The purpose of this blog is to have a little fun. It is NOT to start arguments. I don't profess to be an expert on Sci-fi, nor do I aspire to become an expert. You are welcome to comment on any and all content you find here. If my opinion differs from yours, as far as I am concerned, it's all okay. I will never say that you are wrong because you disagree with me, and I expect the same from those that comment here. Also, my audience on the blog will include some young people. Please govern your language when posting comments.

Posts will hopefully be regular based on the movies I see, the television shows I watch, and the books I read as well as what ever strikes me as noteworthy.

Spoilers will appear here and are welcome.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Reality Is In The Eye Of The Perceiver...

The Man In The High Castle by Philip K Dick (1962)

With an announcement from SyFy that they have plans to make The Man In The High Castle into a television miniseries, I decided to download it and read it on my Kindle.  I was expecting another hard-hitting sci-fi read in the same vein as Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep (the basis for the film Blade Runner) and Total Recall (a short story serving as the basis for the films of the same title), as well as many of the other PKD short stories I have read or listened to over the past several months.  Little did I know what a surprise I would be in for.

If you are looking for a hardcore scifi novel, High Castle is not what you are looking for.  However if you are looking for a book that will really stretch your imagination and make you think, then you cannot go wrong with this book.

High Castle is set in an alternate reality following World War II.  The author imagines what the world would, or more specifically the Western United States, might be like had the Axis powers won the war.  In this alternate reality, President Franklin Roosevelt is assassinated before the U.S got involved in the war and the Naval Base at Pearl Harbor is bombed out of existence.  This brings the war waged by Hitler and the Japanese empire for world domination to the shores of the U.S. and ends with Germany in control of the eastern part of the country while Japan exerts control over the west.  Germany's rule of the east is quite harsh as they continue their quest for racial purity, not stopping with Jews, but also extending their "Final Solution" to the people of African decent.  The Japanese on the other hand, are somewhat more benevolent actually assimilating a great deal of American culture, but they do use Americans as slave labor.  The American Midwest is a neutral buffer zone between the Greater German Empire and the Japanese Empire, and people are pretty much able to live in relative freedom, but suffer shortages, being caught in the middle.

Hitler, who has succumbed to insanity brought on by the ravages of syphilis, is replaced by Martin Bormann who dies early on in the story and is replaced by Joseph Goebbels who is said to be planning to use nuclear weapons against the Japanese mainland.

There are five main characters in the book that are followed, some of which are tied together with a single thread that weaves throughout PKD's novel, which is a book within a book called The Grasshopper Lies HeavyGrasshopper is a novel penned by a character named Hawthorne Abensen who is believed to be living in a virtual fortress in Cheyenne, Wyoming.  The reason for his fortification is because Grasshopper is about the Axis powers losing the war, thus it has been banned by the German government, and Abendsen must protect himself from being killed.

Some characters in the novel try to find direction in their lives by consulting the I Ching, an ancient Chinese text that contains lines to give guidance or helps one interpret events taking place in one's life.  The characters cast runes which direct them to lines in the I Ching which is often referred  to as the Oracle.  One character, Juliana Frink is compelled to follow the Oracle to seek out Abendsen in his high castle and inquire about how and why he wrote Grasshopper.  

Juliana does make a pilgrimage to Cheyenne only to find that Abendsen, who once did live behind fortifications, has chosen to live a more normal life in a regular home with his wife because he found that living in a "castle" was too much like living in prison.  She further learns that Abendsen actually didn't conceive of Grasshopper from his own imagination, but rather consulted the Oracle and wrote what it indicated.  With much consternation, Juliana then consults the oracle to find out what is to be learned from the Grashopper, and is rewarded with the answer that everyone is living in a false reality.

So what is to be learned from The Man In The High Castle?  In my studies of philosophy, I have learned that one reason for studying philosophy is that everyone needs to examine their lives, or their reality and be constantly vigilant in doing so.  We all filter reality through many perceptions including belief systems, cultural connections, and what we learn as we grow.  Perhaps Dick wrote High Castle to remind us that reality needs to be examined, and that one must be aware of the factors that tend to shade our perceptions of reality, and that when this is accomplished, we can get a clear picture of reality.  If this was the purpose of writing High Castle, he did so masterfully.  So if you are planning to read this Hugo Award winning book, be prepared to think.

