The Changing Face of Science Fiction

I read an article lately in SciFi magazine, where three prominant stars of the scifi world were asked a question: Where is Science Fiction headed? They all answered: I have no idea, but I can't wait to find out, or something relatively similar to that. Where is Science Fiction headed? I think that to answer this question, we have to take a look at what's been going on in the past couple years with Science Fiction. Science Fiction has had a long history, with the first novels, then to the magazines, comics and during the 1970s and 1980s, the more visible parts of Science Fiction came to television and the big screen with 2001, Star Trek, and Star Wars, among others, setting a precident for science fiction in the coming years. As far as Television is concerned, Star Trek set the rules and regs, not to mention a good example for a number of other shows, from everything from storylines to aliens to societies. Star Trek was one of the longest running franchises which has ended recently. Why the sudden change?
The reason that Star Trek has since been ended is that demand has changed. People have seen different and new types of Science Fiction shows and have changed tastes. While there have been a number of different Science Fiction TV shows, all with their own innovations and new things, there are two that have stood out that have really broken the mold: Joss Whedon's Firefly and Ronald Moore's Battlestar Galactica.
These shows, more than anything that I've seen so have, have been a complete turnaround for some things in Science Fiction. Their stories are different- They have no aliens, which have often been a staple in SciFi TV, their stories and characters have been consistantly dark and at times, downright unlikable, and in Firefly's case, focues on a crew that really doesn't have much of an impact in the universe that they inhabit.
It's Battlestar Galactica that's made a huge splash- from it's contriversial beginnings as a remake that angered a lot of old fans, to it's huge hits with the ratings. Ron Moore has gone on record a number of times saying that one of the things that they've tried to do is re-invent the world of Science Fiction as we know it, down to some of the littlest details, where it really matters. Some of the storylines show this. Episode 2: Water, shows this when a saboteur destroys the Galactica's water tanks, causing massive problems throughout the fleet. Episode 10: Hand of God shows the fleet at a fuel crisis, while yet another episode reveals that the Cylons look like humans now, causing some more problems, while politics are the focus of a later episode. And inbetween, they shoot at the Cylons that are chasing them.
It's not only in the storylines that they're breaking the mold. The military, which has often had a good standing in Science Fiction, has gone through one of the most drastic changes, to something the most realistic. The SciFi channel has had some practice with this with their show Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis. In Galactica, we see soldiers in real combat gear- Helmets, tactical vests, BDUs, several guns and boots. They look like they're ready to kill something, while in some of the Star Trek or Babylon 5 episodes that I've seen, soldiers are usually not outfitted properly, although Babylon 5 improved over time. It's not just the uniform that's changed in the military, it's the way that the military runs. In Galactica, we see a very clear chain of command. Adama orders Col. Tigh to do something, who orders someone else to do something, and so on. Adama has rarely been done anything himself, and has acted like a commanding officer. In Trek or Babylon 5, we often see the most important person go down to a planet with nothing but a handgun. In any real life situation, Star Trek would have been without a number of their offices.
Firefly has little to do with the military, although at times, they do make their appearance, and once again, we see see soldiers that are properly outfitted for hard contact. But Firefly is not a military show, and is one of the few Science Fiction shows that has the military as the bad guys, the ones that they're trying to avoid the most. Firefly, in essence, are the rogues, the ones on the fringes of society. It's the storylines that sets Firefly apart from the other Science Fiction shows and movies. In the pilot episode, they steal food. In the second episode, they steal medicine, then return it. Then they steal more food, medicine, smuggle cows, dead bodies and an antique handgun. It's not really the smuggling that Han Solo and Chewbacca did.
Essentially, Science Fiction has gone from very dramatic to realism. We now have issues such as rape, murder, terrorism, fighting and squabbling in Science Fiction now, and the cast's reaction to what humans really do. It's us in space, no longer an ideal society that goes to the starts. It seems that we are going to be bringing all of our faults with us to the stars. This is the new face of Science Fiction- Us, as we are now.