Category Archives: science fiction

Peter Straub’s “Ghost Story” gives an example of what I am doing in a current novel manuscript

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One of the issues for a novelist, in doing a large work, is point of view. Many novels are written in third person from the viewpoint of an “omniscient observer”, who knows everything, and who can pull the puppet strings at will. Movies often show plot points from the private viewpoints of multiple characters, before the payoff at the end. In life, though, an individual knows what he knows (a tautology). You can expand this concept to “family”, but we know that doesn’t always work. *

I’ve had this issue in my own writing more recently. Earlier novels were always from the single viewpoint (almost) of “Bill” (with occasional interruptions, like with dream sequences, to show what others may know). In “TR II” I started telling the same sorties from the viewpoints of others (April 29).

There’s a well known horror novel that shows how established authors tackle this problem. I won’t even get into Steven King right now (although I liked “Dreamcatcher” particularly). The novel in question is the 1979 epic “Ghost Story” by Peter Straub, and author about my own age, so he wrote this novel when he was in his 30s.

I recommend reading the detailed plot synopsis on Wikipedia  if you haven’t read the novel. A major part of the setup is the four elderly men in the “Chowder Society” telling each other ghost stories. This method of plot development allows the transmission of various narratives from the viewpoints of multiple characters, with the idea that the plot threads can be interconnected. In fact, toward the end of the novel, we find out a horrifying connection, a crime that had been stuffed in a trunk and buried in a lake. But the narratives on their own are fascinating. Early in the novel Sears tells about his experience as a teacher and running into the consequences of possible intra-familial sexual abuse in the story of Fenny Bate. But the novel offers an extended middle section with the story of Anna Mobley, who had been the lover of one of the member’s twin brother, who also had been in a teaching position. The entire Mobley sequences was embedded in a “novel” by one of the authors of the Ghost Stories.

The idea that there are interlinked narratives with varying degrees of “truth” relative to the base timeline of a novel is well developed in “Ghost Stories”. Straub deals with the idea that people make up stories of narratives of things they might have done or might have a propensity to do. This issue caused a major issue when I had a substitute teaching job myself (link ). The 1981 film directed by John Irvin (Universal Pictures) cut a lot of the detail from the novel and was not particularly effective. I saw it in Dallas. I think this could make a good TV series, but would it be “brought up to date” technologically?

(Published Monday, May 19, 2014 at 4:30 PM EDT)

“Judas Kiss” and “The Tree of Life” (and a few other surreal films)

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In another post about scrambled-egg identities and maybe time travel, before I get back to my own work again, I wanted to talk about a few LGBT films, and maybe a couple more mainstream independent films.

The main source of inspiration right now seems to be the 2011 film “Judas Kiss”, directed by J.P. Tepnapa, written with Carlos Pedraza.  I saw the movie at the Reading Cinema on the Minneapolis East Bank at the LGBT film festival in 2011 and the director was at the QA. The film is now distributed by Wolfe.

The basic concept is that a flailing screenwriter and director Zachary Wells, now supposed to be about 35, played by Charlie David, returns to his alma mater Keystone University (depicted as being in the Seattle area) to participate as a judge in a college filmmaking contest.  Soon, in a nearby disco, he meets Danny Reyes (Richard Harmon), who suddenly seduces him.  Quickly, Zach finds out that Danny is trying to enter the same short film (“Judas Kiss”) about family child abuse into the contest, and begins to suspect he has time-traveled and that Danny is another incarnation of him.  One critics on Rotten Tomatoes called this the “The movie about the man who had sex with himself” (“and it’s never mentioned again”), link (and plot details) here.

What makes this movie work for me is the trio of three young gay male college students: Danny, then Chris (Sean Paul Lockhart, generally known from “adult cinema”) and Shane (Timo Descamps, a rising star in both the music and film world from Belgium and the Netherlands).  All three are athletic, clean-cut, role model type gays (too young for chest hair, in comparison to Zach), including “bad boy” music student Shane Lyons, the alpha male of the group, who can have anything (and anybody) he wants because he is the biggest and strongest, and the richest.  Yes, Danny “fears” Shane the way one should fear God (the “back rub” scene between them is one of the most gently erotic in all of cinema).  There is a youtube video where Timo Descamps and Richard Harmon run a race, and Harmon actually wins.

