Wednesday assorted links

Comments

Link #1: waste of time. Author doesn't value brevity.

His half-hearted defense of the prequels signals his preference for the player that struts and frets for hours at a time, in the end saying very little.

the soreso and djem so references indicate the review is only relevant for a certain subset of fans

So much ink (ok, electrons) spilled over a kid's movie.

Re: Star Wars fan service. Star Wars has millions of fans, perhaps servicing them is not a bad thing?

Agreed. Get to the freaking point! I'm not going to read all that just to get the main points.

"Author doesn't value brevity." Nor does he bother to write well.

#5 Quatermass

Ah, our "Five Million Years to Earth" was a Quartermass movie. Weird flick.

Was that the basis for the Spiecies movies? (Never heard of this one so looked it up and found The Quartermas Experiemen)

Had to stop reading #1, one of the worst reviews I've ever read. Grasping at straws in the face of overwhelming critical approval?

Everyone criticizing The Force Awakens for being a formulaic rehash of the original forgets that was Lucas' point with the original. The entire plot of Star Wars '77 is directly lifted from Joseph Campbell's Hero, which in turn found the same basic plot structure spanning thousands of epics. Star Wars proves that an artistic work is much more likely to resonate when it sticks to tried-and-true story structures. Innovation in plot structure is mostly over-invested. It's better to channel originality into novel characters and setting.

Have you seen the movie? It is a scene by scene copy. I don't expect innovation in plot structure but seriously a fucking death star just appears out of nowhere halfway through the film, apropos of nothing, so it can be blown up in an identical way as the first two? Every single movie has to end with a death star being blown up??

There is no way 4+6+7 should all have the exact same climactic space battle. It's amazing that such Star Wars could establish such a clever alternate universe, but then rehashes the same plot over and over again.

The Force Awakens is better than the the prequels, but to his credit at least Lucas tried to go in a different direction.

It wouldn't have bothered me if the new movie had the same plot as the original Star Wars.

But, this one felt like fan fiction. It seemed more like a collection of scenes of people doing Star Wars-ey things than a coherent story. Original characters showed up and did their schtick, but (in most cases) seemingly written by someone who doesn't understand _why_ that's there schtick, only _what_ their schtick looks like: Han Solo comes across as the kind of guy who thinks he's a scoundrel but is really more of a Dad Joke type. C3P0 delivers the lines of a Straight Man, but without a partner and without timing. I'm honestly surprised Admiral Akbar didn't get an "It's a trap!" in somehow.

Also, so many references to the original films were thrown in just to shout "Look at me! Remember this scene?" I love references and easter eggs, but they shouldn't get in the way of the story. Most of the complaints my wife (who saw the originals once or twice and enjoyed them, but isn't a fan) disliked about The Force Awakens were references to previous movies that she didn't recognize. Her first comment was how they wasted so much time on the First Order spy at the cantina instead of developing the plot because it was so unnecessary. It wasn't until I explained that it mirrored a scene in A New Hope that it made sense to her.

Finally, I don't know if this is bad writing or just a function of trying to fit too much story into too little time, but I don't think the movie flowed well and scenes didn't transition smoothly. It seemed to be composed of a series of "We need to do this" and "We're doing this, what's next?" scenes. The worst offender being the denouement. They did a good job of pacing action verses non action, but horribly on pacing plot verses storytelling (because they didn't provide a world in which the plot lived, or reference points to understand plot events.) To me, it came across as amateurish writing, the way fan fiction relies on the world of the original story instead of building something new. But even in an established universe, you've got to explain to your audience how your story fits into _this part of it_.

Overall, it felt like fan fiction. It felt like someone said "wouldn't it be cool if..." to the right person and got $200 million to put their day dreams on the silver screen.

I think the movie was overrated critically. But their consensus is more right than that review.

The reviewer made a couple good points (the Force Awakens does have some glaring plot holes that anybody with a brain noticed when watching the movie), but the more I read this guys review, the more BS he spouted trying to sound cultured. Then I realized he was an utter fool when he said that the best lightsaber battle in the whole series was Obi-Wan vs. Anakin in Revenge of the Sith. Feh.

