A Review of BBC America’s “The Real History of Science Fiction” by Jennifer “Kenobi1985” Havard
“Based on science and embellished by fantasy, BBC America presents…” – quote from the series trailer.
Saturday, April 19, 10 PM, was the premiere of BBC America’s four-part mini-series on “The Real History of Science Fiction”. The title & subject of the first episode was “Robots and Cyborgs”. The other three are “Space” (April 26th), “Alien Invasion” (May 3rd), & “Time Travel” (May 10th). More on those in the weeks to come, as I intend to post a review on each episode and not just the series as a whole.
“Robots and Cyborgs” explores the question of what it means to be human and what happens when our machines become too smart for their own good, and ours, putting humans and the concept of humanity itself in danger (2001: A Space Odyssey & The Matrix trilogy). It also explores the dotted line between mechanical programing and the human soul and our relationship with and responsibility toward the creations that result from the seemingly inevitable blurring of the two worlds (Blade Runner & A.I.) From Terminator’s literal Man vs. Machine conflict to the moral responsibility towards one’s creations and the consequences of its lack in Shelley’s Frankenstein, the debate over the possible good and bad outcomes of our ever increasing reliance on technology has raged for decades in the pages of magazines, comics, and books and on small and big scenes alike and isn’t looking to be going away any time soon.
The episode is a revealing look at the connection between writer and movie maker, novel and film in the science-fiction genre. Without delving too much into the technical aspects of movie making, the viewer is given a look into how humans “become” machines, from humans acting from inside the shell of a robot (Star Wars’s C-3PO and R2-D2) to a human voice lending itself to the most iconic supercomputer in cinema (2001’s HAL 9000, voiced by Douglas Rain). It’s an exciting start to what I wish would extend past the four episodes of this series and I can’t wait to catch next week’s look into space travel and storytelling. Until then.
About Jennifer Havard:
Jennifer “Kenobi1985” is a graduate of Lyndon State College, with a B.A. degree in English Literature and Cultural Studies. She’s been a fan fiction reader and writer since high school, with an interest in a wide range of fandoms, from anime to sci-fi.