Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Space Command: appealingly retro


The phrase screams of glitz, schlock, and commercialism.  In fact, somewhere Harlan Ellison is in danger of snapping his spine from the conniptions “sci-fi” brings upon him.  I can’t blame the poor guy.  For far too long, “sci-fi” has distracted and diluted the genuine literary efforts of science fiction writers.  In popular opinion, serious meditations on the human condition and our future have been supplanted by laser (or “lazer”) guns, celadon-skinned aliens, and Princess Leia slave costumes (not complaining, just saying).

But as I weathered through a few tough times recently, the value of entertainment became glaringly apparent.  I came to a conclusion that I hope science fiction writers like Mr. Ellison will forgive me for making.  And yes, you may sing it to the tune of “We Need a Little Christmas.”

We need a little sci-fi.

We need that escapism.  If not for fast-paced adventures of heroes with blaster guns flying in spaceships, if not for the entertainment factor, I would never have found the genre of science fiction.  It was movies like Star Wars and cartoons like Space Angel that made me want to seek out Clarke and Bradbury, not a short story I came across in an anthology.  I can’t help but think that the up and coming devotees of science fiction are being weaned in similar fashions.

That’s why I’m glad to hear about Space Command.

Space Command is a series of films that appear to be pure space opera and funded largely in part from fan donations on Kickstarter.  Crowd sourced funding for a project that circumvents the studio suits?  YES!
Writer-producer Marc Zicree has said precious little about the films, only that they encompass an epic span of two centuries and the lives and daring-do of two families.  All of the stills and graphics I’ve seen from the films suggest a 1950s, retro feel and sensibility.  I’m talking about films such as Forbidden Planet and Destination Moon and series such as Space Patrol.

“Having grown up immersed in and beguiled by these extraordinary dreams of the future, I was determined to write, produce and direct cutting-edge science fiction for film, TV and books,” Zicree says on the Kickstarter page.

This retro sensibility carries with it a tone of hope, featuring...and I'm paraphrasing Mr. Zicree here..."a bright future with all of us at our best." That hasn't been seen in science fiction since Star Trek: The Next Generation in my opinion.  I know that's a deal-breaker for many of you, but I could use a little hope in a bright future right about now.

If you click on any of the links provided, I will venture to say that several in the “hard SF” vein may wretch upon seeing the images.  The spiky rocketships, the “glass bubble” space helmets, the gleaming, crystalline views of the future, and the overall scientific implausibility.  You might even feel like these films are setting science fiction back a good 50 years.

I can understand that.  I just don’t agree with it.

Like I said, we need a little sci-fi.  We need to inspire new readers, new visionaries, and maybe even new scientists.  For many, just as it was for me, pulpy, 1950s-style sci-fi can act as a gateway to those people who are just now coming up in the world.

So I’m hoping Space Command delivers.

 My e-novella, Hound of Winter is available for only 99 cents!

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  1. Glad you see things as I do. We NEED a little sci-fi in our lives.

  2. Thanks for the comment!
    We need it now more than ever it seems.
    But then I would expect such sound judgment from one such as you who also loves REM and The Beatles. :)