|The wild west (source)|
I become physically ill if I must watch depictions of asocial violence and other types of dehumanizing behavior. I'm less strongly impacted by reading about fantasy violence, but I still prefer to read written fiction that avoids violence. For example, I'm not entertained by military science fiction.
Although I can tolerate Vance's style of written violence, I don't read his stories because of the violence. There is some sort of litmus test for "tolerable violence" lurking nearby that I find hard to put into words. I think Vance knew that an effective way to sell his stories was to make sure that they included a damsel in distress and a stoic leading man who will duke it out with the bad guy and his evil henchmen (and, ultimately, win). Cut. Now shift this story-telling formula to the darker world of HBO where, "Every violent act we see is something that a person chooses to do for fun".
|Curse of the West|
|Game of Powns|
|2001: kill or be killed|
It has been 10 years since I paid to watch a movie in a theater and during the past 10 years there have been no Hollywood films that I wanted to see. For entertainment, I much prefer to read a good book. My preferred style of movie is PG-rated fare such as Bicentennial Man. My favorite quote from Asimov is the one about violence as a tool of the incompetent.
“... as a piece of serious science fiction it doesn’t really work.”
|the original Westworld|
Observation: I'm not entertained when watching Hollywood's silly and contrived excuses to portray a horror tale involving the hunting of people.
Here is a question I need to answer: what magic pixie dust did Jack Vance sprinkle into his Demon Princes saga that allows me to be entertained by his 5 volume saga about hunting people?
"The science doesn’t hold up at all on this show, so if you like hard sci-fi, that’s going to bug you."
|Westworld: the next Game of Thrones?|
Even if the new Westworld show has something interesting to say about artificial intelligence, I'm not going to wade through an absurd Michael Crichton fantasy setting and HBO-style violence just for a chance to see some mildly-interesting topic about artificial intelligence that I probably already explored decades ago in the works of thoughtful writers of science fiction such as Asimov. Of course, I'd be pleased if HBO dashed my negative expectations and actually turned Westworld into an interesting science fiction saga. I'm not holding my breath.
|cover illustration: Gersen kills Bel Ruk|
In modern society, there is a very low murder rate among healthy normal people, but some people still develop a perverse fascination with violence. Hollywood seems to attract more than its fair share of people who are desensitized to violence and these
|One of Asimov's favorite science fiction stories;|
with no violence: The Last Question
|The End of Eternity|
Answering my own question (from above)
In contrast, while reading about HBO's Westworld, I was shown lots of guns and warned that the show would give me nightmares. Westworld is being advertised as "dark", which I take to be fair warning that someone as squeamish as I am should not even try to watch it.
|Sessily just before her death|
In Vance's Araminta Station, there are 100 pages of creative world building before the murder of Sessily, which, thankfully, happens "off stage". Sessily's murder becomes a mystery to be solved, a process that takes another 400 pages. Vance makes clear the gruesome reality of Sessily's murder, but he does so with the tact that he learned back in the Golden Age of science fiction. I don't need HBO or anyone else crafting a video depiction of Sessily's murder and splashing that across the screen. Vance's verbal account of her fate is vivid enough for me.
|Glawen, Sessily and a friend|
Foundation and HBO
Related reading: "Levels of violence in science fiction"
Do Better: Sexual Violence in SFF
One month later: reading Westworld
Next: the mathematics of mind
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