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Forgiving "Ada"

MissArcher2's picture

This week, I was the first to admit that the film "Conceiving Ada" didn't really do it for me. I was quick to judge its clunky technology, unrealistic elements, and unconventional protagonist. When Anne pushed my discussion group to go beyond these surface reactions and think about how we might "forget meaning" and see what extensions we can learn from such a film, I was resistant. I thought, "There's nothing to learn if it's all fake and impossible." But when I posted about my panel character for next week, I saw startling similarities between my beloved "Fringe" and this movie that had rubbed me the wrong way. They both deal in impossible technologies, sharing a focus on finding or extracting information that seems lost forever. They both have unlikely, if not necessarily unlikeable, featured characters. And though the filmography of "Fringe" is smoother and more inviting than "Ada"'s, they both feature jumpy, somewhat confusing narratives. So what is it that I'm learning from Fringe that makes it likable, and is it possible to learn something in the same vein from "Ada" as well? 

I found my answer, interestingly enough, when I sat down with Mike Chorost's World Wide Mind, which I wrote about last week. I came across an interesting exploration of future technologies grounded in an example featuring Jules Verne. In 1865, Verne envisioned launching a rocket to the moon out of a cannon. He accurately predicted an astonishing amount of the facts and conditions surrounding the first actual lunar landing in 1969, including the best U.S. location from which to launch, the length of the journey, even the cost of the endeavor (inflation accounted for). In Verne's day, his predictions were just as sci-fi as anything seen on Fringe or in Conceiving Ada. But they were grounded in real science, and when technology caught up, it proved him right. Consider me properly chastised. 

Maybe this is what science fiction has to teach us: let go of your judgments and prescriptions, follow the data streams, and you might just end up on the moon. 




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