Friday, July 27, 2012

Fantastically Fun Fridays: July 27, 2012

Happy Friday, and Happy Opening Ceremony Day!  Now, I know that the Olympics technically don't have anything to do with fantasy or science fiction, but since I love both the Olympics and scifi/fantasy, I wondered if they might have anything in common.  Here's what I came up with:

For starters, the Olympics are filled with people pushing themselves beyond the limits of what seems to be humanly possible.  Take a look at this slideshow of the 25 best moments of the Summer Olympics--it's filled with athletes like Kerri Strug, Usain Bolt, and Michael Phelps who pushed past limitations to be almost better than human.  Like science fiction in particular, the Olympics seem interested in what humanity could be with just a little improvement.

Also, both the Olympics and scifi/fantasy seem to share an interest in spectacle and world-building.  Take this video of highlights from the Opening Ceremony to the 2008 Beijing Olympics:

Not only are there fireworks, much like the explosions from any scifi summer blockbuster, but the whole ceremony seems designed to take viewers to another world.  Certainly, these ceremonies (all of them, not just these from 2008) reflect elements of the culture and history of the host nation, but they are also carefully constructed to present a certain (idealized) image of that nation.  Even the athletes themselves are transported from everyday reality to the alternate universe of the Olympic Village.

Finally, and maybe this is the biggest commonality of all, both the Olympics and many works of scifi/fantasy are about bringing people together for a common purpose.  The very symbol of the Olympics, the Olympic rings, represent the coming together of all the nations of the world by having at least one color from each country's flag in the rings.  Works of science fiction and fantasy often share a similar sense of shared purpose--fighting against evil, exploring space, fighting for good.  Like the Olympics, these novels don't last forever--we have to finish them at some point--but we can hope that in both cases, the spectacle and wonder of this alternate reality can come back with us into our everyday lives, making them a bit more magical.

Now, here are some of the non-Olympic things we found for you this week:

  • Ok, I lied.  Here's one more Olympic link.  Did you know that there used to be Olympic medals for various art forms, including literature?  Pierre de Coubertin won the gold medal for literature in 1912 with his poem Ode to Sport. (Wikipedia; LA84 Foundation)
  • Fans of the Choose Your Own Adventure series will appreciate this Tumblr collections of bad endings to adventures. (You Chose Wrong)
  • Wizard Wars: two magicians must create original magic routines using preselected props. (BoingBoing)
  • I wish I had a backyard, because then I could build this shed. (BoingBoing)
 Happy weekend, everyone!  And enjoy the fantastic competition and spectacle of the Olympics.