5. No love for "Minority Report?"

http://www.esquire.com/entertainment/movies/a30140/minority-report-tech-is-real-now/

The problem is that the central conceit hasn't come to pass and never will.

One thing I love about MR (Minority Report) is that they show the obnoxious use of technology: talking cereal boxes that won't shut up, selfie drones, universal surveillance.

I agree- I think Minority Report is becoming more and more relevant. Is it appropriate to intercept a would be terrorist trying to fly to Syria that has not harmed anybody? I would say it depends on the context, but the movie certainly has some interesting things to say on the topic.

Minority Report has been underrated since its release.

+1

The Facebook analytics / Big Data stories (we can tell if you're depressed by reviewing your posts in aggregate) is just the first step. If we can programatically detect that a disaffected teen is moving from metal to goth to jihadist sites, then views tickets from Peoria to Istanbul, should we just go ahead and arrest him right away?

http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2015/12/22/459954667/i-asked-a-computer-to-be-my-life-coach

That doesn't tell you anything we didn't already know by measuring the size of bumps on your skull.

#1...A number of people who didn't like the final duel seem to forget that Ren took a direct from that ugly weapon Chewbacca was using. He's hardly going to be flying around like Darth Maul.

Plus Kylo's lightsaber is shoddy at best. The exhaust beams on the bottom, the turbulent beam, the lack of any real knowledge of Jedi engineering. Rey was using Anakin's original saber, constructed in the Jedi Temple at the pinnacle of the Republic. It's pretty clear that Kylo's at a massive equipment disadvantage that at the very least cancels out his leg-up on training.

That's a hand wave. Even despite force sensitivity, Rey should be little better at saber-fighting than Finn...who got his butt kicked handily and in short order.

Here's a shorter summary: Rey flies the Millennium Falcon better than Han Solo. She fixes the Millennium Falcon better than Han Solo. She's a Mary Sue.

Considering that it's established earlier that Rey is quite capable at stick fighting, and how unlikely Stormtroopers are to receive such training, Ray *should* be better. I know, it's not quite the same weapon though...

However, the main reason Kylo Ren fights like a child is because that's pretty much what he is, a big manchild who never left adolescence. He turned dark during his training, so he wouldn't have completed it, and we're not given any fight between him and a competent Jedi (perhaps a Luke/Ben fight scene?) to establish how capable he is. Considering he mainly uses his lightsaber to trash his room...

I agree. Kylo is a whiny man-child, which is exactly what he's intended to be.

However, he should still be one of the most powerful force users in the galaxy, which is why he can freeze a laser bolt in mid-air. He should not rival a master in saber-fighting, but he should have martial training, since he leads the Knights of Ren, which clearly specializes in close quarter arms.

To A Definite Beta Guy...For what it's worth, I think Kylo Ren has a plan to defeat the First Order by himself. In the long, silent, interchange between himself and Han, Kylo explains his plan to Han mentally and explains why he needs to kill him for it to work ( Kylo had earlier signaled he knew Han Solo was there, and he directs the troopers to take the wrong direction, up, while he goes down, ignoring Han. He only responds when Han hails him and comes towards him). That's why he thanks him.

Perhaps that is true. I wouldn't hold my breath for that one, though. JJ Abrams said in interviews that this series would be about the rise of a villain as much as the rise of a hero.

@Donald Petrari:

So it's like Snape killing Dumbledore?

That TR-8R fellow had his counter-lightsaber spinning whappity weapon and used it skillfully against Finn instead of just blasting him. It's kind of like the First Order troops have been training on something akin to sword-fighting with these energy weapons. What other purpose do they serve?

Blasting someone with a lightsaber is stupid, even if they aren't a Jedi, because they might just blast the blaster beam back at you.

That stormtrooper was a melee fighter; if you watch closely you can see him toss down a shield before he whips out his electrostaff.

