I just finished Continuum, and it had one of the more satisfying series endings that I’ve seen in a while. Spoilers will be saved for a bit later. Seasons 1 – 3 are up on Netflix now, and Season 4 (which recently ended) will probably make it’s way there later this year.
Continuum is about a set of time travelers that come back from 2077 to change the future. From the beginning it sets up an interesting set of axes. Our protagonist is part of a militant protection services body, chasing a set of terrorists called Liber8. Except those terrorists are what you’d recognize as people standing up for civil liberties and basic freedoms.
The first season is brilliant, and while it dips and weaves a little in season 2, season 3 and 4 pulled it back together for a solid ride.
Minor spoilers beyond this point, you’ve been warned.
In thinking back through the series, ever season folds over a new timeline on the ones before it. We end with a time travel event that causes a new twist in an interesting way. Apparently the creators originally had between 7 to 10 seasons worth of layers they were thinking about. The rather abrupt introduction of the time traveler at the end of season 3 and early in 4 definitely feels a little rushed, and something they would have held onto for another year or so if the end was not in sight.
But, at least they got season 4 to wrap it up. And while it felt like we were marching a bit faster, it didn’t feel forced. Pacing was one of the things that Continuum was always quite good at. Time wasn’t just the plot, it was also a key part of the art of this show.
If you are looking for good new Sci Fi, definitely give this one a shot. It stays quite true to itself to the end, and stays firmly on it’s rails the whole time.
“I’m stranded on Mars. I have no way to communicate with Hermes or Earth. Everyone thinks I’m dead. I’m in a Hab designed to last 31 days. If the Oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the Water Reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I’ll just kind of explode. If none of those things happen, I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death. So yeah. I’m fucked.” – Mark Watney
The Martian is one of my favorite books that I’ve read in a while. I’ve always felt that the “man vs. environment” theme was far under explored in scifi. Space is deadly. Most of the universe is completely hostile to life. And yet when major motion pictures do Mars movies they invent killer robots to trigger the suspense.
The Martian is a straight up hard scifi book about being stranded and surviving on Mars. It’s got a great mix of problem solving, the unexpected, and a wise cracking protagonist. Every challenge he has to overcome is completely realistic. No crazy deus ex machina to inject suspense where this is none. If you like hard sci fi, you’ll love this book.
And it’s being turned into a major motion picture this October, hopefully landing before our drive in closes for the year. So if books aren’t your thing, you could wait for the movie. But, you should really read the book. It’s a lot of fun.
Early in January I found out that the SyFy channel has a new TV series coming this year, called The Expanse. It’s a story that takes place 200 years in the future. Humanity has colonized Mars, which has become independent, and set up mining / science operations on a number asteroids and moons. It’s all based on a series of books that started publishing in 2011.
I decided to not wait for the series to air, and dive in on the books. 4 have published so far, and they all follow a narrative style, where the chapters flip back and forth between different character’s perspectives. The first book is two character perspectives, all the later ones are four. Some people that have distinctly small sub roles in early books become a main point of view later. The way it’s done makes it feel like a rich environment, you’ll never know when players will return in the future.
I’ve really enjoyed the series so far, can’t wait for book 5 to come out this summer. There are lots of really neat ideas in the books so far. The time delays on communication throughout the solar system, and what that causes. The “spinning up” of Ceres and Eros to provide centripetal artificial gravity on the inside. The use of Ganymede as both a Farming Planet, and where all the Belters go to carry their children to term (because it has a magnetosphere). And many more really interesting ideas that provide spoilers to the big story arc.
Definitely worth a read. And check out the trailer below for this coming to TV later this year.
A wonderful 6 minute compilation of visually stunning clips from 35 amazing films, from 1968 to 2014, including Star Trek, Star Wars, Aliens, Interstellar, Gravity and Guardians of the Galaxy.
This short film by Russian Video Editor Max Shishkin features music by Hans Zimmer (“Mountains” from the Interstellar Soundtrack); Lyrics (“Do not go gentle into that good night”) by Dylan Thomas; and Voice by Anthony Hopkins.
via Star Trek, Star Wars (and more) Cinematic Space Compilation.
Totally amazing remix of space scenes from various films. A testament to imagination, ambition, and special effects. I’ll admit I’ve been jonesing for some new good space Sci Fi TV after watching through Babylon 5 again recently. Hopefully the recent management shuffle at SyFy will help.
It’s good to step back some times and look at the really long view. Charlie Stross just did this with his new blog post on 2512, which provides a plausible look at what that world might be. I especially like the framing, about thinking what the world was like 500 years ago:
Five hundred years is a nearly unimaginable gulf from today’s perspective. Five centuries ago, the Portuguese conquistadores were beginning their rampage through South America; Martin Luther was finishing his doctorate in theology and thinking about sin: the huge sequence of civil wars that racked Japan for over a century were raging: the Great Powers were still the Chinese empire and the Caliphate (although the latter was undergoing a shift in center of gravity towards Istanbul and the Ottoman empire). The great powers in Europe were Spain and Venice; the English speaking world was a few million barbarians occupying a handful of damp islands on the outer fringes of Europe. It’s more than twice the historical existence of the USA to this date. Of our social institutions, very few survive from that long ago: the Catholic Church (and various orders and sub-groups within it), the Japanese Monarchy, and so on. A handful of universities, banks, and other institutions. The half-life of a public corporation today is about 30 years: ten half-lives out — 300 years hence — we may expect only one in a million to survive.
The whole post is definitely worth your time, but I do keep coming back to that half life statement. We take it for granted some time that organizations that exist today will be there tomorrow. But the reality is there is nothing magical about organizations, it’s about the people. Things only get done because some decides to do them.
Contemplating the long view seems like an appropriate Sunday morning activities.
This project on kickstarter jumped out at me, both because it’s a hard Sci-Fi short film, and because it’s being shot an hour north of here in Hudson, NY. They’ve already passed their kickstarter goals, and are closing in on their new budget which would add a number of new elements to the film.
Given that cable TV has basically given up on Sci-Fi (fake wrestling and fake haunted houses having nothing Sci about them), it’s nice to see an independent Sci-Fi movement taking hold. If you want to see more things like this, please throw in your own support.
Porkchop sent me a link to this comic and I loved it, especially after having a “sensors” conversation about a year ago. Click on the image to get to the site.