I actually quite like the theme of the series (Outcasts), the idea of whether or not the human race would make the same mistakes, given a chance to start over somewhere else. It's something I've been working towards for a while, even if it's not particularly obvious or evident in my stuff. But in so many respects it's a weird show, perhaps because the writer is clearly far from au fait with either science fiction or indeed science, even the sketchy pop-quiz level of knowledge that most authors get by with. Actually, a better word for it might be 'bizarre'.

It's set in the mid-21st century, barely forty years from now, and we've somehow managed to cross untold light years on board enormous ships that are way beyond blue-sky at the current moment.

There appear to be no vehicles in or around the settlement. They got there by spacecraft, but otherwise appear to walk everywhere. Okay, limited resources, but if they can clone pigs...why not horses?

They have some kind of mobile comms tech that mysteriously operates fine within the settlement's boundaries, but which they mysteriously fail to use once they leave town to look for people who should be eminently traceable using existing and dirt-cheap technology. Of course, half of the story lines would then cease to exist.

There's a kid genius who listens to the Sex Pistols, leading me to the suspicion he's really seventy-five and very youthful-looking for his age.

There's an 'earth mast' for communication with home, as opposed to, say, a cheap satellite. There's a moon or nearby planet so close they look like they're about to hit each other. We've somehow managed to grow fully adult human clones with special genetic abilities and ship them to another planet and get reports back from there, sometime in the next 40 years, so far as I can judge, at rather less than light speed. 

A lot of things can be put down to budgetary restrictions, no doubt. There are many things that could, with just a tiny bit of effort, be easily explained away.

I could get annoyed, but I'm too weary. Fish, barrel, shotgun. You know the drill. I can actually picture the manuscript report I could put together for the guy behind this series, and the list of recommended reading regarding plausible back-grounding I'd give him. Nothing technical, just a couple of book titles, non-fiction plus a smattering of novels by people who actually manage to write this stuff in a believable way. Then I'd explain why these mistakes would kill any chance of his getting his novel published because he'd be laughed out of print. Then I remember he's not a novelist but a script writer;  a new writer on a prime time BBC drama can pull down, at minimum, something like thirty grand per hour-long episode. That's a couple of hundred k for writing something pretty much any print publisher or agent in the land would bounce right back out the door for lack of plausibility, insufficient world building and confusing story structure.And yet there it is, on our television screens.

There is, I remind myself, no point in getting annoyed.


Anonymous said...


I've been avoiding all mentions of this show so that I can sit down and judge it fairly - only to read your comments.

The Argh isn't for you but is for the producers of the show. I had high hopes when I saw the Beeb was doing SF (no not Dr Who) again.

And then I discovered that it was the same team behind Spooks (ARGHHHHH!) and Life on Mars (which I've not seen but I am told is not actually SF no matter what anyone might say).

Seeing your rant, my heart sinks a little more.

Interestingly there's a good discussion of bad TV SF in this week's Geek's Guide to the Galaxy podcast. One of the hosts (I forget which) goes on an almost note-for-note rant about how bad modern TV SF is. Check it out!

Neal Asher said...

Interesting reading how on set and in the studio the dreaded words science and fiction were frowned upon. One there for David Langford's Ansible, I think:

vernongetzler said...

Well, it’s amazing. The miracle has been done. Hat’s off. Well done, as we know that “hard work always pays off”, after a long struggle with sincere effort it’s done.
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