There is no call to closely compare Elves to Spock. Tolkien's Quendi are beautiful, mystical, mysterious, wonderful people. They reflect what humans might have been without the Fall (though not completely, for instance they wear cloths and can be rather selfish).

Spock is practically a living computer (it is almost shocking when he sheds a single tear in one of the movies). Both are altered humans, and both can make a point, but I think the differences between the two are indicative of the differences between fantasy and Sci-Fi, or at least the stereotypes of the two.

J. R. Stoodley

p.p.s. Frodo is the priest, Gandalf the prophet, Aragorn the King. Frodo and Gandalf both go through something like a death and resurrection, and Aragorn does so in the movie and in both book and movie walks the paths of the dead and liberates those who dwelt in shaddow there.

Frodo and Smeagol could also be called sinners, struggling with the same sin and both falling and rising, but ending in different places.

Not that Science Fiction could not have something similar, just wanted to mention they were more than just heros or old men or rogues.

Dennis_Mahon

Battlestar Galactica draws from at least two Classical sources: the Odyssey by Homer, and Jason and the Argonauts by various sources (including Pindar, Homer, and Ovid). Some of the best stories of today are the great stories of old re-imagined.

derringdo

There is no call to closely compare Elves to Spock. Tolkien's Quendi are beautiful, mystical, mysterious, wonderful people. They reflect what humans might have been without the Fall (though not completely, for instance they wear cloths and can be rather selfish).

It's CLOTHES (sorry, I get so sick of this particular typo and it seems to be spreading.)

And if you think the Quendi are "wonderful people", and "what humans might have been without the Fall", and only "rather selfish"...you haven't read enough Tolkien yet. Check out the Silmarillion from your library, posthaste. ;)

yrs truly, a founding member of the Khazad Anti-Defamation League.

Sifu Jones

Stoodley,

You are right that this is basically a matter of taste. Your answer about Glamdring vs. lightsabers reflects that. You prefer the natural as being closer to the divine. Others prefer the wonderful achievements of man as a closer reflection of the divine, in our ability to master the natural. I like both.

I didn't mean to imply that Spock was a carbon copy of Tolkienish elves, but he bears similarities to elvishness, as drawn from the generic concept of "elf" (which was not invented by Tolkien, obviously).

Regarding priest/prophet/king vs. hero/mentor/rogue, that's another red herring comparison. Nothing says a character can't have more than one type applied; Frodo being a priest type doesn't make him any less the hero, nor does Gandalf being a prophet make him less of a mentor. Both types obviously apply.

For the record (although these types don't always travel together), Luke is a priest type as well, at least in the movies: sacrificial, celibate, mystical. Kenobi, in the original trilogy, could certainly be construed as the prophet. Solo as king, well, that's a stretch. But I trust you see my point. Again, it's all according to taste.

A sword forged by fire is, to your tastes, more beautiful than a sword MADE of fire. According to the respective myths, both required loving devotion and a great understanding of the natural forces involved to forge; only a master could make each one, both are "magical" by comparison to other swords in those myths, etc., etc. Again, a lot in common here that I think you choose not to see.

What I will concede is that Lucas drew inspiration more from Eastern culture, while Tolkien chose the West (although Lucas wasn't exclusively drawing from eastern concepts). The lack of Christian imagery and philosophy in the east thus has its impact.

And Jimmy et al., I forgot about Liebowitz! It's been so long since I've read it, and then only the first book. Someone should try hard to promote that series again; I haven't seen it in years. Yes, Stoodley, I would recommend that series as well.

J. R. Stoodley

derringdo,

I have read The Silmarillion several times. I have even quoted it on this site. There were no absolutely evil elves, unless you count those who had been captured and tortured and basically brainwashed by Morgoth. Even Eol was not absolutely bad, but exeplified the ultraconservativism (wanting things to remain the same even when they should not, to hold on to things one has fallen in love with) and inclination to prejudice common to elves to a lesser degree that I hinted at with the word selfish. Feanor and was more good than bad in my opinion, as was Maeglin. Some of Feanor's sons seemed to lack redeeming qualities I'll admit, but they were still enemies of Morgoth and were counterbalanced by their basically good brothers Maedhros and Maglor (who hated the evil they did at the end but did it because they thought God could never hear their prayer and except them from their rash oath takne centuries before).

I didn't want to go into such detail because I am filling up a page that is supposed to be about Battlestar Galactica with so much Tolkien stuff. Also the picture given of elves is subtly different in the LOTR than in the Silmarillion, but the LOTR is much more popular and widely known, and the Silmarillion was not published in J.R.R. Tolkien's life time, so I would say how they appear in the LOTR (more perfect and supernatural) is the representative picture and the Silmarillion gives a variation.

Just wanted to show I knew what I was talking about in this regard.

Sifu,

Most of your points are valid. I did not go into how many "types" one can see in LOTR or Star Wars characters (and objects like lembas [Eurcharist!]) for the sake of length.

Is a lightsaber "made of fire"? More like a buzzing cylinder of electricity or lazer. I prefer the glow and flame along the edge of the elven blades, or the shining swords of real ancient mythology.

