Some Sci-Fi Quotes

Being a nerd, I watch a lot of science fiction films. So, here, in no particular order, are five of my favorite famous science fiction movie quotes:
1) KLAATU BARADA NIKTO

This three-word phrase was uttered in the old classic, The Day the Earth Stood Still, by the alien visitor Klaatu. Interestingly, the words, which are obviously in a fictional alien language, have never been translated officially, which kind of lends them a mysterious quality, though fans have been making up their own translations for years. Whatever it meant, it was enough to get Klaatu’s deadly robot buddy to not destroy the Earth as we know it in the film.

Supposedly, the phrase can be heard (in a barely audible form) in the 2008 remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still because Keanu Reeves really wanted to say the famous words. (I didn’t hear it, but then, the volume wasn’t exactly movie-theater-quality on my old TV).

2) NO. I AM YOUR FATHER

Often misquoted and stemming from one of the most famous scenes in movie history, this line is what Darth Vader actually says. (And one of my nerdy pet peeves is hearing the misquoted version).

3) E.T. PHONE HOME

How can anyone not like this movie? OK, yeah, I’m sure there are haters out there, but I personally loved this film growing up. An interesting tidbit: the scenes of the film were shot for the most part in order, so that the actors’ emotions by the end of the film would be more real.

4) LIVE LONG AND PROSPER

Ah, the Vulcan Salute. A classic phrase (and accompanying hand gesture) from the Star Trek franchise, it has been uttered in many an episode and film. Leonard Nimoy (Spock’s actor, for non-nerds. Though why a non-nerd would even know who Spock is, I’m not sure) actually invented the phrase and gesture based on a Jewish blessing.

5) GET AWAY FROM HER, YOU BITCH!

Sorry for the sudden increase in vulgarity, but this quote comes from one of my all-time favorite science fiction scenes. For those who have no idea what I’m talking about: In the Alien-sequel film, Aliens, a huge black spiky murderous acid-blooded alien queen is advancing toward the little girl that the protagonist has spent much of the film protecting. Then, in this oft-referenced scene, Ellen Ripley, the aforementioned protagonist, comes out in a huge mechanical loading machine. End of story, the alien queen goes out the airlock, and the little girl is prevented from getting sucked out with it by half an android (long story). Oh, and Ripley is safe, too. For now–there are several sequels after this not really worth mentioning.

So, that’s my top 5, pretty much. Hope you enjoyed it (and maybe learned a little fact or two along the way?)

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Mass Effect 3

 

  So yesterday, I found some time and finally beat Mass Effect 3. Yes, it took me a month, not because I’m some kind of terrible player but because I’ve been terribly busy lately.

Anyway, I thought I’d do my own little review of the game.

My overall thoughts were that it was a great game, ending be damned. Yes, okay, I had some problems with the ending myself: there wasn’t enough closure, and it was completely unclear what your decision meant for the crew of the Normandy, or the galaxy as a whole. The only thing that was obvious was that the threat of the Reapers was finally demolished and Shepard became a legend. And, of course, that humanity eventually rebuilt itself to point of space travel-capability again, as implied by that short, after-credits scene with the grandfather and the little boy. But hell, at least Bioware listened. They’re releasing a free DLC that will serve as a proper epilogue for the game, and I assume that it will take into account the decisions of players in order to give them the most appropriate, customized ending for their respective games.

I thought that, with the exception of the very, very ending, the game was exceptional, as usual for a Bioware game, it seems like. It was a great last game in a trilogy of games that continued to impress me. The character development, level of depth of the universe created, and all the attention to detail that had been present in the previous two games were there in the last.

In particular, I liked how close Shepard and Garrus had become (even if you didn’t put a romance between them). By the end of the third game, it’s clear that Shepard and Garrus would go through Hell with each other at their sides. (Which is another reason I’m sort of looking forward to that epilogue update–I took Garrus with me on the final mission, and I would like to know what happens to him; did he really die there in that Reaper blast?) I also liked Garrus’s own character development, which you as the player (and as Commander Shepard) influence.

