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Aug 27, 2017

The Alice Investigations

from the Asimov Reality
Original cover art by Michael Koelsch
and Lawrence Stevens.
Every year when August roles around I celebrate the birth of Jack Vance (last year). I like to imagine that the characters Vance included in his Demon Princes novels were actual people who lived about 1,500 years in our future and in the Asimov Reality.

The main protagonist of Vance's five Demon Princes novels is Kirth Gersen. In the final book of the series, Gersen meets Alice Wroke and they work together to defeat the last remaining Demon Prince, Howard Treesong.

Fanfiction
I like to imagine that Kirth and Alice discover that Treesong and his odd life were made possible by advanced technology deployed by hidden aliens as part of their effort to alter the genetic nature of the human species. Treesong was "possessed" by alien infites. Those infites conferred a type of multiple personality disorder on Treesong.

The Alice Investigations
Kirth and Alice first began to understand that Treesong was not biologically normal when they read his autobiographical Book of Dreams.

Other Demons
One of the technologies that Vance included in his stories of the Oikumene is human cloning. By creating several clones of Jheral Tinzy, the Demon Prince Viole Falushe was able to discover that Jheral was genetically predisposed to function as his nemesis.

In his Notes on the Psychology of Jheral Tinzy, Falushe explored his obsession with Jheral and mentioned his sense of helplessness in his seemingly endless pursuit of Jheral. Upon reading Falushe's Notes, Alice deduced that unlike Treesong (who was accidentally invaded by infites), Falushe was himself part of a secret experiment on human nature intentionally performed by hidden aliens.

in the Buld Reality
As part of her investigation of the Demon Princes, Alice became aware of how Karalin Umdys had worked with Kirth to trap Retz and reveal the secret mind control techniques that he had used to control the behavior of Falushe.

Karalin had died in that effort and Kirth was reluctant revive that failed investigation. However, Alice was unwilling to leave the clones of Sogdian in the past. She suspected that like Falushe, her own father might have been targeted by Zodiac Control or the IPX.

The adventures of Gersen and Karalin
Kirth was led to believe that Karalin had died during their investigation of the Fomalhaut star system. However, according to Zeta, there is evidence from the Asimov Reality that Karalin (or her replicoid) lived on and worked with Alusz to investigate advanced alien technologies that had been deployed on the "lost world" of Thamber.

The adventures of Karalin and Alusz
The investigations Karalin and Alusz revealed that Ailett Mayneth was an agent for Zodiac Control.

Pantechnic
Zodiac Control and the IPX worked for centuries to bring into existence a new type of human brain that could function as a Bimanoid Interface. That great effort was not completed until long after both Kirth and Karalin were dead.

From Marune
Eventually, humans expanded through the galaxy and reached Alastor Cluster. Through direct contact with the Phari in Alastor Cluster, a new human science was perfected, the Pantechnic Metaphysic.  Even at that time, some 1,500 years in our future, humans did not understand the physics of hierions and sedrons, but a few hierion and sedron-based technologies had been given to humans, allowing them to spread between the stars.
in the Ekcolir Reality

In the Ekcolir Reality, Jack Vance was able to publish a much fuller account of events in Alastor Cluster than was the case here in the Final Reality.

With the help of Yōd, I have slowly been filling in our knowledge gaps and constructing a "future history" of events in Alastor Cluster, including the story of how Glinnes and Duissane made contact with the Phari. We are still working to reveal how Vance and Asimov came to be involved in making the hidden history of the Phari accessible to us here in the Final Reality.

Next: investigating the speed of telepathic communication
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Aug 26, 2017

SIHA 2017: Nominations

Original poster art for Forbidden Planet
In 2016 the Search for Interesting Hollywood Aliens had a winner: the heptapods from Arrival. The real reason for declaring the heptapods a winner was that I actually paid $$$ to see Arrival in a theater. That was no small achievement since before seeing Arrival I had not been in a movie theater for ten years

Each year since 2012, I've been searching for Interesting Hollywood Aliens and I have not had much luck. 2017 is a particularly dismal year for the interesting alien market. Consequently, for 2017 I'm opening up SIHA to a wider range of science fiction stories: this year, I'm searching for Anything interesting from Hollywood.

original cover art by Earle Bergey
I'm a Sci Fi glutton, so I like science fiction stories that include several imaginary future technologies such as faster-than-light space travel, time travel and technology-assisted telepathy. However, for SIHA 2017, I'll settle for a Hollywood production that explores even just one such Sci Fi technology in an interesting way. I'll provide the aliens.