But does the premise make sense?  Is Zach-Danny the same person in two bodies?  Who owns the chain of consciousness?  Will Danny get a second chance for a “better life” and change history?

There is something about the male student atmosphere here.  It seems like a world where homosexuality is the norm, and where heterosexuality need not exist (except for Ronald Reagan, especially when took his pants off in “John Loves Mary” – showing, as “Christopher Street” pointed out in 1985, that Ronnie had gone downhill fast) because, well, the stork will bring you babies, collect on delivery.  No need for the caring intimacy of a husband for the entire childbirth process (as filmmaker Morgan Spurlock shows for his wife at tend of his own “Where in the World Is Osama bin Laden?”)  Different strokes for different folks.

There are a few other films to dispatch here.  One is “The House of Adam” by Jorge Ameer.  In the Tahoe area, a business owner hires a gay man (Jared Cadwell) to run his café. When the business is taunted by homophobic visitors, the owner hires his son to check up on things.  This was a first a short film in the set “Straight Men and the Gay Men who Love Them”.  You wonder after twenty minutes where Ameer is going with this material.   The story gets messy.  Pretty soon, Cadwell is murdered in a home invasion, and then some time after, a new couple moves in, and starts to encounter an angelic ghost or reincarnation of Adam.

One idea that works in films with this kind of material is to go on the road, and see what’s “out there” to change your view of the universe, even as Jack Kerouac (“On the Road”, “Big Sur”) would see it. One of these is a notorious short film, “Bugcrush” (2006) by Carter Smith.  A high school “bad boy” Grant (Donald Cumming) takes a naïve but nerdy Ben (Josh Caras) on a road trip to a (a la Stephen King) Maine “cabin in the woods” to show him his bug collection, and then seduce him.  The last five minutes are riveting, as you wonder if Ben (after being undressed) is being prepared to become bug food.  The film runs 36 minutes, too long for most shorts  festivals but seems very spare; it could well have been a feature, with a little more explanation of the ambiguous ending.  The film is released by Strand as a set “Boys Life 6”

Another road film, without supernatural ideas but stylistically related, is “Old Joy” (2006), by Kelly Reichardt.  People may compare it to Ang Lee’s “Brokeback Mountain” but it is a much simpler narrative.  From Portland, OR, a young heterosexually married man Mark (Daniel Landon with a pregnant wife goes on a weekend road trip into the Cascades with a drifting old buddy Kurt (Will Oldham). After an appropriate buildup and arrival at a lean-to near a natural hot sbring, the men enter a hot tub, and Kurt, in gentle fashion, brings on the intimacies.  Dan seems to need this one last time in his life.

The “time travel” component of “Judas Kiss” comports with that of a much larger film, “The Tree of Life”, by Terrence Malick, which I had seen at the Uptown Theater in Minneapolis the night before (when a couple of celebrities appeared).  The theater management actually offered refunds to people disoriented by the unusual effects in the film.  The main backstory of the film concerns a family in Texas, with the senior Mr. Obrien (Brad Pitt) and then the son Jack (Sean Penn as an adult).  The elder regrets has not having become a musician (a theme in my own life).  His son may become what dad should have been, but the adult son, after a setback of his own (seems to be shot in downtown Minneapolis) suddenly has a vision of the end of the world, all the way until the Sun becomes a red giant.  I’m not sure what is said by the collapse of time at the beginning and then the end of the movie.


Perhaps I should have been a composer and pianist myself, as I have written elsewhere.  If I meet someone a few decades younger who writes the way I do and expresses the same attitude, and succeeds professionally as a musician, and if I can anticipate his new music in dreams, have I experienced some of “Judas Kiss” or “Tree of Life” (which seems curiously parallel to the gay film).

