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Science fiction movies serve as directional indicators for the winds of the zeitgeist. In the 1950s we were served up cautionary tales about the misuse of science. We fooled with atomic energy and got gigantic spiders, a 50-foot woman, an Incredible Shrinking Man—and, of course, Godzilla. We were meant to take away from these films a sense that we shouldn't muck about with the natural order or play God.
Fast-forward to the sci-fi films of the 1990s, and the picture is much different. Now we are co-gods with evolution. Evolution is destiny, but destiny can be shaped by human science. Sure, we'll make a few mistakes, but we'll press on because it's in our nature to do so, and eventually we'll control not only our destiny, but the destiny of the universe—through science and brute force. With no creator there are no creatures, only organisms.
In Robert A. Heinlein's 1959 sci-fi novel Starship Troopers, an officer delivers a lengthy apologetic for the application of swift, merciless force in intergalactic conquest:
But does Man have any "right" to spread through the universe?
Man is what he is, a wild animal with the will to survive, and (so far) the ability, against all competition. Unless one accepts that, anything one says about morals, war, politics—you name it—is nonsense. Correct morals arise from knowing what Man is—not what do-gooders and well-meaning old Aunt Nellies would like him to be.
The universe will let us know—later—whether or not Man has any "right" to expand through it.
In the meantime the [Mobile Infantry] will be in there, on the bounce and swinging, on the side of our own race.
In the recently released film version of Starship Troopers, giant insect warriors, the Arachnids, having battled Earth's armies in space, take the war to their enemy. As the film begins, they have just wiped out Buenos Aires in a surprise attack. Whereas in the novel, the Arachnids use advanced weapons and space ships, director ...