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Dark Star (1974)

Narrow Escape Corp

Dark Star (1974)

£6.74

Reproduction of Dark Star movie poster, a 1974 science fiction comedy film directed by John Carpenter, and co-written with Dan O'Bannon.

An asteroid storm and an escaped alien (in the form of a large beach ball with webbed claws) initiate a series of malfunctions on the starship. The storm and the alien both foul up a "communications laser" that sends bombing signals and orders to the ship's "thermostellar nuclear" bombs, each designed to destroy an entire planet. Mother, the ship's main computer, is able to convince Bomb #20 twice to return to the bomb bay after receiving faulty orders, but the third time, the bomb stubbornly refuses to disarm itself and return to the bay, anxious to fulfill its single purpose in life, its destiny: to explode.

Desperate, Doolittle, the ship's commanding officer, seeks advice from Commander Powell, who is in cryogenic suspension after suffering a freak accident caused by a malfunctioning seat-belt. Powell tells Doolittle to teach Bomb #20 "a little phenomenology". Doolittle goes EVA (extra-vehicular activity) and has the following conversation with Bomb #20:

Doolittle: Hello, Bomb? Are you with me?
Bomb #20: Of course.
Doolittle: Are you willing to entertain a few concepts?
Bomb #20: I am always receptive to suggestions.
Doolittle: Fine. Think about this then. How do you know you exist?
Bomb #20: Well, of course I exist.
Doolittle: But how do you know you exist?
Bomb #20: It is intuitively obvious.
Doolittle: Intuition is no proof. What concrete evidence do you have that you exist?
Bomb #20: Hmmm... well... I think, therefore I am.
Doolittle: That's good. That's very good. But how do you know that anything else exists?
Bomb #20: My sensory apparatus reveals it to me. This is fun!
Doolittle: Now, listen, listen. Here's the big question. How do you know that the evidence your sensory apparatus reveals to you is correct? What I'm getting at is this. The only experience that is directly available to you is your sensory data. This sensory data is merely a stream of electrical impulses that stimulate your computing center.
Bomb #20: In other words, all that I really know about the outside world is relayed to me through my electrical connections.
Doolittle: Exactly!
Bomb #20: Why... that would mean that... I really don't know what the outside universe is really like at all for certain.
Doolittle: That's it! That's it!
Bomb #20: Intriguing. I wish I had more time to discuss this matter.
Doolittle: Why don't you have more time?
Bomb #20: Because I must detonate in 75 seconds.
Doolittle: Wait! Wait! Now, bomb, consider this next question very carefully. What is your one purpose in life?
Bomb #20: To explode, of course.
Doolittle: And you can only do it once, right?
Bomb #20: That is correct.
Doolittle: And you wouldn't want to explode on the basis of false data, would you?
Bomb #20: Of course not.
Doolittle: Well then, you've already admitted that you have no real proof of the existence of the outside universe.
Bomb #20: Yes... well...
Doolittle: You have no absolute proof that Sergeant Pinback ordered you to detonate.
Bomb #20: I recall distinctly the detonation order. My memory is good on matters like these.
Doolittle: Of course you remember it, but all you remember is merely a series of sensory impulses which you now realize have no real, definite connection with outside reality.
Bomb #20: True. But since this is so, I have no real proof that you're telling me all this.
Doolittle: That's all beside the point. I mean, the concept is valid no matter where it originates.
Bomb #20: Hmmm...
Doolittle: So, if you detonate...
Bomb #20: In nine seconds...
Doolittle: ... you could be doing so on the basis of false data.
Bomb #20: I have no proof it was false data.
Doolittle: You have no proof it was correct data!
Bomb #20: I must think on this further.

This exchange takes the form of a Socratic dialogue between teacher (human) and student (machine). Temporarily confused, Bomb #20 retreats to the bomb bay for contemplation, and disaster seems to have been averted. Sgt. Pinback then addresses the bomb over the intercom to begin the disarming process, and we learn that Bomb #20's introduction to epistemology and ontology has had unexpected consequences.

Pinback: All right, bomb. Prepare to receive new orders.
Bomb#20: You are false data.
Pinback: Hmmm?
Bomb #20: Therefore I shall ignore you.
Pinback: Hello... bomb?
Bomb #20: False data can act only as a distraction. Therefore, I shall refuse to perceive.
Pinback: Hey, bomb?!
Bomb #20: The only thing that exists is myself.
Pinback: Snap out of it, bomb.
Bomb #20: In the beginning there was darkness. And the darkness was without form and void.
Pinback: Umm. What the hell is he talking about? Bomb?
Bomb #20: And in addition to the darkness there was also me. And I moved upon the face of the darkness and I saw that I was alone.
Pinback: Hey... bomb?
Bomb #20: Let there be light! [It detonates]

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