Nice coincidence. The same week The Core shows up on cable, I find out "unobtanium" is in the Wikipedia entry on fictional chemical substances. It includes the word's derivation and specific historical reference, (which is why I used it in the first place). Neat.
I still mourn the poor treatment of that movie. Second week of the war, same week as THREE other movies (thank YOU, Paramount), and in a greater sense, suffering by association with the other shitty, bad science sci-fi movies Hollywood chokes out. But I'll stack it up against the acting and story in any other sci-fi movie, period. Eckhardt freaking out and Hilary Swank BANGING her head against the chair when she has to let someone die and Tucci -- the frikkin TUCC, people -- saying goodbye to Delroy Lindo ... there's some old-school science-hero acting chops going on in there. There are moments in other disaster sci-fi movies where main characters die, and you still don't even know their frikkin' NAMES an hour into the flick. I will be eternally in debt to Jon Amiel and that cast for making that movie what it is.
Taking the writing off-ramp, it is I will admit a character weakness of mine that I still steam when I see some reviewer chuckle over the scientific inaccuracies in the movie, and then support their argument with examples of things which are fantastical, but in fact true. I have made some rather, ah, dubious choices when caught in that fever. If you know what I mean.
Although I'm as big a fan of hard sci-fi as anyone -- Lucifer's Hammer is literally what made me get my degree in physics -- I can't help but wonder about the, well, sourness of tone it's brought to the sci-fi community. Somehow, being able to show your work in excruciating detail is no longer something which sets you apart as a cool book (or movie), or just some facet of your writing style, but now seems to be the minimum entrance requirement to avoid scorn.
Is it some insecurity on our part as science fiction fans that being able to point to the real science somehow justifies our interest as more intellectual than fantasy-based? And therefore somehow more "legitimate"? This defense mechanism isn't entirely unjustified, by the way, thanks to the ghettoization of genres, brought about by a great degree by insecure critics. Nice vicious circle ...
Isn't the science in science fiction supposed to be the jumping off point? Are we losing a whole new generation of dreamers? When I read sci fi as a kid, I didn't want to read about what was possible. I read about THE IMPOSSIBLE, and then dreamed about how to get there. Knowing there may be real-world tools to achieve that impossible is keen, but not inspiring. And to me, regardless of genre, what a good story does is inspire.
There are authors who handle integrating real-world tech into their stories as jumping off points masterfully -- Warren Ellis, of course, Neal Stephenson and Bruce Sterling come to mind. But I'm afraid that so much of the techo-speak in genre books comes across as masturbation, and in my opinion, somehow undercuts what we're supposed to be doing as storytellers. Again, my opinion, and feel free to tell me I'm insane. This isn't even limited to sci-fi. The spy thriller is infected with the same buzz-kill fun-hunting virus.
I adore Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy, with its endless discussions of terraforming and tensile strength of space elevator cables. But is it really better sci-fi than Asimov's Foundation trilogy, with its atomic priests? Is a Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six, which dedicated an ENTIRE CHAPTER to field-stripping an MP-5, really a better spy novel than Goldfinger?
You know what? Fuck the math. I want my warp drive and laser watch.