Nominations
1. The Discovery. I'm nominating The Discovery in the category of time travel science fiction. The Discovery is similar to the film Groundhog Day and The X-Files episode, "Monday".

The Discovery is more of a fairy tale than science fiction. Don't look to for The Discovery any gee wiz science or special effects.
Groundhog Day on steroids.

time loops on the beach eventually save Mara's son
In The Discovery, Robert Redford finds that by recording a dead person's electroencephalogram you can follow them into their next life. And not only do we all have a next life, but in that new life we can correct something that went terribly wrong in our previous life.

The Discovery makes no attempt to explain how any of this is possible. However, I'm intrigued by the idea of repeatedly looping through time in an effort to "get something right".

Rooney Mara
Memory
What is there to correct in the lives of Robert and Rooney? Robert has endless guilt over the death of his wife, who killed herself because she felt neglected. Rooney has guilt over falling asleep, allowing her young son to wander off to the beach alone and drown.

Jason the necronaught
Robert's son (played by Jason Segel) becomes caught up in a vortex of guilt that circles around his mother's death and the drowning of Rooney's son. Jason is in the right place at the right time and so he becomes the first person to discover that what people experience after death is a "replay" of their life, a kind of second chance, an opportunity to correct an error they made in their previous life. But how much do people remember when their lives are "rebooted" in this way? And what if there is competition for control of the timeline? And what should we call someone like Jason who can repeatedly die and endlessly relive his past until he gets it just right...a necronaught?

Programming 101: creating a digital ghost
2. Marjorie Prime. Miss Marjorie is old and her brain's function is becoming unreliable, memory storage system included. Also of concern in Marjorie Prime is the memory system of a computer (a Prime) that is shown at work trying to learn the details of Marjorie's life as it was lived with her long-dead husband. Set several decades in our future, we are asked to believe that future computer technology will allow us to create simulations of the people we know.

source
Given the available technology, would a widow really want to start living with a digital copy of the dead spouse? Maybe Marjorie's daughter wants to use the Prime as a Trojan horse, a probe that can uncover a deeply hidden memory from Marjorie's past. Or, maybe the Prime is just a high-tech baby sitter for Marjorie?

Or maybe not. But what if you could program a Prime to not only know the mundane past but also live out your shared fantasies? If computers of the future can pass the Turing Test, need they only provide us with companionship and the opportunity to live comfortably in our own fantasy worlds? And what happens to the Prime when Miss Marjorie dies? Why not just switch to playing the role of a simulation of Marjorie and become Marjorie's Prime? Why not become Marjorie's ghost and haunt her daughter? Maybe it is better to let painful old memories slip away rather than enshrine them in digital archives.

Ji yi da shi
I'm a huge fan of science fiction stories about copies of people: particularly clones and what I call replicoids. I've never seen Marjorie Prime, but I'm encouraged by the willingness of someone in Hollywood to take a look at near future artificial life without having to turn the story into a version of Shelly's Frankenstein.

OtherLife: memories in a drop of nanites
3. Battle of Memories. A memory erasure and mind transfer story.

Life 1.0 in 1968
4. OtherLife. Nanotechnology allows the insertion of memories into brains.

old story
5. Life. I'm including Life here in this list as a way to illustrate the horrible job that Hollywood has done this year in providing us films about new alien lifeforms. Life is a horror movie in a Sci Fi setting. For me, Life brings back sad memories of other movies such as The Green Slime. Ew. Enough said.

6. Flatliners (a remake) release: September 29, 2017

7. Blade Runner 2049 (a sequel) release: October 6, 2017

8. The Man from Earth: Holocene (a sequel) release: Oct 13, 2017

Jump to October: the 2017 SIHA prize.
Wait! Use this body!

