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  • Showing only topics with the tag "scifi". Back to normal view
    1. Years and Years is a British political near-future soft SF programme. Being British it's one short series - 6 episodes, 1 hour per episode. Mainstream broadcast SF isn't going to push all the...

      Years and Years is a British political near-future soft SF programme. Being British it's one short series - 6 episodes, 1 hour per episode. Mainstream broadcast SF isn't going to push all the boundaries, but this has some neat ideas. The political stuff feels realistic enough to work.

      Emma Thompson is always impressive and she does excellent work here as a populist, fascist, politician. Jessica Hynes plays Edith with suitable intensity.

      Here are a bunch of links:

      https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8694364/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

      [spoilers] https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/years-and-years-1220415

      [spoilers] https://variety.com/2019/tv/reviews/years-and-years-review-emma-thompson-hbo-1203243714/

      [spoilers] https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2019/may/14/years-and-years-review-a-glorious-near-future-drama-from-russell-t-davies

      17 votes
    2. I have watched the first season, and started the second season. I have been told a few times, it gets better once they get more into the AI aspect behind "the machine". So far the episodes are...

      I have watched the first season, and started the second season. I have been told a few times, it gets better once they get more into the AI aspect behind "the machine". So far the episodes are pretty formulaic, so I am wondering if there is a specific episode or season where these little plot bits about this machine everyone is trying to find come to fruition and the series pivots to more of a sci-fi sub-plot.

      Also, how come nobody calls him out for talking to himself all the time?
      I do like the dog, good addition to the second season.

      EDIT: I am now on season 2 episode 10, and yeah its starting to get a lot better. It seems to be a slow transition but they are getting my attention with all this hacker history talk.

      11 votes
    3. Love, Death, and Robots is an animated scifi anthology on Netflix. Season 1, which released earlier this month, comprised of 18 short films, ranging from 5 to 20 minutes in length. The episodes...

      Love, Death, and Robots is an animated scifi anthology on Netflix. Season 1, which released earlier this month, comprised of 18 short films, ranging from 5 to 20 minutes in length. The episodes also vary wildly in quality. While most of the shorts have promising concepts, very few of them actually reach their potential. Some, like "The Dump," are awful in every way. A handful are excellent.

      The show bills itself as "adult animation," but most episodes are "adult" in the same way many video games are rated as "mature;" they're filled with nudity, violence, and blood, but little of any mature substance. Some of the episodes don't feel like they're aimed at adults, but rather teenagers who want to think they're watching something made for adults.
      In more than one episode, the characters speak like they've just discovered swearing. In "Sucker of Souls" for example, an otherwise entertaining and fun short, they make two jokes revolving around the concept that "pussy" can be slang for a cat, or for a woman's vagina, in the span of thirty seconds. It's an attempt at comic relief that falls very flat, as if someone went through the script once it was done, looking for a place where they could insert vagina jokes. It's jarring.

      Some episodes are fantastic, without having to rely on excessive violence or nudity. Both of those things have a place in fiction, but they should generally be handled with a maturity that most of the shorts lack. "The Secret War" is a fairly violent short, but it is rarely excessive, and the violence usually serves the plot and theme.
      A couple episodes have neither, my favourite being "Zima Blue," a quiet episode with a Camus-esque message. The art style may take some getting used to, but it is one of the more beautiful of the series. "When The Yogurt Took Over" is also a fun short, narrated by Maurice LaMarche, voice of The Brain.

      Overall, I'd say if you're a fan of the genre and have some free time, give the show a watch. Be warned though, binge-watching the show can cause some serious tonal whiplash.

      19 votes
    4. Prometheus (2012), Alien: Covenant (2017), Life (2017), The Cloverfield Paradox (2018), you name it. Why is everyone in the team is a complete incompetent buffoon? Why is the science behind the...

      Prometheus (2012), Alien: Covenant (2017), Life (2017), The Cloverfield Paradox (2018), you name it. Why is everyone in the team is a complete incompetent buffoon? Why is the science behind the films so bad? Why do the protagonists do stupid crap? The crew from Alien IV looks like geniuses compared to these people.

      Am I the only one who is seriously disturbed by this trend?

      20 votes
    5. I want to talk about Person of Interest. A CBS series created by Jonathan Nolan, more famously known for his work on Westworld (and brother of "that" Christopher Nolan, talent runs in the family)....