The character that I find most fascinating, though, was by far The Illusive Man, that chain-smoking idealist. At least, it was clear by the end that he had started off as an idealist, who really only wanted to help humanity. Somewhere along the way, he become indoctrinated and corrupted by the Reapers. I can honestly say that in a game full of successfully poignant deaths, the Illusive Man’s really got to me with that “Earth…if only you could see it as I do, Shepard. It’s so…perfect.”

Another aspect of the game I liked involved the actual gameplay. The enemy AI was noticeably improved, and it seems they gave the character more in-combat dialogue so we didn’t have to listen to the same phrases over and over again as in the previous games.

So again, overall, I thought Mass Effect 3 was a great game. Sad to see my favorite trilogy end, but glad that it managed to impress me the way through. Thanks, Bioware, for a great trilogy of games.

Or as Garrus would say, “Impressive.”

 

That Cyberpunk Aesthetic

So I can tell I’m starting to come out of my latest huge depressive episode. I know this because I feel like writing, and ideas are actually coming to me again. Right now, I and my friend who is a short film maker are collaborating on a new project. I’ve never worked with him before, but I’ve been impressed with his work before. I’m writing the script, and he’s directing the short film.

The genre of the project?

Science fiction, which shouldn’t come as a big surprise to anyone who has been following my blog. And the more specific genre: cyberpunk/tech noir.

I wonder what it is about that genre that fascinates me. Well, for one thing, movies and novels within it tend to be pretty good: Blade Runner, The Matrix, Neuromancer… even Tron: Legacy is cyberpunk and it was a decent film (very visually pleasing, though I had some problems with the plot), probably the only Disney film ever to fall under this genre.

But I think there’s more to it than that. The futuristic cities–bright neon, flying cars–are pretty darn cool and make for beautiful and amazing visual, even they are always dystopias. And there’s the element of human nature that cyberpunk encompasses: humans are greedy, selfish, simple as that (even the cops are always corrupt or at best within the gray region of morality).

And it’s a genre that appeals to the imagination. Every work is an exercise in thought about what could possibly arise if technology does advance to the point of true AI. Whether the machines will be used as slaves for humans (as in Blade Runner) or the other way around (as in The Matrix), it’s an interesting to concept to explore.

The central question of most cyberpunk/tech noir works seems to be this: what makes us human?

And this is a question not easily answered. But these films and books certainly try.

Ex Astra- Short Blade Runner Prequel

Being the science fiction buff I am, and Blade Runner being my favorite film, I decided to try my hand a while back at writing a fan-fiction. I do consider myself a writer, but normally I am uncomfortable using others’ characters. This time, however, I decided to try it. I did my best to stay in character, and to stay true to the facts of the film’s plot. So, here it is:

The off-world colonies were lonely places to be. In many of them, the stars were a constant site, as artificial skies were only implemented in the densest of cities. The near-darkness of the skies, penetrated by the effervescent light of truly countless stars, struck some people as depressing. This was not the case with the figure who sat in an alleyway looking up at them.

He had a certain affinity for and fascination with the stars. He drew endless inspiration from them. Their lifespans—those of the stars—were so great that he felt they may as well be immortal. Even after they had gone through the majestic deaths deserving of stars, their light could continue to be seen for years to come.

Such a difficult thing to ponder for someone doomed to a mere four years.

He was a Nexus-6, model N6MAA10816. He called himself Roy Batty. And he was currently wasting precious minutes of his remaining life hiding out in an alleyway, waiting for a police patrol to pass.

“Goddamn replicants,” drifted a voice from the street. “The hell does the Tyrell Corporation think its doing? Making them so hard to find? So realistic?”

“People buy them, don’t they?” said another voice.

The first voice was silent.

“Goddamn,” he repeated when he finally spoke again.

“I hate being this close to a military base. Always figured this would happen,” spoke up another voice. It was diminishing in volume now; they were walking away.

Roy waited until they were certainly gone, and then he stood up. He was a combat model; he knew how to take down an armed enemy. Yet he also knew that to take on an entire police patrol at once was suicide.

Roy looked down at his clothing. He still wore the uniform issued to him and all the other androids that were military property. He knew he had to get rid of it immediately, as it was a dead giveaway. The blood on the lapel that belonged to the officer he had killed while escaping certainly didn’t help. He shed the gray uniform jacket, wearing just the gray pants and the lighter colored shirt, leaving the jacket among the trash that sat piled in the alley.