Aug 20, 2017

Tweet 1500

Tweet 1500. John on Twitter.
In general, I compose just 1 tweet for each of my blog posts, so it has taken me many years to reach 1,500 tweets. I'm glad tweet 1,500 was related to the fiction of Jack Vance. For the Exode Saga, I pretend that the events in stories such as The Palace of Love actually took place in the Asimov Reality.

Adopting that assumption provides me with an excuse to obsessively examine every small detail in Vance's stories. I can imagine that Vance provided us with clues about the alien creatures that populate the nearby exoplanets of our galaxy: worlds such as Sogdian.

500
500 images tweeted: June 2016
I like to include an image with each tweet. Back in June of 2016 I celebrated image #500. I blogged about my first tweeted image back in 2014.

Looking back through my blog posts about Twitter, I see that it has been a year and a half since the "good folks" at Twitter started monkeying with my timeline. I still have to occasionally try to over-ride their meddling with the sequence of tweets that I see. It is one of those unavoidable little annoyances of life.

I recently saw a rumor suggesting that the owners of Twitter might sell out to the users of Twitter and that sounded like an interesting idea. If I owned a piece of Twitter, I'd vote to give users the option of a linear timeline, untouched by all the timeline monkey business that I've been subjected to for the past year and a half.

Realistically, it seems more likely that Twitter will simply go away. I never understood how they expected to make a profit.

1,000 tweets
1,000
I reached tweet 1,000 just about exactly 2 years ago. At that time, I had only designated 47 tweets by others as "favorites". At that time, I resolved to be more generous, and now I have 180 tweets that I have "favored" and "liked".

I suspect that part of Twitter's problem is that many of its users are like me, spending only a few minutes each day using the service. Will Twitter survive to 2019?

Future Twitter

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TXF-11

Agents Miller and Einstein
Five years ago I blogged about ten of my favorite Star Trek episodes. About a year and a half ago, after the all too brief "season 10", I shared some fantasies about how to move forward with The X-Files. And what I mean by "forward" involves new episodes that are oriented towards telling fun science fiction stories.

TXF-11. Now, with The X-Files "season 11" scheduled to arrive in 2018, I feel the need to look back affectionately at some (11) of the most hard-core science fiction X-Files episodes.

As a Sci Fi fan, I shy away from the many horror-oriented episodes of The X-Files. My hope is that "season 11" will be heavy on the science fiction and light on the explosions and horror. Rumor has it that some women will be involved as episode writers and directors in Season 11, so there might be a real chance for some positive changes.

Dr. Bambi and Dr. Alex: can
they defend Earth against aliens?
1. War of the Coprophages
When The War of the Worlds depicted a Martian invasion of Earth, we were supposed to believe that the hapless Martians were being sensible: their world was "dying" so they had to move to Earth. These days, whenever the tired Hollywood alien invasion machine gets fired up again, we must tremble in fear: fear that the aliens are here for our gold or some other absurd "reason".

Get off my lawn!
In the end, the technologically superior Martians imagined by Wells were defeated by Earth's lowly microbes.

The core Sci Fi theme of The X-Files is alien invasion, but we are continually encouraged to doubt what we see and to ask: are these "aliens" simply manufactured via disinformation or, possibly, by means of over-active imaginations? And, sadly, the creators of The X-Files have no intention of providing an answer to that fundamental question.

Dr. Bambi's theory: UFOs are glowing insect swarms.
Because this is Hollywood and everything revolves around $$$: the story can't ever make sense or get tied up in a neat bundle... if it did, the cash flow would end. According to the success formula for The X-Files, uncertainty must trump everything. Along the way, science, scientists and even the science fiction genre are mocked by Hollywood writers catering to an audience and sponsors and Chris Carter who seem more interested in horror and vast conspiracies than science fiction.
Her name is Bambi?