“Lost Highway” and other David Lynch films; “Body Snatchers”: can people ever trade bodies?

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One of the most controversial films of David Lynch is “Lost Highway” (1997).  In the plot, a troubled saxophone player Fred Madison (Bill Pullman) is taunted by a “Mystery Man” and intrusive video tapes left at his home.  He winds up accused of killing his wife and in prison, even on death row. Suddenly he seems to switch bodies with a young auto mechanic named Pete Dayton (Balthazar Getty).  Eventually, he switches back.

One can read the entire plot synopsis on Wikipedia, with all its twists and connections between the two protagonists’ narratives. But does it really make sense to “trade bodies”?  Would the composite person have recollection of both lives?  Would he bear the consequences of his actions in both lives?  Of course, we could pose the questions for “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” and its remakes.  And remember that in Season 3 of Smallville, Clark Kent and Lex Luthor switch bodies for one episode?

Some commentators say that the Dayton part of the (“Lost Highway”) film is a  “fiction fantasy” where Fred has to come to terms with his own inherent evil. Others say he is an impotent “incomplete character”, like J. Afred Prurock.

Other films have this aspect of strangeness.  “Blue Velvet” (with its famous song) presents Kyle MacLachlan as a college student, returning home to Lumberton, NC “where woodchucks chuck.”  His finding of a severed ear and his curiosity leads him on an odyssey, hiding in a nightclub singer’s apartment, as her child has been kidnapped.

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Maybe one of the most layered is “Inland Empire” (2006), where an actress’s life starts to mimic the film she is making, and which was a remake of a project that had failed before because of a tragedy.

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Another odyssey was “Wild at Heart”, a cockroach and vomit-laced road trip from North Carolina.

“Eraserhead”, one of the earliest films, gave us a monster born fetus for the forlorn couple to raise.  “In Heaven, everything is fine” according to the Radiator Lady” (link).  Lynch talks about this film on “The City of Absurdity” here; a wiki explains this odd lady character here.

Of course, we all remember the famous CBS series “Twin Peaks” in the early 1990s.  The mystery kept building up, with echoes of aliens and wood spirits in the background.  I remember the episode that ended with the line “Warm Milk”.

“The Proles”: How to design a cable television series

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So, how could “The Proles” (two posts ago) be made into a television series?

The rather obvious example is set by “Revolution” (previous post).

And the hooker is that the character “John Maurcek” is “stored” and “reconstructed” three times, based on the idea that I mulled in that 1970 summer in Indianapolis (post here ).

The way “The Proles” was set up, John apparently goes to “The Tower of Ned” (I’m drawing analogy to similar images in both “Revolution” and “FlashForward”), which may be somewhere in the northern Plains, like North Dakota, in early 1970 after getting out of the Army.  The book might have to be changed to show that he does have a job offer.

So incarnation #1 happens immedidately.  John Maurcek is reconstructed after about two hours, and leaves the facility (as if wakened from general anesthesia for surgery, the first time in his life), apparently not much worse for wear.  Maybe he is a little more bald.  He goes to New Jersey, and spends his first year employed just as in history (including time in Indianapolis).  He gets laid off (the only layoff in “my” career until 2001).  Then, partly out of a personal animosity, John does something impulsive, or compulsive, and really bad.  He is almost immediately neutralized and taken out by one of his “friends” (maybe Rado Suhl) with the doomsday laser gun. It’s important to note that factually this catastrophe did not happen.

Incarnation #2 then starts, in early 1971. He has a resume intact.  He is reconstructed again, only slightly worse for wear (but with some small disadvantages).  But he has to own some memories of the year of work, although not of how it ended.  The effect is again like coming out of surgery,  The next 40 years or so of his life proceed, with the familiar story, with all its ironies, nooks and crannies, as outlined in my “Do Ask, Do Tell” books.   Maybe this sounds like a Biblical “wandering in the wilderness”, but if so there were a lot of berries to eat.  (OK, Darren Aronofsky can direct this series.)