In Other News...
I was honored to be invited to join a panel on the Sci-Fi Diner Podcast where we made an attempt to define what constitutes what is science fiction.  Along with the hosts, Scott and Miles, I was joined by Raul Ybarra, and Keith R. A. DeCandido where we hashed it out.  So what was out conclusion?  I really don't think that we came up with an all-encompassing definition.  Raul did say something that struck a chord with me though; he mentioned that for him, the definition of science fiction is a "moving target" in many aspects.  If you are also looking for a definitive answer to this question, you might listen to Episode 166 of the SciFi Diner Podcast.  Aw heck, listen even if you aren't looking for answers, it's just a good show.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

No Room For Failure: More NASA History...

Failure Is Not An Option: Mission Control From Mercury To Apollo 13 And Beyond by Gene Kranz – 2009

Who received most of the accolades when a successful, or for that matter, an unsuccessful space mission was completed?  Well the answer to that question is obvious; of course it is the astronauts who risked their lives to explore the unknown.  But behind those heroes were thousands of people who often times were among the unsung heroes that helped to launch, fly, and land those spacecraft.  Chief among those were the flight controllers which is the subject of Gene Kranz’s Book Failure Is Not An Option.

Kranz’s book is all about the corps of flight controllers that manned Mission Control for every minute of every day that there was an American spacecraft aloft.  He traces the history of flight control from the very beginnings of the space program through the entire Apollo program.

The early years of space exploration were marked by a competition between the United States and the Soviet Union vying for dominance with the Soviet Union scoring decided victories, leaving the United States playing a game of catch-up.  While the Soviets were sending satellites and people into orbit around the planet, the United States’ rockets were having a difficult time just getting off of the launch pad.  When the U.S. Finally did begin successfully launch payloads, President John F. Kennedy declared to the world that before the end of the 1960’s, the U.S. would successfully send an American to the moon, and return them safely (according to Kranz, the plans prior to Kennedy’s speech were to actually land Americans on the moon in the mid 1970’s).

Kranz traces the history of manned space flight from the perspective of his role as a NASA flight controller.  During his thirty year tenure, he was a firsthand witness to all of the events including projects Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo.  He goes into some detail on all of the flights, and goes into even greater detail on the flights for which he was the chief controller including the first landing on the Moon of Apollo 11, and the near tragedy that was Apollo 13.  He gives an accurate picture of the missions including the problems that were encountered and solved and discusses the reasons for and the solutions to the problems that allowed Americans to take pride in our achievements in space exploration.

Kranz’s narration is sometimes difficult to read because he get quite technical at times, but this book is a must read for those of us who enjoy knowing what went on behind the scenes at NASA.  However, if you are looking for scandal, you will not find it in this book, it is not an expose, but rather a factual account of the history of manned spaceflight from the flight controller’s point of view.

Not only does Kranz revisit the past in Failure, he also speaks to the future of American space exploration by expressing his disappointment (which is felt  by many of us today as American astronauts hitch rides into space aboard Russian rockets) in the present state of affairs: “Entering the twenty-first century, we have an unimaginable array of technology and a generation of young Americans schooled in these technologies.  With our powerful economy, we can do anything we set our mind to do.  Yet we stand with our feet firmly planted on the ground when we could be exploring the universe.”

I think that Failure is a worthwhile read for students of space flight history and those who want to know what goes on behind the scenes at NASA.

In other news…

There is an ongoing debate in the science fiction genre that would seem to search for the answer to a question that has occupied my mind of late; what is science fiction and what is not.  I had the opportunity to once again be a guest on the Scifi Diner Podcast and explore this question with Scott, and Miles (podcast hosts), Raul Ybarra (sci-fi fan, blogger, and mad-scientist), and Keith DeCandido (sci-fi author).  Our conclusion?  Well you are going to have to listen to the show.  I am told that it will be released sometime this coming week and I will add the link to it when it comes available.  We visited for almost two hours on this and could actually have talked longer.

I received a very nice gift from Nick Eftimiades in the mail.  He sent me an autographed copy of Edward of Planet Earth, a work of fiction in the style of Douglas Adams.  Click HERE to read my review and recommendation for Edward.  I should also like to point out that Eftimiades is not only an author, but he is also active in many other areas including Chinese espionage, and the defense of our planet from threats from space.  I, for one, have gained more interest in possible threats due to the recent meteor incidents in Russia and on the east coast of the United States.  Recently, Nick has posted something that may sound like science fiction, but it is truly a threat and needs to be addressed.  Click on the link to read his United States Commission on Planetary Defense.