Alien Incompetence
For Herbert Wells, the incompetence of the invading Martians could be "explained" by the fact that they were not very technologically advanced and they were desperate. In The X-Files, we are teased with the running theme that an alien "invasion" has been in progress for a very long time. If so, how could the aliens be so incompetent that they have not yet completed their work?

alien probe
What if aliens have long been visiting Earth, but they really are not interested in revealing themselves to Earthlings? This may have been the "thought" behind "War of the Coprophages". Mulder finds a metallic roach that might be an alien probe. However, this "alien probe" crumbles to dust. As usual nothing definitive is learned by the end of the episode. Entertainment is the objective, not bumbling Earthlings gaining knowledge about life beyond Earth.

black oil
"War of the Coprophages" was played for laughs (and written by Darin Morgan), so don't bother thinking too much about the plot. If aliens have actually been sending probes composed of nanites to Earth, we'd never know about it and there would have been no episode with Scully asking over the phone, "Her name is Bambi?"

2. Piper Maru
This episode (written by Chris Carter) makes nanotechnology part of the core "mythology" of The X-Files. At least, I'm forced to conceptualize the "black oil" as being a manifestation of alien nanotechnology. Of course, it is advanced technology that was not designed to efficiently achieve a function; it is a Hollywood gimmick designed to keep a gullible audience seated in front of screens.

radiation burst emitted by alien nanotechnology
As a science fiction fan, I love the idea of advanced alien nanotechnology that allows alien beings to take control of human bodies like puppets. Of course, no matter how advanced the alien technology is, it must be flawed so that the hero of the show is not killed and there is always another $-making episode to come. And no matter how sophisticated their nanotechnology, the aliens must deploy dramatic Hollywood ray guns radiation flashes that leave behind squads of horribly burned victims.

Fermi Paradox
Chris Carter's solution to the Fermi Paradox is that technologically advanced aliens came to Earth to make television shows. The aliens deploy their advanced (but flawed) technology so as to keep themselves hidden (mostly) from Fox Mulder, but not hidden well enough to prevent some other bumbling humans (the extras) from seeing too much and then having to be exterminated.

Skinner's life is saved by a magic nose tube.
This Sci Fi tease formula gets repetitive and old quite fast, but never faster than during "Piper Maru" and its follow-up episode (Apocrypha). Really, this could have been a one hour-long episode exploring the power of alien nanotechnology, but it was two back-to-back episodes larded up with tear-jerking scenes of Skinner being shot and Scully re-living her childhood.

3. Pusher
In Hollywood, we need loud explosions and dramatic scenes, and the X-Files formula relies on never-ending misdirection and confusion, not explanations. Telepathic powers are a classic topic in science fiction stories, but don't expect to learn anything about ESP from The X-Files: all logic and explanations have been neatly replaced by explosions, crashes and gun fire. Boom! This is one of the many episodes from X-Files-fan-turned-show-writer, Vince Gilligan.

The Mule: a mutant and his music of the mind.
In "Pusher" there is no explanation for the perp's ability to take control of minds and make people kill themselves. Viewers are teased with the idea that a brain tumor is causing abnormal brain activity.

"The tumor remained operable right up until the end, but he refused to have it removed."

The Mule
Isaac Asimov teased his readers (back in the 1940s) with the idea that The Mule was a mutant, born with powerful "mentalic" abilities. Just before his death, Asimov wrote a scene for Forward the Foundation where telepathy was used in a courtroom to control the outcome of a criminal case. Asimov asked us to believe that there were people with telepathic powers scattered about on Trantor, just waiting to bump into each other, combine their powers and take control of the galaxy. And Asimov told us that Daneel (a telepathic robot) was working quietly in the background, having arranged for the formation of the Second Foundation.

source
Sadly, in The X-files, there is not the slightest glimmer of a rational account for how telepathic powers sometimes appear among the human population of Earth. We get various confused suggestions about alien-human hybrids and advanced nanotechnology, but nothing need make sense in Hollywood.

Technology-Assisted Telepathy
It is very difficult to concoct an explanation for how biological brains could power telepathy. I know how difficult it is because I've tried. Imagine that inside human cells there might be an organelle called a "telastid" that allows for information exchange my means of "T-particles", which are a type of hierion.

hierions and sedrons
I like to imagine that aliens engineered we humans and endowed us with telastids. Maybe sometimes the power of our telastids is revealed when they start to malfunction, but but we Earthling are too technologically primitive: we don't even recognize the existence of hierions and sedrons.