Rey has spent her life salvaging star ships, and in general Rey has more background to do the things she did in this movie than Luke did in his. Perhaps they are both a Mary Sue, but I think the issue in this series has always been the expanding power of the force to bind all things together, particularly necessary plot points.

This "Mary sue" trope is a misreading of the entire series. Anakin was the best pilot anyone ever saw. Anakin was a super genius engineer building droids in his spare time as a 10 year old slave, Anakin was openly refered to as the chosen one. Kylo Ren is obsessed with achieving Anakis's level of power. and suddenly an unknown girl shows up with and she's got all of Anakin's powers, plus better acting and a Britsh accent.

What do you expect from a movie called "the force awakens": a series of realistic training montages, or the shocking discovery that the Jedi Messiah who balances the Force with magical powers is a girl?

1. Anakin is quite possibly the most flawed story of the entire series, which makes him anything but a Mary Sue. He murdered children. He's Darth Vader.
2. The Phantom Menace sucked and the 10 year old actor earned quite a lot of derision: the same Rey should receive, but does not.
3. 10 year old Anakin Skywalker did not beat Darth Maul and 16 year old whiny Anakin did not beat Count Dooku. Only Almost-Master Skywalker bested Dooku after years of training under Obi-Wan, plus his natural skill.
4. Training Scene? Like this one? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X69NCLxwLEY

Geez we get the picture. I hope you don't have any daughters.

Considering Luke Skywalker's experiences, what possible motivation could he have to teach any of his students how to use a lightsabre? He would have to be quite the thickie to decide to teach any "force sensitive" person how to kill people. If anger and hatred lead to the Dark Side then his students' entire combat training should consist of (1) using their psychic powers to enhance diplomacy to avoid the need to fight in the first place, and (2) when that fails, running away really fast. If you have people with psychic powers who are likely to go off the deep end if exposed to too much stress, then combat is definitely not a situation you want to expose them to.

It is quite possible that Luke Skywalker will refuse the lightsabre offered to him at the end of the last movie, having finally learned his lesson and gone the full pacifist. No idea if they will actually go that route though.

Thinking along those lines... it seems that it would make sense to make anger management the first thing a potential Jedi learns, and if they can't control their temper, they don't get to move on to learning anything else.

That Kylo Ren failed the first part would then suggest that he's never been trained in either using the Force or lightsaber combat by Luke, and it's doubtful Snoke would give him any serious training, given the whole "Apprentice kills Master" thing the Sith have going (assuming Snoke is actually Sith). He's got the raw power, but that doesn't mean he can use it well.

Anger isn't the root problem. Fear leads to anger.

Now that would be an interesting development and would explain quite a lot!

That's the sort of thing that would never fit into a JJ Abrams-designed, safe-reboot of Star Wars, though.

Re #1: What is a reasonable standard for this movie? JJ was explicit about making an accessible movie for non-fans and children. The movie wasn't great. Yet it achieved the goals I mentioned. IMO, asking for something deeper is ridiculous. Go cook dinner, read a book, or get some good watching on Netflix, Amazon, etc.

The more interesting question is what kinds of stories are better on the big screen now that we can stream movies and binge watch television shows. I think of the movie as a short miniseries with 2-hour episodes.

I enjoyed the movie. Would have sat in the theatre and watched it again if my wife would have let me. I'll take the choreography in that last duel over the lava jumping buffoonery in episode III any day.

Draw everyone back in with a remake of episode IV and then branch off from there is a perfectly good strategy. I think a 6 movie Heir to the Empire money grab based on the Zhan books would have been a huge disappointment.

The dialogue was so bad in 1-3 it really overshadowed everything else. Turd in a punch bowl.

"The movie wasn’t great. Yet it achieved the goals I mentioned."
This is all it takes to get a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes?

I do think the film is critically overrated (for adults anyway). But the blowback is almost worse. Waste of calories to have strong feelings about it.

But student, isn't it also a waste of calories to criticize the block against this field. Seriously, I could have written the first sentence of the review "I went into the theater not expecting much and I was still disappointed.", and it may be feel good to read other people sharing this experience.

