The other day, when on Netflix, I was pimped Battlestar Galactica.
"Because you liked Firefly! Buffy the Vampire Slayer!"
This made sense. I did, infact, love both those series. I also loved Battlestar Galactica.
I would, infact, argue that at points in time BSG was the best series I have ever watched. It was beautiful, it was inspiring, it was mesmerizing.
If it were not for the last episode I would put it down as one of the best series of all times, bested only by deadwood, that ended better even when it did not end, than BSG did with ample opportunity and complete control.
The truth is: I felt betrayed by that ending. It was sloppy. It was confusing. It did not answer questions it went to great lengths to ask.
It was like the best sex ever and no climax.
And that just makes you angry.
I contrast this with Firefly. A series that was cancelled after very episodes and then came back to give an ending that addressed the beginning, and that made a point of the questions it asked. SO many question Joss Whedon must have imagined years of development to address: why are these pirates heroes, why are the "powers that be" so dangerous were answered: because the omnipotent desire to improve human life and human conditions belong with no one group or person. Because people work together to evolve, because society should evolve, it should not be test tubed forward. Because we do not have the whole picture, and we do not know what the human condition will reveal, when truly put to the test.
And then I even contrast it with the ending of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I mean, let's face it, this series mostly peaked in it's first 5 seasons and puttered around alot. And still, it ended...more than decently. It answered a question: the hellmouth can not exist in the world always to be battled. It must be destroyed. It gave another interesting answer never really posed: what will a girl with the weight of the world on her shoulders do? The answer: redistributed the weight, empower her sisters. Change her life by changing others.
And then I even think of dollhouse. NOT a very good series. A couple of stellar episodes, some very enjoyable cast members. But uneven, occasionally sloppy. And yet, I'd argue. It ended beautifully. It even, sort of, ended before it began. It knew it's point when it started to speak, it asked a question it wanted to answer.
My point is not to extol Joss Whedons virtues here. Or even to go off about my geeky love of scifi/fantasy.
My point is, as much as the process matters, the point matters. And the ending matters.
And to make an even more specific point: Fiction in general and Sci Fi and Fantasy in specific are generally written/ created to examine the human condition from a new angle. Imagining a likely but not present scenario, presenting our situation in a new light allows us to reexamine our current world.
It is not just fun and game and dungeons and dragons and the coolest space ship ever.
Not only. Although that is great. It is our current world, spun on a top, shaken in a snow globe, plopped at the bottom of the sea, so we are able to better ask questions from a new view.
And if you create a world to present a point, if design a whole new galaxy then you should probably know what point you were going to make.
History repeats itself? Why has this happened before and will happen again? Why is one girl so special she came back from the dead? Why is there a missing cylon model that keeps being brought up only to be dropped? What keeps people going when there is so little to live for? (It is certainly not family, because they ditch eachother like hot potatoes in the exposition in order to make a forced point). What is sentience? Is there a difference? A breaking point?
Why ask all these questions if you don't have an inkling of the answer or even want to truly inpire discussion? Why bring it up if it doesn't matter?
And, ya know, the point can not be that there is a deity, that there is g-d.
Understand, I don't think there is something wrong with religious fiction, and I think you can write a big beautiful world that addresses our relationship with omnipotent power.
But if the point is, after zillion of questions and a billion answers "who care! G-d!"
Well that is just lazy. It defies the very point of such a creation.
We already have several well known books that go there and beyond. Books that people live by daily, refer to hourly. Acknowledge, obey and cowtow to. You know what I am talking about.
You don't need to do a gigantic bait and switch about the nature of life only to say "doesn't matter, lord's plan".
The point is to address the human condition, in and out of the notion of divine poetry. The point is to address the question, not make the question irrelevant.
I mean, what is that? Existentialist explosions in the sky? I could kill this arab or this cylon, but in the end it's all dumb and silly and people will be brought back if they die in order to make sure we end up where the lord wanted us to, despite our best intentions, despite or decisions.
When you write, when you create, when you imagine and juxtopose and paint and solder and adjust the aperture you are doing so to get a better view of our souls. Of our plight, and our intent and our ultimate purpose. Anyone can ask a question. A child can ask a question. And, infact, the question a child will most ask is "why?"
So it is best to not open a can of worms if you didn't think it might help you catch a fish.