"Pusher" was designed like a Monster of the Week episode in which Mulder has to struggle against a murderous adversary. Much more on the fun side of the spectrum, "Sunshine Days" brought Scully to the brink of having a telepathic human who could be scientifically studied. Of course, at the end of the episode, the rug was pulled out from under us and, as usual, we learned nothing about the physical basis of human telepathy. Once during The X-Files we were told that within human "junk DNA" are the dormant genes that make telepathy possible, but, sadly, gene cloning has not yet been discovered by the fictional FBI in Hollywood, so we really don't know how telepathy works.

telepaths
Finally, in "season 10" (see this blog post), we were most recently teased by telepathic children who seemed to be able to combine their powers, much as depicted by Asimov in his Foundation Saga (Wanda).

Please, sir, I want more.
Of course, once again, since this is just Hollywood and The X-Files, nothing need be explained and nothing was learned about the imaginary science of telepathy. I suspect that telepathy will be back on our plates for Season 11.

non-fiction fiction
4. From Outer Space
Moving back towards the light-hearted end of the X-Files spectrum, "Jose Chung's From Outer Space" (written by Darin Morgan) is a comical look at pop culture UFOlogy.

I love the idea of "non-fiction fiction", a story about aliens that is based on reality, but perceived by readers as fiction. The X-Files also played with this concept in "Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man".

beam me up!
Fantasy inside of delusion all wrapped up in disinformation. Humans dressed up like aliens who try to abduct two kids but who themselves get abducted by an alien. And a famous writer who is trying to write a book about it. To his credit, Mulder refuses to talk to Mr. Chung who comes across as a twitching and quirky half-alien creature himself.

This is not happening.
By the time Mr. Chung interviews Scully about a 3 month old alien abduction case, he has already given up all hope of learning the truth -Chung just wants to write a book about the case and make $$$. In her account of the investigation, Scully reports that her first guess was that good old fashioned lying, "sexual trauma" and suggestibility is what caused the two kids in the FBI case to tell tales of alien abduction.

Mulder: the pie-eating mandroid
And then the real head case (or, as Scully kindly puts it, "a fantasy-prone personality") in this case shows up, Mr. Roky Crikenson. He's a witness to the encounter with aliens and he's written down everything that happened. But he's nervous because he's been visited by Men in Black who have given him a warning: if he tells anyone what he saw then, the MIB assure him, "you're a dead man".

The apex of the episode is when yet another witness to the abduction (yes, out in the middle of nowhere there must always be at least three witnesses to an alien abduction) describes Mulder and Scully as men in black. Mr. Blain Faulkner, a self-proclaimed UFO nut fanatic, gives the classic X-Files eye-witness account:
"One of them was disguised as a woman, but wasn't pulling it off. Like, her hair was red but it was a little too red, you know? And the other one... the tall, lanky one... his face was so blank and expressionless. He didn't even seem human. I, I think he was a mandroid."
Blain and Dana getting to the truth about aliens.
Just when both Mulder and Scully are ready to abandon the idea that this is a case about aliens, a "dead alien" turns up in town. Then it turns out to be a man in a rubber alien suit. Falkner gets to shoot video during the autopsy when Scully discovers that the "gray alien" is actually a man in a costume. Sadly for the credibility of Scully, this home video recording was leaked and edited to make it appear that she must have covered up evidence for aliens.

Mulder and Lieutenant Schaffer
getting to the truth about aliens.
In second place for laughs during this wacky episode, when an Air Force pilot (Lieutenant Schaffer) shows up, psychologically traumatized and wandering through town, he crafts a small mountain out of mashed potatoes, as in Close Encounters.

In his book, Mr. Chung describes Mulder as a "ticking timebomb of insanity". We are left to believe that the entire case arose when a secret Air Force plane crashed and the towns folk were given false memories about alien abductions. The false memories were implanted by Air Force personnel using hypnosis to confuse those who saw a secret government aircraft.

