Tuesday, September 6, 2011

No Space For You!


In the "Rant" section of always-entertaining IO9, writer Charlie Anders recently expounded upon "Why We Need More Space Adventures", because the fall season of 2011 is the first time there is no show featuring space travelers since the "V" and "TNG" gap in the 1980s.

Anders serves as a fine social essayist in the "Space Opera" campaign, listing all the reasons audiences love stories on spaceships, whether self-congratulatory about human-invented technology (notice even when it is inferior, we still triumph over hostile aliens) or simply employing the tragic, damaged-goods, shirt-ripping hot shot who can wage war and woo women with equal charisma.

Firefly Cancelled
He includes in his list the "exploring strange new worlds" angle – certainly a huge part of sci-fi in terms of imagining what might be different on another planet or in another galaxy. We humans also explore what WE FEAR in these scenarios. The villains can often be as telling as the heroes.

However, my fear now is that we have contracted inward, entertaining only the petty politics and crime of Planet Earth, and we no longer think we're going out into the stars. Anders goes on to insist that fantasy won't cut it, neither will apocalypses or time-travel. What we lack suddenly is exploration. Pioneering. Have we lost even the desire for these things?

Our lives are reflected in our art, and perhaps his most chilling commentary on the state of our space dreams is: "…the Baby Boomers who propelled the Space Age are reaching retirement, now helping to propel the Debt Age."

Why We Need More Space Adventures
Perhaps too apt a metaphor

Anders challenges: "What comes first: an excitement about real-life space exploration, or a renewal of fictional space adventure? Could new shows about the wonders of space travel get people jazzed about going to Mars, or do we have to wait for NASA to launch a Mars mission before people will be interested again?"

A fine question. I could sit here and describe about a thousand books that remain unscripted, untapped, alone in all their space glory that will never see the screen. I could.

But I'm still trying to get over the cancellation of the last Star Trek series. Not that I watch much television anyway, but it's a sad commentary on how reality shows, chaotic kitchens, and "Corpse TV" have taken over. How many serial-killer-chasing dramas can people handle? Far too many, apparently. I find forensics and crime-solving as fascinating as the next person, but can't we do them in space, too?

That's what we need -- Law and Order: Lunar Crime Unit.

And no, we won't settle for animation

Well, someone tell Charlie that on the heels of this dilemma, NASA reports they hope to revive "hard sci-fi" to inspire future space forces. They're planning an initiative to promote accurate space science and science fiction novels to inspire young readers to embrace technology that makes space travel possible.

The hope is that someday, armed with mission details and the science that made them possible, they will aspire to become part of the space industry. At the very least, let's hope we spawn at least one hopeful candidate to take over FOX and quit cancelling everything cool.


RandomGit said...

Your thoughts have reached far and wide to distant galax... well, Australia, and resonated a chord loud as a light year spanning bass line.

Its good to see I'm not the only one sick of shows about cops, hospitals and lawyers.

Thalass said...

I'm still getting over the cancellation of Defying Gravity a few years ago. That was a relatively hard scifi character-driven show that didn't even make 10 episodes! It was advertised as "Grey's Anatomy in space" FFS!

HC said...

We should have buried that phony, bin Laden, at space, instead of at sea; maybe that would get people thinking again. It would be nice to see all his slob followers build spacecraft and visit his memorial had we launched his hypocritical corpse straight into Sol. Seal Team 6D!

Suzanne said...

I don't know if I should admit this but I'm addicted to "Ancient Aliens". George Tsoukalos and his wild hairdo make me want to go into space and find these guys who helped create the ancient engineering marvels. HA. There are some serious scientists contributing their two cents on the program, in an attempt not to get too far out there. The show did introduce me to engineer Christopher Dodd's work which is very, very interesting.

Space exploration shows seem to appear when the collective consciousness is in a hopeful stage and that doesn't seem to be where we are.

BTW, I am a baby boomer and we were the greatest supporters of space exploration. Can you imagine watching the moon landing live on TV? It was the most fantastic space exploration show ever. It was one of those times when everyone in the world came together for an event. September 11th was the moon landings doggelganger.

Heather said...

The Science Channel is trying by it's airing of Firefly last spring. But you're right, we always dreamt of the stars and it seems their light has been doused by our own luminous skylines.