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River Song, Science fiction, and the effect of “Spoilers”

In Doctor Who, one of the more recent popular characters is River Song.  Originally introduced to us as a mysterious figure who has a time-travelling history with past and future versions of The Doctor, she has gone on to be a character with mysterious future/history and far more importance than we could have every expected,  We really want to know more about Song and her history, especially since she has a special book that is a record of all of her crossings  and engagements with the Doctor.   We first meet her at the end of her life, and then in the middle of her life.  This crossover causes her to be told about her future.  Since she’s a traveler with The Doctor, she understands the importance of not revealing the future, and the linear nature of time progression.  As she would say, “Spoilers,”.

This unique story of River Song is a grand story, and a unique character development for any time traveler.  It explores one of the most interesting ideas science fiction’s understanding of time and time travel;  how would a person react if they had the ability to know their future?  Could they change it?  Or would they unknowingly walk into it?  Foreknowledge is also a fascinating exploration of the theological debate between Free Will and determined future.

A great recent example of this was the recent TV action drama Fast-Forward.  Even though this show’s concepts decayed as they reached the finale, the original concept of the show explored this in great detail.  The entire world received a flash forward towards a set point in time that revealed their future actions.  Many of the flashes revealed actions that people are ashamed of(I.E. Alcohol Abuse, Sexual Affairs, etc), while others don’t receive flashes at all.  What does this mean?  Can this future be changed?  In the end, the series does eventually put the characters into a position that they regret knowing about.  But that is only one answer of the time.  Time travel is a cornucopia of unique possibilities and probabilities.  I’ve only been able to get a basic understanding of time travel complexes, theories, and ideas that surround this reality-changing idea. But I’m enjoying every bit of it.  I just don’t want spoilers about my own life

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Posted by on 2011/08/23 in Opinion, Television

 

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Titan A.E. and Humanity’s ultimate potential

In the 90s, science fiction was trying to become popular again. We hear about popular films like the Matrix, Robocop, and The Fifth Element. But there’s a lesser-known cartoon film released in the late 90s that wasn’t well received, but had great ambition. That film is Titan A.E.

The story is fairly simple. Cale is the son of a genius who invented the Titan, a device that can create a planet via a number of technologies. However, this device scares the energy-based Drej, who then destroy the Earth. Humanity is spread across the galaxy, without a real home. Cale is introduced to Korso, a colleague of his father, who thinks that he holds the key to saving humanity. So, Cale, Korso, and the young Akima must work with a ragtag gang to find this amazing machine before the Drej discover it, and destroy all that the human race hopes for.

Sounds like a great concept, right? The idea of an energy-based alien species has so much creativity. However, the film doesn’t take it to it’s fullest potential. So, why am I talking about it at all? Because it did one thing good, and that was illustrate humanity’s desire to find meaning. Each person desires to have a purpose in their life. Respectively, the human race also is looking for a communal meaning. What makes humanity valuable to the other species? What can they bring to the bigger picture?

We are told that the Titan was one of the turning points for the human race. It’s very existence showed to all other species that humans could build something amazing. However, that scared the Drej. Their ignorance causes them to choose to destroy all that humanity represents. With the destruction of humanity’s homeworld, they lost almost all value. The race, as a whole, became a beggar, trying to maintain life, and not fade into oblivion.

(Spoilers)What is interesting is Cale’s skeptical nature. He believes that humanity won’t have value in the end, even though he saw the amazing technology that his father developed. This belief drives his skepticism, and that causes the friction for the plot. Sadly, it turns out that Korso’s incentives turn self-centered, where he hopes to profit off of the destruction of the Titan, and in following, humanity’s hope.

This continues to aggressively attack what is the driver for all people; the hope that makes us tick.

So, I recommend Titan A.E. For all science fiction fans. It is a fun ride, that illustrates the search humanity has for hope and meaning.

 
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Posted by on 2011/08/20 in Film

 

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Following Falling Skies: Hanging on to our humanity

As I’ve been digging through my thoughts and feelings about this first season of Falling Skies, I’ve found myself returning to two major themes: the nature of man, and the nature of skitters.  And as I look at these two opposing forces, I can see the metaphoric principles that are underlying in the conflict.  I found an interview with Mark Verheiden, one of the producers of Falling skies in Entertainment Weekly, where he defined Falling Skies as a show about “people who are trying to hold on to their humanity”.  And that is an excellent definition of the show.  Every conflict, every element, everything that the 2nd Massachusetts have done was to hold onto the humanity that defined them.

