Science Fiction

Wallflower Revolution

My wife’s key criticism of the JJ Abram’s near future sci-fi series Revolution, currently showing on Sky in the UK, related to the plants.

If civilisation collapsed 15 years ago, what’s with the plants growing all over the buildings in major cities? How come the plants grew rampant, but not quite so rampant as to be aesthetically displeasing…

My question would take a slightly different focus – why so little destruction in the urban landscape of the Revolution future? Is that down to the aesthetics also?

Last Summer, the UK experienced widespread riots and looting in major cities. The other day, someone blew up a forecourt cash machine with explosives.

If the power goes out and the leaders lose control (and interest), why wouldn’t the whole world completely go to shit. Wouldn’t the people with anti-social tendencies, tenuously controlled and restrained by current authorities, just go ape-shit when everything collapsed? Wouldn’t the mad, the bad, and the dangerous to ang around with find flammables and explosives and then lay waste to almost everything?

Never mind the vines… Why are the buildings still standing?!

Am I Touched?

I have put my faith in the hands of Tim Kring before. I commited time to watch his creation. I invested years in pursuit of an explanation. I sought satisfaction in the midst his storytelling. In Heroes I did, for a season or two, feel the paypack for my faith. I found profit in my investment. Kring turned out a story that gripped me from week to week. In that first season of Heroes, I genuinely found myself on the edge of my seat. I mean that – I perched with excitement and groaned when the end of the episode rolled around. I wallowed in anticipation for the rest of the week, looking forward to the next slice of horn-rimmed spectacles and clockwork supervillianism.

Last night, I watched Touch. I watched it on Sky, and I’ve started with episode two. Somehow I missed episode one, but the IMDB entry sufficed to bring me more or less up to speed. My wife doubted Kring from the outset and a passing comment questioned whether Kiefer Sutherland could be anyone but Jack from 24. I watched without prejudice and opened myself up to the possibilities. I want to give Kring the chance he deserves. While Heroes meandered, faultered and declined, before passing away with a wheezing gasp, I’m prepared to move on. I can offer Kring a clean slate to work from. I propose to watch Touch untainted by cynicism.

I liked the episode. I didn’t come away from it feeling like I did with Heroes. I suspect I could stop watching right now and not worry at all. I wouldn’t lose sleep worrying about what I might have missed. I can see how that attitude might work against me, as I already detect a need for investment. I noticed a reference to 3:18PM in the synopsis of Episode 1, and 318 appeared above the door of the pawn shop in Episode 2. I watched the excited Japanese girls travelling with their digital video camera, but didn’t see any relevance to their presence within the context of the story. I can see strings flapping around. I note the possible threads that lie here and there.

I watched the whole of Lost, from start to finish. I followed the experiences of Agent Cooper through both seasons of Twin Peaks, through thick and thin. I have invested myself in short lived series and long. I approach Touch with an open mind, but also with a sense of trepidation. When Lost concluded, I felt robbed; whereas, the closing moments of Twin Peaks assured me I had not wasted my time. I hope that time I gift to Tim Kring in this new creation will not go to waste. I trust in his creative genius to offer me something worthy.

Don’t let me down, Tim.

For The Crunch

I love the crunch of a good spaceship. I fascinate myself with the sort of geeky merchandise that injects a sense of reality and solidity into works of imagination. I mean technical manuals on the USS Enterprise or a Klingdon D-7 Battlecruiser. I flick through one of these documents with a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. I consider the potential power output of a warp drive or the complications faced by an engineering crew in getting access to the tertiary cooling manifold of a nacelle. I like to know where you can go to get yourself a replicated snack, or the ideal spot to get assigned quarters to have good access to the escape pods.

I don’t necessarily consider myself to be a geek because of this. I like dipping books and these fit the bill. I can’t imagine anyone ever intends to sit down and read straight through a technical manual like this. Similar to a roleplaying rule book, I daresay the best method must be the skim, seeking out interesting facets of the content and roaming around until you have all you need. I find it odd that I like to dip in reading, because I dislike dipping in food. I find buffet setups unsatisfying and hate to construct my own food, a la Mexican. I suffer a disconcerting loss of appetite and interest when faced with a table filled with tiny plates and bowls of something. On the other hand, greeted with a thick volume chock full of bits of almost everything, I dig in. I possess an inch-thick copy of the Encyclopedia of the Marvel Universe precisely for this reason. I don’t even like Marvel comics or their superheroes, but love pulling this book off the shelf and ‘hero hopping’ for half-an-hour. I have similar experience when researching online at Wikipedia, or similar sites – chasing down crosslinks and citations until I’m giggling with joy.

Up to 10 years ago, I ran play-by-mail sci fi battle games. Oddly, I don’t enjoy strategy games much myself, but loved running them for other people. I created a small string of games that ran in a successive chain – starting with a generic game, then passing through interations based on Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars and, finally, Star Trek. I spent a great deal of time creating these games and coming up with fairly comprehensive charts to outline types of ship, set the mechanics of their component parts and define the way they interacted as in-game bonuses. During the game, players could research and develop new kit and devices for troops and ships, adding unique abilities or key enhancements.

I wonder as I enter my fourth paragraph where I might be going. I think, in the grand scheme, I’m outing myself for a semi-geek. I find comfort and entertainment in reading something crunchy that others might find surprisingly unappetising.

Times Up

Timed writing exercise, using each word from the sentence – “It is an intuitive, user-friendly
software package, simple to maintain, operate and upgrade as necessary.” – to start off individual sentences or sections of speech. Approximately 10 minutes writing time, with no expectations of completing the story.

Sentence taken from the following document: Securing the UK Government Communication Headquarters

It didn’t take long for the power to completely drain away, and leave her eyes staring at the emergency oxygen gauge. Is the prospect of death, perhaps, the greatest focus for precision and observation ever created?

An eager sub-system regulated the flow of the atmosphere that remained, adjusting the mixture of gases to provide minimal life support. Intuitive interface graphics glimmered bright and red or, more optimistically, a burnt orange. User-friendly displays didn’t figure in Amanda’s top three concerns at the moment, as a dull ache bloomed in her chest, lungs working harder to draw every breath.

Software managed the rough balance of hardware and wetware in the station, dispassionately dividing up power and resources. Package it up in statistics and even the expiry of human life simply boils down to just enough system making demands. Simple survival comes down to competing with the very objects of human creation.

To live better and more comfortably, we built without consideration of what might happen when things went wrong. Maintain didn’t figure if excess got in the way and demanded all the attention.

“Operate or die,” Amanda muttered, pulling herself across the room with leaden limbs, “Computer? Can you lock down sections nine through eleven, then channel the atmosphere through into the core?”

And then what, she thought, what more can I do except hang here a little longer, feeling life ebb away with every precious breath?

“Upgrade protocols for core services initiated. Atmospheric recycle processing.”

As the venting hissed, Amanda felt a slight buzz in her veins. Necessary as she felt her existence might be to the success of the mission, she hoped someone alive in another section of the station would value her life enough not to rob her of an atmosphere like she had just done to Groves and Oakley.