03 Oct 2011
Last night I planned on watching Moon, but when I pulled it up on Netflix I found that it was no longer available on Watch Instantly. Being a cheapskate, I didn’t purchase it in order to watch it. Lacking in foresight, I didn’t have a second choice ready. So I ambled around the various subscription services. Nothing. So I watched the premier of Fox’s new show, Terra Nova.
The show was alright. I wasn’t so enthralled that I didn’t read some other stuff on my phone, but I did pay attention, for the most part, and watched the whole thing. Like everyone says, basically (Lost+Avatar)*Dinosaurs. I did have some issues, such as: if the portal is one way, then how are they communicating both ways? Either the portal is one way or it isn’t. Also, they mention how the moon is a lot closer, and so looks bigger, explaining it as the moon moving farther away from the Earth by 1/2 cm every year. Someone on the show says, “Do the math.” Well, the math doesn’t work out: 1/2 cm * 85 million years = 42.5 million centimeters = 425,000 meters = 425 kilometers. Considering that the moon is about 380,000 kilometers away from the Earth on average, it would be about .1% closer, and thus about .1% larger. I doubt anyone would notice (although it would affect the tides, I imagine). Then again, everyone wants to complain about how little effect gunfire has on dinosaurs, to which I would suggest they go bear hunting, but increase the size of the animal by an order of magnitude or two and add in hard scales.
But I’m not here to talk about plot holes, rather I want to talk about the attitude of the show. William Gibson made an interesting point in an interview. Basically, he said that one of the reasons that Neuromancer looked the way it did was that he was sick of science fiction that focused on an American future, where if things sucked, you just moved West (or to space, or to the past), where everything was shiny and new. On the other hand, there is a more European (or just about anywhere other than the Americas) attitude of not being able to leave when things got tough, where everything is built on the ruins of what came before. Terra Nova is definitely an expression of the former.
What the show asks us to believe is that we have the capacity to open a spacetime rift into another timestream 85 million years in the past but not the capacity to make the planet livable. The other (more likely) option is that there is not a deficit of technology or capacity, but a deficit of will. We would rather go and screw up a pristine environment than fix our mistakes (one might point out that this scenario gives us a sort of tacit license to continue screwing up our planet in the real world). It doesn’t matter how impressive our technology is, this attitude will kill us. Just give it some time.