Please, Hollywood, hire a science fiction writer

So I don’t much want to indulge in criticism (see 30 March 2012), but I have to make an exception to gripe about Hollywood.  Because I saw Prometheus.

Oh (visually) beautiful film with stunning sets!  Oh cast of fantastic, compelling actors!  Oh beauteous score, and sound, and lighting, and models!  How could you be so lost, so hopelessly muddled?

Oh family tree of alien creatures, are you the white trash of the galaxy?  Is that two-meter-tall facehugger really the child of the little tiny worms, who are uncles to the big Egyptian worms, who are related to the human-zombie, which is brother to the bipedal alien that — oh, I give up.  The Teletubbies have a more realistic biological history.

“My family tree is shaped like a knot, I eat air, and I love biology THIS much.”

Please, Hollywood, when you make a science fiction movie, hire a science fiction writer.  Hire Nancy Kress or Gregory Benford.  Hire Alastair Reynolds or Robert J. Sawyer.  Or just open up Analog, find a story you like, and hire that writer.  You’ll be embarrassed by how cheap it’ll be.  We’d work for what you would consider latte money.  Your accountants won’t believe you when you give them the receipts (“Seriously, you can’t have paid them in pizza.”).  We’ll sign contracts that teenage punk bands would reject.  And you can put the credit down at the bottom of the scroll, while the unused music plays, there, below the seven hundred names of the Korean animators.  “Science Fiction Boy/Girl,” you can call it, in teeny tiny type.

You won’t even have to learn her name.  Just point at the earnest, unfashionably-dressed stranger in your waiting room and shout, “Hey, you, science fiction girl, science up this script!”

I know what you’re thinking:  No one cares.  My ridiculous wrecks make money.  Nananananah.  But really, making things more plausible surely couldn’t make you less money, right?  So what’s the harm?  And maybe it really does matter to the bottom line.  Alien, with all its improbabilities, surely endures and became a franchise and still makes money in part because it has some coherence.  In the end, getting the SF right could be the thing that distinguishes a money-making long tail, from the instantly-forgotten films that flutter through our multiplexes with the lifespan of a ghost moth.

Please, Hollywood.  I’m begging you.  Do it for the children.


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