Watched a sci-fi movie today, not a great one but worth watching on about day one million of quarantine. Actually, it was worth watching not because it was a great movie, but because I had some insights into the whole genre, as it was basically one cliche after another.
The idea was that there was a problem with the Earths outer core, the molten part had stopped moving and was just sitting there, so people with pacemakers were dying, flocks of birds were going crazy, and the space shuttle had to make an emergency landing in the Los Angeles river. There are certainly more beautiful rivers in the world, like any of them, but the Los Angeles river has probably appeared in more dystopian sci-fi than any other.
Anyway, they assembled a team of scientists to go down to the center of the Earth and fix the problem (with nukes, natch), and it included a humble college professor, a lady astronaut (and of course they were the two survivors), a jovial French scientist, the know it all celebrity scientist who everybody hated and almost wrecked the mission by panicking but eventually redeemed himself by dying, the eccentric black scientist who lived out in the desert and built the ‘ship’ which could take them down there, and the least significant guy, who was the first to die.
There was one scene, where college professor was explaining to the military brass what was happening by slicing open a piece of fruit, and he explained how the thin skin was the atmosphere, the pulp was the mantel, and the pit was the core, and I realized: this bit, this little bit right here, is the educational part, disguised as part of the action, and what makes it worthwhile to watch science fiction.
Because, unlike with most genres, you actually learn something.

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