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The Ars Technica science fiction bucket list—42 movies every geek must see

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Enlarge / From A to Z, as it were. This was fun. I liked making this. (credit: 20th Century Fox)

Here at Ars, we're always making lists (just like Liam Neeson). Lists of science fiction movies are a common item for discussion on the Ars staff Slack channel—particularly short lists of the best science fiction movies ever made. But "best" is an impossible word to quantify in any broadly applicable way—one person's "best ever" might be another person's worst, especially in a genre of movies as rich and varied as science fiction.

While the Ars staff has some bitter disagreements on which movies are better than others, it's undeniable that some science fiction movies are mandatory viewing for the modern geek. To that end, rather than try to pull together another tired "top ten sci-fi movies" listicle, we've instead polled the Ars staff to try to come up with a definitive "science fiction bucket list"—that is, a list of sci-fi movies that you should absolutely see at least once before you die. They aren't necessarily the "best" movies by any specific set of criteria, but every film on this list is outstanding in some particular way. Some were groundbreaking in their stories or subject matter, some were controversial, and some contained a character or plot twist that went on to become an archetype, referenced in and reused by countless other films. Some films on the list, like Fritz Lang's Metropolis, are pure cinematic poetry; others, like Pacific Rim, are pure popcorn fun. And, as a bonus, we even included a bonus list of a few absolutely terrible stinkers at the very bottom.

Strap in, dear reader, and pick through the Ars Technica sci-fi bucket list. Each staffer contributed a movie or two to the list, so we've captured a pretty broad range of must-see films. We're sure many folks are going to disagree over our choices—this is the Internet, after all, and arguments on the Internet about science fiction have been going on since the 1970s!—so you're welcome to tell us all of the movies we should have included but didn't down in the comments.

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teufel
620 days ago
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superiphi
596 days ago
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It's a gloomy list and few of them are films I want to see again...
Idle, Bradford, United Kingdom
JayM
622 days ago
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Was only missing 6... 3 of which are new.
Atlanta, GA
louloupix
623 days ago
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Interesting. J'en ai vu beaucoup mais encore plus que je n'ai pas vu...
Celine17
622 days ago
17/40 pour moi

This is the Greatest Note of All Time to Leave For Someone Who Sucks at Parking

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funny fail image horrible parking resulted in getting the ultimate bad parking note



Submitted by: (via whydoineedadongleformyheadphones)

Tagged: clever , family , FAIL , win , parking , note
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teufel
628 days ago
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superiphi
623 days ago
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there's only one problem: usually when you see someone really badly parked, it's because there were other badly parked cars - now gone - that forced them to park that way...
Idle, Bradford, United Kingdom
gyaresu
627 days ago
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Not clever. First time I've gone looking for the 'untrain' feature.
Tellus

Kid Needs Permission Slip to Read 'Fahrenheit 451,' His Dad's Response Is Brilliant

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Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury's cautionary tale about book censorship, was written as a response to the paranoid political climate of the McCarthy era, but its message apparently still hasn't sunk in. It's 2016, and some kids still aren't allowed to read the book without a permission slip from their parents.

Daily Show head writer Daniel Radosh just had to sign a note so his son could read it for a school book club. As Radosh's son Milo explained in the note, Fahrenheit 451 has been challenged over the years by parents who object to the book's mild swears ("hell" and "damn") and its depiction of Bible-burning.

But those objections miss the point of the novel—they could only be more ironic if parents were calling for copies of Bradbury's book to be destroyed. And Radosh is practically an irony-spotter by profession, so this wasn't lost on him. He signed the slip and attached his own note, praising Milo's teacher for immersing the kids so thoroughly in the world of Fahrenheit 451.

Here's what he wrote:

I love this letter! What a wonderful way to introduce students to the theme of Fahrenheit 451 that books are so dangerous that the institutions of society -- schools and parents -- might be willing to team up against children to prevent them from reading one. It's easy enough to read the book and say, 'This is crazy. It could never really happen,' but pretending to present students at the start with what seems like a totally reasonable 'first step' is a really immersive way to teach them how insidious censorship can be I'm sure that when the book club is over and the students realize the true intent of this letter they'll be shocked at how many of them accepted it as an actual permission slip. In addition, Milo's concern that allowing me to add this note will make him stand out as a troublemaker really brings home why most of the characters find it easier to accept the world they live in rather than challenge it. I assured him that his teacher would have his back. 

Looks like this assignment's going to be a learning experience for everyone involved. 

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teufel
631 days ago
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JayM
631 days ago
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Excellent!
Atlanta, GA
MotherHydra
632 days ago
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This guy's grey matter is functioning correctly. Brilliant response.
Space City, USA

I made a decoy wallet for pickpockets. TAKE THAT CRIME!

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I made a decoy wallet for pickpockets. TAKE THAT CRIME!

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teufel
652 days ago
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A Caiman Wearing a Crown of Butterflies Photographed by Mark Cowan

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cowan-caiman

Photograph by Mark Cowan

closeup

While traveling through the Amazon to study reptile and amphibian diversity with the Herpetology Division at the University of Michigan, photographer Mark Cowan happened upon a strange sight: a caiman whose head was nearly covered in butterflies. The phenomenon itself isn’t particularly unusual, salt is critical to the survival of many creatures like butterflies and bees who sometimes drink tears from reptiles in regions where the mineral is scarce (we’ve seen the same thing happen with turtles). What made this sight so unusual was seeing the butterflies organize themselves into three different species groups atop the caiman’s head.

Uh, also, that side eye!

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Cowan’s photograph received special commendation from the 2016 Royal Society Publishing photography competition, you can see the rest of this year’s finalists here.

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teufel
671 days ago
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iaravps
657 days ago
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😍
Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
subbes
670 days ago
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the smuggest reptile
SF Bay Area
ksw
672 days ago
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this needs to be a meme
Manhattan
ChristianDiscer
671 days ago
Kinda-of looks like Lady Gaga

robotlyra: Me: *watching* What the hell is the point of th- OH...

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robotlyra:

Me: *watching* What the hell is the point of th- OH MY GOD

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teufel
692 days ago
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Courtney
689 days ago
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Now that is some rocket design
Portland, OR
leiter420
692 days ago
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This is cool.
ChrisDL
694 days ago
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awesome. I want the back story.
New York
dreadhead
694 days ago
Hold my beer and pass me that duck tape I have an idea.
sirshannon
694 days ago
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Whoa.
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