SCI 215SC – Film/Novel Critique
In this assignment, you will identify and critique the use of science in a popular science fiction film or novel. The critique will comment on whether the science is correct or incorrect, using references to popular books on the subject, the Kaku text, or other popular science readings focused on analyzing Hollywood science. You can also use your instructor as a knowledgeable resource to determine if your choice of science fiction work will help you complete the assignment. Any science fiction work may be used except for The Naked Sun by Asimov.
The paper should be approximately 600 words in length, so you should narrow your focus to one or two instances of science being used correctly or incorrectly in the work. Make sure you address the following in your review:
- Provide brief context: Identify and describe a scene in the film or a passage in the text where the science concept you identify becomes an important plot device.
- Provide background: Identify what we know about the scientific concept today. Explain this concept as if you are describing the phenomena to a neighbor.
- Evaluate the use of science: How does the work take liberty with bending science or use correct science in the situation to move the plot along?
Moreover, make sure to:
- Write using correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
- Construct and organize ideas into paragraphs.
- Use correct citations for all sources used in your analysis according to a style guide (MLA or
APA), and reference these citations at the end of the paper.
One of these sources should be the film/text itself, one should be a primary source used to explain the science concept, and at least one additional source should be used, which may include a credible article found on the Internet about the science in the film or novel.
Examples of primary sources, accessible from the library in eBook format, available to assist with identifying the use of science in film:
- Kaku, M. (2008). Physics of the Impossible (the required text for this course)
- Perkowitz, S (2007). Hollywood Science: Movies, Science, and the End of the World
- Krauss, L. (1995). Physics of Star Trek
In addition, many websites comment on the science contained in popular science fiction films. Please be careful about evaluating the credibility of these sites. It is best to corroborate descriptions of scientific phenomena with multiple sources to gain confidence in the proposed explanations. For websites that tend to do a better job with the science, visit http://www.io9.com and http://www.io9.com/science.
A second option is to review a work appearing on lists of the least accurate science fiction novels or films. The Popular Mechanics article “The 10 Most (and Least) Accurate Sci-Fi Movies” is a good resource for this information.
Using Google to search the web will also help find sites describing the science in science fiction works. If your search begins with the phrase “Science of [Insert name of work]” you will usually find a few sites that will critique the work according to how well the science is portrayed in the film or novel.
Start with one of the books above (Hollywood Science or Physics of the Impossible) and read about an instance in which science is stretched in a science fiction film or novel. Then, view or read the movie or book to understand the context so you can frame the science concept to be explored within the plot or actions.
Remember, this critique is not meant to see if you can identify all aspects of the misuse of science in a science fiction work. You should aim to identify one or two missteps and do a great job in reporting why the universe doesn’t operate the way it is presented in the science fiction work.