My waste is probably less. Took a minute to comment. I'm meh about the whole thing. If it were my kid who was mad about it, I'd tell him he needed to find something useful to do.

"direct hit"

#4 - "Indeed the majority of the world’s banking crises . . . come from traditional lending especially against real estate. Making banks safer means reducing their dependence on traditional lending activities . . ."

Not so fast. Among bank crises causes were nontraditional lending and "unsafe and unsound" underwriting/lending. Huge amounts of loans were underwritten to be sold - not bank traditional lending. Many lending decisions were made solely on skyrocketing appraisal values with the other four precepts of sound credit underwriting largely ignored. Many RE loans were subprime at inception (FNMA/FHLMC would purchase); made at teaser interest rates (not underwritten at market rates); negative amortization (failure to enforce loan repayment agreements/programs is an "unsafe and unsound" banking practice, ALT-A loans; etc.

Sadly, the Fed's bank examination staff (credit rating agencies, external auditors, SEC, etc.) missed it all. Banking crises may be avoidable and there would have been no recession and the Fed wouldn't have to resort to QE's, zero rates, etc.

"I think there is a good case to be made that capital requirements should be further increased . . . "

Old adage: FDIC means "forever demanding increased capital." Banks need to be profitable and investors look for returns on investments. Banks' increase capital through retained earnings. No investor place money in the capital instruments of a problem bank. Strong earnings tend to be attractive for additional capital sales, if needed. At what level of high capital does the return on equity suffer and hinder capital formation? If it suffers would management feel the need to chase yield and accept higher risks?

Summers like most misrepresent: LBO's and large scale commercial real estate construction loans have gotten banks in trouble, but where is the evidence that loans to small biz for primarily working capital needs should be indicted?

Truth. LBO/highly-leveraged transaction (HLT) loans at systemically important financial institutions (SIFI's) represent higher delinquency rates and loss potential. These are not traditional, commercial bank loans, and the underwriting is predicated on the high stock price and assumptions, estimates and forecasts (notably NOI) from the buy-out deal, which may or may not bear out in the future operations or market developments.

Annually, the Federal banking agencies jointly review large, syndicated loans, mainly at SIFI's, in the Shared National Credit (SNC) program. In recent reviews, HLT loans are over-represented in problem loans statistics.

Smaller commercial and industrial loans are preferable to larger deals b/c the higher number of loans tends to diversify and spread out the risks. A primary concept in financial management/loss mitigation is risk diversification.

In any case, unsatisfactory loan underwriting, loan administration, and/or loan servicing are causes of excessive loan losses in any type or level of lending.

ooh, #5 is good. I'll give a two-part answer:

1. Saturn's Children. Why: Stross paints the most realistic picture of what's required for humans to colonize space: to become not-humans. He gets the physics right. Ain't gonna happen, people.

2. Anathem. Why: the long-view of history taken by the devout. Civilizations will continue to rise & fall, people will continue to be ruled by religious idiots. People will have more gadgets and less gadgets. The past two thousand years will stretch to ten-thousand. Same shit, different millennia.

*Avout.

I wouldn't call Anathem "prescient" in the sense of predicting something important about the future. Instead, Stephenson hits on big themes that are relevant to us now but don't get a lot of attention. The best example in Anathem is the choices about what technology we adopt into our lives. (Same theme was touched on in the 3rd act of Seveneves with "amistics".)

An actually "prescient" sci-fi story on that theme is "The Machine Stops" by E.M. Forster, which you can read online in about 2 hours right now, for free. It was written in 1910 and predicts much about social media and the internet of things.

A big thumbs up to "The Machine Stops". It was indeed prescient, decades before Bradbury wrote _Fahrenheit 451_. Forster also drew IMO the correct conclusions from that future lifestyle, namely a need to remember that "man is the measure" and that we should all get outside and walk more. And most remarkably of all AFAIK Forster was not a science fiction writer, but he wrote one of the all-time best and most prescient science fiction short stories. A highly remarkable achievement.

