Sci-Fi Prophets of Science Fiction


Mr. RonPrice
Prophets of Science Fiction

At This Climacteric of History

Part 1:

Prophets of Science Fiction is an American documentary television series produced and hosted byRidley Scott for the Science Channel. The program premiered on 9 November 2011. I saw the 8-part series in Tasmania well over two years later in Tasmania beginning with part one on 14/3/'141 with its focus on Mary Shelley.

The series covers the life and work of leading science fiction authors of the last two centuries from Mary Shelley to George Lucas.It depicts how they predicted and, accordingly, influenced the development of scientific advancements by inspiring many readers to assist in transforming their futuristic visions into everyday reality. The stories in the series are told through: film clips, re-enactments, illustrations and interviews.1

Part 2:

Ridley Scott’s new Discovery Science show,Prophets of Science Fiction, chronicles how the genre deserves to be taken seriously for its ability to tease out the ethical and moral issues that accompany technological progress. Upon first hearing about Prophets, I expected the director of Alien and Blade Runner to get completely lost in space while discussing Mary Shelley, H.G. Wells, and Philip K. Dick, and how their work “foreshadowed” current technologies.

There are some writers who you would swear must be able to see directly into the future. Even if only through a scanner, darkly, these authors of speculative fiction seem to be looking over your shoulder from the past and reading the headlines from today. This series successfully brings science fiction and fact into conversation with one another. The interviews, although expert and informed, felt a bit on the stilted side. The speakers seemed to have scripted bullet points from which they were speaking. Still, the information was interesting and enlightening.

Part 3:

The first two episodes, for instance, pair Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Philip K. Dick’s entire paranoid oeuvre with J. Craig Venter’s creation of synthetic life, plus several other areas of cutting-edge science in which humans are erasing the ground rules of life, death, and reality.2-Ron Price with thanks to 1 SBSONE TV, 20-21/3/'14, 11:35-12:30 a.m.; and 2 Ed Finn, "Keeping It Real in Sci-Fi: What Ridley Scott’s otherwise-wonderful Prophets of Science Fiction gets wrong about the future," Slate Magazine, 2/12/'11.

I tried to write sci-fi back

in the late '80s, early '90s.

But it was not for me, and

neither was novel-writing.

I settled for essay-writing,

poetry, autobiography, &

internet posting on 1000s

of topics with millions of

words. I was not a writer

of sci-fi: no Isaac Asimov,

no Robert Heinlein, nor a

Jules Verne. We all have to

find our place in the world,

our skills, our abilities, our

raison d'etre for living this

time, climacteric of history.

How can we make our mark

as our days pass by swifter

than the twinkling of an eye?1

1 Universal House of Justice, Ridvan, 1999.

Ron Price

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