I question the triumphalist idea that our "mastering" nature through modern technology is a reflection of the divine. Is this really what God meant when he said "fill the earth and subdue it" or put Adam in the Garden of Eden to "guard it and keep it" as I understand the literal text is (many interpretations in different translations). It seems more like the enmity between Man and the rest of Creation as a result of Original Sin, and thus a reflection of sin and separation from God. However, this is probably a good place to agree to disagree.

Sorry to put down a genra you all like. I'm sure it is quite helpful and good for some of you. Tolkien (and other generally inferior fantasy) is often said to be only for a certain kind of person. Likely the same can be said about SF.

p.s. sori abaut mi speling. I've always been bad at it.

Maureen

I hate to tell you this, but...

Swords are technological weapons, just as much as lightsabers and laser guns. So the technology is bronze or steel, instead of light or energy or funky little electronic parts. Not a lot of difference, compared to naked rock or fists.

I know a lot of smiths in the SCA. And a lot of smiths have dayjobs as computer guys or engineers. It's the same thing, applied to different technologies.

Also, if you like a "natural" aesthetic, there are plenty of space operas out there which would be happy to oblige you. And many authors switch effortlessly between fantasy and science fiction.

But if you want to glorify God for the wonders of His creation, science is what you want to learn. And if you want to feel a sense of awe and wonder at what God's natural laws can create (and probably do, somewhere), science fiction is the genre to read.

Tolkien understood this. That's why he took great care to make sure the constellations and the phases of the Moon were correct throughout his book; that's why he learned how to cook a rabbit. He wanted the underpinning of the possible, because that was an aid to his art, not its enemy. Science fiction is the art of the possible.

Kevin

If I'm not mistaken, the Galatica Boomer was sent out the air dock in the final episode of season 2. Not directly, but implied. So no worries about 2 Boomers...

J. R. Stoodley

Maureen,

I happen to be finishing up an Environmental Biology degree right now. I am also very familiar with the argument that swords, wagons, pens, imaginary palantiri, are all technology. There are differences in the types of technology. The bows of the elves are different than the exploding fire of Saruman. Even Tolkien put matches and mechanical clocks in the Shire, indicating his approval of some modern inventions. Still, he had a general loathing of things like trains (though he strangely put them in one short story called "Leaf by Niggle"). I also would not be using a computer if I thought it an intrinsically evil thing.

Most modern inventions, and architecture, are horrendously ugly or have a sterile crystalline beauty. That says something about the society that created them. Even when the device is not evil in its use, the aethetics may be (though again the role of personal taste clouds that issue). Also, for the most part they more or less do damage to the rest of the physical world (emmisions, erosion, etc.) and to the degree that they do this (hard to define against legitimate changes) they are a reflection of the disordered relationship between human beings and the rest of creation. Not that such things did not happen before the industrial revolution, but I'm not claiming that. The disordered relationship has been there since the Fall. Sometimes this harm may be a second effect that is outweighed by the benefit derived from the object.

Enough about that. The argument will go nowhere, and my own position may indeed be skewed from the truth do to my own inclinations.

My real concern is the idea that "Science fiction is the art of the possible." It is rather the imagining of the impossible, or at best the might-be-possible, just like fantasy. By presenting amazing future inventions people get the idea that such things are really possible, that maybe there is no limit to what we may accomplish if we keep forging ahead. This is the great danger, particularly when it comes to natural resources and consumption. For instance there may well be no physical way, other than maybe massive Nuclear Power (with tons of waste we still don't know what to do with) combined with other energy generating techniques like solar, wind, geothermal, etc. plus conservation, to replace fossel fuels when they run out. Conservation of energy will only go so far if we need to keep fertilizing our eroding soil more and more, which again we may never find a viable way to replace. SF would only play one part in generating this idea of enless, limitless invention, but it is an issue that goes beyond taste or philosophies about "technology."

Some humble advise for everyone (including myself): Don't assume that someone is ignorant of something just because the do not mention it. That doesn't mean you can't bring up the issue, but try not to imply the other has never heard it before.

Conrad

um... so... GETTING BACK TO GALACTICA...

Jimmy I like all your ideas save two:

Tyroll & Callie - I think television is quite capable of conveniently forgetting things that eventually just "vanish into the mist" and I fully expect to never hear of Tyrol's psychotic episode again UNLESS...

Tyrol turns out to be a Cylon. (yeah probably not)

Starbuck - first, I see no contradiction between long hair and warrior/resistance fighter - especially if you're rebel scum that has been modelled on the WW2 French Resistance Chick. Second I reckon Mr Starbuck will be hanging around for a good while yet, despite being sick, if for no other reason than he provides for good dramatic tension between Starbuck and Apollo. If anything I can see Starbuck being the one to go away - at least for a while, so they can do the Return of Starbuck episode...

btw I *LOVE* the twins idea! They should do that FOR SURE! Play with the audiences' heads as much as the characters' before the big reveal, just like you say - GENIUS!!

As for all this stuff about elves and wizards, WTF????

Arthur C Clarke. Technology. Magic. Indistinguishable. Nuff said.

Esau

Okay, based on the Galactica episode tonight, some of Jimmy's predictions came true: like Apollo did loose the weight and Starbuck did cut her hair. ;^)

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