Blog posts from me have become quite infrequent of late because real life has a tendency to get in the way of leisure pursuits.  Hopefully, as the school year comes to a close, I will be able to write more frequently, but until then…

There it is.


Friday, March 8, 2013

Twists and Turns Galore: Book Review...

Trek fans were introduced to the Mirror Universe in the TOS episode, “Mirror, Mirror.”  While in negotiations with a race of pacifist humanoids known as the Halkins, an ion storm caused Kirk and some of his crew to exchange places with their counterparts in a mirror universe while transporting back to the Enterprise.  Kirk found himself in command of a ship that looked very much like the Enterprise, but that is where the resemblance ended.  In the Mirror Universe of Star Trek, while things may have looked similar, political structures, protocols, and especially people were very different in behavior.

In later series, the Mirror Universe is explored in Deep Space 9 on numerous occasions, and again on the Enterprise series.  Until now, my knowledge of the Mirror Universe was strictly through the television series.  I enjoyed the incarnations of the Mirror Universe in both TOS and Enterprise, however I never really appreciated the episodes in Deep Space 9 that dealt with the alternate reality.  I found those episodes actually to be a bit silly; feeling that the writers had over-done the caricatures of the characters from DS-9.

So you might think that I was a bit hesitant to read a book that dealt with the Mirror Universe, and you would be right, I was hesitant, but no longer.

I finished reading Star Trek: Mirror Universe: Obsidian Alliances and was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed it immensely.  Obsidian Alliances is a collection of three short novels by renowned Trek authors Keith R. A. DeCandido, Peter David, and David Mack (Mr. Mack wrote his entry under the pseudonym Sarah Shaw).  The stories in the three are set in the Voyager, New Frontier, and DS-9 alternate universes.

 Mr. DeCandido’s contribution to this project is entitled The Mirror-Scaled Serpent and is set in the Voyager universe.  When one starts reading, it feels like the beginning of Voyager all over again, only in this universe, there is no Voyager crew and it is Neelix and Kes that are sent to the Alpha Quadrant of the galaxy, where the discovery of persons with telepathic abilities are highly sought after and prized.  The Terran Resistance in the persons of Chakotay and Tuvok  take on the task of keeping Kes out of the hands of the Klingon/Cardassian Alliance who would use her telepathic abilities to their advantage.  Without spoiling the story too much, I will also say that the Janeway/Chakotay relationship that many fans would have liked to see in Voyager happens in DeCandido’s Mirror Universe, but there is a twist to it.  As a matter of fact, this story is full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing on what to expect next.  A very clever story and one any Voyager aficionado will enjoy.

Next up is Cutting Ties by Peter David, and is set with the characters from his New Frontier series, which I have blogged about before.  But this New Frontier setting is nothing like the one we know with Makenzie Calhoun being the hero of his native planet Xenex, nor as the adventurous and sly captain of the Excalibur.  Instead, he is rejected by his father after a battle for the independence of Xenex, and given into slavery to suffer under the Romulans.  In the New Frontier novels Mackenzie is known as Mack, but in this version, he is mostly referred to as Muck, because when asked by a prominent Romulan what his name was, he stuttered.   Under the tutelage of a female, Muck grows into a perversely similar character of Mack in the Prime Universe.  New Frontier fans, such as myself, will appreciate this installment by Mr. David.

Finally, the collection closes with David Mack’s vision of the more familiar goings-on in the DS-9 saga.  Titled Saturn’s Children, David Mack (again writing under a pseudonym) looks in on the deposed Intendant Kyra Nerys who lost her position to Ro Laren from the TNG series.  This is the story of her plight to regain her political status by hatching a plot that will crush the Terran Alliance if successful.  This story also contains many surprises as Kyra manipulates her way through a maze of twists and turns that, at least in my opinion, redeems the DS-9 mirror universe in ways they could not have shown on network television.  I’ll just say that if David Mack had written the Mirror Universe episodes for DS-9 the way he wrote this story, it would have been far more interesting for me. (Just an aside note here: David Mack did participate in the writing of two DS-9 episodes that I know of, and they are among my favorites.  They include the episodes “Starship Down” and “It’s Only a Paper Moon.”)

