Just a little over a year ago I posted the teaser trailer for Foundation, a TV series adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s highly influential work of the rise and fall of galactic civilizations.
Well, we’ve got a new trailer and a premiere of September, so gird your space opera loins!
Already, I’ve seen chatter on the interwebs about some apparent departures from the books, some of which is also hinted at in the io9 piece on the trailer. However, as much as I enjoy the books, the initial ones are episodic to an anthological degree. After the initial part with Hari Seldon, the man who predict’s the empire’s collapse, we are thrust forward decades and centuries to a new generation of characters grappling with Seldon’s predictions and grand beats of the aforementioned galactic waxing and waning.
It’s all engaging, because Asimov enjoys cunning characters and a good plot twist, but it does mean we don’t get to grow to love the characters like we would in other ongoing novel series.
And yet, part of the whole magic of the Foundation series is seeing that centuries-long storyline unfold.
So I’m very keen to see how they approach the adaptation to make it engaging in the TV medium while being thought-provoing as it was in the books.
I’m pretty sure every film-loving kid grows up watches a series of thoroughly-enjoyable-yet-not-mind-blowing movies from their era that may not make all the “classics” lists, but age okay and hold onto that “that was solidly entertaining” air.
Some of this premise comes from watching many a film that my dad enjoyed growing up. And of course he treated us to the unequivocal classics of cinema both foreign and domestic, but he also made time to expose us to some other lesser known ones that, when he was our age, thought was a darn fine film.
Last month, I got to rewatch one of those films of my generation. I’m sure I’m not the only one who enjoyed The Last Starfighter when we first saw it in theaters, even if it wasn’t going to edge out the Star Wars trilogy or Star Trek II in our sci-fi ardor (note to younger folks: yes, there was only one Star Wars trilogy at the time).
Rewatching it reminded me both of the fun performances by veteran actors Robert Preston and Dan O’Herlihy, Lance Guest diving into two roles as our hero and Beta, and –waitaminute, blink and you’ll miss Gul Dukat! Plus, there’s an overall fun sense of adventure with the film… and they clearly wanted a sequel.
With the release of WandaVision, we got to see a new genre mashup from the Marvel Cinematic Universe: superheros and sitcoms.
Certainly this isn’t the first time there’s been a mashup of superheroes and outright silliness (The Tick is the one that pops in my mind most concretely as it has had several TV incarnations). And the sitcom backdrops in WandaVision actually lay a foundation for some distinct non-comic plotlines (that’s the limit to how much I’ll spoil things).
One of my favorite aspects of Isaac Asimov’s science fiction is the worldbuilding and its never more apparent in his centuries-spanning Foundation series.
Indeed, the Galactic Empire and the many of the ensuing interstellar governments were ones I kept in mind while fashioning the Imperium for Rogue Tyger. I’m actually re-reading the series while working on new seasons of the show (it’s easily been over 20 years since I last read them).
So imagine the delight when I saw this teaser trailer for a “prestige” TV series adaptation due out next year? I know they’re likely going to make some noticeable changes to some of the characters and connective plot in order to keep a cinematic throughline, but I’m hopeful it will be a great mix of the clear production design combined with the themes that made the novels so engaging.
So here’s another list ranking tropes via Ross Johnson for Barnes & Noble. I might quibble with the ranking of the top 5 (dystopian governments and time travel would be my 2 and 1 respectively), but everything on the list should give you a knowing nod or a smile.
I finished up my rewatch of seasons 1-3 of The Expanse this past weekend and it was just as good the second time.
If you don’t know this hard sci-fi series, the original trailer isn’t a bad way to gauge whether you’re interested or not:
There is a running theory that SyFy will cancel any series you love, like Lucy pulling away the football from Charlie Brown. SyFy did not disappoint, even as The Expanse got to be bigger and bolder and beloved by audiences, so they canceled it at the end of the third season. I mean, in fairness, it can’t have been cheap to produce, but perhaps Syfy resents spending more on something than Sharknado.
I loved the show since its slow-burning first season and continue to enjoy how they’ve layered in more complexity and world-building. That a big chunk of the show is the small-crew-in-lone-ship-encountering-adventure sub-genre certainly doesn’t hurt (as regular readers may recall, I like that sci-fi sub-genre so much, that’s the basis of my own not-nearly-as-hard-sci-fi show).
The Expanse is frequently compared to Game of Thrones for its multi-character storytelling and far-reaching world-building. I’d also point out that many of the characters and situations can feel very, very real even as they deal with fantastical occurrences. This is hard sci-fi, but with some of the Arthur C. Clarke-style sufficiently-advanced-technology-indistinguishable-from-magic.
In any case, even though vast distances can be crossed in three days or three weeks “at maximum warp” based the needs of the episode, official unofficial definitions of how faster than the speed of light Star Trek‘s warp speeds have been documented. So, Warp 9.9 –basically the point where Scotty would presumably tell Kirk in no uncertain terms that the Enterprise is about to fly apart– is 2,083 times the speed of light. That’s fast.
So I don’t agree with the headline that warp speed is “achingly slow” –I mean I’d like to get to the next star system in the same time it take us to get to the other side of the planet– it only goes so far, so fast.