Beyond the Realm of the Fantastic

Today is going to be one of those usual days for me, one where I get out of the house and actually do something besides sit and stare at a computer screen.  Not that there’s anything wrong with the later, but there are times when you want to immerse you mind in something else besides cat pictures, bad memes, and your own word smithing.

Today I’ll be down to the movie theater watching Pacific Rim, which my daughter and I have wanted to see since long before it appeared.  One hundred and ten minutes of monsters, the extraordinarily huge Kaiju, slugging it out with mecha, the tremendous Jagers.  It’s the sort of flick that appeals to the ten year old in me that wants to see incredible things happen–

Even when I know it’s all pure BS.

A while back I wrote a couple of articles for another website.  The first one was about powered armor, and the followup was about mecha.  Both were pretty well received, though there was a comment on the second article from someone who had taken exception with some of the things I’d said–like, “You know, really big mecha are impossible.”  This led said commenter to explain that I, like so many others, was wrong, the cube-square law didn’t work when something was really big, and he hates having to explain this to people; in fact, to do so makes him violently upset . . .

Sounds like a personal problem to me.

I know mecha eighty-five meters tall are pretty much stretching the limits of the possible.  Mad Art Lab covered the science points in far more detail than I could, and over on the Scientific American site, Kyle Hill writes about Jager Punches and Deep Sea Bombing.  While they might make some kick-ass drinks (“I’ll have a Jager Punch, straight up.”), the science is way wonky.

But I’m not going for a science lesson.  I’m going so I can watch Kaiju get their butts beat by a tiny Japanese woman in big freakin’ mecha.

I write some science fiction, and I love to play with things like space flight and time travel.  I try to keep things “in the real” as much as possible, but there are times when I know what I’m doing will require someone to suspend disbelief quite a lot.  Never as much as what passed for “reality” in the movie Armageddon or The Core, but I do have my moments where I think, “Yeah, probably never happen, but what the hell.”  I know when Arthur Clarke wrote Rendezvous With Rama and Earthlight, he knew the “reactionless drive” was pure handwavium, but he was writing a story and needed something incredible–ergo, something fantastic that can’t ever happen.  Though in the case of Rama, we don’t really want to say that aliens were responsible for the reactionless drive, but . . . aliens.

Writers of fiction write things that aren’t real.  We make things up in our head and put then down on a medium so they’ll exist in a form that others can enjoy.  While we can stay “in the real” as much as possible, in the end we’re gonna talk about stuff that just isn’t real.  And sometimes that’s going to involve things that are so far beyond real as to be impossible.

If you go for the fantastic, at least make it awesomely butt kicking.  ‘Cause people love watching a monster get its butt kicked.