The three stories contained under the cover Obsidian Alliances are dark, gritty, and engaging.  They are long enough to include a lot of detail and character development while at the same time short enough to be read in perhaps one or two sittings.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the stories of the Mirror Universe, but also to Trek fans that may not be familiar with the alternate universe saga from Star Trek.  These stories will fire your imagination and might even give you pause too because the descriptions of the characters are very vivid.

Other Activity I Am Currently Engaged In…

I also finished the first of Edgar Rice Burroughs' series of novels, John Carter of Mars.  I don’t know why I never looked at these books before as I became intrigued by Carl Sagan’s description of them in his Cosmos television series many years ago.  I also recently rented and watched the film titles John Carter and although it was pretty much panned by the critics, I found it to be a great movie and will be purchasing it sometime in the future to add to my growing BluRay library.  I do have to thank the hosts of Starbase 66 and The Scifi Diner for convincing me to rent the movie.

I also, at the urging of the Starbase and Diner rented Dredd starring Karl Urban of the JJ Abrams Star Trek film released in 2009.  I had watched about 30 minutes of this film and found myself thinking that I didn’t want to watch any more, and I finally stopped the film 20 minutes later and did not, nor will I finish watching this movie.  I found this movie to be way over the top with violence and perverted scenes that I found particularly offensive and beyond what would be needed to tell a story.  ‘Nuff Said.

I am currently reading Failure is Not An Option by Gene Kranz.  He is a retired flight director from the heydays of the Apollo Program, and so far, I am enjoying this book because it brings back a lot of memories of watching mission coverage while I was growing up, and it also gives a behind the scenes look at the workings of what goes into preparing and executing a NASA mission.

I am also listening to several podcasts and am severely behind.  I am either going to have to cut back on those, or start listening more than I currently do while driving back and forth to school.

One of the highlights of the past several weeks for me is watching the television series Continuum on the SyFy Channel.  I got hooked very early on in the series and it has become one of the things that I must do on Monday nights.  Along with that, I discovered a podcast that deals exclusively with Continuum called Liber8 with Mike and Dave.  In this show, Mike and Dave dissect each episode and break it down so one can actually understand what is taking place in the series in fine detail.  Watch the show and let Mike and Dave do the heavy lifting for you, compare what you think with what they think, and if nothing else, stay current while the gaps get filled.

Well, there it is…


Friday, March 1, 2013

Defining Sci-Fi: Is Star Wars Sci-Fi?

What is Sci-Fi, or what isn’t Sci-fi?  That is the question I have been pondering of late.

Quite a while back, while listening to an episode of the Scifi Diner Podcast, this question came up.  I cannot remember which episode it was, but I did respond to it with an e-mail in which I rendered my humble opinion that Star Wars was not pure science fiction, but rather I felt that it was more of a fantasy story set within the framework of a science fiction setting.  Neither can I remember exactly what the Diner’s hosts (Scott and Miles) response was at the time.

More recently, this subject has once again surfaced on the Diner and has once again started me thinking about what constitutes what is science fiction.  Are the Star Wars movies science fiction?  Are they fantasy?  Is Star Trek science fiction?  I think that just about anyone that has any knowledge of Trek would give you a resounding YES to that last question, including myself.  But I have been unsure about Star Wars.

One argument that I have heard numerous times that some use to eliminate Star Wars from the science fiction category is a quote from Han Solo in the very first Episode IV: A New Hope where he brags to Obi-Wan Kenobi that the Mellinium Falcon made the “Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs.”   In the realm of real science, a parsec is a measurement of distance, but Han is apparently using the term as a measurement of time.  This is a very weak argument to use as a vehicle to discredit Star Wars as legitimate science fiction.  If one is going to use a comparison of real science as a measuring stick to validate an entity, many science fiction franchises would have to be eliminated from the genre, including Star Trek.