At the end of this period, he has an accident, perhaps in traffic, resulting in someone else’s severe injury, of which he is not aware.  It’s not quite hit-run.  He comes home, and then has a sudden accident himself, and lies unable to move, likely to die of dehydration if not found.

For Incarnation #3, he is reconstructed again at 26, but with the best possible body justified.  He quickly learns the history of the gay rights movement (from a “Therapist”), and by now knows someone like him went through it.  It was always a problem that he was never attractive enough to be desired physically, but just once he gets to experience this at a disco in Indianapolis.  Then he learns that “Indiana wants him”, and he travels (to escape) to his Drogheda home in Virginia.  He goes inside and finds his older doppleganger dying.  As he is about to dial 911, nuclear Armageddon happens.  (It’s possible to imagine all this “Revolution” style, with an EMP attack first.  But the second half of this 1970 book presumes nuclear war.)

Incarnation #4 is as in the book now.  “Oscar” joins him, just as in the book, and they find out that nuclear war has broken out. (Putin got carried away with things, or maybe it was Al Qaeda, or Iran, or North Korea.)  Some parts of the country are more intact than others.  This time, however, his physical reconstruction is less perfect (you can only do it so many times).  For one thing, his legs are balding, quickly, as if from diabetes.   He will never again be attractive.

The series would be constructed like “Revolution”, with the post-nuclear world as the “present time” with flashbacks.  The backstories would be told when John encounters various characters from his “first past” (the world up to 1970), and then his other three incarnations.  Since John is still relatively “young” although now with defect, some of the revelations could come from his sexual partner in Incarnation 3, but others could come from Zugfel, Rado Suhl (who killed him once).  Oscar is back in his first reincarnation, and Suhl is on his second, and Zugfel, like an angel, is ageless.  The idea of proving he can have a child with Tovina could still stay in the story.

“Part I” of the book (“The Covenant”) could be set up as a prequel, perhaps 90 minutes, aired between the first two seasons.

This material could populate two or three years of episodes.  It would probably have to be on a cable rather than regular broadcast channel because of the somewhat “adult” material.

(Published: Sunday, March 30, 2014m at 11:30 AM EDT)

“Revolution” on NBC shows life after an apocalypse, maybe comparable to “The Proles”

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Before providing some more discussion of my own early novel “The Proles”, that is, the post-apocalyptic second half, I wanted to provide an entry for the series “Revolution” on NBC (link), now in its second season, created by J.J. Abrams and his company Bad Robot, having premiered in September 2012.

The series takes place fifteen years after all the power in the world went out suddenly.  The United States government has fallen, and the continent has broken into various republics and wild areas governed by militias and warlords.  The president was hiding out at Guantanamo.  At the end of Season 1, the power was almost going to come back on, but the purpose was more to enable a nuclear strike on part of the Monroe Republic.

At this point, there’s not much point in going through the deals of the history of post-apocalyptic life as they are summarized on Wikipeida, here.

More important is the cause of the blackout.  In 2012, the series was billed in popular media as caused by an EMP attack by terrorists (as in the novel “One Second After”, Feb. 15 here). By comparison with my book “The Proles”, such an attack could be motivated by communism, fascism, or religious extremism.  But it turns out that the loss was caused by a conspiracy, apparently involving the government, to create “nanites” that can devour electricity but that have other abilities, such as to create objects under telepathic command (of the master programmer Aaron, played by Zak Orth), or by a USB-like pendant when inserted into certain computers. There’s a summary page about the nanites here.  The nanites can be especially effective in treating cancer, which could help explain their origin. 

The nanites are controlled by a “Tower” – there may be several of these towers.  The concept of a control tower appears in my novel “The Proles”, as well as in the ABC series “Flash Forward”.  (In my own subconscious I have called it the “Tower of Ned”, but I’ll get to that later.)

Zak, as a character, may be viewed as roughly comparable to me.  He had worked for Google – I worked mostly in mainframe, but that’s because my career occurred earlier.  His heterosexual forays are weak.  He has worked as a teacher in the “afterworld”, just as I worked as a substitute teacher, leading to a major incident.

