Wednesday, June 01, 2005

"The Science of Consistency": Entertaining discussion of some of the methods used to deal with internal inconsistencies in fictional universes, especially science-fiction universes. Includes the following proposed experiment.
...[M]y friend David Whitney (a talented Boston-area architect and a pillar of his community) decided to subject his older son, a youngster named Charlie, to an experiment that might conclusively prove, in a way that my theorizing never could, whether the whole Star Wars saga logically holds together.

...[H]e would show the films to Charlie in numerical order (and thus fictional-chronological order) rather than in the order that they were released. Charlie would meet Vader as a child before the character becomes an evil adult.

...I had an ulterior motive for egging Dave on. Getting the child to watch the series with fresh eyes from Episode I through VI in order, in a way that we Generation Xers never can, would enable us to watch the child for signs of confusion: the child might spot contradictions that our chronology-skewed brains never would. Other obvious research questions suggest themselves: When would Charlie first notice that Senator Palpatine is a bad man who wants to become Emperor, for example? When would he first have doubts about Anakin? Would Charlie be saddened that in Episode IV Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru don't remember their old friends C-3PO and R2-D2? (Note: I do not have children of my own and do not intend to have any, so it is only natural that I experiment on children from other families.)
Click through to learn the (anticlimactic) result. (Via Clicked.)