On fictional universes and the fans who rationalize them.

As a writer/editor at the American Council on Science and Health, I often criticize "crank" scientists who cling to a faltering theory long after it has become plain to all sane observers that the pet idea just doesn't hold together logically. They are pathetic, quixotic figures.

We science fiction fans are not so different, though, when we struggle to rationalize away the contradictions in our favorite fictional universes.

The fictional universes depicted in movies like the Star Wars or Star Trek series tend to get very complex (for beginners: the former features Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, the latter Captain Kirk, the Enterprise, and a loyal crew made up of people like engineer Scotty; if you get them mixed up, you are worthless). That complexity means that--inevitably--the occasional "continuity error" occurs. In normal movie parlance, a continuity error means one of those embarrassing moments when, say, the bandage on an actor moves from the right hand to the left hand between scenes due to a mistake by the makeup department. For science fiction fans, though, continuity refers to the overall logical and historical coherence of our beloved fictional universes.

Metaphilm - Star Wars


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