What’s a hero supposed to do when they are written into a story they don’t seem to want to even be in? When they’re rudely stuffed into a spaceship and launched to Alpha Centauri…but they really only want to chill at a backyard BBQ?
When their creator has unfairly imbued them with an internal conflict just to amuse the reader, or set up a situational conflict which is at odds with the character’s very nature…all for the sake of the crowd?
It’s like some Roman spectator sport. Some protagonists are dropped into a futuristic setting they’d rather have no part of, or they’re placed in a dire circumstance which forces them to rely on tech skills they’d prefer not to dust off.
That’s the issue with science fiction worlds. Not all of their inhabitants asked to be there!
Here’s a few examples of sci-fi heroes who don’t really seem to be fans of science in all its glory…
Obi-Wan Kenobi clearly despises blasters and prefers a good ol’ lightsaber every time. No surprises there. This may be a standard Jedi practice to eschew blasters, but Kenobi really seems anti-technology in other areas as well.
On Tatooine he’s never seen driving any sort of vehicle; instead Luke has to chauffeur him around like Driving Miss Daisy. Meanwhile, in the prequels we get to watch him flying–and grimacing throughout most of it.
As he states in Revenge of the Sith, “Flying is for droids.”
Even in his youth, Kenobi seemed like a grumpy old dude who never wanted to keep up with the times. And of course, by the days of his backwater retirement, he cannot even recall ever owning a droid.
Why doesn’t he remember R2-D2 or C-3PO? Perhaps because the idea of droids is so loathsome that he’s blocked it from his sand-laden memory.
The Enterprise’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy does a commendable job utilizing the bleeding edge of medical tech when it serves a purpose. Tricorders, medical scanners, laser scalpels, protoplasers…he’s certified on all of ’em.
That said, he prefers to let the body heal itself naturally whenever possible, without artificial interference. Indeed watching the original series, the spin-off films, or even the rebooted movie franchise we can witness the fact that the dour Georgia boy tends to shun advancements…notably transporter teleportation!
He’s also not too keen on flying itself actually, which is ironic since, you know, he’s serving aboard a deep-space vessel.
The various incarnations of the enigmatic Doctor from BBC’s long-running Doctor Who series all have one thing in common—a love/hate relationship with their time-warping vessel, the TARDIS. But more specifically the very first Doctor really seemed to have no idea how to fly the darn thing…which begs the question of why he stole it in the first place (according to a much later episode, it was the TARDIS who stole the Doctor…but I digress).
Of course, the argument can be made that it wasn’t the good Doc’s fault his ship was always breaking down, not taking him and his companions to the intended destination… But then again, he clearly didn’t seem able to properly manage the needed repairs. Perhaps he should have paid more attention at Time Lord Academy…
To be fair, the TARDIS’s six-sided console was intended to have six pilots!
In any case, apart from the TARDIS the Doctor does have good reason to fear technology…his worst and oldest enemies are merciless, insane cybernetic hybrids! I’m looking at you, Daleks and Cybermen!
Officer Alex Murphy never asked to get shot up by a gang of dystopian Detroit punks, nor did he request to be kept alive in order for private police force Omni Consumer Products to turn him into a cyborg vigilante. Alas, we can’t always get what we want.
But despite OCP’s best attempts to turn him into an unwitting slave, Murphy keeps his core values intact and is able to resist his new programming to battle Security Concepts’ fierce machine gun-blazing ED-209 droids before exacting justice against the thugs which tried to murder him.
Later Murphy, aka Robocop, tracks down OCP big boss Dick Jones and shows Jones exactly what he thinks of his mechanical upgrades. Suffice it to say, he’s not a fan.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial may come from a race of interstellar travelers, but based on what little we can extrapolate from the film, E.T. himself is a simple botanist.
He admittedly has the technical know-how to build a space radio out of a bunch of junk (so he can “phoone hooome”), but apart from that, he has no real good interactions with science on the whole, as it were.
Indeed it is the evil “scientists” who are out to get him!
E.T., with the help of his young gamer friends, is able to escape both the wicked government agencies and the boredom of suburbia by levitating a bicycle and fleeing into the local forest. It’s not the first time director Steven Spielberg tackled the theme of Big Science-as-pseudo-villain, but it was the most poignant.
Of course, sometimes science can turn starkly terrifying…just check out my recent article “The Optimism of Villains” to see an example! (Okay, the example is HAL 9000, the ultimate in science gone awry! But read the article; we’re tracking ya!).
This article was originally published on Futurism.media and is reprinted with permission under their terms of service.