Set Phazers To Grill, The Ovens On The Fritz: Inconsistent Advancements Of Tech In Media


You got a ship full of top of the class space cadets in the year “long ass time from now” where large cumbersome spaceships are the norm. That’s all fine and dandy but I start to question what sort of universe this is when other technology is so far behind, perhaps the medicine isn’t up to scratch for what really should be cured, maybe they have laser guns but not laser armour. Maybe they have sophisticated giant weapons of mass destruction while the wee man is still plodding along with a revolver. For some bizarre reason a lot of fiction has wildly disproportionate technological advances.

Now honestly I can’t say it is too far from the reality, we are getting games and patches of ludicrous sizes while our internet is still at pathetic and unstable speeds in comparison, among other things. Still something in me just feels like this is wrong, that we shouldn’t be walking onto the space deck thing in the Star Trek reboot and punching people, not in the day and age of intergalactic travel, scotties beaming people up and whatnot.

Perhaps as a result of the arms race between laser beams and laser proof gear, light sabers and light shields people just got tired and went back to tried and true bullets and fisticuffs. It’s like playing a made up game with a friend and they just keep inventing new rules to stop you winning, you just wanna resort to the basics and get it done.

The concept can be added in to provide comedy such as the show Afro Samurai. We have large afro wielding samurai with cellphones and all sorts of junk, it just makes storytelling a bit easier and more interesting, doesn’t hurt the tone either to have such a random contrasting element. I imagine there is a lot of potential in it for comedic applications, the mere thought of King Arthur driving around Camelot in his 55X Excalibur Turbo, honking at all the fair maidens down yonder.

It even comes into play as divides for story diversions like the Megaman series. At one point the timeline splits into two paths, one where the reploid technology boomed and advanced rapidly, the other having the internet explode and advance. Like I said it isn’t too far from the reality of it all but it can come off as a little jarring seeing hi-tech next to low-tech. Even worse if when you suffer because nobody seems to be working a faster way to get around than hoofing it, apparently ladders are the ultimate way to ascend 500 years from now. Yippee.

My biggest problem with it? The lack of interesting infantry appropriate weapons. Why oh why do we have plasma torpedoes and phazon catapults on the big spaceship and down here on the ground we are still trying to jab each other with knifes….that are now all curved because future~. Yes, humans tend to be very weak to small, powerful projectiles, however we are also weak to a lot of other things and if they were very easily accessible I’d certainly be happy to disintegrate an enemy’s ligament or two. For goodness sakes a laser beam is not very inventive nor is it very entertaining or efficient in combat, it’s what kills my enthusiasm for sci-fi so much.

Most video games also fall into these trappings, having the super advanced future version of the rifle, the shotgun, the sniper rifle and so on with the only notable difference is that they are now all sleek white guns with some new sounds maybe. Ooh maybe they might be daring and have a laser shotgun, good lord don’t hurt yourself with these great ideas. Actually a laser shotgun does sound nice, it’s not particularly imaginative but eh, I’ll lock that one in my secret stash of “cool ideas for things that no one can hear or they’ll steal them”.

This problem is one of the reasons I always got a kick out of the weapons in the Halo series. They cover the basic weapons that are a staple to the genre but then throw in some interesting new ones, be it the Needler, the Spartan Cannon or the Gravity Hammer. Just some really interesting or entertaining weapons to see in use, I was a big fan of the Needler myself when I was using it and hearing that gorgeous crushing sound of a stack of them going off in somebody’s arm. It’s these little details that actually make the science fiction feel like fiction rather than the same old schtick in a new coat of paint.

It’s so formulaic and stale at time you could just switch through themes and the same thing would happen, I wanna invest myself in a universe not the same one as normal but with lens flare. SO. MUCH. LENS.FLARE.

What games do you know that have really cool or inventive sci-fi weapons? What are your favourite sci-fi universes and why? Do you get confused when certain areas of technology seem to be miles ahead of the rest? Thanks for the read and I’ll see you later.


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