It does not make sense that the “nanites”, as envisioned by the show, could really “absorb” electricity.  I say this, recognizing that the crippling effects of an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) or extreme solar storm (Carrington event) would come in a few separate steps taking several minutes (or even days, in the case of a solar event).  Maybe there is something to the concept I don’t get, and will be explained in future episodes.

I have to express a degree of irritation about the progress of the show.  The opening Pilot shows the blackout briefly, taking about five minutes, and then various episodes show flashbacks to various times after the blackout but relatively few before the “event”.  The series does not yet show any narrative continuity to how the Blackout occurred, or how long it took society to collapse afterward.  The previews keep promising an explanation, but the clues have been slow to come, mostly through the Orth character.  I think a two-hour prequel (more or less parallel to Part I of “The Proles”), showing how it occurred, aired sometime soon, would be very much in order for NBC and Bad Robot.   A documentary discussing the EMP and solar storm issues (maybe from Dateline) would also seem to be called for.

This scene between Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell) and Jane Warren (Kate Burton) is instructive.

(Published Thursday, March 27, 2014, 11:50 PM EDT)

Update: April 23, 2014

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The film “Transcendence” by Wally Pfister for Warner Brothers and Alcon, almost seems like a “prequel” to “Revolution”.  Indeed, once his consciousness is captured on a super computer, Will connects himself to all the computers in the world and makes them create nanobots.

 

“The 4400” was one of the best sci-fi series: abductees return from the future, without having aged

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Another television series that explored the idea of “powers” was “The 4400” which aired on the USA Network, and was produced largely by CBS and Paramount, running from 2004-2007, for four seasons.  The pilot episode seemed also to be produced with the help of Universal.  It premiered on July 11, 2004, and was created by Scott Peters and Rene Eschevarria.

As the series opens, a UFO, looking like a large comet, lands near a lake between Seattle and Mt. Rainier.  The people who get off the spaceship are those who have disappeared at various times since 1946.  Reports had been rumored that some of them “went up” in a white beam.  None of the people have aged.  It becomes apparent that perhaps they have been shown the world’s future and have returned to change it, although that would seem to violate the “time arrow of physics”.

One of the government officials, Tom Baldwin, played by Joel Gretsch, has a son Kyle (Chad Faust) who has been comatose since his cousin Shawn Farrell (Minnesota-bred Patrick Flueger) was abducted.  Shawn’s abduction was unintentional, as he tried to intervene to protect Kyle.  But when Shawn returns, he takes on some powers, particularly being able to heal people.  Kyle comes back to life, but thinks he is someone else.

Shawn goes on to become one of the most charismatic young adult characters in the show, rather comparable to other similar sci-fi characters like Clark Kent, Jake 2.0, and Kyle XY.  He helps form the 4400 Center.

One of the female characters comes back pregnant, which obviously introduces interesting possibilities.

In time, the civil rights of The 4400 becomes a major legal and moral issue.

In the second season, the government learns that the nervous systems of The 4400 contain promicin (or promycin), a neurotransmitter that helps explain their powers.  (Actually, it’s hard to see how a neurotransmitter could manipulate space-time enough to cause self-teleportation, like Clark Kent can do – only aliens could do that – meaning that we ever encounter someone who can do that who is still human, we have proof that human life was seeded from another planet.)   The government tries to develop a drug to remove their abilities, a promicin inhibitor, which roughly sounds analogous to reparative therapy for homosexuals.  The drug induces AIDS-like disease, which even affects Shawn for a few episodes.  This leads to a great public scandal, until a particular character Jordan Collier (Billy Campbell) organizes The 4400 and promotes the idea of promicin for the general public as a healing drug (it sounds analogous to the medical marijuana issue).  Kyle eventually takes promicin and develops powers.

“The 4400” was one of the best of the sci-fi series, and is to be commended for lasting four seasons and holding a strong story line together, with likable characters and issues that map to contemporary moral and political conflicts.  It seems rather apt to consider now given the NSA scandal.