For instance, in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, it is stated that V-Ger is over eighty-two astronomical units in diameter.  One astronomical unit (AU) is about ninety-three million miles, or the average distance from the Earth to the sun in our own solar system.  The orbit of the former planet Pluto is an average of seventy-nine AU from the sun.  Doing the simple math, one sees that V-Ger would comfortably eclipse our solar system beyond the distance of all of the largest objects it contains.  In the film, Starfleet doesn’t discover this object until it is just 54 hours away from the earth.  Scientists have recently discovered that the Andromeda galaxy and our own Milky Way are on a collision course and will encounter each other in about four-billion years.  With Star Trek set in the 23rd century, one would think that astronomers of the future would be able to detect a solar system sized object headed our way well before it reaches 54 hours from contacting the Earth.

There are many other examples of this type of made-up science in Trek.  For instance, the use of matter/energy transport requires examination.  In Lawrence Krauss’ book, The Physics of Star Trek, it is explained that the temperatures required to break apart atoms is so great that no one could possibly survive being vaporized in the use of a transporter.   There are actually many inconsistencies in Trek when compared to science including many various particles that do not exist in nature.  So eliminating Star Wars as being science fiction based on the misuse of a single word would, in the words of a well-respected sci-fi character, not be logical.  After all, one must keep in mind that one of the functional words in the name of our beloved genre is FICTION; this includes devices that are made up by people to tell stories.  To appreciate this, one must have the ability to suspend one’s disbelief for a small period of time.

So, while trying to come up with some litmus test to validate Star Wars as science fiction, I wondered, is there nothing that one might consider to be based on science in Star Wars.  And then I remembered the Force, that seemingly magical plot device that gives the Jedi and the Sith their incredible abilities.  Magic you say?  According to Star Wars lore, the strength of the Force is directly proportional to the amount of Midi-Chlorians that an individual has in their bodies.  Midi-Chlorians are said to be living microscopic organisms that everyone in the Star Wars universe has and are necessary to life.  The Jedi and Sith have learned how to tap into the interconnected nature of these organisms and thus, gain a special intuitive sense and heightened awareness of the goings on around them.  Microorganisms helping humans be more aware; certainly sounds like invented science to me.  There is even mention of a scientifically based test to determine the level of Midi-Chlorians that one possesses in their cells. 

While I pondered this question of what constitutes science fiction, I thought I would take advantage of my Facebook membership to get an idea of what others thought about this subject.  In essence, I asked anyone what their opinion was on what makes up the difference between sci-fi and sci-fantasy and I did receive a few responses.   Thanks to those who did respond including: Jamie Legates (my daughter), Benjamin Arrowood (my son), Jordan Westengaard (former student and FB friend), Mahlon White (friend of many years), Rick Tetrault (sci-fi podcaster), Kevin Bachelder (sci-fi podcaster), Wayne Henderson (podcaster on numerous subjects), Raul Ybarra (fellow blogger), Kevin Dilmore (author), and Michael Jan Friedman (author).  I also got an answer from Dayton Ward (author) when I asked him directly on his blog what genre he thought Star Wars fit into.  Here’s what I learned:

Kevin Bachelder: "I have very, very loose definitions myself. I don't bother to worry about whether it's hard scifi or a hybrid of scifi and fantasy. I consider almost all of it to be scifi in some form. Not a topic that I give much thought to."

Jamie Legates: "The line between science fiction and fantasy is the word SCIENCE. Monster movies don't qualify, Star Wars does. Syfy has it all wrong."

Benjamin Arrowood: "The force (loosely) has a scientific explanation, though, which is the root of sci-fi. I think the difference is actually based more on plot than content. Fantasy is about adventure. Science fiction is about discovery. The general feeling when you watch Star Wars is one of action, light sabers, and bad guys. The general feeling while watching Star Trek is intrigue, logic, contemplation and going where no one has gone before. One is simply more intelligent, and the other more exciting. That's why I've kind of felt that the new Star Trek is more science fantasy. The world it's based in has already been established, so they packed it with action, almost like not needing the character development it once needed."

Jordan Westengaard: "Usually magic draws the line, not often does a scifi have magic. The force could be what makes Star Wars a Sci-fantasy. Also fantasy usually won't have technology ...usually.”

Mahlon White: “For me the answer is magic. Sci-fi uses science and logic to tell a fantastic story. Fantasy relies on some mystic power to tell all or part of the story. Because of the "Force" I would categorize Star Wars as Sci-Fantasy."

Rick Tetrault: “The main difference, in my opinion, is plausibility. Star Trek is Science Fiction because, for the most part, it attempts to ground most of its technology in some form of plausible science. Star Wars, on the other hand, makes little to no attempt at plausibility, and merely makes whatever technology they need to tell the story. They are analogous, yet very different.”

