It’s probably obvious that I’m a science fiction fan and, if you look at my own series, Rogue Tyger, a fan of the “crew on a ship and mayhem ensues” sci-fi sub-genre. And while it’s a very different show from what I’m trying to do, the landmark anime series Cowboy Bebop was and is a huge influence — and not just in terms of the title.
So, of course I’m going to check out the upcoming live-action version from Netflix and immediately checked out their opening credits teaser that dropped the other month:
Okay, exciting to see the transition to live-action. I fully expect things to change, but it feels a bit Adam West Batman at times. I mean, Cowboy Bebop is nothing if not style and you get a sense of style, but I still remember Disney’s Black Cauldron and the cute-ification of Gurgi. Don’t mess this up, folks.
So next, this drops.
On the one hand, this is an absolute blast. There’s a sense of play and meta-storytelling that tells you this isn’t your average show. On the other hand, even with the hint at Vicious, is this too wacky/silly? Maybe. I mean, part of the joy of Cowboy Bebop for me was not just the inventive worldbuilding and sense of style, but the fact that they could go from absurd and comical to serious quite quickly. Because even if the characters didn’t approach life somberly, it was a very serious solar system out there with things that could quickly kill you. And again, I get that something with the tone could change in going to live action, and it could be its own thing, but even so:
DON’T MESS THIS UP!
Finally, this drops:
Yeah. There we go. Many of the beats hit just right. Funny. Serious. Bizarre. That’s my Bebop right there.
I haven’t read too much of Charles Stross, though I like his imaginative and subtly disturbing short story, “Rogue Farm.” It sounds like he enjoys being a bit harder with his sci-fi and space opera than some, which comes through in this list. For that reason, I can see how some writers might not be as concerned with some of entries on this list, but reading it in total, I think it’s a good reality-check/world-building check. Because frankly, if you ignore the majority of these points, your sci-fi world is going to seem incomplete and not well thought out. And any clever plots or characterizations will ring hollow as you haven’t successfully suspended disbelief.
This is very timely as I’m working on a short story involving a space elevator, something so geeky that, on one level, I must make the world-building believable — otherwise what’s the point? At the same time, the aspect of the story that’s really taken it out of mothballs has been the arc I’ve figured out for the main character. Ah, the joy of balance!