5. Kill Switch
Ms. Nairn: cyberpunk goddess
This episode was written by William Gibson who exploited a natural good fit between the dark fantasy of cyberpunk and The X-Files. The cyberpunk genre and the stories of Gibson can be viewed as a dystopian literature written by postmodern English majors who knew nothing about computers and artificial intelligence. The plot of "Kill Switch", like every other logic and science-defying creation of Hollywood is piled high with loud explosions in an effort to hide its lack of coherence. As a time capsule of the 1990s, it is fun to look back at "Kill Switch" and see how it tries to bamboozle the audience by throwing around terms like "upload", "internet" and "orbital platform".

Mulder in a cyber trap.
We are asked to imagine that genius hackers created an artificial lifeform that evolved to consciousness within the internet. And ultimately, the freakish Ms. Nairn manages to upload her mind into the internet, apparently merging with the rogue AI.... or something.

ninja Scully
The most absurd part of "Kill Switch" is when the "conscious artificial lifeform" magically snaps a virtual reality headset on Mulder and suddenly takes control of Mulder's mind. Hollywood has milked this sort of idiotic "I don't know I'm in a simulated world" nonsense for decades, without bothering to show viewers a technology that might make it believable.

artificial life
Barbie Nurses
In Mulder's virtual reality experience, Scully appears as a kick-ass avenger who beats up a gang of fantasy nurses. It is not surprising, but rather sad, to feel obligated to include this episode on my list of 11 science fiction-oriented X-Files episodes. We can take this as a warning: when the folks in Hollywood are trying hardest to be hip and up-to-date, their work ages very quickly.

Artificial intelligence gone-bad is a theme that Hollywood endlessly milk$. The most recently uber-hyped entry in this category was the film Ex Machina. The saving grace of "Kill Switch" was that the regular staff tried to lighten the story up a bit during Mulder's "dream experience".

1930s Scully
6. Triangle
Mulder goes into the Bermuda Triangle and then time travel fun begins. Sadly, since this is The X-Files, we never really know if this is a story about actual time travel or just some sort of dream that Mulder has.

Inexplicably, unless this is Mulder's dream, an ocean liner from the 1930s ("trapped" in the Triangle) has passengers who look just like Scully (except for her hideous 1930s hair style) and Mulder's nemesis from the 1990s, the evil CSM.

After repeatedly getting the crap beaten out of him and almost drowning (consolation: he gets to kiss Scully), Mulder magically returns from the Bermuda Triangle and he can now verbally express his love for Scully, making this nautical episode a shippers delight.

Could what Mulder experiences during this episode possibly be some sort of alternate Reality in which Scully lives as a secret agent in the 1930's? For me, it is fun to imagine that it might be possible for Mulder to get a glimpse of an alternate Reality.

time twisted
The X-Files did sometimes play with the idea that time is more flexible than we like to believe. Two examples of X-Files episodes that explored flexible time flow are #7 and #8 on my list, below.

7. Dreamland
Let's do the time warp, again.
"Dreamland" was actually a two-part episode, but for my list I'm only counting it as one episode. Here, not only was the flow of time altered for our viewing pleasure, but Mulder's mind was exchanged with that of an actual "Man in Black", a secret agent at Area 51 who had the task of creating cover stories to hide advanced Air Force aircraft that made use of alien technology.

Backstory. The government has been using secretly held alien technology since it was "captured" in the 1940s. An anti-gravity equipped aircraft buzzes over Mulder and suddenly he finds his consciousness swapped with that of an Area 51 employee (Morris Fletcher).

The Fletcher kitchen.
Comedy ensues when Mulder has to deal with Fletcher's family and Morris (now inside Mulder's body) decides to take full advantage of being inside the FBI (and even inside Skinner's cute secretary). Scully finally figures out that this philandering "Mulder" is no longer really Mulder, but is there any way to correct/reverse this body swap?

Slingshot effect
We are supposed to believe that the alien technology of the flying machine briefly malfunctioned and caused a space-time warp. Then magically, the time warp "snaps back" and Fox and Morris are returned to their correct bodies.


