Science fiction vs science: Both are featured in Chicago

Participants: Andrew Johnson


The article Trash our city, PLEASE! in the April 7, 2011 edition of CHICAGO TRIBUNE lauds the benefits of having the Second City be destroyed in big special-effects action pictures. Richard Moskal, director of the Chicago Film Office, is quoted as saying: “There is clearly a prestige that comes with being worthy of destruction. I doubt it would mean as much if it was New York City or Los Angeles destroyed again. It’s a bizarre sense of distinction few cities can claim.” Motivation for this article from journalist Chris Borrelli was last summer’s filming of the 3rd Transformers movie (to open July 1), and “Source Code” (which opened last weekend).

In an accompanying article, A series of unfortunate events for Chicago, Borrelli reviews a number of prior disaster stories set in the Midwest - featuring aliens, nukes, weather, grasshoppers and earthquakes! Chicago is, after all, close to the New Madrid fault, so it’s not necessarily all science fiction.

What does the UIC Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) have to do with this, you might ask? While all these stories focus on devastation and post-apocalyptic survival, the TRIBUNE cites EVL’s work on The Day the Earth Shook, a disaster-preparedness videogame for the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. Andy Johnson, UIC EVL and Computer Science associate professor, is quoted in the article, explaining that the goal is to teach children how to survive an earthquake. “But the idea was to make it general enough to apply to a number of disasters. We’re not used to disasters here. It’s been a while since ‘Beginning of the End.’”


Date: April 7, 2011
Still from “The Day the Earth Shook” disaster preparedness videogame created by EVL - A. Borsani, EVL

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