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1996-03-14 00:00:00 - Cultural Evolution and Degrees of Difference - (The Centaur <david@rladvert.com>)


I've been watching episodes of Sliders on and off since it first aired last year and can say that it is one of my favorite programs. I do have a few observations though, and some questions that apply to the types of worlds onto which they slide and the development of each Earth. 1. Most notably in the episode "Last Days", I had to wonder about the culture we observe on this alternate Earth. Here, the atomic bomb was never developed, einstein is a footnote in history and World War II lasted much longer with tremendous US casualties. The development of the Cold War would have certainly not happened as it did in our reality without the ever-present spectre of the "bomb" and hence many of the programs and rushes ahead would not have taken place. The space program and all the developments associated with it would probably be VERY primitive (by our standards) and as such so would computers, adhesives, rocketry, etc... Culturally I wonder even more what we'd be like today without McCarthyism ever happening, without the threat of Nuclear Annihlation, and so forth. The odds of an Earth turning out anything remotely like contemporary society without the Bomb is unlikely at best. Granted, in an infinite setting, the possibility *does exist, but it still would appear to be slender. My questions are: A. Do the worlds they visit tend to resemble current society (as if they are somehow attracted to similarity) regardless of all-but the most aggregious alterations in history, B. Are they getting farther and farther away from "recognizable" realities with each slide, C. Is it random and can we expect to see realities where differences are so vast that the world just doesn't make much sense to the Sliders, or D. Is it just a story that the writers tell without considering social and cultural evolution? E. How much of the show is limited by Special Effects budgeting? What I mean is, have the writers or producers said anything about their vision for a larger scope if money were not an object? F. What about the number of worlds that must exist (even if the total number is NOT infinite) where the only differences are in another country or even on another planet; not effecting Earth at all? (Such as something reletively major such as the Milky Way has half the number of stars and vastly different stellar configurations -- this should be enough for an alternate reality, yet you could easilly create a world exactly like the one they left in this world). Anyhow, I'm mostly just curious. I have some views on these questions, but would LOVE to debate them and discuss them with the folk on this newsgroup... :) Keep Sliding! The Centaur (David J Rust)

1996-03-14 00:00:00 - Re: Cultural Evolution and Degrees of Difference - (Thratchen <sleeper@crow.cybercomm.net>)