Wayne Henderson: “I would say that Star Wars is somewhere between Science Fiction and Fantasy Adventure. I think Star Wars has quite a few Science Fiction elements to it. Whatever the categorization is, I love Star Wars.”

Raul Ybarra: "It was Arthur C. Clarke who said that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. I believe it was either his second or third law. The simple answer is that there isn't a simple answer. As I said in my response to the SciFi Diner, a purist would likely claim that the line is reached when you cannot trace the concept back to some aspect of legitimate scientific fact or theory. Personally, I think that definition is rather harsh. However that doesn't mean that I think all it needs to be SciFi is to happen in space or to include bug-eyed monsters.
I like to think of it this way, if the story can be *at least* loosely connected to science at the time of its writing, I'm willing to call it science fiction. Yes, you can do that with Star Wars, though those connections are extremely poor. That's why I did class it as SciFi. In fact, one of Lucas' worst mistakes, in my opinion happened when he tried to put *too* much science into the story. Tying the Force to Midi-chlorian was an unnecessary attempt to rationalize something that needed no explanation, in my opinion.
Another example worth thinking about... One of the classic horror stories of all time is Frankenstein. However, many people may not realize this, but Frankenstein is often regarded as the first science fiction novel. The doctor's attempts at reanimation are based on scientific speculation consistent for the time, in spite of their fantasy/horror elements in today's light.
Where I have to draw a line is with a lot of the superhero genre - especially the standard Marvel or DC universes. I'm sorry, but getting bitten by an irradiated spider to confer its abilities just doesn't meet that science threshold, even if it does happen in a lab. Another non-SciFi example? Well, just because a little green man (who also happens to be bug-eyed) is trying to get home builds an interstellar transmitter from an old record player, kite string and a Speak-N-Spell just doesn't reach the SciFi line for me. There's less science there than a typical MacGyver episode!
So, in a way, defining ScFi can be something of a moving target in that you have to take it in the context of its time. Yet, when you look at it in that light, it's not hard to recognize it when you see it.”
Kevin Dilmore

Kevin Dilmore: “I'd certainly consider Star Wars in the SF sub-genre of space opera. It has little to nothing to do with the social and ethical ramifications of advancing technology, which for me is a foundational point of a science-fiction story.”

Dayton Ward
Dayton Ward: "Star Wars isn’t hardcore SF, but rather space opera or space fantasy. IMHO, of course."

Michael Jan Friedman: "Science fiction is fiction based on science; it has to be consistent with what we know of the world. Fantasy has to be consistent only with itself. If you say that interstellar travel is based on science, then SW is science fiction. If you say the Force is based on science, then SW is science fiction. But to me, it's fantasy because it feels more like magic than advanced science."
Michael Jan Friedman

Again, thanks to all of you for your responses.

So what conclusions can be drawn?  What defines science fiction?  Is Star Wars science fiction?

As one can see when looking at the myriad of responses I received, it would seem that the answers to the above questions are unique to each individual  There is no real test to label what is or is not science fiction, within the confines that science, whether real or imagined, must be involved in some way.  I think that perhaps one has to think more in degrees of how hard or soft the science fiction is.  For instance, something like the Fringe television series is very dependent on science to advance the story being told, while at the same time, Star Wars is far less dependent on real science to move that story forward.  So Fringe would be hard sci-fi while Star Wars is soft sci-fi.  Star Trek would have to fall somewhere in between.  Maybe there needs to be a scale, say for instance on a scale of one through five, with five being hard, Fringe is a one, Star Wars is a Five, and Star Trek is a three-point-five.  This isn’t a scale of what one likes though, because as far as I am concerned, I love nearly all science fiction, and especially that which is based in space travel and exploration.

So, for me, science fiction has to have, first and foremost, a good story; second there has to be characters that I can care about, they have to be real to me; and finally there has to be either real or imagined science involved.  So, if you had asked me a month ago if Star Wars was sci-fi, I would have said no, but now, in light of my exploration, I will have to admit that my mind has been changed.

To listen to the Scifi Diner podcasts that sparked this post, go to Conversations Episode 74 and Conversations Episode 76.  Both of these are excellent episodes that include not only the subject of this blog post, but lots of other great conversations and comments.