Published Wednesday March 19, 2014 at 11:50 PM EDT.

 

“Kyle XY” on ABC Family (2006-2009) presented a likable teen who may have been artificially created

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Kyle XY” was another series, this one on ABC Family, which played out the “gifted teen” concept.

The hero is played by Matt Dallas.  As the series begins, he wakes up in a part naked (but not imagined), covered with goo and with no bellybutton in a park outside Seattle.

He is taken to a juvenile detention center but then taken in to foster care by a psychologist, Nicole Trager (Marguerite MacIntyre) and her husband Stephen and gregarious teen son Josh (Jean Luc Bolideau).  He might be viewed as autistic, but he quickly learns language and social function, and toward the end of season 1 (which started in 2006) he is viewed as academically gifted and also an artist, and can help Josh and other teens with homework. He also has superior senses and athletic abilities.

Soon, it is apparent that he has to be protected from the people or company that seems to have created him.  Is he an example of “artificial life”?  Was he made outside the womb?  What are the implications of his existence?  Nevertheless, he is strong,  likeable and sometimes protective of others, in a way that reminds one of Clark Kent in Smallville.

The series was canceled after the third season in March 2009.  I will try to get the DVD that explains what the future plans for the series were and not them here.   The video that follows is a beginning of this effort.

 

“FlashForward” on ABC should have run more than one season

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Flash Forward” was, in my opinion, one of the most intriguing science fiction series ever aired on network television. It aired from September 24, 2009 until May 27, 2010.  It was adapted by Brannon Barga and David S. Goya from a 1999 science fiction novel by Robert J. Sawyer.

The premise of the series starts with the idea that for 137 seconds on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2009, almost everyone in the world goes unconscious and has a vision of what their lives will be on April 29, 2010.  Because many people are in automobiles at the time, particularly in Los Angeles, there are many deaths.  Some people remember no dreams at all.  Others have to deal with the idea that spouses could have left them.

There are some curious twists.  One is that apparently a baseball game was going on at Comerica Park at the time in Detroit (must have been the American League playoffs) and a “Suspect Zero” there does not lose consciousness.  (I wonder how umpires would rule on a play.)  That person is said to possess a “quantum entanglement device” which may use quantum mechanics to create the impression of faster than light travel or of time travel.  Perhaps this could be viewed as relating to ideas like precognition, telepathy, maybe even teleportation (or Clark Kent’s “speed” in Smallville).  Accepted theoretical physics doesn’t let us make too much of this, however.

Another twist is that a similar effect is said to have happened in Somalia in 1991, at the time Somalia broke apart as a country, and the piracy problem (as in the movie “Captain Phillips”) got much worse.  There is an artifact of cell towers in Somalia related to the event.

Some of the main characters include FBI Special Agent Mark Benford (Ralph Fiennes), Dr. Bruce Varley (Zachary Knighton) who was about to commit suicide because of the apparent failure of his own treatment for cancer, when he learns that on the future date he will be in remission, and agnet Dmitir Fordi Noh (John Cho), who has no vision and has to try to prevent his own murder.  This would indeed violate the time arrow of physics.


Throughout the series we keep hearing “There’s going to be another blackout.”  The season finale had been shot before it was known that the show would be cancelled, but it does end with another blackout about two decades into the future.

Some prescient sci-fi series in the 90s: “Earth 2” and “Seaquest DSV”

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I thought I would go through a couple older sci-fi television series and a few of the associated newer films.

One of these was “Earth 2”, 22 episodes in 1994-1995.  The series supposes an expedition to an Earth-like planet 22 light years away, because Earth has become uninhabitable and most people have to live on space stations.  Also, many children have a bizarre illness and cannot survive, raising the possibility that man could become extinct (as in the 2006 film “Children of Men”).   Apparently this was a private expedition that government wants to control/

On the Earth 2, the colonists find a primitive race of people who live mostly underground called the “Terrarians”.  The government would want to remove them, but they are essential to retaining life on the planet.  This is sort of the reverse of the NBC series “The Event”.

