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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Booze & Sci-Fi

            I’ve been revisiting various sci-fi franchises, and I’ve noticed a common thread in many of them: alcohol. Cultures of the future, and even alien races, love their booze. I don’t personally indulge, but I find it fascinating. Not about their love for it, but by the impracticality of it.
For one thing, almost always, the booze is still stored in nicely fragile glassware. Given the frequency with which the space-faring vessels are struck by explosions and energy blasts which repeatedly throws the crew across the room, this adds up to a lot of broken glass and loss of product. Why are they not stored in metal bottles (props to Klingon Bloodwine for doing this)?
And while it’s possible that these are futuristic materials, I don’t buy into it. Unless it’s specifically stated, then it’s ordinary glass, especially because nearly every one of these franchises has a moment where the glassware is broken in dramatic fashion. But, okay, it’s a maybe.
Now, the big one are the stills. Battlestar Galactica and Stargate Universe both feature stills. For BSG, it’s a very poorly guarded secret, but it seems to be tolerated. For SGU, it’s actively encouraged. Given the dire straits both shows face, that of being stranded and low on supplies, this doesn’t make sense. Creating alcohol uses up a lot of otherwise serviceable food in order to make a little bit of booze. This doesn’t even account for the energy used up. Moreover, where are they getting the fermenting bacteria?
I know, too much thinking about this stuff. But I think these stills are more about capturing the feel of rebellion that Prohibition America represented. The rules say no alcohol, so no alcohol. The enterprising (no pun) American would simply make his own, sticking it to the Man. But, practically speaking, it makes more sense for a spaceship simply to load up on booze at a nearby port then to try and make it themselves. Of course this rules out both BSG and SGU, but shouldn’t that be part of the drama? Why do they make mention of not having coffee (or coffee ground from algae) but still have plenty of alcohol? I think those offer more interesting plotlines than the stills do.

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