5. What a load of politically correct left-wing claptrap from the commenters. I could say that the recent episodes at Yale and other campuses (of which Tyler knows nothing) remind me of the Two Minute Hate, but the interesting thing actually is that none of the science fiction written before 1980 (the Golden Age and then some) seems particularly prescient at all. Technology has developed in completely different directions (many 1950s stories had characters navigating spaceships while using slide rules). Society has become more sexually libertarian, as some predicted, but (i) old forms have mostly continued, e.g. there is more divorce and illegitimacy, but there are no recognized plural marriages, very few communal living arrangements, etc. and (ii) there has been no evident increase in human happiness on this score. Society has become more unequal, but the forms of liberal democracy continue, and the poor are surely not worse off materially than they were 60 years ago.

Did any sci-fi book predict the regressive left/SJWs? I feel we have been blindsided...

Heinlein's Forever War has the government encouraging everyone to be gay. How close is that?

Blasphemy!

Joe Hadleman's Forever War

Yeah I remember that bit of the Forever War. Still, it's not quite the same idea. People were encouraged to be gay as a way of controlling population growth in that book. The SJW/regressive left problem doesn't stem from any pragmatic concern. It's all about signalling.

ARHG!

In my defense, I started with Heinlein's "Number of the Beast" and changed it to "Forever War" but never changed the author. :(

#3: The pictures shown are not even 500 books. They take a hell of a lot more room than most people seem to think (especially in large formats like trade/hardback, which most of those were). As a book lover it's a romantic notion, but it'd be nice if people could count.

The Space Merchants remains fairly prescient in a world where the presence of marketing in all aspects of public life seems inescapable.

I thought of that, but (i) if anything, we have moved away from tasteless food, (ii) apart from AGW, where opinions differ, the natural environment is mostly less degraded than it was 50 years ago, and (iii) we don't have a heavily-regulated and coerced labor force, featuring indentured labor, tattooed social security numbers, etc. The most regulated societies, in western Europe, also have very generous welfare states.

'if anything, we have moved away from tasteless food'

Good point.

'apart from AGW, where opinions differ, the natural environment is mostly less degraded than it was 50 years ago'

Massive deforestation continues apace while fishing stocks are not in better shape than 50 years ago - it is a toss up, to be honest. And China suffers from massive environmental degradation at this point, much due to the pursuit of profit through the creation of the sort of worthless goods that marketers are required to sell.

'we don’t have a heavily-regulated and coerced labor force'

Tell that to a typical Chinese worker.

'tattooed social security numbers'

True, but in the U.S., essentially anyone who has received a driver's license at the age of 16 in the last couple of decades has been fingerprinted, and the practice has become commonplace. Though regional, this article gives an idea of how that works - 'In a surprise move late Friday afternoon, the Texas Department of Public Safety reversed its position and promised to stop the practice it quietly began a year ago.

The fingerprinting ends as quietly as it began. DPS rolled out the program in January 2014 without any public announcement. Even driver’s license applications didn’t mention the requirement.

What did this mean? For the first time, Texans never suspected of a crime were required to submit their full fingerprints to the government.

Nobody noticed until June when The Dallas Morning News Dave Lieber Watchdog column broke the story here.

In its Friday afternoon news alert, the agency stated that it would stop taking full sets of fingerprints from Texans who apply for a driver’s license or a state identification card.

DPS will return to the old standard – a single index finger.' http://thescoopblog.dallasnews.com/2015/02/texas-dps-stops-collecting-fingerprints-drivers-license-applicants.html/

'The most regulated societies, in western Europe, also have very generous welfare states.'

One could at least discuss the point about 'most regulated' - America looks profoundly regulated from a European viewpoint - but the welfare state point is considerably harder to dismiss. Let's just say the question of whether a regulated state providing for all citizens or a social-darwinist state where profit rules will become the dominant social model is quite open, particularly in regard to Asia.

5. Idiocracy

Two thumbs up.

But...Flynn effect?

If everyone's IQ moves up 5 points that lifts the global mean, but if your society replaces 110 IQ people with 90 IQ people, the local effect is Idiocracy.