Antonio Sobato, Jr., later popular in the gay community, was a very visible star.

Actually, the stars thought to have earth-like planets within 25 light years of Earth are all red dwarfs, or M-stars, which means that the planets would have to be close to the stars and to be tidally locked, with the sun shining on one side only, and an annular twilight zone where temperatures are mildest.  However, if the planet has an ample atmosphere, wind currents might make the climate for the much of the entire planet relatively uniform. If a planet like this had been colonized by another civilization (the hypothesis of “Prometheseus”) the politics could be interesting indeed.  Will another planet with a civilization comparable to ours have money and a financial system?

A few recent cable films follow up on some of these ideas.  NatGeo produced a 90 minute documentary called “Evacuate Earth” where society has 75 years to build an ark to move 250,000 people to another solar system because a black hole is approaching the solar system.

Alien Planet” from the Discovery Channel imagines an Earth-like planet only 6.5 light years from Earth, with a living ocean, and creatures who more or less resemble humans.

PBS Nova has a documentary “Alien Planets Revealed”, and the BBC has a documentary “Titan: A Place Like Home” about the largest moon of Saturn, with a thick atmosphere and methane lakes.  In 2013 there was a film from Magnolia, “Europa Report” (referring to the moon of Jupiter with a large subterranean ocean), where a crew’s sudden evacuation is enabled by a subterranean creature’s helping them escape.  Actually, several satellites of Jupiter and Saturn, including Titan, may have subterranean water seas.

In 2005, NatGeo aried a one hour “Extraterrestrials”, where it pondered what life would be like on a tidally locked M-star planet.

Most Sunday nights, “Earth 2” was followed on NBC by “seaQuest DSV” (“Deep Submergence Vehicle”), a drama centered on a science submarine in a world, after 2018, where Earth’s resources have been depleted.   The series was notable for having a dolphin character, almost human, living in a tank on board, and for a civilian teenage computer genius Lucas Wolenczak (Jonathan Brandis) living on board.  In the middle 1990s, this might have sounded like an important point because the “intimacy” of people in closed environments like ships and submarines had become a political issue in the debate on gays in the military,

Posted: Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 7 PM EST.

“Jake 2.0” gave us another young adult superman character, and the show was allowed to die

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Jake 2.0” provided some competition to “Smallville” in the fall of 2003, on the overlooked UPN channel.  But it apparently aired only the first twelve episodes in most markets, I believe; four more were aired in the UK, and the last three were never completed, after CBS/UPN canceled the show, because of ratings. David Greenwalt had been the executive producer.

Christopher Gorham, 29 when the series was filmed, played Jake, a computer technician at the NSA (National Security Agency) who gets “infected” with nanomites accidentally after a minor wound resulting from a shootout with a saboteur.

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Jake soon has super-strengths of the Clark Kent variety, including being able to run and jump great distances, and heal quickly.  Most of all, he can affect the contents of computer files with technotelepathy, his mind, which would be a dangerous capability. (Indeed, “let the hacking begin.”)  The idea somewhat foreshadows a similar idea in J J Abrams in “Revolution” today (to be discussed later).

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Jake is also concerned about morality, and the proper use of power, an idea that comes up in a conference scene in a late episode, and that would certainly fit the controversy over the NSA today.

There are episodes including stopping EMP attacks (before the idea was widely discussed) and dirty bombs.  There was a humorous episode with a paintball maneuver.  In one episode, Jake rescues his immature younger brother, and talks about “loyalty to blood”.

In the episodes that didn’t get aired, Jake had become a target of the NSA.

UPN (CBS) apparently didn’t even try to air all the episodes that had been filmed, replacing it with the silly “America’s Top Model” in January 2004.

I think the series would have done better if aired on a more visible network, and not in competition with “The West Wing.”


The series was filmed in Vancouver, but the Washington DC backdrops were put in seamlessly.