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Science Fiction And Science Mythology

Dec 23, 13 Science Fiction And Science Mythology

I participated in an online discussion with a few Internet nerds over the ethics of science fiction in video games. As you can imagine, the conversation started in that direction when the subject of Mass Effect 3 comes into play and immediately everyone starts voicing their discontent with the game’s ending. One member commented that Mass Effect 3 tried too hard to make itself appeal as a science mythology game rather than a science fiction. Picking up the context clues, I asked him what he meant by that, and then my interest in the discussion was evident.

He said that science mythology is any form of science storytelling that spends more time trying to justify and declare its roots in reality, cancelling out any notion that it is fiction. Fiction, he said, was the underlying truth of every movie, film, and comic book that we’ve ever indulged in. It’s not fair to critique the scientific credibility of fiction because that’s just what it is, fiction. For mythology, he said that the game’s creators are even less satisfied with the ethical soundness of the story’s universe than the gamers are, which means that the product will suffer simply because they couldn’t make up their minds on how they wanted to approach gamers.

So what is Science Fiction? As aforementioned, science fiction is any form of media that uses unreal or undiscovered processes to outfit its world. The Death Star and the Enterprise are both workings of Science Fiction, imaginary objects that were conjured to add depth to the world that they exist in. We can’t really judge the credibility of the logic of either ship because we know that we can neither create them nor can we try to (yet).

If they don’t exist, than that makes them fiction.

So what is Science Mythology?

Science mythology is any form of science fiction that walks the line between fiction and reality, between what we know exists and what we think exists. In Star Wars, we are told that the Force is an intertwining web of existent and non-existent things, linking past to present, real to not real, and the unbelievable to complete realization. This is the way we’ve always thought of the Force in Star Wars. In The Phantom Menace, we’re informed that the Force is powered by tiny microorganisms in your blood called mediclorians and here is where the concept of the Force gets confusing.

Before Qui Gon explained this to Anakin, we were all content with what the Force was. We didn’t need an explanation. Explaining it anymore only lent more questions to how such a thing could possibly exist, and soon we found that we no longer believed in the Force. Science Mythology urges us to question the credibility of what we see, rather than just enjoying it as entertainment.

The two are not total opposites but eventual end games to each other that can only be secured through the material’s creator; be them a writer, game developer or filmmaker.

I think the difference between the two is that they are dependent on the audience’s suspicion of disbelief, which is the responsibility of the writer. Am I wrong? I’d love for you to tell me so in the comments below!

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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  • s minstrel

    1. “suspension of disbelief”, not “suspicion”
    2. depends on the intended audience. hard SF, as written by greg benford or larry niven, demands a clearer tech explanation/explication, lighter SF and comic books generally do not need such a detailed backstory. your example of the two SW series is an example of space opera being forced into pseudo-hard SF mold. another is john byrne’s explanation of superman’s powers as psychic/telekinetic, rather than physical (tk-as-flight, e.g.).
    frankly, if it clutters the story, leave it vague.