Adventure Time?

Kristin Devine

Kristin has humbly retired as Ordinary Times' friendly neighborhood political whipping girl to focus on culture and gender issues. She lives in a wildlife refuge in rural Washington state with too many children and way too many animals. There's also a blog which most people would very much disapprove of

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10 Responses

  1. Kolohe says:

    Have you seen the Expanse (or read the book series)? It to me seems like the current inheritor of the DS9/BSG ‘hard sci fi’ legacy, with substantial world-building surrounding a plot that moves along at an appropriate pace.

    (It’s been discussed here on these pages a while ago. I myself skipped that discussion because I had not caught up with the series yet)Report

  2. North says:

    I enjoyed BSG and even considered it art until their series finale which, frankly, retroactively converted almost all the the preceding series to festering fecal matter.
    One punch man is really quite fun- agreed. Great article.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to North says:

      Concur on OPM, can’t wait to see where it goes with Season 2.Report

    • George Turner in reply to North says:

      I wrote a Shakespearean pastiche of BSG that was longer than Hamlet, but stopped after two acts because the season 2 ending blew out my plot line. Ronald D Moore loved it, though.

      I also had an idea for a quite different back story for the series, one based on a business idea I had regarding Stargate SG-1. In short, while the Stargate program was traveling to hundreds of other planets, it should’ve been franchising Coca Cola, KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut, while founding new restaurants here based on alien cuisines, all while keeping the public in the dark. And of course exploiting its monopolistic position as the only Stargate program to massively profit from selling medicine, technology, cars, airliners, art, books, and music between all the planets in the network. But the idea is too dark for SG-1 to implement, though they did posit elements of it with Colonel Maybourne and NID’s black ops.

      Would it be unethical and corrupt? Of course it would. Thus it would be ideally suited for a dark series like BSG.

      To handle the Cylon angle (which isn’t actually required for the secret trading block theme to work), my story line is that the ancient people of Atlantis developed humanoid robots and then died out in a plague. The plague could’ve been natural, due to human hubris, or caused by the robots themselves. In any event, these robots assume the role of gods to the primitive civilizations in the Mediterranean region, and realizing how fragile humanity is, decide that having all the eggs in one basket is too dangerous. So the robots spread humans to another star system, founding the 12 colonies. Then over time the robot gods shut themselves down

      Jump forward several thousand years to a Colonial archaeology team on a remote site that finds one of the original robot gods, along with a trove of information giving details of the journey from Earth.

      So they have to decide what to do with their find. First off, the discovery would throw society into chaos and perhaps cause massive religious wars. Yet the public must be told of such a critical find because their received history is obviously wrong.

      The group starts arguing, and since the stakes are so high bloodshed ensues. The victor in the dispute sets a very different course. He’ll make a fortune by keeping the discovery secret, while patenting the newly uncovered technologies, including the “invention” of Cylons. So he founds a tech company that becomes a huge corporation built around a deep secret.

      Fast forward to a subsequent CEO who is fascinated by the Earth angle. He sends a few survey/exploration vessels out to update the navigational data (stellar drift, etc) and retrace the route to Earth. If he’s already making a fortune exploiting one small trove of secret technology, then Earth is bound to be packed with even more technology that he can similarly exploit at enormous profit. If not, then he can introduce Colonial tech to Earth and make a fortune there, too, while using the Colonials technological edge to perhaps even take Earth over. He doesn’t know which society might be ahead, but he knows that neither must ever find out what he’s doing so that he retains total control over the flow and ownership of technology, art, and everything else.

      So he is rightly paranoid and secretive, and doesn’t allow any pilot or crew to know the whole clandestine trade route, nor even what it really does. The route will exist as scattered outposts and transfer points taken from the original Cylon flight logs. He cons expendable people to man the outposts, and expends them when their years-long crew rotations end.

      So as the series opens with the Cylon attack, part of the story will be how some of these corporate folks, whose intimate knowledge of Cylons is helpful to the surviving Colonials, are also dropping clues so that the fleet can either use the clandestine trade route’s outposts, or to make sure the fleet doesn’t discover them. This would give a Baltar character a lot more to hide and a lot of knowledge that nobody else has.