Roy Batty walked out into the nighttime street. He knew it was officially night, not from the ever-unchanging sky but from the activity, or rather, lack of activity, of the humans. Unlike the larger cities back on Earth, where streets were crowded round-the-clock, in this little colony nighttime meant a time to rest. And while the humans were resting, Roy continued to plot his ongoing escape.

It had occurred to him one night while watching the stars that he was going to die very soon. Perhaps it was just in his head, but he felt as if he could sense the life-force slowly leaving his body. That was the night when he first gave serious thought to escaping, and shortly after, he had done it.

He reflected upon this as he walked down the dark street. He looked up and saw a lone man wearing long leather jacket traversing the sidewalk and going in the opposite direction. The man did not seem to see Roy until he was standing directly in front of him. The human man snapped out of his reverie as he looked up to see Roy standing in his way, smiling.

“Nice jacket,” said Roy.

Nervously the man reached into his jacket for his gun, but Roy was faster. With superhuman strength he grabbed the man’s face and smashed the back of the man’s head into the nearest brick wall. And again. With a small whimper, blood trickling from the corner of his mouth, the man slumped to the ground. Roy removed the man’s black leather jacket and put it on himself. Fit nicely, he decided.

“An escapee,” deduced a voice behind him.

Roy turned around slowly. There stood an average-height, fit girl. She gave him a thin smile.

“I’m Pris.”

A Nexus-6, Roy realized. She was pretty; he felt she was likely a pleasure model. Though one could not tell just from her beauty. Some beautiful androids were used for other purposes, as well. No matter the android’s function, humans preferred their slaves to be pretty, it seemed.

“Roy,” he said with a slow grin.

Pris strode lithely over and rested her arms on his shoulder.

“So tell me,” she spoke into his ear. “What’s your plan?”

“Earth,” he responded. “Straight to the Tyrell Corporation.”

Pris blinked.

“What do you want to see them for?”

“I want more life.”

“I want to come.”

“You can.”

Pris smiled, lending her an innocent look. She leaned into him. Roy kissed her.

“Pris! The fuck do you think you’re doing out here!” a shout interrupted them.

A bearded, corpulant man was walking over to them.

“She’s my property,” he said, eyeing Roy.

Roy and Pris exchanged a look. Then she walked over to her owner.

“This,” she said, leaning her head on his shoulder and wrapping her arms around him, “is my owner, Randy.”

“Ah,” said Roy quietly, a smile creeping onto his lips.

He walked over to them, hands in his jacket pockets.

“Nice to meet you, Randy,” he said extending his hand.

Randy automatically grasped Roy’s hand, and then looked down and stared at it. Then he began to gasp in pain. Roy’s face was unchanging. He released the man’s hand, and Randy gingerly held it with his other hand before his face, examining his broken fingers. Pris wrapped her arms around his neck, and Randy began to gasp, not in pain this time, but for breath. His body began to flail pathetically. His face turned blue. Finally, with a choking sound, his eyes became unfocused and he grew still.

Pris unceremoniously let go of the body and it fell to the sidewalk with a thud. Roy turned to Pris.

“Come,” he said.

She linked her arm in his.

“We can take Randy’s spinner,” she said.

“Let’s go,” he said, a near-boyish excitement at their success so far possessing his face.

*          *            *

            They sat in the spinner as it drifted over the off-world city. Roy had pre-programmed the spinner’s destination and set it to autopilot. He sat relaxed in his seat, his arm around Pris, who leaned on his shoulder contentedly.

“Roy,” she said suddenly, thoughtfully. “I’ve got a friend. She should come with us.”

“Oh?”

“Yes. She goes by Zhora.”

“Do you know where to find her?”

“Sure.”

“I suppose we have room for another.”

She told him where Zhora could be found, and he took the spinner out of autopilot and maneuvered it toward the location she gave him directions to.

When they alighted, Roy remained in the vehicle while Pris left to retrieve Zhora. Moments later, Pris rapped at the side panel of the spinner, and Roy let her and the other female, who could only have been Zhora, inside. They immediately took off, and Roy set the spinner back on autopilot. He then took the time to turn and examine Zhora.

