Sunday, May 11, 2014

Features: Ask Doctor Hasslein

Dr. Otto Hasslein has served as science adviser to two Presidents.  He is perhaps best-known for his theoretical work in time-dilation physics, and for exposing the sinister agenda of “ape-o-nauts”  Zira and Cornelius, thereby prevented a terrifying dystopian future.   

Now enjoying a well-earned retirement in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Dr. Hasslein has kindly consented to lend his considerable subject matter expertise to The Infinite Reach.  

Readers with questions for Dr. Hasslein may send them to The Infinite Reach via the Hyperspace Com Uplink referenced on our home page. 

Dear Dr. Hasslein,

I enjoyed Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but I found it odd that Steve Rogers was able to adjust so quickly to America in 2014.  I would think that being dropped into what is basically an alien society, with pretty much everyone he knows dead, would be really stressful and disorienting.  Instead, he just carries a little notebook and lists things he needs to catch up on.  Does that seem unrealistic to you?

  - AvengersAssemble

Your concern for realism seems rather situational, AvengersAssemble, seeing as you are willing to accept an augmented super-soldier who awakens after being frozen solid for seven decades.  

Nevertheless your point is well taken. It is important to bear in mind that we only see what Capt. Rogers allows us to see.  For example, he is outwardly friendly to Sam Wilson (aka the Falcon) on their first meeting, and he chatters happily about how American society is better than it was in the 1940s.  But for all we know he is a seething malcontent on the inside. One can imagine him returning to his apartment, granite jaw clenched, to ring up the National Parks Service and complain about the surfeit of non-white persons who are allowed to jog around the Reflecting Pool. He might then pull out the old Underwood manual and bang out a few missives to the local newspaper (which, he still imagines, offers the most effective platform for public discourse) to weigh in on the troubling issues of water fluoridation, two-piece bathing suits, and bossy women who wear trousers.  

Dear Dr. Hasslein,
Star Trek or Star Wars?

  - Trekker113

You ask this with the charming confidence of one who believes this question has merit, Trekker113 (and by your handle I believe I can discern where your loyalties lie).  In fact I do not care for either of these bloated movie franchises.  

The original Star Trek was a cautionary tale about an oversexed ship’s captain who couples with alien females and then warps out of orbit before the test strip changes color.  The programs’ later iterations were a curious mix of Great Society do-gooderism mixed with homo sapien-centric imperial wish-fulfillment. 

As to Star Wars, I have never been able to finish watching the first trilogy, despite numerous attempts, as I find Darth Vader’s incompetence to be utterly depressing.  In the first movie alone, Vader allows Princess Leia to escape with the stolen data tapes, fails to destroy her ship before it reaches Tatooine, allows her to launch an escape pod with the tapes and two droids aboard, burns down villages and tortures Jawas rather than actually finding the droids carrying the tapes, allows the Millenium Falcon to escape Mos Eisley spaceport despite the presence of an Imperial blockade.  He momentarily captures the Millenium Falcon and surrounds it with stormtroopers, but still allows its occupants to a) disembark and run wild; b) free Princess Leia from the detention section, c) deactivate the tractor beam; d) return to the Millenium Falcon; e) escape from the Death Star and reach their hidden base on Yavin; g) use the pilfered data tapes to find a weakness in the Death Star; and h) launch an assault which, because Mr. Vader forgot to turn the tractor beam back on, succeeds, costing quintillions of dollars worth of imperial currency and tens of thousands of lives.  

And yet, Mr. Vader is back for the next movie.  

Darth Vader is an outer-space version of Donald Rumsfeld. Had the decision been mine, he would spend the remainder of the franchise laboring in the Spice Mines of Kessel.

Dear Dr. Hasslein,

What in your view is the most scientifically accurate SF movie ever made?

  - ComiCon-Man

I believe, ComiCon-Man, that the most scientifically accurate SF film ever made  is unquestionably The Terminator, since the probability of a sentient machine species eventually conquering the human race is approximately 100%.  

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