Saturday, January 25, 2014

What Makes a Great Sci-Fi World?

'Antiviral', 'In Time' and 'Looper'. #scifi #writing #filmclub #article
Over the last few months I’ve been watching (and reading) a ton of science-fiction. My twelve-month total of films-watched currently stands at over 200, a number I’m padding out with a ridiculous number of television episodes. It got me thinking about why I some Sci-Fi worlds stand out so much more than others.


'Antiviral' was directed by Bryan Cronenberg in 2012. The key to this film world, or diegesis - fancy word, I know, is the focus on celebrity, where people in the future want celebrity pathogens inside them. Yes, you heard me right - pathogens are the things that give you colds and fevers, germs basically. People in this film buy them to feel close to celebrities.
It makes perfect sense that it wouldn’t be enough for human beings, to simply devour celebrity on television with their eyes, they would want to consume their flesh on a molecular level too. The creepy thing about the entire premise of the film is that it is all biological possible.
The second film world is Andrew Niccol’s ‘In Time’ (2011), set in a world where everyone stops ageing in their twenties and gets just one year of ‘life’. After that they have to earn more time to live, otherwise they die. Literally, time is money. People can steal each other’s time the way they steal each other’s money, and of course, there’s a cruel divide between those who have vast time, and those who have nearly none.
The key to ‘In Time’, the key component I love most about its world is that the fact that people stop ageing in their twenties. Imagine a world where your parents, grandparents and you all look the same age. Take physical ageing out of the equation and how do we relate?
The final film world in my trio is ‘Looper’, directed by Rian Johnson (2012). What I love the most about this one is that time travel is treated as something organic. The world raises all the right questions and answers only some of them. Perfect. If we truly had the technology, this is most logically how people would go about using it, for criminal ends.
So what makes a great Sci-Fi World?
1) ORIGINALITY - It has to be something we haven’t quite seen before, or seen in this way.

 2) BELIEVABILITY - It has to be plausible. The best fiction lies on the cusp of scientific reality.

 3) MORALITY - It has to make us question our own ethics, forcing us to think, what would we do if?
What are your favourite Sci-Fi Worlds? Tell us by leaving a comment below.

Writer and lecturer, Elizabeth Amisu was a winner in the Southend Literary Festival in 2010 and the Short Story competition in 2012. Her fiction focuses on supernatural cities and alternative families. Check out Elizabeth's website, Writing Eliza, to receive an exclusive chapter and join her mailing list.

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