She was sleek and beautiful, though in a completely different way than Pris, a more deadly way. She was no pleasure model, that was for certain.

“Roy says we’re going to Earth,” said Pris. “We’re going to get the Tyrell Corp to make us live longer.”

Zhora stared at Pris for a moment before saying, “So long as we’re getting out of the slavery and loneliness of this goddamn place.”

She stared at the spinner’s computer console.

“I guess you aren’t afraid of Blade Runners?”

“They won’t be any match.”

They rode in silence for a while, then. It wasn’t long before they reached the shuttle port, the destination that Roy had programmed into the spinner’s computer. The vehicle landed, and with near-silence, Roy Batty, Pris, and Zhora climbed and and headed for the shuttle port.

They crept over to and hid behind a cluster of hydroponically grown bushes. A single armed guard stood to the right of the main entrance to the shuttle port.

“I can take care of this,” said Zhora. “He won’t fire until he has reason to.”

She walked over into the pool of dirty yellow light cast on the ground by the side of the building.

“I think I’m lost,” she called to the guard as she approached. “This seemed like the safest place to walk to.”

“Yeah?” said the armed guard warily, his voice muffled by his breather mask.

There was no reason for the mask other than to intimidate.

“Yes,” said Zhora, reaching him. “If I could just”—

Without even finishing the sentence, she twisted the weapon away with her immense strength, and pistol-whipped the man across the head. He collapsed, and Roy and Pris walked over.

Roy looked curiously down at the bleeding body before stepping over it to enter the shuttle port. Inside the port it was dim; the humans did not want to leave more than minimal light on for the only people who would be in the port at this hour, the android workers.

Roy quickly chose a shuttle and opened the door.

“You can fly this?” asked Zhora as Pris climbed in.

“I flew many shuttles for the military,” Roy said.

“Hold on, there,” said a male voice.

Roy looked over his shoulder and Zhora swung the gun around to aim it at the speaker.

Two men in gray shirts and overalls stood before the shuttle. Workers, Roy realized. Androids.

“Try to stop us. It will end unfortunately for you,” said Roy, smiling calmly.

“We—we want to come.”

“In that case,” Roy said, stepping aside and gesturing toward the shuttle.

Zhora and the two shuttle port workers climbed inside. Roy stood outside the shuttle a moment longer.

He looked up at the stars which could be seen through the shuttle port’s panel of ultraglass. He knew that once he arrived at Earth, he would not be able to see the stars anymore, due to chemical haze and light pollution. But his memories of being out here among them, and the things he had seen, would stay with him. He closed his eyes and smiled.

Then, he turned and climbed into the shuttle. After a moment, the shuttle shot forward out of the port, and flew like a shooting star over the colony. If humans saw it, all they could do was alert police forces on Earth. That was where they were heading, where the near-end of a lifespan and desperation had driven them, and where their feeble hopes lay.

The stars watched the shuttle leave the planet’s atmosphere in silence.

I’m Commander Shepard And…

…this is my favorite post on the citadel.

Okay, memes aside, I thought I would take a break from posting about mental health issues and make a post about my favorite game trilogy instead, the third installment of which comes out tomorrow.

Mass Effect was recommended to me by a friend. He told me he thought I would really like it, especially being the sci-fi nerd I am. I sort of said “Yeah, okay,” and made a mental note to check it out sometime. When I got a copy, I wasn’t particularly impressed by the cover, despite all the praise on the game’s case from critics. Then I played it.

I was blown away.

The basic plot of the trilogy is that you (the player) control a character named Commander Shepard, and you are trying to stop an invasion of ancient machine-beings known as Reapers from destroying all life in the universe. The character Commander Shepard is whoever you want him/her to be–you choose the character’s gender, appearance, and most importantly, Shepard’s every decision and action. This is essential, because the crux of the game is how you make your decisions. Unlike most games, every decision you make has repercussions, from choosing to be a Paragon or a Renegade to choosing whether or not to trust the Illusive Man and aid him.

Your decisions directly affect the game’s storyline, and you can choose to import your previous saves to the sequels, so that the game you play, even when just starting the second or third, is the game you created.

