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THE (ALMOST) UNDELETED • View topic - Just don't tug on his cape...

Just don't tug on his cape...

SF genre TV and Movie discussions

Just don't tug on his cape...

Postby SandChigger » Fri Feb 22, 2008 9:23 pm

He might fall out of the air.

The night before last I was flipping around and came across and watched the last half of Superman Returns. I'd seen the last quarter or so of it before, about a year ago when another of my movie channels showed it. Kevin's recent Last Daze of Krympei and his upcoming (Super)man-on-(Bat)man release, disgust...I mean, discussed in his latest blahg, has had me thinking about the character....

I read and collected a few Superman comics when I was a kid, but I eventually lost interest due to the essential unreality of the character. As I was watching the other night with a more critical eye, one of the questions that occurred to me was...how the hell does he fly? I mean, he's obviously not doing so as a result of initially propelling himself into the air with his legs. In fact, in the movie he levitates around all over the place like a helium-filled balloon. Anyone got a clue on this one? Or how, for another, he can generate the heat beams he fires out of his eyes?

Anyway, I think I've figured out why Kevin seems so into this new line of books (does anyone doubt there will be only two?): there's very little science involved and a whole lot of fantasy. You know, the kind of shit he introduced into the new "Dune" books. :roll:
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Re: Just don't tug on his cape...

Postby Omphalos » Fri Feb 22, 2008 10:00 pm

SandChigger wrote:He might fall out of the air.

The night before last I was flipping around and came across and watched the last half of Superman Returns. I'd seen the last quarter or so of it before, about a year ago when another of my movie channels showed it. Kevin's recent Last Daze of Krympei and his upcoming (Super)man-on-(Bat)man release, disgust...I mean, discussed in his latest blahg, has had me thinking about the character....

I read and collected a few Superman comics when I was a kid, but I eventually lost interest due to the essential unreality of the character. As I was watching the other night with a more critical eye, one of the questions that occurred to me was...how the hell does he fly? I mean, he's obviously not doing so as a result of initially propelling himself into the air with his legs. In fact, in the movie he levitates around all over the place like a helium-filled balloon. Anyone got a clue on this one? Or how, for another, he can generate the heat beams he fires out of his eyes?

Anyway, I think I've figured out why Kevin seems so into this new line of books (does anyone doubt there will be only two?): there's very little science involved and a whole lot of fantasy. You know, the kind of shit he introduced into the new "Dune" books. :roll:


John Byrne redid the entire Superman mythos a number of years ago. I think that he covered this in his revamping. Though Ill be damned if I can remember what he said. Had something to do with control of magnetism or something.
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Postby GamePlayer » Fri Feb 22, 2008 10:45 pm

I'm beginning to see a pattern in your tastes, chigga. Everything in your fiction must somehow be rationalized and explained :)

On topic, it's probably interesting to note that Superman was not initially able to fly when he was created. That came much later. Nonetheless, his ability to fly has never been explained in any fictionally plausible way. There have been ridiculous attempts over the years to explain his flight using concepts like "psionic manipulation of graviton particles" and other such nonsense. Most likely these attempts will continue for as long as the character lasts, making use of whatever current fringe science is ripe for abuse.

Personally, I've always identified with super heroes from a male point of view. Especially during my formative years, dreams of super powers seem almost inevitable during the transition from child to adult. Male development is very empowering physically and I always felt a strong connection with the idea that I could do anything.

Diverging somewhat, I fail to see the virtue of explaining everything in fiction with intricate technobabble just to be plausible. Trek tried that and failed miserably while simultaneously destroying science with continual misapplication and especially the bastardization of scientific units. More pointedly, if fictional ship A is powered either by fairy dust or a super dimension energy reactor, the end result is still a power source that does not exist. From a literary standpoint, neither device is better or more correct than the other. Both ideas are conceptually incestuous. The only real value in such creations are their inherent impact on the fictional world in which they function and (most importantly) that such creations function consistently.