Yeah, but the premise of Idiocracy was a global increase in the % of the population that is sub-100. To near 100%. If the effect is only local then less of a concern. Also- isn't the Flynn effect also documented locally? That is, the local mean is increasing? If that's the case, and if 110 folks are being replace by 90 folks, then either the top tiers are considerably more intelligent than they used to be or the % of top-tier folks is increasing.

Hillary has a plan. Close all of the schools that are below average.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3372232

Objective measures say otherwise, but doom and gloom and wanting the kids off your lawn now comes with a thin veneer of scientism.

I think som eof Asamov's work related to communication techngy and how interpersonal relationships change might be a good candidate. Herbert's Dune searios also seem like it might deserve a place on the list.

While not quite there yet I think we're getting closer and closer but Brin's Uplift series may earns something of a place in 20 years or so.

Dune? What did he get right? A resurgence of feudalism? Drugs that enable you to see through time and live much longer? Human beings adapted to zero-G life? Faster than Light travel? Shields that stop bullets?

The only thing I think he had going for him is that he successfully predicted:

1. The Islamic take over of the West,
2. The on-going popularity of drugs
3. The fact that politics is to some degree run by a secretive cabal of old crones.

Which is to say, not much.

#1: At what point will Tyler -- who heaped relentless praise on the most recent Tranformers movie -- lay off the Force Awakens? I think this is post #7 criticizing the film. Just curious when we'll be done hearing tirades against a picture that was well received by 94% of critics and 91% of audiences. It's all starting to sound pretty shrill and contrarian.

Did you see the movie?

It was a well done mindless blockbuster. The linked review gets more right than wrong. There was basically zero character development. You have to suspend disbelief for Ren to be so well-matched against a former Storm Trooper with no battle experience wielding a light saber and then for the new heroine to have total power without any training springing ex nihilo off the screen.

Some people will enjoy it for what it is. At some level I did. But it's basically a rehash with constant nods to past films, with no depth introduced to new characters. No conflict for those characters. So it's a weak rehash at best.

All that said -- and I don't think Force Awakens was a good movie -- I sure get why it was made the way that it was. More power to them, I clearly wasn't the intended audience as much as I'd wish otherwise.

Every stat you mention in your comment makes the movie more worth of commentary than less. Are you really saying the film is nearly perfect and beyond criticism?

This is a form of "the science is settled". And seeing it argued so vociferously is absolutely no surprise to me.

Tyler,

The Force Awakens has numerous issues but it was a hell of a lot better than any of the Transformer sequels. I get Michael Bay is the CGI version of DeMille but The Force Awakens was much tighter and better than Transformers. Sure Force Awakens was not A New Hope but it was reasonably close enough to Return of the Jedi.

The only reason I was able to get through almost 3 hours of the Transformers is my sons endlessly cracked MST jokes about it. (My kids favorite making Sideshow Bob comments.) Otherwise I appreciated how poorly the US government and tech giaint (Jobs look-a-like anybody) compared to the quality of the Chinese government officials.

#5: Brave New World. When I first read it thirty years ago it seemed absurd. Now it's journalism.

Well, compared to Brave New World, (i) we do have endless indoctrination, but it doesn't work very well (witness Trump's poll numbers), (ii) our reproductive technology is primitive compared to theirs, (iii) they didn't seem to have endless "take back the night" and anti-sexual harassment campaigns, (iv) our legal drugs remain pretty much confined to alcohol, and (v) the epsilons don't seem particularly contented (cf. no. (i) above).

Brave New World's prescience is not about the eugenics, or Soma: We don't have those nowadays. Instead, it is about how we diverted to a more controlled, oligarchical society not through enslavement, but through pleasure and consumerism: There's plenty of people out there that might as well be Lenina. The biggest difference between us and the book is that we are technologically behind. I suspect though that we are closer to using technology as a replacement for soma than we are to find magical happy pills that have few side effects and feel better than meth or heroin: Our body chemistry doesn't work that way. But imagine a holodeck-like technology, with the affordability of a tablet: It'd permanently damage our civilization very quickly.