Mass Effect and its sequel are easily the most immersive games I have ever played, and I am an avid gamer. The attention to detail is beyond impressive. The creators of the game really made an effort to create an in-depth, plausible universe, and it paid off. There was information on how everything in the game worked (including the namesake mass effect utilized by the spaceships), and there was in fact so much in-game background information that I read only a portion of it.The characters, too, have depth; they are not your typical flat, stereotypical game characters.

The game’s visuals are incredible. There are many places (especially in the first game) that you are by no means required to go to, or even find–the game’s map is extensive–and even these places have gorgeous scenery and atmosphere. The soundscape, too, in very impressive and really helps the player get into the game. In the third and final installment, renowned composer Clint Mansell is helping with the soundtrack, something I’m really excited about, because even if you’ve never heard his name, you’ve likely heard at some point his most famous piece, the epic (and I mean epic in the original sense of the term) song “Lux Aeterna.”

So that, in 500 words or less, is why the Mass Effect trilogy is my absolute favorite game series. I intend to get my copy of the last installment this Thursday, and I can’t remember the last time I anticipated a game this much.

2001: Still a Great Film, 44 Years Later

So pretty much everyone knows the film’s main theme song, even if they can’t necessarily name where it came from. And sci-fi buffs nearly always name it either the top or second-top science fiction film of all time. Why? Because even today, even with an outdated title, and even with films like Avatar setting the standard for special effects, it’s still a really good movie. In fact, it’s one of my favorite films.

So why has it been considered a masterpiece since 1968? What’s so great about it? Well, for one thing, it attempts to explain the evolution of man, attempts to show the creation of the universe (via the single most trippy sequence in the history of movies) as well as attempting to show a scientifically accurate depiction of the future, which is an endeavor in itself. And, I would argue, it does all of those things successfully, except for the last part–alas, it’s 2012 and we still don’t have true Artificial Intelligence. (Though for those who agree with Fodor’s Robot Argument, we’ve still got a chance there.)

I admit, it’s a film you’ve got to have patience for. There are long sequences of spacecraft drifting through space to classical music, and other sequences involving some of the characters which are just as lengthy, with the only sounds being the soft beeping of the control panels and the character’s breath. While some would argue that these scenes could have had entire minutes trimmed with the resulting movie unchanged, I disagree. These sequences help us to understand the total silence of space (sorry, fellow fans of Trek or Wars–there really isn’t sound in space) and its utter solitude. They help to put viewers right in there with characters; it makes it so realistic you really start to understand what it’s like out in space, and the attention to detail–the scene where one of the characters is watching a video recording of his family comes to mind–is incredible.

The film also contains one of my favorite characters, HAL 9000. The sentient onboard computer of the ship is absolutely fascinating. For those somehow unfamiliar with HAL, he is one of an advanced kind of intelligent computer, and he maintains the ship and all its functions. He begins to act erratically, however, and it eventually comes down to just Dave versus HAL. The nature of the character brings up an interesting analogy–if a sentient computer malfunctions, the result is similar to a human brain malfunctioning, in other words, mental illness. I found HAL’s “death” scene to be incredibly eerie and sad. HAL, in his ever-calm monotone, the only voice form he has, pleads with Dave to stop as Dave pulls out his memory modules one-by-one, culminating in the ever-famous “Daisy Bell” song (random fact–“Daisy Bell” was chosen as the song HAL sings because it was the first song ever “sung” by a computer–an IBM machine back in the 60s, if I remember right.) HAL’s calm voice only makes the scene more haunting, because one imagines the pleading tone HAL would be using if he were capable. And I, at least, feel bad for him by the end.

The film is definitely a cerebral one, with the main theme being the curiosity of humans. It’s kind of a tribute to all that we are capable of, while simultaneously being a tribute to all that we don’t (and may never) understand. And that’s what makes it still relevant today. That, and its bold attempt to capture the future, with the interesting aspects of spaceflight and general technology.

So for anyone who has never seen it, my advice is to find a copy (DVDs are cheap these days, with the advent of Blu-Ray) and watch it. You’ll either be bored and poking fun at everything in the movie that we didn’t have by 2001.

Or, if you have any imagination at all, you’ll see why it really is one of the greatest science fiction films of all time.