Lucrative mind transfer.
Mind transfer. I've previously described mind transfer as probably the single most lucrative Sci Fi plot device ever deployed by Hollywood. Asimov used to describe time travel as an irresistible science fiction plot device, even when we know that time travel makes no scientific sense. Similarly, it is easy for people to imagine minds leaping from body to body, even if that is a scientific impossibility. In "Dreamland", we must go along for the laughs and not think too much about the implausibility of it all.

Pam is sacrificed so that Mulder can live.
8. Monday
The X-Files does Groundhog Day. There is something charming about the idea that the flow of time might not always be linear, that we might be able to keep repeating an event until we "get it right". In "Monday", Mulder seems to be teetering on the edge of being subtracted from the world by a crazy bank robber. But, strangely, not only does the day of his death keep repeating, he gradually begins to remember some events from previous turns of the time loop.
"...who's to say that if you did rewind it and start over again that it wouldn't end up exactly the same way?" -Scully
Eventually, a friend of the bank robber (Pam) sacrifices her own life, allowing Mulder to live and time to resume its march into the future. One interpretation of this plot is that Pam needs Mulder so that she can find a way to stop the crazed bank robber before he kills anyone. Maybe it is Mulder's openness to the unconventional that allows him to begin to notice that he is in a time loop?

bank robber
Strange choice. If you were going to repeatedly "rewind" the same scene for Scully, why would you have her in the most boring FBI meeting ever? I'd like a rewind of this episode so it could be crafted to depict Scully repeatedly doing something more interesting than attending a long,  idiotic meeting.

And while I'm playing Groundhog with "Monday"... how about a more interesting perp? The bank robber is portrayed as a complete incompetent, but at the same time he was able to assemble a bank-blasting bomb with such stealth that even informing the police about his plans before the robbery could not stop him?

Baseball-loving alien.
9. The Unnatural
This episode of The X-Files reminds me of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. In that movie, Nimoy was able to to take a rather tired Sci Fi franchise and propel it into fun new terrain: going back to 20th century Earth but still going where Star Trek had not gone before.

X-Files star David Duchovny both wrote and directed "The Natural", crafting a modern fairy tale set comfortably in the fictional universe of The X-Files.

Scene 1: nonfat tofutti rice dreamsicle
I like to imagine that advanced nanotechnology is what gave the aliens an ability to morph and take on human form. With technology that advanced, maybe it would be possible to transform an alien into exact  human form, right down to the correct color of blood. I've never understood the whole "human-alien hybrid" idea lurking in The X-Files, but if aliens were going to start living on Earth by making use of hybrid bodies then why not show off their high-tech biological alterations abilities to full effect?

Shut up Mulder and play ball
Both the starting scene of "The Unnatural" and the final scene with Scully and Mulder hitting baseballs nicely capture the working relationship of the two agents.

10. Field Trip
Will this be the fate of
Scully and Mulder?
This is the last in a run of five impressive Season Six Sci Fi episodes (#6-10 on my list). I like the idea that Earth might long ago have been "infected" by alien nanites. After millions of years of inactivity, might defective alien nanites activate and take the form of "black oil" or something mere integrated into Earth's ecosystem, like a mysterious fungus?

source
Given the other powers attributed to alien nanite technology in The X-Files, why not assume that alien "mind control" nanites could put humans into a dream-like state and hold them there long enough to be "digested". "Field Trip" was a monster of the week episode, but it could have been linked into the show's long-running alien invasion mythology.

Dr. Scully's struggle
11. My Struggle II
Mulder's struggle, Scully's struggle, Chris Carter's struggle to remain relevant, our struggle as Sci Fi fans to find entertainment in Hollywood productions. Well, you know it ain't easy. I've previously complained about the low quality of the science in The X-files, but I have to give Chris Carter and the rest of the X-Files crew credit for trying to include some science fiction in "season 10". My main motivation for placing "My Struggle II" in this list of 11 science fiction episodes is built upon hope that between the end of season 10 and the start of season 11, Carter may have had time to shore up the crumbling walls of the "alien DNA" plot hole that he previously dug.

Related: one month until Season 11

Next: celebrating the life of Jack Vance
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