2014-03-23

BSinSF - Superhero nonsense

* * * S P O I L E R  A L E R T  * * *
The Man of Steel

I just finished watching The Man of Steel. Unlike the other Superman remakes, this one focused more on his alien origins. There were cool spaceships and advanced technology and a whole lot of really bad science. Of course I enjoyed the movie. I'm a sucker for scifi action flicks and I usually put my higher cognitive functions on hold while watching the show. But afterward my brain kicks back in and complains.

I would like to discuss two very big complaints that's common in many science fiction movies. The first involves energy supply. Kryptonians exposed to Earth's atmosphere suddenly develop the ability to shoot incredibly power beams of energy from their eyes. Where does the power for this come from? The can manipulate gravity and are capable of multi-mach flight. Again, this is an energy-intensive operation. The fight scene at the end of the movie uses up more energy than an operating nuclear power plant!

The point here is that you must always consider the energy required to perform an action. If your ship has a planet-killer weapon (aka Death Star) you'd better have a viable power source and you should have at least a ball-park idea as to how much energy is required. It's okay to exaggerate a little but don't go overboard.

Damage assessment was another major flaw in the movie. Superman gets spun around and then flung into a building. He crashed through it, and another, and another, etc. He appears to be hurt but not only is his suit unharmed, but he has nary a scratch on him. His enemy flings a locomotive at him which flies across multiple city blocks before crashing down on him. Again, not a single scratch. This is against all the laws of physics. I would love to have seen them maintain the alien aspect of superman and at least try to keep the science at least within an order of magnitude within reality.

Ironman was another movie that defied the damage assessment rule. Stark is a normal human with human frailty. I don't care how good of a suit you build, if you hit a building hard enough to go through the wall the impact is going to turn the human body inside the suit into mush. Kinetic energy is unforgiving. It also can't be created out of nowhere like in Star Trek. Why does the Enterprise shake like it has been hit by a solid object when an energy bolt strikes the shield? There's not enough kinetic energy in an energy beam to shake a multi-thousand ton ship! Don't fall into this trap when you write science fiction.

For a good laugh and some useful insight into just how bad the physics are in movies please visit http://www.intuitor.com/moviephysics/ for an eye-opening experience. The sad part about this is that most people don't even know they're being misled. Spaceships do not fly like airplanes; there's no sound in space; energy beams cannot be stopped by a transparent shield; energy is not unlimited.

Enough of the rantings for the day. Peacekeeper is now at 35,677 words. The story is moving along nicely but there will be a lot of editing to do later on. I've also been toying with an idea for a YA novel in my head. I did some research into what actually constitutes a YA novel and I think I can do this. It might be my next project.

Finally, I will be attending a local writer's conference on March 29 at Lakeland Community College. I have no plans to attend any cons this year.