In an apocalyptic setting, humanity has everything removed from them that they know and love.  Housing, basic food sources, neighbors, media, even the idea of total security disappears.  So, what do these people have left?  They have themselves, their relationships with friends and family, and the hope that they’ll somehow get out of this.  Now, many people will let one or more of these desires take over themselves, and their very being.  These desires are very good, in and of themselves.  However, when people are left alone in their desires, they have a tendency to become encompassing, and eventually take over the person’s life.  It’s when a person comes into a community of others that they are able to focus and use these desires for the better-ment of all.

We see these themes constantly appearing in Falling Skies.  Tom Mason’s primary desire is to find his son, Ben.  However, being the second in command for the 2nd Massachusetts, and having Captain Weaver limit his choices tempers that desire.  While him his fellow fighters gather around him, and desire to help him find Ben. It also allows for a community to provide a voice into his goals, and make the best possible choices.  In the end, Mason’s goals couldn’t have been reached without the 2nd Massachusetts.

Meanwhile, we have the individual John Pope.  A bit of a loner, he is an Ex-convict, and a loner. He had gathered himself a gang in the earlier months of the invasion, and was then captured by Mason and the 2nd Massachusetts.  But his independent nature has turned his desires towards self-fulfillment.  Pope normally finds that through the slaughter of Skitters, oddly enough.  That makes him a threat.  he relies on no one else, which keeps him in a dangerous position.  The same can be said about Captain Weaver, whose personal desires and drug use have put him in a dangerous leadership position, that makes him sporadic and uncontrollable.  He seems to act independent of other’s opinions,and not relying on others for consolation or advice. His unwillingness to listen to the reason of Tom Mason also hurts his relationship with the whole of the 2nd Massachusetts.  Even though these two men are contrasted in their desires and positions, they are hindered by the same problem, a lack of community

The contrasting character types of Mason and Pope/Weaver act as the base for how humanity can act.  Humanity has always been designed with the need for community.  If a person neglects this need,  they will likely become lonely, narcissistic and random.  Eventually, they will be hard to rely on. However, if one consistently returns to a community, whether it be small or big, they will find far more meaning from what they do.  Canadian Philosopher Rene Vaulier once said that “To work for Community is to work for Humanity”.  This communal aspect is one of the key to the survival of humanity.  If we live without others, we are nothing, but if we live with others, we will find strength, and purpose for one’s life.

 
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Posted by on 2011/08/13 in Opinion, Television

 

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Following Falling Skies: “What’s hiding beneath”

“What’s Hiding Beneath” is one of those episodes that turn your understanding of a Television show’s mythology topsy turvy.  The episode centers around Weaver, his lack of sleep, and his resulting paranoia.  Tom, Hal, and Weaver are sent on a scout mission to investigate the Skitters’ structure, and the paths for getting to it, and the weaknesses.   This leads to a number of discoveries, including the introduction of a third race, the discovery of a harnessed Hal’s old Love interest,, the creation of a “Mech-piercing Bullet”, and the real purpose of Harnesses.  This episode works to set up the pinnacle of the season, which premieres tonight.

Every piece of mythology that has developed has pushed us further and further in the world of Falling Skies.  But this time, everything is becoming clear.  The Harnesses act as the source for creating Skitters.  We see a autopsied skitter laying there, and it’s spine being imprinted by the Harness.  That means that the skitter is based off of some form of parasitic critter.  This has huge implications for the use of Harnessed kids.  It’s almost terrifying.  This new revelation gives us an answer to the question “What are Skitters?”  and “How do they think?”

The introduction of a third “Commanding” species makes for another interesting conversation, and potential plotline to play with.  How do they work, can they fight, and what makes them special for leading the troops?

All of this sets up a climax that I can’t help but be excited for.  I really am excited to see this final face-off, and the set-up for the next two episodes.  So, you can expect the analysis of the final two episodes of the season tomorrow.

 
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Posted by on 2011/08/07 in Television

 

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Following Falling skies: “Sanctuary” pt. 1

This episode starts out with a bang; when Dr. Glass is attacked and held captive by a small family who want to run away with stolen goods.  They are stopped by Col. Clayton, the leader of the 7th Mass, a group who was wiped out during a Skitter attack.  Clayton warns the 2nd Mass of an upcoming attack, and of an opportunity to protect their kids by bringing them to a “sanctuary” of sorts.  But most parents, including Mason himself are divided on this.  They want to stay with their kids

This episode is yet again another fascinating look at how people react.  First off, most civilians in this episode were frantic, and willing to do anything.  They saw only their own current needs as an issue, instead of the larger picture, the picture of many working towards a larger goal.  This fear is an expected, but unassuring choice.  This is why a choice to bring their kids to safety is neglected.  The people fear loss, and would rather die with their kids, then live separately from them.  Is this choice a good one, or is it irrationally made?