      I want to talk about Person of Interest. A CBS series created by Jonathan Nolan, more famously known for his work on Westworld (and brother of "that" Christopher Nolan, talent runs in the family). This is a spoiler-free post.

      Premise: An ex-military badass is hired by a rich ex-usgov genius who built an AI that is plugged into the NSA's spying supernetwork, and can predict crime based on all the datapoints.

      Strong similarities with: Westworld, Mr. Robot.

      Person of Interest is a series that really took me by surprise. I didn't really care for Season 1, which I left running in the background after it was apparent to me that this was a very run-of-the-mill CBS police procedural. I gave it a chance based on a friend's recommendation, and because IT/sec references were accurate and didn't make me cringe. It also had an interesting premise which was written pre-snowden and raised some interesting philosophical questions on privacy and crime prevention.

      Then towards the Season 1 finale, the music got pretty good, the scenes were very action-packed and the series started feeling like it was getting very entertaining. So I kept watching.

      Without spoiling: throughout Season 2, the series actually completely shifts genre almost unnoticeably, from "generic police procedural" to "long-arc Westworld-style tech scifi".

      I was stunned by how smooth the genre transition was. Of all the series I watched, it's something truly unique to that one, which is one of the reasons I rate it as one of the best TV series in my catalogue. It's also, from what I heard, Nolan's strategy from the get-go in order to get a very unique show greenlit on a "safe" network like CBS.

      By the end of the series, Person of Interest had inspired me. Made me extremely interested in AI and data. It affected my work and the way I think about the world. POI really toes the scifi line by taking concepts which are possible, but not there yet and explores the possibilities (again, Westworld); unlike most other Sci-Fi shows which take abstract ideas of what we may want to see in the future, regardless of how possible/reasonable they are.

      POI does require some suspension of disbelief. You have to accept the trope of a "supergenius" who can build an AI like this all on his own, for example. I think that's fine, and I found that the show was very rigorous at taking only practical shortcuts with very little fridge logic.

      I keep mentioning Westworld and that's no accident. POI predates WW and it feels that WW was a continuation of Nolan's ideas about the implications of AI, in a much higher budget setting. (And as an aside, if you haven't watched Westworld, you should)

      Tag spoilers in comments :)

      21 votes
    6. Warning: this post may contain spoilers

      So I've spent nearly the entire weekend watching Humans and I wanted to share what I think of it and maybe get some discussion going.

      For those who are not familiar with it, the basic premise is an alternate reality present day where "synths" - robots that replaced humans in most menial tasks - are part of everyday life to the point of being a common household item. Within the first episode we learn that there are a handful of synths that are sentient - thinking, feeling individuals. The show explores the implications of that - how previously-servile machines becoming sentient would impact society. There are many parallels to contemporary issues around racism, xenophobia, fear, and I think the show does good job of handling the topic. It is a smart, well-written sci-fi drama.

      So, did anyone else here watch it? What do you think of it?

      PS: While the post itself doesn't have any spoilers, the comments do.

      9 votes
    7. I don’t know about you, but I’d always been taught one of 2 things about death. Either You die and that’s that, nothing else happens and you slowly turn to unthinking dust or You die and get...

      I don’t know about you, but I’d always been taught one of 2 things about death. Either
      You die and that’s that, nothing else happens and you slowly turn to unthinking dust or
      You die and get transported to some mystical outside realm, either a heaven, hell, or purgatory where your immortal soul spends an infinite amount of time

      Now, these aren’t nearly the only interpretations in this wide world, but if you grew up as a middle class white kid in suburban America, this is likely all you heard.

      It took until my 30th year for one of these to be the official accepted scientific theory on the afterlife. Finally, after all these years, science had an answer for what happened after death, and it was-

      Well

      Actually, it’s not really what happens after, per se. No, this perception could not occur after death. There simply was no way any living thing could continue to perceive after death, either any way of defining life we have would be thrown out the window. Instead, this was an explanation for those pernicious near-death experiences that pop up every now and again. Rather than being dead and having moved on, these were all visions people have in the moments prior to death.

      Essentially, the afterlife was all a dream put on by the brain in a vain attempt to keep itself happy and alive.