And the epsilons are far more contented than they have been in history: The only reason we've seen any amount of public discontent is terrible policing. In Europe we've seen a bit more, but it's due to unemployment! Give everyone a national salary along with the already cheap liquor, and the only thing that's missing is the fetal induced low IQs.

'The biggest difference between us and the book is that we are technologically behind.'

No, the biggest difference is that the society of Brave New World is considered to be the solution of the sort of total warfare we have remained poised to inflict for generations - for example, I'm pretty confident that at least 8 nations could launch a nuclear attack within 30 seconds.

We are the society that created the Brave New World, literally - we have not changed since Wells wrote his book in 1931, before the massive destruction and genocide of WWII.

I would say The Matrix is the most haunting science fiction scenario as we all spend a huge amount of time plugged in and motionless.

P.S. Am I pronouncing "Coase" correctly?

No. Pronounced like "Coast" except without the "t".

"Wall-E" has everyone fat and in hoverchairs.

#5 -- Kurt Vonnegut's "Player Piano" seems more relevant every day.

Vonnegut: Slapstick: "Western civilization is nearing collapse as oil runs out, and the Chinese are making vast leaps forward by miniaturizing themselves and training groups of hundreds to think as one. Eventually, the miniaturization proceeds to the point that they become so small that they cause a plague among those who accidentally inhale them, ultimately destroying Western civilization beyond repair." - - - Neal Stephenson: Snow Crash: "Much of the territory ceded by the government has been carved up into sovereign enclaves, each run by its own big business franchise (such as "Mr. Lee's Greater Hong Kong", or the corporatized American Mafia) or the various residential burbclaves (suburban enclaves). This arrangement resembles anarcho-capitalism ..."

#5. Blade Runner got the feel of the modern world down pat. More asia-influenced, and a bit cold and discomforting.

Do you mean Neuromancer instead of Blade Runner?

Blade Runner, aka Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep feels very, very 1960's to me. Especially in its take on sex and marriage. I never saw the movie though.

And Neuromancer is a bit of a Rorschach test. Dystopians and lefitsts see that world in our present. But as I see it, 40 years , big corporations controlled even more our lives they do now.

Yeah I meant the movie. The way the movie portrays the city it takes place is prescient.

What city do you live in?!

I used to live in Los Angeles; there are plenty of ways in which LA's differs from, and continues to move away from, the image portrayed in _Blade Runner_, but the Asian influence portrayed in the movie is indeed manifested somewhat in LA. Not just Chinatown -- most major cities in the US have a Chinatown -- but the suburbs of the San Gabriel Valley with entire mega-shopping malls filled with Chinese stores, restaurants, and customers. I haven't seen anything like that anywhere else in the US.

The place that truly does look a lot like _Blade Runner_: Shanghai. I arrived at night, in the rain, and although the taxi did not fly through the air we did drive into the city on an elevated freeway, past skyscrapers with gigantic video screens, and then onto surface streets teeming with Asian urban bustle and noodle stalls. I felt like I was in a real life version of _Blade Runner).

#5: Rainbows End and True Names, astonishingly prescient and clearheaded thinking about trends and the implications of technological progress

"5. Which science fiction movie or novel is most prescient today?"

Anthony Burgess's 1962 novel "A Clockwork Orange" was quite accurate at forecasting the rise of the juvenile criminality in England, which was an extremely low crime place at the time he wrote. In particular, his focus on home invasions as the English crime of the future, about 30 years ahead of time, was bizarrely accurate. Home invasions practically didn't exist in England in 1962: the author used his wife's experience of suffering a home invasion by American GI criminals in England during WWII. But Burgess rightly predicted that the spread of automobiles would allow urban criminals to drive out to the English countryside and prey on people living in isolated homes (especially because of gun control). The rise of car theft is another prediction of Burgess's that came true. I can recall attending a business lunch in the suburbs of Oxford in 1994 where my half dozen English colleagues each regaled me with tales of having their car stolen.

