Generalization is an unsafe ship to sail in. Once you launch it, the exceptions
immediately start letting in water. You’re scuttled from the get go. So, let me be measured, dear diary, and state that as there may be any number of reactions people might have to meeting a barbarian swordsman, I wish to limit myself for the moment to considering just two.
There is (foremost, I would hazard) fear. Respectful wariness may be a subcategory here, but I do not wish to split hairs. Fear is certainly an understandable response. I’m an imposing physical specimen. When you add to that reputation, rumor, and old wives tales you can see that the average civilized man might feel a trifle hesitant upon encountering me. The manifestation and level of fear varies wildly by the individual. I admit, behind my stone faced expression I eagerly anticipate the reactions of the fearful ones; usually quite entertaining.
Then there is curiosity. The curious may simply be too stupid to be frightened. Or he may be intelligent enough to realize that the roaming savage warrior doesn’t lash out in violent fury for no reason. (I always have a reason when I lash out in violent fury.) Or, he could just be naturally curious. Some people are.
I bring up the foregoing because I have acquired traveling companions. The graybeard was exceedingly polite upon our unexpected encounter. Reserved, watchful. Frightened, essentially. I would guess fear based upon experience considering his age and manner. So, yes, perhaps he either fits the respectful but wary category or argues for its complete subsumption into the greater classification.
The young woman is curious. It is so often the case with young women. She is a cornucopia of questions. It is becoming increasing difficult to confine my answers to one or two words. Economy of speech is a hallmark of the barbarian warrior. If this continues tomorrow I may be forced to clap a hand over her mouth and utter a stern “Enough chatter, woman.” Or something equally gruff.
But, that is tomorrow’s problem. For now sleep has served to still her queries. So, following her example, I wish you a pleasant night, dear diary
There you have Entry 5. Still enjoying it? Please let me know. A somewhat more traditional story through line commences here. Sort of.
Now, switching subjects entirely, I want to discuss movies. Specifically, what are the five best science fiction films? Before I begin spewing opinions like an Alien hit with a burst from an M56 Smartgun, allow me to define my terms. For purposes of this bit of subjective taste-mongering, I define science fiction as a story exploring ideas or consequences that might arise from some futuristic invention or breakthrough. So that eliminates most of what filmmakers market as sci-fi; no Horror, Westerns, or War movies poorly concealed in a science fiction overcoat.
And so, on with it.
Blade Runner. What is consciousness? What makes a man? When we’ve created artificial intelligence so advanced that the Turing Test has become passé, how can we know if we’re interacting with another human being? And, at that point, is there a difference, functional, moral, or otherwise? A tremendously influential film, its visuals (owing a great debt to the work of Jean Giraud) are unforgettable.
Gattaca. When genetic engineering produces a race of supermen, what do you do if your DNA wasn’t tinkered with? Such a society ends up with a lower class in pretty much every sense. Could you disguise yourself, pass yourself off as one of the elite? If we can reprogram our genetic coding, should we? Interesting questions asked in a well-acted, taut thriller.
The Martian. Terrific adaptation of Andy Weir’s novel. Fewer big questions are being asked here. This is more of an engineering exercise on a grand scale. But there are questions being asked about resource allocation (this was written when it was still assumed that only nation states would have the capacity for space flight) and what is the life of one man worth. Saving Private Watney?
2001: A Space Odyssey. Beyond the big picture of Man’s Evolution (“What’s next?”) there is the question of What if First Contact occurred with a civilization or entity that was utterly incomprehensible to Man? There seems to be an unexamined consensus that if we encountered an alien species it would be some form of little green men. ET, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick try to present the inexplicable and completely alien in a theatrical format. The end is thus weird and trippy. But the earlier scenes remain aspirational.
Ghost in the Shell. Hey, I set no rules excluding animation. This is Cyberpunk turned up to eleven. Masamune Shirow covers some of the same ground as Blade Runner, but casts a wider net. What would be the effect of uploading consciousness? You think you have problems with online security now. Imagine the spam! This one rewards close attention and re-watching. There is a lot going on and no doyen is going to walk you through it.
There you have it. How does my list stack up against yours?
If reading this puts you in the mood for some science fiction, check out my science fiction mystery story.