Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
h a l f b a k e r y
Flaky rehab

idea: add, search, annotate, link, view, overview, recent, by name, random

meta: news, help, about, links, report a problem

account: browse anonymously, or get an account and write.



Planet of the Metaphysical Mess

The poor visiting humans spend many episodes trying to figure out what is going on in an alien culture.
  [vote for,

Science fiction authors often start with a very wild premise, and then try to logically work through the consequences of the premise. That's "deduction", and the author writes those consequences into the story. The reader, encountering those consequences over the course of the story, tries to figure out the premise ("induction", rather more difficult). This game between SF authors and readers has been going on since the 1940s or so.

We can now imagine a TV series that capitalizes on that "game", showing us a small crew of human explorers visiting some alien planet, and the aliens are behaving in ways that seem nonsensical, because everything seems to be legal, including murders, rapes, theft, and so on. Each episode might cover one aspect of the nonsense, and when the series ends, the humans have finally figured out why the apparent nonsense actually makes sense.

For these aliens, one of the keys to the nonsense is metaphysical in nature; they have ways of communicating with THEIR dead (referenced as "Ancestors"). Likely they will be shocked to discover humans can't do that. It is important to the structure of the series that the humans not find out about this alien capability for several episodes after the show starts --and a couple episodes might go by after that, in which the humans are trying to convince themselves their discovery is true!

One of the consequences of accepting that discovery, of course, will be human curiosity about dead humans. The aliens can't answer that unless some human is willing to die, of course. There might be more than one episode about this. Anyway, if a death happens (probably unwillingly, so common are deaths in TV shows, although here we have to be careful since the crew of human visitors is small), the result can still be rather unenlightening, as far as the goal of the series is concerned. The aliens could say something like, "Well, the Ancestors told us that the human soul didn't stick around, and likely zipped back to your home planet. This is OUR world, remember?"

The next key directly relates to the first. If you could contact a human Ancestor, and that entity stated it was planning on incarnating into a new human body, would you believe in reincarnation? Well, the aliens don't know anything at all about whether human souls reincarnate or not, but they certainly believe it happens on THEIR world! Not necessarily all the time, though. One metaphysical notion I've never seen explored might be called "soul reproduction". God is NOT involved in this TV series, but we can imagine the alien souls interacting in such a way as to make more souls. Many births on the alien world would be associated with the "new" souls. And even when a reincarnation happens, the soul doesn't remember What Has Gone Before, basically making it equal to a new soul.

Now we can imagine some episodes in which a female member of the human crew has become pregnant --will the baby have a human soul or an alien soul (because all the human souls are back at Earth)? For the purposes of the TV show, it might be best if the outcome is left in doubt -- remember that SF has a purpose of getting people to THINK, more than it is about saying, "this is the truth". Also, remember that human pregnancies take 9 months to complete, and we can't expect the series to cover that much time. A miscarriage might be the simplest all-around thing for the TV show to do, here.

So, what IS going in the alien culture, that allows murders, rapes, etc? Well, consider the world from the viewpoint of the Ancestors. It is a playground! Souls are immortal and can't be harmed by any physical thing, see? So, the Ancestors are essentially playing a game. Any of them can incarnate into the world, and make up any rules at all, for interacting with others in the physical world. Game-points are scored or lost not by the rules someone chose, nor by, say, how rich one got, but by how well the person abided by his or her own rules. For example, if someone had a Rule that it was perfectly OK to randomly maim other persons, then if that person happens to become randomly maimed, and complains about it, then that person loses game points.


Vernon, Sep 11 2014


       I could imagine John Travolta wanting to direct and star in it. Not that that's a good thing...
RayfordSteele, Sep 11 2014

       Have you been playing EVE by any chance.
Skewed, Sep 11 2014

       I've been doing some ADAMS modeling, does that count?
RayfordSteele, Sep 11 2014

       [Vernon], have you self-bunned again?
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 11 2014

       [Skewed], no, I've never played EVE, nor studied it.   

       [MaxwellBuchanan], I've never handed out any buns or any fishbones to anyone, including me. The main reason is, if I started, I would feel obliged to read every Idea and vote on it --and I don't have that much free time.
Vernon, Sep 12 2014

       'You'll have to hurry. It's almost The Red Hour'.
DrBob, Sep 12 2014

       Sadly, what you defined as an alien culture is not SF anymore. Even more sadly, people "understanding it" and "accepting it" is the case today for many non SF readers and SF readers alike.
pashute, Sep 14 2014


back: main index

business  computer  culture  fashion  food  halfbakery  home  other  product  public  science  sport  vehicle