      This led to a thought. What was the limits of these dreams? Would they continue forever? Would the occupant of the dream believe they could still die in the dream, or would they be an immortal thought, a ghost of firing neurons? Is the brain capable of nesting time ad infinitum, or is the clock speed of the brain too slow for that?

      All signs seemed to point towards the brain giving the occupant infinite joy. Citing coma patients who believed they lived millenia in only a few weeks, the majour scientists of the day claimed a way to cheat death. After all, the only limiting factor here was how fast a bolt of electricity could move across, and since that was basically light speed, time didn’t really matter.

      It didn’t really matter.

      This of course led to a massive increase in suicides throughout the globe. It seemed the main limiting factor for many was whether suicide may lead to a unpleasant scenario. Even those who hadn’t, prior to the discovery, had a single suicidal thought cross their mind jumped at the chance of eternal joy. It wasn’t until much later any sense came into people.

      See, it seems most people are born without a fear of the infinite. I won’t assume, of course, but would you truly find an infinite heaven scary? I would. Infinite time leads to infinite scenarios leads to infinite amounts of both joy and pain. Any amount of fun, after a sufficiently long time, gets boring.

      So, the world was whipped into a global frenzy of life. Wars ended as neither side could really justify it anymore. People finally began to help each other.

      And then, just as quickly as this afterlife frenzy started, it was announced the initial findings were incorrect. Perhaps a decimal slipped, so the official story was death was finite and there was no afterlife.

      That was the official story, of course. The unofficial story…

      Well,

      Imagine you’re trying to do infinite things in two seconds. If you could split your time infinitely, you could complete all infinite things in two seconds. But all the same, everything would be done in two seconds.

      Imagine now you’re trying to do those infinite things in two seconds again, but you have to work against your hands slowly disappearing. Much more difficult, and now you’re less likely to complete those infinite things, but a more finite set. If you think this whole scenario is ridiculous, it’s all based off an account by a Survivor.

      The Survivors were a test group who were used to poke and prod at their afterlives until it could be fully explored. They’re who first discovered the effects of cell death on the afterlife.

      As a body dies, the cells begin to die at a rate of 10 millimeters every second. The initial researchers thought this irrelevant, as the speed of the brain was too fast for it too matter. What they didn’t factor in was that he brain is one of the first parts of the body to die. Sure, electricity moving across perfectly kempt brain cells moved near light speed, but add in broken highways of neurons and suddenly it grew much, much slower.

      The first Survivor to discover this recounted the sky slowly darkening and a void suddenly appearing on the horizon. They were lucky, as the test was ended prior to any majour brain damage. One less so had their memories scanned to reveal their perfect paradise being reduced to a one by one meter square and their representation writhing on the floor in apparent pain. They were not recovered.

      Of course, the researchers were horrified. Only weeks prior had they stressed how painless death should now be, and here was a gauntlet thrown at their feet. So they did the only sensible thing: Lie to prevent a mass hysteria ending in the death of all humans.

      And so it’s seemed to work. Just remember, if you see an empty horizon, this is the explanation:
      Death has always been with us.
      Nobody cheats Death.
      Death will always win in a cosmic tug of war.
      And, most importantly, It’s already too late It's already too late
      It’s already too late
      It’s already too late
      It’s already too late
      It’s already too late
      It’s already too late
      It’s already too late
      It’s already too late
      It’s already too late
      It’s already too late
      It’s already too late
      It’s already too late
      It’s already too late
      It’s already too late
      It’s already too late
      It’s already too late
      It’s already too late
      It’s already too late
      It’s already too late
      It’s already too late
      It’s already too late
      It’s already too late
      It’s already too late
      It’s already too late

      6 votes
    8. Alone

      There's no more sound, not anymore. Just the thudding of my own heart, deafening in the silence. Erratic, the bassline pounds out, slowing. Stopping. Just like everything else. Behind the visor, I...

      There's no more sound, not anymore.

      Just the thudding of my own heart, deafening in the silence.

      Erratic, the bassline pounds out, slowing. Stopping.

      Just like everything else.

      Behind the visor, I raise my eyes, and see the warships, the victors.

      Alone in this dark space, as fragments of what had been my planet race past, I breathe my last.

      I close my eyes, conceding defeat.

      They had dropped out the sky, and killed and maimed.

