Space: the Final Frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations.To boldly go where no man has gone before! – Star Trek
Watching the first episode of season One of a Sci-Fi drama last night, The Expanse, on my smart TV (via the internet), I was enjoying how this first episode piqued my interest. Stories of an unconventional cop, political intrigue – the 23rd Century is apparently just as full of plots, terrorists, and manipulation as the 21st is; interplanetary social unrest, and human drama in space. These are all elements of shows I’ve watched for decades. It must continue to be well-acted and well-written as I find it is beginning its third season.
Perhaps it is the era I grew up in. Star Trek (the original series), NASA moon landings, Space Shuttles and the Voyager satellites that left earth in the 1970s are now (2018) in interstellar space. The future held great promise, but the vast expanse of space seems beyond the reach of humanity. The solar system and non-warp technology is much more credible. What was the stuff of science fiction- tiny personal communication devices, automated purchases, computer surveillance systems, self-driving vehicles and electromechanical replacement body parts are reality or in development. With Elon Musk’s plan, people living on other planets in our system are a soon-to-be reality, or not too fantastic for the near future. The future predicted by television shows and movies in the latter half of the Twentieth Century, was often visited by alien races that wanted to eat us (Alien franchise) or obliterate us ( Independence Day).
The Day the Earth Stood Still in the 1950s, Star Trek, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and ET were the rare exception. In the 1960s, 2001: A Space Odyssey was another where people were the beneficiaries of an alien encounter, but the technology predicted forty years ago for the year 2000 in the story and movie is not far-fetched for 2018. In the 1970s, Silent Running, remains one of my favorites, if it was very heavy with environmentalist commentary ( the last plants on Earth were propelled into space on greenhouse spaceships tended by men who really didn’t want to be there.) The Terminator was a future of artificial intelligence that wanted and kept trying over several sequels and a TV series, to wipe out humans. And many Sci-Fi movies over the years were set in a post-nuclear war ravaged Earth. Totalitarian societies controlled the future. Or the Earth was polluted, or frozen, or flooded, or a barren desert. While a worldwide epidemic that renders apes (or more likely, cockroaches) inheriting the earth, is also sci-fi, I prefer thinking more down-to-earth.