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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Science Fiction is Everywhere

Join us as we welcome guest blogger PAN author Eilis Flynn to the FF&P blog.

Have you ever watched a TV show called Good Eats? It's on the Food Network,
and it's a quirky show about cooking. It's got humor and science and
learning how cooking works and even a recipe or two along the way. It's an
acquired taste, though, since it's filled with puns and silly jokes.

In a recent episode -- one devoted to the history of punch -- when Alton
Brown, the host, is explaining what goes into the drink, he mentions that
spices are necessary to make punch. At that point, one of Alton's sidekicks
intones, "Control the spice, and you control the universe." To which Alton
responds, "You gotta lay off the sci-fi!"

Now, you and I know the reference: Dune, by Frank Herbert. And I have to
confess I was falling asleep at that point, but The Hub's cackling at that
woke me up, and he had to rewind (or whatever the TiVo version is) so I could
hear the joke too. I laughed -- but I wondered the next morning how many of
the show's viewers did get it. And what it means when a cooking show slips in
a science fiction reference. There had to be an assumption when that
episode was being written that enough of the viewers would know the reference; the source had to be famous enough that enough people would get it.

Until that point, I would have assumed that the only science fiction works
with enough notoreity would have been Star Trek, Star Wars, even Battlestar
Galactica, and those specifically because they were visual media oriented
(ie, TV or movies). And I guess Dune now, because there have been enough movie and TV adaptations of the series that it's worked its way into the memories of the average viewership. (Or Good Eats has a viewership that skews that way, which is possible, considering how many people I know who have talked about the show.) (But have you SEEN those adaptations of Dune? The best you can really say is that the David Lynch motion picture introduced a very young Kyle MacLachlan as Paul Atreides, and the Sci-Fi version ... uh, I can't remember what we can say about that one. And the third version ... I could have sworn there was a third one. Anyway.)

The point I want to make (and yes, I do mean to make one, no matter how convoluted) is that science fiction is everywhere. Like romance, it may be a genre that doesn't necessarily get a lot of respect, but no matter what, it is part of our society. Everyone knows Mr. Spock (especially, these days, as played by Zachary Quinto); everyone knows James Tiberius Kirk (the original and/or the update); and the Force is always with us, no matter how horribly George Lucas tries to mangle his own work. (Who here liked Star Wars parts 1, 2, and 3? Anybody? Anybody?) And who would have thought that Frank Herbert's work would be referenced in a cooking show, of all places?!

Science fiction is everywhere. It's part of our lives. Like romance, as
long as we can look up at the sky and wonder what's up there, it will be with

Eilis Flynn
ECHOES OF PASSION, on sale on July 2, 2009
INTRODUCING SONIKA, on sale now at CerridwenPress.com
http://www.eilisflynn.com/, eilisflynn.blogspot.com, www.myspace.com/eilisflynn


LLRosser said...

I ran across a reference to "Groking" one time that was completely unexpected.

EilisFlynn said...

Talk about a term that's been around for a while! Okay, who remembers those "I Grok Spock" from the 1960s?!

Barbara Monajem said...

I've read some SciFi, and lately I've become a huge fan of Linnea Sinclair, but believe it or not I've never read Dune. Big gap in my SciFi education!!

Thanks for an entertaining blog and a much-needed reading reminder.

LLRosser said...

Actually, it was Heinlein who used the word first in one of his books...about a boy/man who grew up on Mars...and for the life of me I cannot remember the title.

Barbara Monajem said...

Stranger in a Strange Land? (See, I have read SOME older SciFi!)

EilisFlynn said...

Stranger in a Strange Land is where "grok" comes from. I made the mistake of reading it when I had the flu in college and you can imagine the weird dreams I had with the book combined with the sudafed!

Jeffe Kennedy said...

Interesting and thoughtful post, Eilis -- thanks!