      They destroyed our way of life, our beliefs, and all the knowledge we had in a day.

      Then the raped our planet, stealing her life and resources.

      Every crop failed, or was stolen.

      The water was siphoned up and into the sky.

      They drained our oceans, leaving nothing but rotting carcasses and a new desert.

      Our forests were pulped and taken away.

      The barren roads of our world were lined with the dead, dying and confused creatures. Some predators survived for a time, hunting... But then they took them as well.

      Everything was taken, leaving nothing but sand and us.

      I was sent, a final desperate weapon, against our enemies...

      Sabateur.

      Desperate plans rarely work.

      Instead, I found myself suspended in the vaccuum of the world... As the world was ripped apart for her final resources.

      They harvested, as I lay in this lonely space, my air running out, unable to do anything.

      There was no one left to save.

      Tears fell from my closed eyes, as I waited for the last moment.


      I know the story is a bit cliche, but it came when I was exploring Elegy for a Dead World, looking to get my creative side going a bit.

      I find tiny stories like this helpful to set a mood, or get out of one, especially when my writing is blocked.

      I'm hoping to see some inspired short stories, so you guys can serve as my selfish want of inspiration, or some critique of how terribly I've used this meme.

      8 votes
    9. Today NASA launched the Parker Solar Probe which will dive closer to the sun than any other man made object in history. In celebration of this event I watched Sunshine, a really well cast sci fi...

      Today NASA launched the Parker Solar Probe which will dive closer to the sun than any other man made object in history.

      In celebration of this event I watched Sunshine, a really well cast sci fi thriller. It was pretty darn good. I would highly recommend a watch if you are into this sort of thing, I had entirely missed it somehow. Casting is great, visuals are great, story is good, pacing is excellent. Don't be put off by the age of the movie, I don't think vfx would be any better today.

      50 years into the future, the Sun begins to die, and Earth is dying as a result. A team of astronauts is sent to revive the Sun - but the mission fails. Seven years later, a new team is sent to finish the mission as mankind's last hope.

      It may not be on US Netflix but it is on Amazon.

      Trailer

      16 votes
    10. Link to Google doc: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Hc-Ti6Pff_qUZLAfzzL7WjhFNh2m_XPvMkdYBL6mLzI/edit?usp=sharing I created this document a while back and update it every couple months....

      Link to Google doc: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Hc-Ti6Pff_qUZLAfzzL7WjhFNh2m_XPvMkdYBL6mLzI/edit?usp=sharing

      I created this document a while back and update it every couple months. There's an Introduction tab with guidance on how to browse the spreadsheets, which I've copied below for reference:

      (1) This document outlines various TV shows and is broken up into 3 tabs: Watched, Watching, and Want to Watch.

      Watched: Shows I've completed through series finale or given up on. Some of these were canceled early.

      Watching: Shows I'm actively watching day-to-day or shows in between seasons that will air new episodes in the future.

      Want to Watch: Shows I haven't started and want to watch. Many of them are recommendations I jotted down to avoid forgetting, so this list will sometimes be unalphabetized.

      (2) Certain columns of information were exported directly from IMDB, and the page for each show is linked in the rating from the IMDB column.

      (3) On the Watched and Watching tabs, there are columns for Recommend? and Notes to provide background that will help decide what to watch. Don't let any of my negative comments stop you from watching a show you're interested in.

      (4) The Recommended? column is divided into the following categories: Must Watch, Yes, Maybe, No. These are all based on personal opinion with extra discussion/information in the Notes column.

      (5) I've shared this with most people using View Only permissions, so download the Excel file (or copy to your Drive account) to filter columns by genre, rating, and personal recommendation.


      Disclaimer: not everyone will have the same tastes as me - that's okay. I welcome any disagreement about how I've rated shows and hope to get some discussion going.

      • What shows have I missed that I need to watch?

      • What shows did I strongly recommend that you didn't like?

      • What shows did I give up on too early?

      I expect to take some heat for quitting Brooklyn 99 around season 3.

      • What shows haven't come out that I should keep an eye out for?

      Like Jack Ryan which debuts this month.

      • How can I improve the document?

      I considered including a column with the show's network or where it can be legally streamed, but this is pretty tedious given the nature of broadcast rights.

      35 votes