Without a story Sci-Fi is Just Bad Writing

A friend sent this along. A review justifying Tron Legacy’s lack of story and character. Its unacceptable. Sci-fi is NOT just about worlds. It is about story too AND characters. Also this use of the term “hard sci-fi” is some elitist bullshit that will doom the genre and makes a great excuse for some piss poor writing.  I mean, alright, many of Jack Vance’s characters are hard to figure out and come across as kind of cold and shallow but the dude didn’t just write about worlds, he wrote actual stories (Alright, the Dying Earth lacked in story a bit. We can’t all be perfect). The Night Lamp is a story with characters (not particularly interesting ones) and if anything he spends less time on the world then on the story. Same can be said for Dune. So while I agree that there is a quality to sci-fi that makes it different beyond just the content. There is a type of character development and a way of writing that distinguish sci-fi and for some make it to “cold” too “withdrawn” to enjoy. But that does not mean there doesn’t need to be a story or characters. That’s just fucking unacceptable. ‘nough said.

Keep reading to see the original review of Tron Legacy that sparked my indignation.

on Tron

Personally, I liked the Tron Legacy. Now, I am a self-admitted fan-boy of the first film, but I graded Tron Legacy as a whole as a B-, the Story as a C, the characters/acting as a C-, but as a work of Science Fiction it was an A-.

Science Fiction is about the WORLD… it doesn’t need plot, it doesn’t need characters, it doesn’t need realism, and this movie is a good example of a work without all of those. However, the digital world in Tron Legacy is intricate, and detailed. Now, if you are not interested in the world, that’s fine, but that means your not really interested in hard-sci-fi for it’s own sake. That’s fine too, but you have to expect a movie entitled Tron Legacy to be HARD science fiction!

So what is so interesting in the world of Tron Legacy? To understand that, we must briefly look at the first Tron movie: Tron is a piece of RELIGIOUS fiction, that is to say the issues of the world of Tron or spiritual and dogmatic issues. It is a very thinly veiled Christ-Story: Flynn is a God-made-Man… AKA User-made-Program. He defeats the great empire of the MCP (analogous to the Roman Empire in the Christ Story) and then ascends bodily to heaven after defying death itself (Can’t be derezed, and throws himself into an I/O beam).

Tron Legacy is likewise a piece of religious fiction. It is pretty clearly a take-off of Paradise Lost. Clu is an obvious Lucifer, made in the image of his God. The Iso’s are a clear example of the favored creation. (Flynn is willing to abandon his original plan in favor of the Iso’s, in much the way that God’s favored creation is not Lucifer and the angles in Paradise lost, but rather the Son, and Man. Clu wishes to literally storm the gates of heaven, and is opposed by the Son of Flynn… Even Tron, being co-opted, and then breaking free of Clu’s influence recalls the Angel Abdiel in Paradise Lost who was willing to listen to Lucifer’s argument, but ultimately was not swayed by it. What are some of the religious ideas explored in this way? The idea that life will come into existence spontaneously if given the proper conditions, this is a fun question because it calls into question the need for a creator in a world where the existence of a creator (Flynn) is unquestioned. The question of whether a creation can ever exceed its own creator is explored with the struggle between Clu and Flynn. The idea of attack by inaction is explored in Flynn’s strategy in that conflict.

So, as a piece of Science Fiction, exploring philosophical and religious issues by encoding them in the structure of the world (exactly what all the best Sci. Fi. does), Tron Legacy is a fine movie. But the action sequences, the eye-candy, the special effects… that’s all beside the point.


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