When we ask people why they like Battlestar Galactica (or shows alike), one of the comments we hear most of all on this website/twitter/facebook is people telling us they enjoy watching it “because of the show’s realism and because of the true-to-life interactions the characters have with one another.”
The other side of the coin is people (usually those that aren’t all too familiar with science fiction), asking us how we can call a show – which is basically set in space AND features a race of (killer) sentient robots – a “realistic show”.
Someone (we think it was Julie Benz, but we could be wrong?) once told us that the trick behind good character development isn’t someone portraying to be someone else, but rather a person envisioning what it would be like if they were born in an extraordinary time or during extraordinary circumstances.
THAT, to us, is what good science fiction is all about. It’s not about dreaming up the impossibilities in life (even though, that’s cool too!). It’s not about galaxies far, far away in places no one can dream of. It’s about people envisioning things or events which – although appear unlikely – could happen IF the characters involved had been born under a different set of circumstances.
Whether you are talking about science fiction, romantic novels, graphic novels or even comic book writing doesn’t really make a difference. What matters most of all is the art of storytelling. Character development, storyline (or story arc-) development matter more than the circumstances described. The chance of giving someone else a view of a world or situation they hadn’t thought of before, maybe hadn’t even dreamed of.
So, is it possible to have true-to-life storytelling or interaction and science fiction?
Of course it is!
When good storytelling is the basis of the work, it doesn’t matter whether the scenes or chapters take place on (a disease ridden?) Earth, the moon or any of the Colonies of Kobol. All that matters is the following question:
“Given the situation these characters find themselves in, do I believe what they are saying AND does it fit in THEIR current situation?”
The reason why “their” is capitalized in the question is because it’s all too easy to diminish science fiction just because it’s impossible for Earth’s current situation. (for future reference: science fiction doesn’t only mean “stories that take place in outer space”, it also entails those that take place in a completely different version of Earth a.o.)
In this day and age, where we are almost forced to take things too seriously, one of the few places people can be themselves is within their own imagination. Drifting away into small figments of one’s mind.
Think about it, when you were a kid, didn’t things you now consider to be “science fiction” make total sense? Blue creatures threatened by humans? You used to call those “Smurfs” (Peyo’s “The Smurfs”), now you call them “Na’vi” (Cameron’s “Avatar”). Two completely different storylines, but the exact same storyline at its very core!
How many space ships did you dream up or draw when you where a child? How many cardboard boxes were turned into rockets? Airplanes?
The point we’re trying to make is the following:
While it might not make as much sense as it used to, people use science fiction in their lives every single day. The only difference between real-life sci-fi and the stuff you see on TV, is that one was dreamt up in a writers mind, while the other lies more in the little things you do in your everyday life.
Clash of the titans? We think not!
Until the next one – or until evil, sentient killer robots show up to destroy all of humanity
So say we all!
Written by the BSGmuseum-staff [E&DV], for www.battlestargalacticamuseum.com