Patrick Flanagan (aka Thratchen, aka The Sleeper) sleeper@crow.cybercomm.net "Storm the Reality Studio. And retake the Universe." - William S. Burroughs, Nova Express ******************************************************************************* On Thu, 14 Mar 1996, The Centaur wrote: > I've been watching episodes of Sliders on and off since it first aired > last year and can say that it is one of my favorite programs. I do have > a few observations though, and some questions that apply to the types of > worlds onto which they slide and the development of each Earth. > > 1. Most notably in the episode "Last Days", I had to wonder about the > culture we observe on this alternate Earth. Here, the atomic bomb was > never developed, einstein is a footnote in history and World War II > lasted much longer with tremendous US casualties. The development of > the Cold War would have certainly not happened as it did in our reality > without the ever-present spectre of the "bomb" and hence many of the > programs and rushes ahead would not have taken place. The space program > and all the developments associated with it would probably be VERY > primitive (by our standards) and as such so would computers, adhesives, > rocketry, etc... Culturally I wonder even more what we'd be like today > without McCarthyism ever happening, without the threat of Nuclear > Annihlation, and so forth. The odds of an Earth turning out anything > remotely like contemporary society without the Bomb is unlikely at best. > Granted, in an infinite setting, the possibility *does exist, but it > still would appear to be slender. > > My questions are: > > A. Do the worlds they visit tend to resemble current society (as if they > are somehow attracted to similarity) regardless of all-but the most > aggregious alterations in history, Yes, they do, because the show's writers seem to have the problem of introducing changes on alternate Earths without detailing the ramifications of each change. The worst example of this has to be the first season episode concerning the feminist world (I believe it was called "The Weaker Sex"). Now, supposedly on this world women had united and overthrown men about a century ago (I don't remember specifically what they said, but I do remember it wasn't nearly enough). And after a century of male/female role reversal, society is exactly the same except for the high concept "Women have jobs and men stay home!" aspect. Clothing is very similar (although women dress in suits, which made me wonder why the man weren't wearing dresses or kilts), San Francisco itself is identical (if nothing else, a century of different architects would have made a substantial difference in the city's appearance). Also, I don't remember the episode mentioning whether this was strictly an American phenomenon or a global one - if it was just American, it would interesting to see a male/female Cold War between us and the "patriarchal monarchies" of Europe. No, the only differences noted were just reversals of how it is on our world. I suppose it's similar to the two opposing views about time travel. The first view states that time is extremely durable and is very difficult to alter, if not impossible alter - the analogy that best describes this is the rock in the stream that temporarily displaces the stream's flow but ultimately has no effect. The second view states that time is extremely fragile and the tiniest change introduced can have cataclysmic results - I suppose the analogy here would not be a rock but a dam. I gather that the SLIDERS concept revolves mostly around the first view - that alternate worlds generally resemble our world except for a few major differences, that societies from dimension to dimension are just predisposed to form along certain lines. I don't think they've actually sat down and decided this for the series bible (if one exists), but that's the way the show has generally turned out. This is, really, my biggest problem with the show (and I am a fan). The only way to make this show's concept believeable is to make the alternate worlds as plausible as possible, so that we're left at the end of each episode thinking just how close our world came to becoming this alternate world. But this is not what's being done, usually. The high concept is introduced (which usually allows for the creation of a repressive government agency to chase the Sliders around), a few minor quirks are noted by the Sliders (different TV shows or music, for the most part - and different presidents, usually), but beyond that the Sliders totally fit in. Language is the same, as are fashion, currency (the sole exception I remember was the red-ink one dollar bill with V.I. Lenin from the pilot episode), mundane technology, etc. I realize this is only a one-hour program, but still.... > B. Are they getting farther and farther away from "recognizable" > realities with each slide, I don't know; I didn't see the Wizard of Quinn episode so I don't know how different that one was. The Love Gods episode didn't seem any less recognizable a world than the season one episodes. > C. Is it random and can we expect to see realities where differences are > so vast that the world just doesn't make much sense to the Sliders, or Maybe we'd see this world as a "tease" clip at the beginning or end of an episode, but I doubt they'd use an entire episode for it. > D. Is it just a story that the writers tell without considering social > and cultural evolution? I would say yes. Similar cultures mean less time spent writing the show and less money spent for sets and costuming. > E. How much of the show is limited by Special Effects budgeting? What > I mean is, have the writers or producers said anything about their > vision for a larger scope if money were not an object? Since the SLIDERS concept has now been expanded into paperback novels and comics, I would imagine we will see more outrageous stories - just not on the show. > F. What about the number of worlds that must exist (even if the total > number is NOT infinite) where the only differences are in another > country or even on another planet; not effecting Earth at all? (Such as > something reletively major such as the Milky Way has half the number of > stars and vastly different stellar configurations -- this should be > enough for an alternate reality, yet you could easilly create a world > exactly like the one they left in this world). They have done worlds where there are "outer space changes," like the giant meteor in the Last Days episode, combined with changes in history (no nukes). I don't see them doing an outer-space only episode (like.....a world where Halley's Comet only appears every seventy-_eight_ years instead of seventy-six!) because, well, how would they ever know? The only way they would know is if there's another meteor/comet disaster on the way, and this would be a copy of the Last Days episode. > Anyhow, I'm mostly just curious. I have some views on these questions, > but would LOVE to debate them and discuss them with the folk on this > newsgroup... :) > > Keep Sliding! > The Centaur (David J Rust) > Looking forward to anyone else's comments (even Gharlane of Eddore and Frank Hummel and all the other antiSLiders out there). Thratchen

1996-03-15 00:00:00 - Re: Cultural Evolution and Degrees of Difference - (Philip Chien <kc4yer@amsat.org>)


