Exploring the Influence

Sometimes going back in time can help us understand why we think how we think and maybe, with the help of such discovery, allow for further interesting ideas.

This is a thought and research exercise for fun. This threads purpose is to find the sources that influence(d) us in “pop”, or specific to our community, “sci-fi” and “gaming” culture from the past. Of course not all of it but one item at a time. Not only that but maybe even take a step back and observe how much said influence makes us expect or even make certain things a certain way.

As this is extremely subjective we may refrain from sidetracking into debating absolutes to much and rather lay out why we as individuals may think that way.

Sometimes I also have the feeling that with all those specific discussions on here maybe going meta a bit would help.

As this is really meta there may not even be interest for this on the forum …

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Now to kick things off I’m really on the fence if I should go with a more or less subjective matter.
Strange how this choice is really hard.
Anyway lets start with something we talked about in the past thtat is something visual:

######Dramatic music …

Now without looking at anything beforehand the first thing that ran trough your mind while reading the above line is probably also the most obvious representation of what an Asteroid Belt is in your personal memory. Even before you cognitively think about it there are memories triggered.
As with every thing, we associate memories to a phrase to give it meaning.
The catch is that most people have not learned the word “Asteroid Belt” while experiencing them themselves.
Sure when talking about the Solar System in Schools it comes up but for most people it is before that time they encounter the phrase.
Asteroid Belts also aren’t present in our everyday lives.
So where do we learn it. I’m taking a guess here and bet on Science Fiction. Science Fiction has many of its stories take place not on earth but in space. It is also a pretty widespread genre throughout the last hundred years. So most people orient themselves from what they read, saw or heard in Science Fiction when they have to deal with Asteroid Belts. I could now start research the origin and different portrayals of Asteroid belts in Science Fiction but I’ll do that below because …

Now pops up the first big question that we will encounter with every single topic appropriate for this thread and it is the cause for most of the conflict when it comes to different viewpoints:

“If it turns out that the association of a phrase I have in my memory doesn’t correlate with reality, what should I do?”

This is one of the most controversial things out there as it scratches something fundamental in humans: Believe.
Most individuals resist changing their internal association. After all it is mostly a slow process that builds on a lot of experience. Intervening actively is “unusual”.
My personal opinion on the matter is that the believe should be kept but re-branded.
What I previously though of “Asteroid Belt” is now “Sci Fi Asteroid Belt”. Then create a new association labeled “Realistic Asteroid Belt” . Problem with that is that every other phrase is in turn already loaded with meaning and thus prone to create confusion in the long run. What if Science Fiction Asteroid Belts change? What if new Scientific findings show that Asteroid Belts aren’t how we though they were? As you can see, difficult.
I personally have adapted to try to not fixate myself to much and to not attach myself to much to my believes. It is really hard to do at times.

Returning to the actual topic …
Mostly what doesn’t correlate with reality of “Asteroid Belts” is their visual representation. Most people (me included) probably won’t be able to remember the average distance of objects in The Main Asteroid Belt of our Solar System as an example.

So what’s the problem? Why so much hassle?
Well to this date every visual representation of either “The Asteroid Belt” of our Solar System or Belts inspired by it have been extremely far from realistic. Most of those visual representation I’ve seen were in computergames and films.

First … there wasn’t even an asteroid belt. In 1766 Johann Daniel Titius discoverd a mathematical pattern in the distances between the planets which had a gap where we know today to be The Main Asteroid Belt. This led to the discovery of Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt.

But when and were did those strange cluster of Asteroids come from?
The earliest visual representation of an Asteroid Belt as it is nowadays wrongly portrayed I could find looks like this:

Yes. After hours of research it turns out that “Star Wars: Episode V” has the first major portrayal of a heap of Asteroids. Surely they got inspired by something else but I haven’t found it yet.

[quote=“Hoth asteroid field - Wookipedia”]The idea of entering an asteroid field to escape the enemy first appeared in the rough draft of Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, in which General Skywalker enters the Norton Asteroid Belt to elude Imperial forces. While the chase through the asteroid belt is included in every version of The Empire Strikes Back screenplay, some versions place the sequence after the Millennium Falcon reaches the Rebels’ rendezvous point, where the ship is met by a massive Imperial fleet.34
34. Star Wars: Behind the Magic[/quote]

I looked at magazine covers, book covers, searched for old illustrations and movies. What I didn’t bother to do is scramble trough old Sci Fi Series episodes.
I guess they got it directly trough literature …

[quote=“Asteroids in fiction - Wikipedia”]Another way in which asteroids could be considered a source of danger is by depicting them as a hazard to navigation, especially threatening to ships traveling from Earth to the outer parts of the Solar System and thus needing to pass the Asteroid Belt (or make a time- and fuel-consuming detour around it). In this context, asteroids serve the same role in space travel stories as reefs and underwater rocks in the older genre of seafaring adventure stories.3
3. Asimov, Isaac (1953). Lucky Starr and the Pirates of the Asteroids.[/quote]

Well now, 62 Years after Asimov imagined Space Pirates between the Asteroids we have this:

Funny fact … they show such stuff in documentaries … why?

And Destination: Planet Negro!
Don’t let yourself get fooled … this is from 2013!

Obviously inspired by this.

To be fair though … somewhere else it could look a lot different …


Another way to deal with influence:smile:

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