Savior stories are at the core of many of the most powerful science fiction and fantasy. Neo in the Matrix. John Connor in the Terminator. Superman in all his manifestations. And of course Paul Atreides in DUNE.
The seventh workshop in Writing The 21st Century Myth explores how scifi saviors all have their origin in the original Savior to save them all, the central character of Christian mythology – Jesus of Nazareth. And how scifi stories can be shaped around the stages of transformation, to take audiences on their own personal journeys of Salvation.
If science fiction is a gateway to the psychedelic, then DUNE is a portal to…awakening. Frank Herbert’s seminal novel and David Lynch’s baroquely weird movie are both powerful works of art on the theme of human awakening. Denis Villeneuve’s 2021 adaptation is a masterpiece of worldbuilding. But is it a kick in the third eye for would be seekers of truth? If the 13 year old me could see this Dune afresh, would the sleeper awaken?
This is the shot in the trailer where I knew it. There’s so much that works here. Not swapping out your 54 year old leading actress for a younger model, is just a start. This is a gang of older, wiser creatives than the bunch who got rushed into the early sequels. Everything in this trailer says self-reflective, smart, a clever play on the original…with upgraded CGI.
In August 2021 I was invited to speak at the 20th Indian Science Fiction Conference, on the theme of science fiction as modern mythology. Scifi as myth is the core thesis of my critical writing on the subject, and of my course in Advanced Scifi and Fantasy storytelling. It’s a thesis that does of course get pushback from some people. So in this episode of the Science Fiction podcast I take a deep dive into why mythology is the best lens through which to understand scifi.
As the United States withdraws from Afghanistan, leaving behind it chaos and despair, the Science Fiction podcast looks at why the Prime Directive is such an important idea – both in Star Trek and in reality.
It’s more than a little ironic that the motion picture widely called the greatest science fiction story ever told was made by an artist who hated science fiction. Stanley Kubrick thought science fiction was a failure at myth making, and set out to make a new myth for the modern world, and the only great science fiction movie.
It’s logical that the best science fiction being written today has its origins online and in collaborative forums. There Is No Antimemetics Division began life as part of the SCP Foundation wiki, a collaborative writing project with thousands of participants.
Dune is a weird story in all senses of the word. It is on one hand a story about men in rubber suits who drink their own pee – an aesthetic that has deterred more than a few readers. It is on the other hand a story that has lasted in our culture for six decades, surviving multiple questionable adaptations, as we now await the latest from Denis Villeneuve. In this episode of the Science Fiction podcast we ask – why?
John Vervaeke is a cognitive scientist at University of Toronto. This is republished from late 2020, before the podcast had reached many listeners. There are many gems in the interview that deserve more attention.
Look at a list of the 20th century’s most important artistic and cultural movements and you won’t find science fiction listed. Why not? We need a better definition of science fiction to help reclaim it…from itself.