In article <314826E9.63A4@rladvert.com> The Centaur, david@rladvert.com writes: > >My questions are: > >A. Do the worlds they visit tend to resemble current society (as if they >are somehow attracted to similarity) regardless of all-but the most >aggregious alterations in history, Out of necessity yes. Because otherwise the typical average FOX television viewer wouldn't be able to recognize any similarities or differences between their world and the real world. >B. Are they getting farther and farther away from "recognizable" >realities with each slide, Some worlds are more like our Earth, some aren't. >C. Is it random and can we expect to see realities where differences are >so vast that the world just doesn't make much sense to the Sliders, or I doubt we'll see too many of these worlds, other than as quick 2 minute leader/trailers. Simply because it will be too difficult to write a coherent believable episode. Imagine a world which is so different from ours that the normal laws of nature and physics don't apply. For some reason three of the sliders end up getting tried and convicted of some crime and are sentenced to die. Just as they are about to go to the gallows the other Slider magically pops in says "abracadabra" and they all pop out. Without any prior warning that it's possible to do that on that world. How cheated would the viewers feel that this unplausable, unbelieveable plot twist was tossed in at the last second. >D. Is it just a story that the writers tell without considering social >and cultural evolution? Actually that's something which I enjoy most about Sliders, and even alt.tv.sliders. How different worlds with similar backgrounds but different cultures cause us to look at ourselves, and our culture. Granted not all of it is purposely intended by the writers, just a bunch of fans overanalyizing a TV series they like. But to me it's quite fascinating. >E. How much of the show is limited by Special Effects budgeting? What >I mean is, have the writers or producers said anything about their >vision for a larger scope if money were not an object? I'm certain that, if they had an unlimited budget, we'd see much more exotic worlds than what we've encountered so far. One of the early rules of "Star Trek" was 'we can't afford to visit a planet filled with furry looking creatures, so we come up with some reason in the story why one of them chooses to visit us instead'. Same logic. I believe the FAQ states that the comic book series (with less SFX budget restrictions) will take the Sliders to worlds which would be too expensive to produce in a weekly TV series. >F. What about the number of worlds that must exist (even if the total >number is NOT infinite) where the only differences are in another >country or even on another planet; not effecting Earth at all? (Such as >something reletively major such as the Milky Way has half the number of >stars and vastly different stellar configurations -- this should be >enough for an alternate reality, yet you could easilly create a world >exactly like the one they left in this world). Those would be rather boring worlds to visit for us - both as viewers and for the Sliders. About the only plot question would be is this really our world or just something which is pretty similar. As a rule most of the world's we've visited have had enough differences which would affect the entire world, not just the San Francisco area. Philip Chien, Earth News - space writer and consultant PCHIEN@IDS.NET __ __^__ __________ | \ +---/ \---+ (========= |____\___________ +---\_____/---+ // >____)| | \__ \ \______//___ >/ |________| \ [ _____\ >|____________________\ \_______/ Roger, go at throttle up CHR$(32) the final frontier

1996-03-18 00:00:00 - Re: Cultural Evolution and Degrees of Difference - (The Centaur <david@rladvert.com>)


ameal@sirius.com wrote: > Hi Mr. Centaur, > Some great observations you have presented and the show itself is quite > good for TV-yet I dont see an awful lot to debate about in your > observations-after all it IS a TV show-and HIGH FANTASY at that. Possibly > more of an issue for debate might be our ACTUAL lives and-in keeping with > the theme of SLIDERS-what us humans might do to prevent ourselves > from following some of the more insidious paths of evolution Perhaps. As a casual writer (for my own entertainment, usually), I must point out that this is very much like the proposed concept that SF/Fantasy/Horror are only acceptable as genres as long as they provide commentary or insight into ourselves. In writer's circles, I've often found this attitude (especially amongst those culturally-sensitive authors who feel that the only real topics that should be written about are those that deal with contemporary social or political issues) prevails and serves to denegrate the work of SF writers in the group. Now, granted, this is not what you are saying and I recognize that; however it is similar. I'd like to see some stories that focus on the adventure of exploring these familiar-but-alien worlds. Forget about the political lectures and social commentary and tell a story! Now, last weeks, "Gillian of the Spirits" was a good example of what I enjoy. The social structure of the Technophobia World was understandable and acceptable as a premise. The writers avoided making a real statement as to how "right" or "wrong" this world was in relation to the Slider's Earth-Prime, and used the world as a fascinating backdrop for a tale of separation, fear and a race-against-time. Even the divergence point from 'our reality' -the anti-technology feelings following WWII- was plausible; not probable, but plausible. Do you think that the writers for the show will focus on more of interesting worlds to explore as a basis for stories, or will we see a kind of moral 'preaching' that serves only the villify the correctness of our own Earth? I prefer to think that the writers (when working on all cylanders) will do the former. Afterall, in "Luck of the Draw" we do see an alternate Earth that would be terrible from our perspective, but we have to admit, works. > Which ALWAYS gets back to the POLITICAL-are you familiar with the stories > of Phil K. Dick? Specifically-The Man in the High Castle from the early > 60's.check it out..... > Gotta run-I'm a slow typer...... I've never read any P.K.Dick, thought I *did hear a comedic radio show that featured "outakes" from the Phillip K. Dick-Van-Dyke show... <grin> (I'm not kidding... In our area in the Midwest, there is a great radio show called Shockwave that occasionally does stuff like this...) > P.S.>sounds like you should be writing a script for the show!!!!! > hey-you never know!!! I would LOVE to write for the series ... any idea of they have open submissions? <grin> Hmmmm... Maybe I should demonstrate my writing to the alt.tv.sliders.creative newsgroup! <chuckle> I *do write afterall! Any idea where we can find out more? The Centaur.

