Alternate essay endings

It should be noted that one way that semi-divine beings have been making their way profitably into science fiction is through the notion of natural beings that are so advanced that they are as gods to us. Like supernatural gods, who exist outside of time and physics, these natural gods -- sometimes former humans or advanced AI computers -- are still beyond our comprehension. They are still constrained by reality, however, and that can make them interesting as elements in a story. As Vernor Vinge wrote, it is still a mistake to have a super-mind as a point-of-view character, and their actions should remain mostly off-screen to set up challenges for our more human protagonists, but they can still spice up a story. Because Baltar says at the very end of BSG, "You know it doesn't like that name (God)," some have wondered if the God of Galactica is in fact a non-supernatural, highly advanced being. This seems unlikely when you consider the scope of its powers, but in any event no further evidence for this position was ever given.

1. Dr. Strangelove (1964) – You may remember otherwise, but the climactic scene where Slim Pickens rides the bomb down is not actually the ending of Strangelove (though even if it were, it would still be #1 on our list). Rather, there is a strange scene afterwards in which the leaders of the free world wait for the end of the world while having a demented argument about how to survive the impending nuclear winter (‘We must not have a mine shaft gap!’). Then, signaling apocalypse, Peter Sellers’ titular mad scientist, wheelchair-bound for the entire movie, stands up and begins to walk, before the War Room (and the rest of the world) explodes to the tune of ‘We’ll Meet Again.’ It’s all weird but absurdly logical, like everything about Kubrick’s masterpiece. -DB

The type of ending an author chooses depends on his or her purpose. When the purpose is to entertain, endings may be happy or tragic, or a surprise ending may provide a twist. Endings can be circular, looping back to the beginning so readers end where they began, or they can leave the reader hanging, wishing for more. Endings can be deliberately ambiguous or ironic, designed to make the reader think, or they can explicitly state the moral of the story, telling the reader what to think. Strong endings for expository texts can summarize the highlights, restate the main points, or end with a final zinger statement to drive home the main point to the audience.

Alternate essay endings

alternate essay endings

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