Tor.com content by

Emily Asher-Perrin

How Do Robots in Science Fiction Talk to Each Other?

Technology-based lifeforms have to communicate, just like any other living beings. And just like living beings, science fiction has come up with a variety of ways for them to do so. Keeping tabs on the way robots, computers, and A.I. convey information in genre fiction offers an fascinating glimpse into what humans think the future might look like—and how we would prefer to interact with technology ourselves.

When looking to science fiction for sentient life created by artificial means, there are plenty of possibilities to choose from. A.I. and robotics are some of the oldest hallmarks of the genre, and there are countless ways to render characters that fit the bill. But with those characters come a number of questions about how they move through the world (/galaxy/universe) and who they interact with. Were they created for a specific purpose, or to exist as they will? Do they have a community of their own kind, or are they restricted to humans and aliens and other organic matter? And if they do have their own communities… doesn’t it stand to reason that they would have their own traditions, their own philosophies, and even their own forms of communication? And what do those forms look like?

[Read more]

Spock and the Myth of “Emotion Versus Logic”

Look, I’m just saying that Spock was wrong.

Not about everything, of course. But about his developmental crux, the war going on betwixt his delightfully pointed ears. People love to talk about Spock’s struggle to reconcile the two natures within him—the rational, staid pragmatism of Vulcan and the wild, untempered emotionality of Earth. The half-vulcan half-human spends his entire life trying to accommodate these halves, and seems to wind up somewhere in the middle. He takes what’s best from both of his ancestral cultures and knits them together beautifully, evolving into a mature and centered being.

Except that’s not what happened at all.

[Read more]

All Technology in the Star Wars Universe Is Designed for Death

It’s called Star Wars. Not Star Trek, not Star Peace, not Star Friends, not even Star Tales. This gargantuan fictional universe is labeled with a title that guarantees the ability to travel space… and near-constant warfare.

We can debate the relative okay-ness of this focus from a moral standpoint, sure. But in reality, I think that Star Wars is accidentally teaching us the greatest lesson of all: It’s depicting what a universe looks like when you dedicate all of your research and technological advancements to war and destruction, and unwittingly showing us what an incredibly dark place that universe is. Because the Star Wars universe is a fun fictional playground for sure, a great place to build weird and wonderful stories… but it’s not a good place. Not by a longshot.

[Read more]

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Could Save Us From the Homogeny of Modern Cinema

When The Dark Crystal first premiered in 1982, it fueled the dreams and nightmares of many children, but it also represented a dream of Muppets-creator, Jim Henson—to bring puppetry into new and darker creative realms, recognized as an art form that could be used in complex storytelling. While The Dark Crystal was a modest box office success, 1986’s Labyrinth didn’t recoup its budget, and Henson’s death in 1990 slowed the company’s forays into projects of such scale. The Jim Henson Creature Shop continues to do exemplary work in its creation of puppets for film and television, but productions that truly rely solely on puppetry for visual effects remain few and far between.

Given the state of things, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is perfectly poised to remind us all of what we’re missing.

[Read more]

Has Star Wars Abandoned Boba Fett? Or Is His Comeback Written on the Wall?

Aside from the grand finale of the Skywalker Saga with Episode IX, there is another Star Wars story that has everyone buzzing: The Mandalorian, premiering in November on Disney’s new streaming service. Starring Pedro Pascal, The Mandalorian is set post-Return of the Jedi, as the galaxy struggles to restructure itself after the death of Emperor Palpatine and the fall of the Empire. The titular character is a mercenary with a cowboy sort of swagger, adhering to a personal sense of justice, with a reputation for doing things his own way.

But… but isn’t that just Boba Fett?

[Read more]

Around the World in 28 Alternative Cities!

When you spend time in science fiction and fantasy, you expect to get lost in bucolic Shires, bustling Diagon Alleys, and maybe the occasional wardrobe-based analog of Heaven. But why stop there? Join us as we tour the globe à la Phileas Fogg, taking off from a magical London and heading more-or-less east. We’re making stops in a haunted Cairo, a super-powered Delhi, a steampunk Seattle, an alt-history Montreal, and a near-future São Paulo—let us know in the comments if we missed your favorite genre-tinged city!

[Read more]

The Lion King Is Just Sad, and We Have No One to Blame But Ourselves

The Lion King was a big deal for Disney because when it was originally conceptualized, no one thought it would make a dime. It proceeded to be one of the company’s most profitable films, and then went on to fuel an extremely successful international hit musical. But the concept of a “live action” CGI driven Lion King has had many fans scratching their heads, and wondering if this was perhaps a bridge too far for Disney.

And indeed, the bridge was very far.

[Read more]

Acting With Daemons is Like 3D Chess: The Cast of His Dark Materials at SDCC!

The cast, writer, and producer of His Dark Materials were at San Diego Comic-Con to talk about the upcoming show after dropping their second trailer, and were happy to answer questions ranging from fun times on set to daemon actors to their love of Pullman’s books in Hall H. Here are a few highlights! (Hint: season two has already been ordered!)

[Read more]

Farscape Creators Looking Into TV Revival Options

Farscape‘s 20th anniversary panel at San Diego Comic Con was packed to the brim with fans who miss the show. It’s always been beloved, but in recent years there have been more rumors about its potential revival. Everyone seems to be on board, actors and creators included, so what’s the problem?

Well, we might not be waiting too much longer…

[Read more]

Our Privacy Notice has been updated to explain how we use cookies, which you accept by continuing to use this website. To withdraw your consent, see Your Choices.