Moreover, Burgess got right the general tenor of the British government's response: technocratic rather than incarceral. Granted, the operant conditioning used in the book doesn't work, but it's not that far off from the late 20th Century British government solution to crime of, among other things, installing a vast number of video cameras everywhere.

Finally, although A Clockwork Orange is often grouped with 1984 and Brave New World, it doesn't reflect a totalitarian or apocalyptic state, just a trashy one of endemic but not overwhelming disorder in which the government is acutely sensitive to headlines, which it attempts to manipulate through mediagenic programs.

"That Hideous Strength" should be mentioned in this context (N.I.C.E. - the name of one of the villainous organizations in that novel - is the very scary anti-micro-aggression acronym for a progressive authoritarian NGO one would expect a very bright Renaissance scholar to come up with). Also, Thomas Carlyle, who thought up the worst parts of the 20th century before it even got started, is another source worth thinking about. Finnegans Wake (written by someone almost as intelligent as C.S. Lewis, and with just as much genius, but with much less experience of courage and empathy, and a horrendously deficient education) has several dozen pages that are prescient about the recent unpleasantnesses between the virtuous progressives and their perceived inferiors (I am referring to episodes detailing the hearsay lies about H.C.E., and the "comic dialogue" episodes that repeatedly display, with near-Shakespearean fireworks, what happens when one enthusiastic person decides he is morally superior to another, presumably less enthusiastic, person (such decisions being, of course, the heart of modern persecutions)).

You forgot the main strategy the government is using against the thugs...It's hiring them as policemen.

superbly articulated three paragraphs. thank you sir.

5. " totally reflects the current political climate, guys". Most of the ones I read seemed like bullshit signalling, especially in cases where I've read the book myself and was able to see that it is nothing like the present day.

Also I hate the ever-mandatory statements of "the best sci-fi is really about the modern world". No, *most* of the best sci-fi is about how things *could* be, not how things *are*. On the contrary, metaphorical stuff is often unbearably heavy handed and cheesy. Claims otherwise are just cultural-cringe/literature envy. "Hey guys, I'm not a nerd who loves to dream about the future, I just love metaphors and stuff. Just like you Serious Literature people!".

(first part was supposed to read "'my favourite sci-fi book' totally reflects etc". Blog software ate some angle brackets.

Also for some reason the link "Are Star Wars fans anti-Bayesian movie-goers?" is stuck below the comment box (perhaps by mistake), so I'll point out that I think this is incorrect also. For example, that Clone Wars CGI movie from a few years ago didn't attract even 1% the hype of The Force Awakens. There's more to Star Wars (or any other franchise) than just the name and logo. Otherwise Disney would be putting out a low budget movie every month instead of a high budget one every year or so.

Wait, you mean "The Force Awakens" wasn't the best film ever made? It wasn't better than Citizen Kane? I want my $12 back!

Rosebud is Darth Vader's dad.

#5: Alphaville (1965) by Godard. About a fascist computer-controlled city called Alphaville, the brain-child of a Professor Von Braun, whose robots are his enforcers.
As technology proceeds and the "internet-of-things" becomes more and more panoptic, it's hard not to see this one as THE most prescient films of all time.
For those who said Minority Report, watch Alphaville and realize that Minority Report built extensively on the former--a film made almost 40 years prior. Your welcome.

" watch Alphaville and realize that Minority Report built extensively on the former"

Minority Report the movie was based on a short story by Philip K. Dick published in 1956, nine years before Alphaville.

Re #1, I mostly agree but i'll be more brief.

What was wrong with the new Star Wars movie is 30+ years. It seems as if since the Death Star II blew up, nothing has changed. It's an endless war between storm troopers and 'freedom fighting' rebels. To what end? After a generation of the same old battle, aren't both sides wondering why this dispute is never resolved?

I would have felt better if the movie had moved beyond the old story line. Perhaps the Republic had been restored but a new threat arises? Even a multi-decade campaign to push back the Empire might have made sense but yet again with an 'Empire'? Yet again with everything being bet on some grand 'superweapon'?

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