Evolution of a Hero, Vol. 1

hot nerd girl and cookie monster
What? He’s a monster. Shut up. SAVE ME WES!

If you’ve read my earlier post about Malcom Reynolds and Han Solo, you know that I have a spot in my heart for bad boys. Seriously, what girl doesn’t? But the thing is, with those characters you never get the full story of how they became such kings of badassery. OK, you get a little bit with Mal in “Serenity” (the episode, not the movie) and “that one episode with the ice planet friend that dies” but they really don’t tell you much about his journey to becoming a hero.

Lucky for us though, Joss “Is Boss” Whedon did us a favor with his creation of a mousy little man, scared of his own shadow, trying to prove himself to those around him. But by the time his clock ran out he had proved himself a bigger bad ass than most. I’m talking of course, of Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, played to perfection by Alexis Denisof. Let us begin.

buffy314-wesley

Hi. I'm an ass-hat.

When he began, he came in as Faith’s (Elisa Dushku) Watcher. A sissier version of Giles, he was very keen to do as he was ordered. His tie was straight, he played by the rules, and the thought of getting his hands dirty made this classic fancy Englishman faint. He was a character of little note, just barely a plot point in my opinion, and at one point, just a side character for Cordelia to keep busy with. That is, of course, until he left for Angel.

Wesley demotivational

Getting warmer....

In LA, he became a rogue demon hunter. A sheep in wolf’s clothing, it took a little while before he actually developed deeper levels. For me, it was when he finally got shot while working with Gunn that he seemed to achieve a certain amount of darkness and cool. There’s something to be said for men who get knocked down but keep pressing on because they know that what they are doing is the right thing.

wesley540x300-thumb-540xauto-4852

Well hello handsome...

Westley from Princess Bride

Why are all Wes's so hot?

The point at which the hotness scale tipped for me was when Wolfram and Heart was invaded by robbers, led by Wesley’s father. (SPOILER ALERT) By this time Wesley, who was at one point cookie dough, had been carved out of wood. (Oooo, where did I pull that quote from?) When his Dad threatened to hurt Fred, the love of his life, he didn’t hesitate to use his weapon and drop his father. That’s just hot. He knew he was right, his Dad was wrong, and just shot. No begging, no pleading, his father had crossed a line and Wes just went for it.

Wesley Wyndam-Price with guns

There is, of course, more to Wesley’s story, but I don’t want to ruin it for anyone that hasn’t watched Angel yet. Great hero’s are not born, they are made through fire and sacrifice. And Wesley, most definitely, is a hero.  At least in the television sense.

Guys take note: this is what you should be. Ladies, take note: Wesley Wyndham-Price is the guy you want.

wheaton

Ok, so maybe not ALL Wes's are hot...

What is Science Fiction?

Good Night Dune from College Humor

Why was this never read to me as a child? (Borrowed form College Humor) http://www.collegehumor.com/article:1811404

This past Friday, HNG fan James posed a seemingly simple and obvious question to me:

Huh.

That is an excellent questions James, and believe it or not, one I’ve never really thought about. Science fiction has been such a constant in my life since I was a small child that I never stopped to think about what my definition of science fiction is.

When you think about it, it’s a pretty broad term that can be applied to just about any story. After all, most humans are cyborgs in one way or another. For example, everyone who wears glasses, has braces or uses a pace maker is technically a cyborg.

So does that mean that every movie with a computer in it can claim to be science fiction?

Merriam-Webster defines science fiction as such:

science fiction (noun): fiction dealing principally with the impact of actual or imagined science on society or individuals or having a scientific factor as an essential orienting component.

By this definition, a movie about a kid who mixes the wrong chemicals in chemistry class and accidentally blows up his classroom could be considered science fiction. After all, his mistake has impacted his society of classmates in a scientific way. Would I consider this science fiction? Probably not.

Wikipedia’s definition is more to my liking:

Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with the impact of imagined innovations in science or technology, often in a futuristic setting.

Science fiction differs from fantasy in that it is based in reality. That may sound bizarre but it’s true. We take what we know to be real, say…the internet, and transplant it into an imaginative situation, such as The Matrix, to get a fictional story with some basis in truth.

Computers were a relatively new concept when Gene Roddenberry came up with his idea for a “wagon train to the stars.” While he was in the process of fine tuning his concept for Star Trek, he consulted with every scientist he could get his hands on in order to find out what technology was feasible. 45 years later, cell phones, scanning devices and hyposprays are so integrated into our everyday lives that these so-called “devices of the future” seem antiquated in comparison.

Science fiction can be subtle or glaringly obvious. Take the subject of clones, for example. One on hand, you have The Island, a futuristic clone farm where everyone is forced to wear white and cannot leave the confines of the compound for fear of deadly pathogens. When their organs are needed by their wealthy sponsors, the clones are told that they’ve won a lottery that will allow them to live the rest of their lives on an island free of the toxic air. The protagonists escape and fight for their freedom and right to exist.

At the other end of the spectrum is Never Let Me Go, about a group of cloned children growing up at a boarding school in England. They live relatively normal lives until a teacher lets it slip that they have been cloned for the purpose of organ donation. As adults they are allowed to come and go as they please but they are resigned to their fate. Only Tommy attempts to change his destiny and he does so by creating art. When that fails he accepts his lot in life and “completes” his purpose. These two movies essentially have the exact same concept but they treat the topic with completely different approaches. Are they both science fiction?

I have to say yes. Cloning is a reality but scientists haven’t reached the point (that we know of) of cloning humans which elevates both tales to the realm of science fiction.

Science fiction doesn’t have to be set in the future but it sure helps.

Firefly is essentially a Western, it just happens to be set in the future where spaceships are as common as horses. Take the spaceships away and it ceases to be science fiction. Take the spaceships and aliens out of Star Trek and you have NCIS.

Hot Nerd Girl as Mal Reynolds

My best attempt at dressing like Malcolm Reynolds from "Firefly". Anyone think they can Photoshop me into a cooler background?

You get the picture.

So to answer your question James, my definition of science fiction is a story that takes a reality and manipulates it through science, technology and imagination to make something completely unique and exceptionally awesome.

And I’ll take it over real life any day.

Now here’s a question for you readers out there.  Is there a hard line between science fiction and fantasy? Would something like “Farscape” be considered sci-fi, fantasy or sci-fi/fantasy?