1996-03-18 00:00:00 - Re: Cultural Evolution and Degrees of Difference - (ameal@sirius.com)


The Centaur <david@rladvert.com> wrote: >I've been watching episodes of Sliders on and off since it first aired >last year and can say that it is one of my favorite programs. I do have >a few observations though, and some questions that apply to the types of >worlds onto which they slide and the development of each Earth. > >1. Most notably in the episode "Last Days", I had to wonder about the >culture we observe on this alternate Earth. Here, the atomic bomb was >never developed, einstein is a footnote in history and World War II >lasted much longer with tremendous US casualties. The development of >the Cold War would have certainly not happened as it did in our reality >without the ever-present spectre of the "bomb" and hence many of the >programs and rushes ahead would not have taken place. The space program >and all the developments associated with it would probably be VERY >primitive (by our standards) and as such so would computers, adhesives, >rocketry, etc... Culturally I wonder even more what we'd be like today >without McCarthyism ever happening, without the threat of Nuclear >Annihlation, and so forth. The odds of an Earth turning out anything >remotely like contemporary society without the Bomb is unlikely at best. >Granted, in an infinite setting, the possibility *does exist, but it >still would appear to be slender. > >My questions are: > >A. Do the worlds they visit tend to resemble current society (as if they >are somehow attracted to similarity) regardless of all-but the most >aggregious alterations in history, > >B. Are they getting farther and farther away from "recognizable" >realities with each slide, > >C. Is it random and can we expect to see realities where differences are >so vast that the world just doesn't make much sense to the Sliders, or > >D. Is it just a story that the writers tell without considering social >and cultural evolution? > >E. How much of the show is limited by Special Effects budgeting? What >I mean is, have the writers or producers said anything about their >vision for a larger scope if money were not an object? > >F. What about the number of worlds that must exist (even if the total >number is NOT infinite) where the only differences are in another >country or even on another planet; not effecting Earth at all? (Such as >something reletively major such as the Milky Way has half the number of >stars and vastly different stellar configurations -- this should be >enough for an alternate reality, yet you could easilly create a world >exactly like the one they left in this world). > >Anyhow, I'm mostly just curious. I have some views on these questions, >but would LOVE to debate them and discuss them with the folk on this >newsgroup... :) > >Keep Sliding! >The Centaur (David J Rust) Hi Mr. Centaur, Some great observations you have presented and the show itself is quite good for TV-yet I dont see an awful lot to debate about in your observations-after all it IS a TV show-and HIGH FANTASY at that. Possibly more of an issue for debate might be our ACTUAL lives and-in keeping with the theme of SLIDERS-what us humans might do to prevent ourselves from following some of the more insidious paths of evolution ------------ Which ALWAYS gets back to the POLITICAL-are you familiar with the stories of Phil K. Dick? Specifically-The Man in the High Castle from the early 60's.check it out..... Gotta run-I'm a slow typer...... P.S.>sounds like you should be writing a script for the show!!!!! hey-you never know!!! ******************JAK*the Centaur Feeder**********************