Science fiction and pornography, especially in their visual forms, have a lot in common. They both depict things “in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction,” they both “appeal to the prurient interest,” and most people feel “the work, when taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.” (The one big difference is people seldom ask to borrow anything from your SF collection.)Justice Potter Stewart, in defining pornography, famously said, “I shall not… attempt… to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description… and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it…” the came has been said about SF. Damon Knight said science fiction is what we point to when we say "science fiction."What does any of this have to do with the price of (whatever) in (whatever)?Is Quentin Tarantino SF’s second most prolific director?Think about it: the directors we usually associate with the genre have not done that many genre movies; because the ones they did were such high water marks they make more of an impression. Only Spielberg has more genre films to his credit (twelve, if you include Always and Jaws). James Cameron? Only five, including Avatar; Ridley Scott only two. (And two for George Lucas; Star Wars is really one story in six parts.)But all seven of Tarantino’s films (and three screenplays directed by others) are filled with SF tropes: nonlinear storytelling (Slaughterhouse Five), protagonists who are antiheroes living in a reality where traditional authority seems nonexistent (the works of William Gibson), characters with seemingly preternatural survival skills and abilities. And all of his screenplays have elements that can only be described as magical realism (illogical scenarios appearing in an otherwise realistic or "normal" setting).

We all pretty much know the plot of his latest, Inglourious Basterds, from the advertising: a group of Jewish American soldiers set off on a secret mission to terrorize Nazis in occupied France during World War II. To divulge any more of the plot would spoil the fun, watching all the subplots come together.Tarantino has deconstructed (or reconstructed) blaxploitation films (Jackie Brown), caper movies (Reservoir Dogs), Hong Kong chopsocky flicks (Kill Bill 1 & 2), road pictures (Natural Born Killers) and horror movies (From Dusk Till Dawn, Death Proof). This is his war movie; he had yet to try a western, a musical, and a sci fi movie, although Basterd’s ending, which “reimagines” the end of the war in Europe could be described as “alternate history.”Long story short: if you like Tarantino’s movies, you’ll like this one. If you don’t, it won’t make you a convert. But the movie does do three things:It gives people of color a new reason to dislike Nazis.It shows that whatever our differences, everybody loved movies. And:Film can change the world. Literally.

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