      You could also posit that some of the 12 humanoid Cylons know what’s going on, and perhaps someone like six has already beaten everyone to Earth, where she’s preparing some kind of reception. You could also posit that the 12 models have been visiting Earth for centuries, showing flashbacks of what they were up to.

      It opens up the story to all kinds of new and interesting elements, and could set part of it on our present or future Earth. I think it would’ve been better than the mysterious cro magnon ending.Report

      • North in reply to George Turner says:

        Anything, including a flaming sack of dog shit, would have been better than the existing “we abruptly and inconceivably abandon everything we fought for and choose to die shivering in primeval darkness” ending.Report

  3. Burt Likko says:

    My first science fiction was Isaac Asimov. A bit maligned today, but the thing I loved best about Asimov was the imagination to think of “what if this were different?” and then play that idea out to a conclusion. Most recently I can think of that idea in Moon, a relatively recent movie starring the hugely enjoyable Sam Rockwell.

    BSG hit its best point in the abortion episode, telling the same story as Lucifer’s Hammer — a society has the kinds of morals it can afford, and when circumstances change, different moral choices need to be made.

    I’m very interested in the Expanse for this sort of thing, after reading the post here.Report

  4. bookdragon says:

    I after reading this, and realized it was one I hadn’t shown the kids because of the sex scenes. But now that they’re old enough teens that isn’t so much of a concern so I started rewatching and letting them see why I substitute ‘frak’ for the usual f word.

    Also I will have to find Violet Evergarden. That sounds like an amazing series and I love redemption stories that deal with emotional trauma in ways besides ‘go out and kill somebody for revenge/out of rage’. (One of the things I truly love about DS9 is how Kira grapples with her past and all the reasons she has to hate Cardassians, and facing the fact that even real scum like Dukat are not just evil monsters. The places where she sees they can be worthy of sympathy, are places where she grows and heals).

    I have to ask also if you’ve read Ursula Le Guin (beyond just Wizard of Earthsea). Her world building in the Hainish cycle is outstanding in the way that explores how the culture and mindset of individuals is influenced by their social and environmental setting. A lot of the books are based on that initial ‘what if..?’ of one change in physiology or social structure and how impacts the outlook of a whole planet. C. J. Cherryh is really good for that too, especially her Chanur series. Those those are much less action adventure than most scifi, and focus a lot more on world-building and the misunderstanding and miscommunication that might come of interaction with a non-humanoid alien species.Report

  5. Pinky says:

    I can appreciate BSG as a meditation on certain themes. A better show would have meditated on those themes and told a coherent story with non-insane characters, but that wasn’t BSG. I feel the same way about Lost, kind of. Not that the characters were as messed up as BSG, but that it tried something new and bold, and even when it fell a little short it worked as a reflection on themes. Actually, now that I think about it, they dealt with some of the same themes: fate, faith, isolation, the nature of power, and a bunch of unresolved family issues. You could probably make an interesting article comparing them.

    I think Lost did a better job, in that it held more-or-less together for more seasons, and I also have go give it credit for its narrative structure that was completely new for TV.Report

  6. I’ve been pondering exactly what it is that I like about science fiction too. I had a big revelation in my own thought after reading J. D. Cowan’s long review of Sam Lundwall’s Science Fiction: An Illustrated History. There is a lot interesting material here, and also a lot of Cowan’s opinions and axes to grind.

    Cowan also talked about the definition of science fiction as being at heart an adventure story, but it is interestingly different than D’Ammassa’s:

    “Wonder is a trait from adventure fiction and its subgenres fantasy and horror. It is the adventure of exploring new lands, peoples, and possibilities.”

    I think looking at science fiction [and fantasy and other stuff too] in this light can include the fun of watching the author construct the inner workings of a protagonist’s everyday life. But, at the same time, I think there is a very real tension between science fiction as a romance in a futuristic milieu, and speculative fiction of all types that is much more focused on setting up a world and seeing where it goes.Report