Oct 4, 2012, Science Fiction Lab Radio Show Photos and My 2-Minute Madness from the “Reboot” Episode

The Science Fiction Lab Radio Show [web and Twitter] had its first episode of the season tonight on October 4, 2012 at 7:00pm-8:00pm. Tonight’s episode was hosted by Justin Ellis and Adam LeDoux, and Paul Clifton worked the board. SF Lab members included Ariel Cohen, Matthew Guzdial, Sharena Taylor, Brendan Cecere, and Xavier Culver. The theme of the show was “Reboot” for our 2-minute madness, and our special guest from the Atlanta Radio Theater Company was David Benedict. Following our 2-minute madness round, David played a Lovecraftian episode of “Rory Rammer, Space Marshall,” and he answered SF Lab members about his experience developing radio dramas.

I’m not in the pictures included above, because I played photographer with my iPhone 4S. Next time, I will have to bring my Canon t1i.

For the 2-minute madness, some of the SF Lab members talked about Battlestar Galactica, RoboCop, Superman, and the reboot of SF. In my 2-minute madness response, I talked about how science fiction is fundamentally based on the idea of the “reboot”:

My name is Jason Ellis. My life at Tech is a reboot of sorts. I graduated from Tech with a bachelor’s degree in 2006. Now, I have rebooted my Tech experience as a Brittain Postdoctoral Fellow. I began as a student. Now, I am a teacher. It is an exciting, yet cognitively estranging experience. I am also the Vice President of the Science Fiction Research Association.

Some argue that SF derives from the utopian story. Utopias are in a sense a reboot of earlier utopias. From this perspective, SF is a genre born of reboots and it continues that reboot tradition. For example, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has been rebooted many times. Fred Wilcox’s Forbidden Planet is a futuristic reboot of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Jules Verne’s fantastic voyages [I meant to say, “les voyage extraordinaires”] have gone through multiple reboots. H.G. Wells’ Invisible Man and The War of the Worlds (perhaps most famously) have been rebooted a number of times.

What I find interesting about the SF reboot is that it re-establishes the source material to the present cultural and historical context. This was my argument in my MA thesis at the University of Liverpool in which I explored the relationship between Glen Larson’s Battlestar Galactica and Ronald Moore’s recent re-imagining of the series.

If SF is always about the present, SF creators might feel compelled to imprint the present through reboots or re-imaginings. The reboot connects what is an otherwise great concept to the technoscientific and social changes that have taken place since the original production. This hopefully engages the audience, but irregardless, it is culture working its compositional magic through writers, producers, directors, actors, etc. Viewed this way, culture, in general, seems to be expressing itself through a series of reboots.

Published by Jason W. Ellis

I am an Associate Professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY whose teaching includes composition and technical communication, and research focuses on science fiction, neuroscience, and digital technology. Also, I direct the B.S. in Professional and Technical Writing Program and coordinate the City Tech Science Fiction Collection, which holds more than 600 linear feet of magazines, anthologies, novels, and research publications.