In worlds where becoming the extraordinary hero/villain is achievable, where science pushes boundaries with powers beyond any explanation until after it happens and the relationships between people drastically change as a result, the word ‘impossible’ doesn’t seem to appear in any dictionaries in the world of Science Fiction. However, is that actually the case? With so many possibilities brought to fruition and likely many more to be given origins, are there any limitations when it comes to Sci-Fi? Well… that depends. Let’s start with a recent Sci-Fi show for example and there’s nowhere better to start than Seth MacFarlane’s more comedic take on Star Trek, ‘The Orville’.
As comparable to the ‘Star Trek’ franchise as it may be, this show still needed a unique voice. A selection of these shows’ episodes are always going to have some similarities one way or another and this is where limitations can most commonly get brought into question. In this case after one season and beginning its second, a glass ceiling doesn’t pose as a problem. As much as ‘Star Trek’ has already done over the decades, fresh stories have came to be in the form of alien species urinating only once a year, an amorphous blob (who happens to be a qualified engineer) having a crush on the ship’s doctor and the existence of a 2-D space region and the best part about all of this is it doesn’t come across as being blown out of proportion. As much comedy that has been integrated, this piece of Sci-Fi is written quite well – so well that it’s easy to believe in the feasibility of any of ‘The Orville’s concepts. Some might still find it fairly unrealistic for their taste but due to a lack of random convenience to suit the writers’ plot whenever they please just so there’s content to push out, the believability level drastically increases regardless of the content and stretches any previously-thought-of limitations. That’s more that can be said for the next example…
Don’t get me wrong, I would recommend ‘The Flash’ overall in a heartbeat. The entirety of its inaugural season revolving around his arch-nemesis, The Reverse Flash, was pure gold. It gave the show its most memorable moments, acting, dialogue, no wrong was done by it and Season 2 was a wonderful follow-up, introducing even more concepts backed up by as much realism as the writers could muster while remaining a intriguing slice of Sc-Fi. The problems occurred throughout its 3rd season with that ‘Big Bad’, Savitar.
Villains like Savitar have made viewers question Sci-Fi’s limitations time and time again and no one can blame them. This was filled with nothing but random conveniences being used as explanations to unnecessarily prolong the season’s events in one of the most repetitive manners. For instance, several episodes were quite dedicated to creating a weapon each character was incredibly sure would be successful in finally putting a stop to the self-proclaimed ‘God Of Speed’. It just so happened that an element of power (named The Philosopher’s Stone merely due to Tom Felton’s inclusion) was a hardened piece of the speedforce – an energy field speedsters become connected to upon attaining their superspeed – and Savitar was impervious to the weapon used against him while in possession of the stone. There’s villains sneakily finding ways to survive and there’s lazy writing to help fill an episode order. This was certainly lazy writing and this is what calls the genre’s limitations into question. How can anyone enjoy vastly explored possibilities when the writers don’t even give their content a second thought and simply push out what they feel they need to in order to keep the ball rolling in any way?
My take on Sci-Fi’s limitations: they simultaneously exist and don’t exist. Probably not the answer you wanted to get, but hear me out. It’s all about the capability of the writer. In the hands and with the mind of an exceptional writer, there are no limitations, no glass ceilings, no curtailments of content. However, an inexperienced and/or indolent writer will think it’s all been done before, nothing fresh to bring to the table because of how much material has already been created. The existence of any genre’s restrictions is 100% dependant on the person undertaking the task. With that said, in your particular mindset, does Science Fiction have any limitations?