On a conceptual level Frank Herbert's science fiction creations are as ludicrous as a flying man, only the context alters the reader's willingness to suspend disbelief more or less. As for KJA, I'm willing to bet his fantasy-esque concepts are more due to conceptual abuse, over reliance upon cliche and poor continuity than anything else. I'm sure he's abused virtually every science fiction cliche throughout his writing whether it's superpowers and fairy dust or nano technology and tachyon particles :)
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Postby Omphalos » Fri Feb 22, 2008 11:22 pm

GamePlayer wrote:I'm beginning to see a pattern in your tastes, chigga. Everything in your fiction must somehow be rationalized and explained :)


I also seek this too.
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Postby Phaedrus » Sat Feb 23, 2008 3:42 am

This reminds me:

In high school, we had a physics teacher that liked to make physics "fun." So while his students learned about projectiles, he would always use guns as the example. One of his favorite examples? Killing Superman.

First, he would prove to the class that if Superman were actually flying that fast when he caught Lois Lane, he would have killed her. The force would be several times the amount of force that would splatter the poor girl all over Metropolis. In fact, she'd be more likely to survive if she just fell. Superman's "catch" does more damage than the fall.

He went on to prove that most of Superman's feats would result in catastrophic damage to his entire environment.

I didn't actually have that physics teacher, but I had several friends who did. My physics teacher taught projectiles by throwing markers at people or shooting balls across the room. That's more my style, anyway.
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Postby Phaedrus » Sat Feb 23, 2008 3:43 am

Omphalos wrote:
GamePlayer wrote:I'm beginning to see a pattern in your tastes, chigga. Everything in your fiction must somehow be rationalized and explained :)


I also seek this too.


Everything in my life must be rationalized or explained. Fiction is just one aspect of the greater whole.
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Postby Liege-Killer » Sat Feb 23, 2008 5:34 pm

Omphalos wrote:
GamePlayer wrote:I'm beginning to see a pattern in your tastes, chigga. Everything in your fiction must somehow be rationalized and explained :)


I also seek this too.


Count me as one of those damned rationalists too.
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Postby SandChigger » Sun Feb 24, 2008 2:53 am

GamePlayer wrote:I'm beginning to see a pattern in your tastes, chigga. Everything in your fiction must somehow be rationalized and explained :)

;)

I don't know that that's true of everything. Depends on other factors, varies for each story.

I read the WP article on Superman before starting this thread, so I knew that originally he was limited to short leaps through the air. (Something about depiction of him leaping all the time being a PITA, so they changed it. Reminded me of the movie version a few years back of The Hulk; the Big Green Guy bouncing across the southwest was one of my [very few] favorite parts of the thing.) The lack of any explanation of the ability there made me think there must no be a good one. "Psionic manipulation of graviton particles" is the sort of technobabble (which I also hate) and idiotic approach to SF that has given us the "tachyon net".

I don't know if every guy goes through it, but I know what you mean by dreaming of super powers. It's probably some sort of normal coping strategy among geeks and bookish, non-athletic, not very popular kids. (Not assuming that describes you, of course; but it was me. ;) )

One of the great things about Frank's Dune—and I've said this before—is how he doesn't explain spacefolding or go in for too much technobabble...another lesson Pinky and Brian didn't learn. Where he messed up is the places he provided too much information and relied too heavily on the limited scientific knowledge of his time (genetic memory, astronomical details).

Would a great writer like FH be capable of writing a Superman story? (Would he even bother writing in someone else's universe?) I'm not sure. But I guess it's a good thing for the fans of the Man of Steel that we have shitty writers like Kevin to fill the void.
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Postby GamePlayer » Sun Feb 24, 2008 10:32 am

I agree. The strength of the best science fiction (especially Frank's) is the inclusion of fictional technologies that are interesting and creative but are largely unexplained. This is one reason why I love Dune or the works of Iain M Banks, or even Star Wars for that matter (setting aside the obvious differences in storytelling sophistication for the sake of analogy).

I don't care how these technologies work and I don't really need them rationalized and explained. I only care that the fictional tech functions and functions consistently within the context of the fictional story. The more creative and dramatic one can make them, the better they are for the story. The more one micromanages and abuses the technology, the worse it gets (case in point, the prequel writers).
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Postby Freakzilla » Sun Feb 24, 2008 4:56 pm

As long as the technology isn't a major part of the story. Using spice to predict a successfull space-fold is a major part of the Dune story but I can buy it. Or that a lasgun intersecting a shield can create fusion. But I don't need to know how the shield, lasgun or holtzmann engines work.
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