Also, this episode puts a great emphasis of the reintegration of Harnessed Kids into the community.  Ben and Rick are the two main kids, and we see physical improvements in the kids.  It seems that the Harnesses may have physically enhancing effects on their victims.  This could be because of the expected slave labor.  It’s hard to say.  Also, it’s worth noting that the minds of the Harnessed kids are still conscious during their time with harnesses.  This means that they remember what happens, but just have a different perspective, one of submission instead of rebellion.  This is an interesting development, that certainly changes how we look at the harnesses and skitters.

Glass’ reaction to the attack at the beginning of the episode was another interesting element.  Glass was unused to such violence and treachery, and seemed to have been shaken up because of it.  Her reaction is one of fear.  Thankfully, Maggie gives her a pistol, which seems to act as a condolence, allowing her to vent her fears through the gun and it’s bullets.

Another notable element was Jimmy, and his return to combat. From his reaction to the (Spoilers) Skitter attack, he hadn’t been in a full attack before.  As Weaver said earlier, Jimmy “should have his arm around a cheerleader instead of fighting a war”.  Clearly, his reaction on that day shows Weaver’s statement to be true.

Finally, it’s worth noting the cliffhanger.  The Sanctuary is less of a sanctuary then was expected.  In fact, it was almost a team-up.  But that doesn’t change the situation.  Clayton was willing to work with Pope, and use what he knew for some ulterior motive.  And that all is going to set up something that no one will have ever, ever expected to come.

I cannot wait for the next episode.  It is going to be fantastic.

 
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Posted by on 2011/08/05 in Television

 

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Following Falling Skies: “Silent Kill”

This episode was another fantastic story.  As a whole, it wrapped up the subplot of Tom going in to rescue his son Ben from the Harnessed kids.  However, it required a number of undesired risks, and challenges.  The most important was how to kill a skitter without making any noise.  In the last episode, we learned of a “Weak spot” that exists in the mouth.  We see Dr. Glass actually pull out a scalpel and stab it directly into the skitter’s mouth and brain.  It was a moment of agression that we wouldn’t have expected from a doctor.  But her pain, her past fueled that beyond anything the viewer may have expected.

Also, this episode explored both the accidental nature of death, and the purposeful nature of life. (Spoilers)  When one of the harnessed kids dies during the process of removal, we see Glass mourning this mistake.  However, she also goes to a baby shower for a friend, and finds encouragement there.  The death of the harnessed kid could have been stopped, but it wasn’t.  That is the random, sometimes even uncontrollable nature of death.  It’s almost impossible to predict when a person’s death will come. (Except on TV.  When you see that redshirt walk up, you know he’s a dead man)  Life is just as unpredictable.  But the pregnancy of this episode was something that the girl seems to desire.  She wants that.  And so, these sources of life and death counterbalance each other out, and keep the plot in balance.

Also, we gain a deeper insight into the seemingly renegade character Maggie.  She has a lighter side, and a history of cancer. This shows a softer side than just the tougher side she’s represented.  Also, she’s been working mainly as the replacement for the kidnapped love interest of Hal’s.  She probably won’t be Hal’s new love interest, but you never know.

 
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Posted by on 2011/08/04 in Television

 

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Following Falling Skies: “Grace”

This episode is another great continuance of this continuous narratives.  Bishop tells the 2nd Mass that he has knows of a location with motorcycles, and will lead them.  Mason barely trusts him, but he allows it to happen.  Also, the doctors attempt to try and communicate with their captured Skitter.

This episode is fascinating because of the conversation about how to engage an enemy.  One could try ambassadorial tactics, or they could to be violent and make the opponent give in.  And both sides are prevalent in the conversation in this episode.  We learn so much about Skitters, and that they are willing to use Harnessed kids in combat.  It brought a great angle to the story.

On a minor note, there is a female character named Lourdes who seems to be competing for Hal’s romance.  She is a Catholic, and seems to be the only one maintaining her faith in this world of chaos.  I’ve been fascinated by her character, and where they’ve taken her theology.  Her faith is presented as more of a personal source of hope, instead of the soul-redeeming Gospel that is believed in by Catholics and Evangelical Protestants alike.  This is interesting, because it shows the writer’s perspective on faith.  However, her character’s faith certainly is admirable, and it’s nice to see her presented as a great source of faithful hope.

 
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Posted by on 2011/08/02 in Television

 

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